December 12, 2015

Five Things I Love About College

I am about to enter the final week of my third semester of college.

This past week has been pre-finals, which for a writing major means crazy amounts of stress trying to edit my portfolio. Let me try to make every piece of writing I've worked on this semester suddenly sound perfect and ready to submit to a Literary Magazine. Because, yes, one of my class assignments is to submit a piece for publishing. Yikes that's terrifying.

I've been trying to work on the pieces throughout the year, but with writing I've realized that I'm never actually done. I can think a piece is perfect and send it to someone to read, and they'll always have something they'll suggest I change. I'll perfect it a second time and send it to someone else and find a thousand more things to fix. It never ends.

Plus everyone else is stressed and I have learned that stress is contagious.

But, I'm almost done with my third semester of college. I did it. I made it.

Rather than post about how excited I am for Christmas break and how glad I am to have a break from college, I'm going to try and stretch myself out a little and make a list of five of my top favorite things about semester number three.

1. My friends are great. In fact, one of my most common struggles is trying to fit in socialization time with all of the people I love without overwhelming my inner introvert. I have an absolutely amazing group of writer friends who have been so helpful through the editing process. I have a great roommate and a great group of friends from all the different majors who make me feel so comfortable. I can always be myself around them and can rant to them or get excited with them, and they are my ever faithful meal partners. And I have formed such a great bond with my Christian Club friends, who help me refill and give me no end of reasons to laugh. I have amazing friends. I'm so blessed with the people I've met here.

2. Great writing teachers. I've had two classes this semester that were just amazing. My Intermediate Fiction teacher is amazing and wonderful and I've been telling everyone I see to take a class with her if they can. She taught me how to workshop well and how to talk about fiction like a true writer. And Technical Writing just perfected all my writing. That whole, targeted and concise communication. I feel like a better writer and thinker.

3. Good writing. I'll be honest, I've turned in a lot of really bad writing this semester, especially to my not-quite-what-I-hoped-for Creative Writing class where everything was spelled out for me. But I've also done some work that I'm really proud of. I have a fresh start to Equity Blue (I know, I know, every six months I have a fresh start to Equity Blue. I'll figure it out eventually, I promise.) I have a ton of poetry, some of which I am even willing to submit somewhere. I just feel good about my writing skills and my editing skills. I'm learning how to bring together all the parts of this writer thing.

4. Fall! I know that fall is just one, maybe two months of the semester and it's not exactly school related. But fall was really beautiful and I felt really good mentally and physically and spiritually during that beautiful season. Every time I stepped outside God took my breath away with new piles of leaves or red trees or cute little squirrels scampering around. I wouldn't get this kind of fall if I wasn't living in Vermont.

5. My church. I found a really amazing church last year and have continued to attend this semester, and it's really starting to feel like a family. Even on the days when I feel hollow and empty and tired church refills me with purpose and meaning and motivation. I love the smile that I always find at church and I love the way morning worship just make me fly. Church keeps me going.

Bonus: my room is awesome. This dorm is so much better than last years, I don't have to be afraid of someone walking in on my shower and the fire alarm has only gone off once. Plus I lofted my bed and have my desk underneath with tons of Christmas lights and quotes written all over the bedframe. I have letters and pictures covering my wall and a bookshelf filled to overflowing with books and notebooks. I even have a globe and and a nativity set for Christmas. My room makes me so happy.

December 5, 2015


I just want to by typing tonight.

I have nothing new to say, no words of insight or wisdom that must be written down on this blog tonight. I just need to write, and I need to write something to someone, something that will be read.

I've spent most of today alternating between editing portfolio pieces and wandering the room trying to find something else to do. I wanted to go somewhere, but here in Vermont the sun sets just after 3 and I don't like the idea of walking or riding a bus alone after dark. So I just stayed in my room. Tried unsuccessfully to dye my hair blonde, worked out, read, scrolled through Pinterest Christmas nail ideas.

The truth is, it's exhausting to edit my work. I've been picking at these pieces a little bit throughout the semester, hoping to save myself some work here at the end, but that's not how writing works. I did a ton of edits on this one poem right after I got feedback from the teacher and classmates. I was completely happy with it and would say it was ready to be turned in. But now I read it and feel like there must be more I can fix, words I could change.

The fact is writing is never finished. Or at least mine isn't.

I like to laugh that I am the writer other writers hate. Writers in my classes can spend hours talking about how hard writing is, how much they want to write but can't, how sad they are that they do anything but write. I'm the opposite. I love writing. I write every second I get the chance. I'm intoxicated by the sound of words escaping my mind and finding life of their own.

Of course, the editing is hard. I love it, in one sense. I love looking at a poem that's gone through what feels like a million drafts and seeing how much better it is now. I had this one poem that I loved when I first turned it in. I had spent a lot of time working on it and was so happy with how it sounded.

The teacher sort of tore it apart, as she has done to almost all of my writing, and one of my really good writer friends told me that I really needed to take out the parenthesis in my poem. I loved my parenthesis and I fought him so much, but I took their comments in the back of my mind and started hacking at the poem. My thought: "I'll show them how bad it sounds their way." But as it turned out I found some sort of in between land which was so much better than what I started with. (Without parenthesis. I had to admit that he was right and the parenthesis were definitely holding the poem back.) Sometimes editing hurts, but it's worth it.

I guess there's a life lesson in this too. I think sometimes I need to let God edit me back into what He wants me to be. It hurts sometimes, especially in the times when it feels like everything needs editing at once.

That's where I am with classes. Everything needs fixed. Everything needs work. I start on one project and can't focus because I also should work on this other project and I can't do it all at once and I don't know where to start. Everything needs to be edited.

And honestly, that's where I am with life too. I think there are a lot of areas of my life that need editing, that need work, that need help. I've been holding on to my own kind of parenthesis and fighting so hard without even realizing it. It's not that anything is bad now. My writing isn't bad without another round of edits, but it can be so much better. My life certainly isn't bad. But it can be so much better.

Sometimes I need to allow the red pen and let things change.

December 4, 2015

Refreshing Breaks

It's been a week since I drove up to Niagara Falls for Thanksgiving Break. Feels like it's been a day or a year. I gathered together four friends, one of whom had a car, and we crossed the boarder into Canada and drove eight hours toward the Niagara area.

Plans never quite work out, so we ended up stopping at the Toronto airport where I was dropped off to go search for my boyfriend and his family. He stepped off the plane just after I got dropped off, so in the end it worked. Then we all drove down to his parents' house and ended the night with hot soup and a movie.

The break was amazing. I felt so relaxed and smiled so much. At one point Friday night I was just feeling tired and was worrying about whether or not everything was going well, but my boyfriend was right there beside me and was able to point to my friends, who were all laughing like crazy over some toy in a Christmas Shop, and assured me that they were having fun, that his parents were enjoying the company, and that it was a good trip. He then pulled me into a room lit up on all sides with Christmas lights and moving paintings of candles, and we pretended to know how to waltz.

That evening we played Camouflage and Lave Monster on a little playground and we realized that there's a huge difference in the endurance levels of elementary school kids verses college students. We all woke up sore the next morning.

We got to do a lot of hiking, through different sections of the Bruce trail, beside the train tracks that passed the house, along the strip of river leading up to Niagara Falls. Everything was beautiful, and breathtaking, and I was able to forget about school.

Well, other than to check emails and find that my professor had graded a huge group project (A!) and then to consider reading the non-fiction pieces I would have to workshop as soon as I was back on campus. I got a few sentences into one all about anime, drugs, and sex and decided not to keep reading. So instead we played another round of Dominion and laughed some more.

It was beautiful, and wonderful, and I can't wait to go back in just two weeks. So close! I cannot wait to see my boyfriend again, and his family, this time including his sister who's getting married! I'm so excited for her and so excited to see her.

Now I just need to figure out how to push through this last week of classes and the week of finals and finish up the semester well. Easier said than done I'm afraid...

November 19, 2015

Broken Hearts and Chasing Light

My mind is filled with the recent tragedies that have struck our world one after another. The devastation and the pain hurts so much, and my heart aches for the victims all over the world.

Today a friend, Israeli and French, told me that she's leaving school next week to go be with her family instead of finishing the semester because the Paris bombings and shootings shook her so much. I can't imagine what it must feel like to hear about a shooting like that and not know if your family is safe.

I also read about new explosions in Nigeria that happened today, and again my heart breaks that the deaths continue to rise day after day. I see videos of refugees piled into boats trying to find safety anywhere and instead meeting violence and rejection and hatred from those who cannot understand their pain. There's not much I can do here and now except for pray, and pray, and pray and learn how to always better love the people who are here around me.

I wish I could gather the world together and share my heart with them. I want to show them that we're people, God's creations, made in His image and for His purpose. I don't understand why that isn't enough.

No wonder so many people feel so hollow.

Take out God and all you have left is a shell. A shell of a person. A shell of a world. We're so broken and so unwilling to be fixed. It hurts to have found the light and realize that the people around me are so unwilling to open their eyes and see. 

I found this poem today, though, by poet Tyler Knott Gregson, and it seemed like such an eloquent wording of what I want to say. I know that sorry doesn't solve anything, but sometimes it can help.

I'm sorry for the gunshots, the bullets, the pain,
I'm sorry for the blood that won't wash out with the rain.
I'm sorry for the bombs, the explosions, the tears,
I'm sorry for those that take pride in our fears.
I'm sorry to the world we keep scarring with our hate,
I'm sorry for those that think it's too late.
I'm sorry for the chaos, the confusion, the madness,
I'm sorry for the mornings stained with fresh sadness.
I'm sorry for the terror, the darkness, the night,
I'm thankful for all those, who still chase the light.

November 17, 2015

The Magdalen, A Garden and This by Kathleen O'Toole

Last night I stayed up an hour later than intended working on the first draft of my non-fiction piece for my Creative Writing class. I think it's going to be a braided essay, though at this point the paragraphs splashed together don't sound like much of anything. It needs a lot of work still.

But my piece is all about names, about how much of an impact a name can have. How much of an impact my name has had, or names, as I explain in the piece. I know I have owned a lot of names throughout my life, and they all mean something to me, something I'm trying to learn how to explain as I write this essay.

This month I have also read the story of Mary Magdalen meeting Jesus in the garden three times. This story is from chapter 20 of the book of John. I read it with my Christian Club on campus and then at a poem share with members of my Church someone brought a poem about the story. Last night I came to it in my Bible readings on my own.

Every time I hear this story I can just imagine Jesus standing there saying her name, and I can imagine Him standing beside me telling me my name, and it's just so powerful. There are times when someone says my name in just such a way that it becomes so much more than just a name. My boyfriend can say my name in a way that makes me feel like I finally took a breathe of air after almost drowning. My mom can say my name and turn me into a child sitting against her lap or into an adult who she loves and is proud of and know will be okay. My sister can say my name and show me that she knows, she understands, she's always here for me.

All of this in the way they say my name. The carefulness of a combination of sounds and letters spoken so carefully with so much meaning and so much history and so much future. (When the people I love say my name I can always hear that they are pronouncing the C. I can hear the difference between C and K.)

I can just imagine Jesus telling me my name. I think I would be like Martha. That would be the instant when I recognize Him.

I think of other mentions of names in the Bible. (There are a lot. I could probably write hundreds of posts about names and never end.) God is always so precise about naming, about changing names, about the meaning of names. I love it.

However, to avoid trying to write hundred of posts in one, I'm going to end here, quite abruptly because my writing classes have tired out my writing brain today, and leave you with the poem I mentioned. Because it's beautiful. And powerful. Almost makes me want to cry.

The Magdalen, A Garden, and This
(by Kathleen O'Toole)

Strip all else away and we'd know only
that she was grateful, that she found her way
to the cross, and that she returned

to the tomb. A disciple for sure, not
Mary sister of Lazarus, or the woman caught
in adultery or she who angered the men

by anointing Jesus with expensive oils.
This Mary of Magdala only named as one
from whom he cast out seven devils, followed

until that first day of the week, in the garden,
where, weeping at her loss, she was recognized,
became known in the tender invocation

of her name. Mary: breathed by one
whom she mistook for the gardener, he
who in an instant restored her--

gave her in two syllables a life beloved,
and gave me the only sure thing I'll believe
of heaven, that if it be, it will consist

in this: the one unmistakable
rendering of my name.

November 9, 2015

Tasting Sky

I wanted to write about how thankful I am for this semester. I've been so healthy, physically and mentally, this semester and it's such a blessing to just feel good.
I wanted to write about cancer and tumors and not knowing how to help friends who are no where near me, and knowing that even without distance I would have no words to say.

I wanted to write about culture and mixed cultures, and how unfair it is that my Asian American and African American friends at least have friends who share their mixed up culture, but I'm here in Vermont and I feel like I belong to Mexico but I really don't, and people think I should belong to the United States but I know I don't.

I wanted to write about my family's move, and how glad I am to not need to deal with another move but how lonely I feel because I am not a part of it.

I wanted to write about the paradox of wanting more than anything else in the world to just be alone for an entire day and do absolutely nothing, but also wanting so much to go to a thousand places and see a thousand people and live a thousand adventures.

I wanted to write about doing neither.

Instead I'm just writing everything. Clips and fragments because tonight my brain is clipped and fragmented. I do not want to write but the words and piling out and the only thing I know to do is let them out. A poem:

To taste the sky-
mint of oxygen-
and breathe
at last. If only
for a second.

I could inhale the
earth, be full for once,
and yet alone, empty
in the earth I ate.

Suspended on a cloud
till I fall through like
a rain soaked page.

I can try to taste
the sky, but I can
never make the sky
my home. 


November 6, 2015

Peace in the Midst of my Mind

"My brain hums with scraps of poetry and madness." -Virginia Woolf

This quote, and many others, are now colorfully pasted around my room, on the wood frame of my bed, on the small strips of wall beside my window, on the edges of my book shelf. Writing quotes is like therapy. It calms me as I listen to the scratch of pencil on paper and finding the perfect quote fills me with a deeply reaching happiness which I am not sure makes sense to other people.

Today in class I sat with a group and we played with alliteration to create the perfect titles for each chapter of a story we are working on. It's a fun project; we're given complete freedom over what we choose to do. While we worked we talked about words and why we write.

We talked about poetry and even the teacher commented when he stopped by to check on our group. "You're eyes are glowing."

The truth is, there is something so very very satisfying about finding that perfect word, that perfect phrase. One of my friends said: "Writing is magic. I don't think people understand that." But I do. I understand the magic; it makes sense to me.

As I sit through classes and listen to published authors talk about how they got to where they are now I wonder what I'm doing with my life. Starving artist is just an inevitable fate for me, because there really isn't anything I can do well except write.

But for me that's enough. I am happiest in the moments when I can sit somewhere solitary and comfortable and pull out a pen and one of my many poetry notebooks and just let words flow out of me. There is so much emotion in poetry. I can write so few words but I'm saying so much.

It's been a hard couple of weeks. I've been emotionally drained, my whole body tense from stress that shouldn't even been there, my head spinning with worry and longing. But throughout these days there have been so many moments of words.

Sitting in a patch of sun for class, just writing. Talking to my writer friends about the best kind of notebooks and our favorite pens. Writing poetry on my bed. Listening to yet another PoeJam. Reading a book of short stories that each seem to tear at my heart.

Words are so peaceful.

So powerful. 

October 26, 2015

Willard and Maple Underground

I have recently learned the news that my school's student run literary magazine has been cancelled for reasons that no one seems to be at liberty to discuss. The news breaks my heart.

I learned about the magazine, Willard and Maple, from my advisor and later on favorite professor during orientation, and I fell in love with the idea. I became a member of the editorial board and got to read an review poems as well as decide whether or not to put them in the magazine. I'm sure I blogged about it plenty, but it was just such a highlight of my freshman year.

This year class schedules conflicted and I wasn't able to attend the Willard and Maple class, but I recently found out that the submissions have been closed, the class cancelled, and now I hear that the magazine itself is permanently cancelled.

I even submitted a few poems to Willard and Maple at the beginning of this year. It was such a huge step to send my work out to a literary magazine that would actually publish it, only to find out that apparently no one is even going to read those poems. It's heartbreaking.

A couple of my friends and I are trying to figure out how to make an underground version of the magazine. We all love this school because of opportunities like Willard and Maple. It was a publication for poets and fiction writers, and it was a huge chance to grow as an editor. When I emailed to ask for details I got a basic, "I can't tell you any details but there's nothing you can do."

I refuse to believe there's nothing I can do. Somehow I'm going to get Willard and Maple to stay alive, even if that means creating a poetry themed blog for Champlain students. It won't be the same, but anything to keep publishing Champlain poetry and give ourselves a chance to be in control of something. I refuse to give up.

October 16, 2015

Skeleton Key

The leaves are starting to turn into fire on the trees here in Vermont. There's still a lot of green but as I walk I have to step over the leaves on the sidewalk and stop to stare up at the outlines of the trees against the sky. It's beautiful, but it makes me a little bit sad because it's not as pretty as I remember from last year.

I tell myself it's just too early still. I'm waiting for the days when the grass is all decorated in red and orange and yellow and the air smells like dust instead of rotting grass.

While the sunflowers bend over in preparation for the coming ice age, I've taken on a project called 100 Happy Days. I take a picture a day to try and find the happiness in every day. It's exciting, forcing myself to find the good instead of just saying that I had a bad day and letting myself feel upset about it. I have to find the good things. Plus I get to take a lot of pictures, and I love pictures.

School has been a chaotic mess lately. So much work, so much writing, so much editing that I should be doing but am not. How do I focus on fixing one story when I'm in the middle of writing three new stories and a proposal and a poem? I feel like the second I start to catch up twenty new assignments come up, or old assignments I had forgotten about.

Plus registration day is coming up and I'm trying to choose classes, which also means thinking ahead to study abroad and future semesters. "You're going to run out of writing classes your junior year." But I want to take the writing classes now. Then again, all the writing classes I want are all scheduled for Tuesday, and I can't handle five classes every Tuesday. I have about a week to figure it out. Most likely all the classes will be filled by the time my registration window comes around anyway.

College is stressful, though it helps to have friends who will sit in the cafeteria with me all morning, or beside the fireplace, or in various rooms around campus. I have a friend with a bed full of stuffed animals, and sometimes I go over to her dorm and cry a little into her raccoon's fur. I always feel better after I cry.

I also feel better writing non-school related things. Writing a blog post to de-stress with a poem that doesn't quite make sense and will probably never be edited and improved. It makes me happy, though, to drip words into existence instead of stressing about whatever assignment I didn't do...

Skeleton Key

Too often the key doesn't unlock any door
I'm left with just this empty metal bone
That I picked up off some dirty floor

It's like I've found the sword in the stone
But I guess I'm not the chosen king
'Cause all I can do is pull and groan

I like to think the world has all this meaning
But just I keep hitting up against a wall
I can't seem to make sense of anything

I'm tempted to just get one my knees and crawl
Dig down 'till I find the earth's core
Let my tired self just give in and fall

Maybe then I'll find the door
Understand the meaning of this key
Figure out what I've been created for

October 7, 2015

Raging Against the Light

I tried to write a blog post this morning but it sounded like complaining and I'm trying to avoid that. I decided instead of ranting about how much I need the upcoming fall break and the rest that will come along with two days of no class I will instead share a poem.

Warning: the poem is pretty much ranting also, but it's a villanelle so it's okay, right? Isn't that how it works?

Today the world is just a cage;
I woke already craving sleep.
My tired heart becoming rage.

My heart is far too old for age,
and my eyes opened just to weep,
because today the world's my cage.

I'm wishing I could turn the page,
because this story's far too deep.
My tired heart has turned to rage.

If all the world is but a stage
then the stairs are far too steep,
and so today the world's my cage.

Too many tasks for me to gauge;
I'm buried neath a heap.
My tired heart has turned to rage.

I wish that I could disengage,
and back to loving blankets seep.
Today the world is just a cage;
my tired heart has turned to rage. 

October 3, 2015

Icarus Uprooted

I am too full of words tonight.

I read too many stories for class: stories about sex and suicide and cannibalism and murder and drowning. I wish I could miss class so I do not have to talk about them anymore. I want these images to leave my head.

I forgot about all my responsibilities and enjoyed the company of good friendship, and I want to never forget how many friends I have. How surrounded by friendship I am.

Sometimes an uncomfortable question digs a deeper conversation. Who knows what flowers will grow out of the hole?

Equity Blue gets another go, but I still can't put enough words together to call these pieces art. I wish my brain could function in instants. One instant I am filled with ideas and want to write them all down but cannot because I'm in class or walking up the hill or sitting in church. Next instant I have pen and paper and laptop open and even typewriter ready but words just won't come any more. Too bad I can't intersect instances.

Happiness and homesickness sometimes seem far too similar. Every morning I smell the roses my boyfriend sent me. The orange ones included in the bouquet look like the sunset but I miss the sunsets I've spent with him. Hour long Skype calls with my best friend and two hour phone calls with my favorite travel partner make me smile more than ever and I am full and happy, but also left with a deep sort of hollow I can't quite ignore.

My family is moving my home. I try to remind myself how often it did not feel like home when I lived there, but all I can think is how much I want to get back. It's like they kept me tied to Mexico even when I left, and now even that piece of me is uprooted. I am uprooted.

Give me wings
and I will show you
I can fly downwards.

You keep talking about Icarus;
blame his downfall on his pride-

I think he didn't have a choice.

No one ever talks about that other fear.
Don't you realize
once you've touched the skies
earth won't ever be the same?

You can't go back,
not after you leave,
you can't be who you were
when you've become
someone else.

I can fly toward the ground
as often as I want,
but it still won't change
the sun I've almost touched.

I have my Icarus wings
and I'm too scared
to fly back. 

September 25, 2015

Poe Jam

What is the ideal way to spend a Friday evening in college?

Poe Jam! Poe Jam all the way.

My school has this awesome event where writers can go read poetry while a Pro Jazz band plays music to fit the poem. This event is incredible. As my professor said "when it doesn't work it sounds good. When it works it sounds surreal." Or maybe he said "phenomenal" or something else. I don't remember, but either way he was right. Poetry and Jazz mix crazy well sometimes.

This Friday the Jazz was awesome. My non-writing roommate comes just for the music because even without a deep appreciation of poetry the music sounds great.

It's a little hard to read to, for sure, because you kind of want to listen to the music but you also want to read the poem and you have to read louder and more precisely. I sometimes have issues enunciating so it's really good reading practice for me.

I read one poem, which sounded better on paper, but came out all right. I sat down feeling super proud that I managed to get through it without shakiness. I have this awful tendency to either get super shaky hands or voice or both and people think I'm really nervous or about to cry when I'm not really.

Then the end of the list came half hour before the event was supposed to end, so I jumped in to read a second poem. It was a spur of the moment kind of decisions. There's this poem I wrote five or so years ago and the first line is "I want to hit something. No someone." It's pretty emotional and captured a lot of feelings and thoughts I had been dealing with for a while. I've worked on it a bunch, and it was my go to for workshops with my mom's writer friends.

I love reading a poem about anger and revenge to a table of, uh, can I say old people?

So now I read it to a room of college students and professors and maybe some passers by who just happened to step into Speeder and Earl's coffee shop. I don't think anyone was quite expecting it, but man oh man did it sound so good with the music. I had to yell a little by the end, but those jazz players brought my poem to life and it felt so good.

(Also felt good to read the poem from an outside kind of perspective years after writing it. It's good to see that a lot of the feelings have changed or shrunk and there's just a lot less anger in me now. Healing at its finest. Or maybe just time and distance blurring the memories into less than they are. Either way, it's good to know I am not angry.)

I suppose in a post all about poetry it's only fair that I post a poem. I'm going to post the first poem I read because it's easier to access at the moment. I know I'm lazy. It's a problem but I'm kind of working on it.

The Cycle of Fading

Can you hear the heartbeat
of my silhouette?

One thousand and two
memories of you, of us, of me
fill this skeletal heart of mine
until I trick myself into believeing
the pieces are all one heart again.

I am all chaos and spattered paint,
I am the globe,
the sky,
the uneven ripples of the ocean,
the lines between stars
of the constellations.

I am the echo
of all the times you've stopped my breath
and the whispers of your voice
as it follows the wind.
My life is made up of remnants,
all the shadows I have loved,
until I too am a shadow soul.
A million pieces
slung across the skies
in search of a heartbeat.   

September 22, 2015

Dry Bones

Lately I have been writing a lot of poems about bones.

Don't ask me why. I'm just drawn to this image of dry bones baking in a desert sun. I can thank Ezekiel chapter 37 and the song Skeleton Bones by John Mark McMillan. I first heard this song the summer after tenth grade, which I like to say is the summer that changed my life. Turned my dry bones back into a living person, so to speak.

Anyway, there isn't really a point to this. I'm just reminding myself that even death can't stop the one who conquered death. When life gets tough, and even in these days of sunshine I know it will, I know that I can be brought back to life. I can be made new time and time again. It's reassuring. So here's one of my poems. No title for it yet, but here you have it. 

I am all dry bones in a desert
leftover carcus
baked by the sun
even my blood begins to splinter

rough dust provides a bed
cactus thorns my shelter
I am dead weight
you pretend not to notice
parched skull
unwanted view

even these dry bones of mine
have forgotten how to hope
my rib cage
can't remember how to breathe

I wait for the wind to blow
wait for the river to flood
the rain to decorate my rotted flesh
my bones will be rediscovered

living breath
will pump my heart to life
this skeletal soul will fill
until the desert is an ocean
and I am walking on the waves
fully fleshed
glowing out life you've restored

On a much different note, I've been playing with flash fiction for one of my classes and boy is this tough. I thought I was doing well until I checked the word count to see that I am fifty words over. How do people write in so little space? I may have to start over entirely because I can't find enough words to cut without making the whole thing sound horrible and choppy.

Also, tons of drama in my writing class. It's been a weird few weeks of trying to find ways to challenge myself in a class that was simply not geared toward my level of writing. How do you politely mention to a teacher that the class is easy and boring? You don't, but it seemed just as awful to say nothing and continue to put thousands of dollars to a class that isn't improving my writing. I mean, I can challenge myself on my own time through the homework assignments, but three hours listening to the basics of plot structure. Really?

After a workshop gone wrong, an accidental plea to the higher ups, and a sassy email, I think the class might get better next week. Only time will tell, but I have high hopes. In the meantime I'll try and get as much as I can out of my two ridiculously overlapping writing classes and try to stay on top of the suffocating lists of Japanese words and symbols.

September 18, 2015

Van Gogh's Stars

I want to talk about art today, and Easter Eggs and poetry about stars.

For almost two years now I've played with this idea that God hides little Easter Eggs for us to find. I know this isn't a literal thing and maybe not the best way of explaning what I mean, but I remember having a conversation with my boyfriend about how the moments of finding God or hearing something from Him are like Easter Eggs. Since then whenever something particularly meaningful happens or I discover some new truth I'll write him to say that I found an Easter Egg.

The second part is art- Van Gogh specifically. I need to start by admitting that until today I really didn't care much about art. My criteria was "do I like this at first glance?" I'm now taking an "Aesthetic Expressions" class specifically called "Street Art" and we've been talking a lot about what art means. To be totally honest it's still not something I had much interest in.

But today we started talking about Van Gogh and the other students were discussing why people like the Starry Night picture so much, and about what they thought the picture meant. And then all of a sudden my professor starts to talk about Van Gogh's life. Which I actually knew nothing about.

I don't know if I just never learned this or if I somehow managed to forget everything I had learned. All I know is that when I think of Van Gogh I think of the posters and puzzles and calendar hanging on my high school English teacher's wall. I thought the paintings were kind of pretty, but didn't quite understand why she liked them so much. I hope she isn't too disappointed if she reads this. But anyway, those puzzles were all I knew about Van Gogh, so when the teacher said something about a cut off ear I was kind of shocked.

The story goes on and I'm not going to try and repeat it because I know I would get something wrong and my friends who are fans would be quite disappointed. But if you don't know anything about this artist look him up. Artists seem to have this common theme of depression and insanity. Van Gogh was no different.

But what I didn't expect was the story of him experience as a missionary, living with the Moraivians the way they lived with the idea that he would be like Jesus coming as a human to live with us. Of course the church at the time didn't like that idea, and eventually Van Gogh rejected the church but never quite gave up on God. I think this is a common occurrence, sadly enough.

And then my professor started to talk about this letter from Van Gogh to his brother about the meaning of colors in his paintings. He said yellow was the color that represented Jesus, blue was God's presence in the world, green represented faith and black meant sin and death. Suddenly the famous swirly painting meant so much more to me.

Suddenly I saw a painting that showed God over everything and Jesus shining through house windows and it was so beautiful. Our professor said that Van Gogh talked about finding God in the stars when he had lost hope in religion. It makes sense to me. I see God so clearly in stars. In the sky.

I've wondered why I love poetry about stars so much. Lately all the poetry I write includes some line about stars or sky, and my favorite poems all include mention of the sky. I find God in the sky, Jesus in the moon and stars. I know I am not of this world and the sky is the closest I can come to imagine heaven. The stars speak to me, as does this newfound knowledge of Van Gogh.

The stars are an excellent Easter egg. A never ending source of poetry. 

September 10, 2015

Deeply Into Words

I am in the middle of homework listening to a Mexican radio station of praise songs online, and all of a sudden I have to stop writing about what makes a group project successful and I need to let my own words flow.

These two weeks of school have made me think a lot about words. Everything I'm doing here in college is words. I will write an average of twenty pages every week for school, not counting the poetry I am constantly pushing onto paper these days. I have only two classes that do not include "writing" in the title. The first is Street Art, and I have trouble expressing my opinions in a huge class. (26 students, biggest class I've had in college so far. They can't find a classroom big enough to fit us all.) Instead I've been jotting down poems to organize my thoughts. It's so much easier to think with line breaks and no people listening to my voice.

The other non-writing class is Japanese, and I cannot imagine a better class to remind me how crazy powerful words are. When you're sitting there and the teacher is staring at you and you know she asked you a question but your brain just won't grasp anything except the fact that the third story window offers the perfect view of Lake Champlain, suddenly you know that words are important. In Japanese culture everything seems to be so precise. They use the right word. The right kanji. Every word and symbol is specifically chosen to make a point, and often the kanji symbols say multiple things in just a few brush strokes.

It's like good writing. Every word counts, good words count more than once.

In my Fiction Writing Class the first day the teacher was talking about how we have this core idea of storytelling which has been around for all of time, and I can't help but think of the beginning of John. "In the beginning was the Word."

The Word.

These words are everywhere, and they're so strong. As I study language I watch how the use of a word will change, and how decreasing or increasing the frequency of specific words can impact the way the culture responds to the thing itself. It's crazy!

I may be a writer mostly because I just can't help it. I don't really think about who reads my writing or where my writing will take me. I just know that I need to write. It's part of who I am. The words were there in the beginning, and they were there in my beginning. I can't help it.

But this week I've been thinking more about words. About what they can do. About why I write. What am I saying? Am I reflecting light like this little Christian Radio Station in Mexico City? Am I giving the kinds of words that will make people want to come to a Christian Club here on campus? Am I giving words of truth?

If I'm not I don't want to write anything at all.

September 5, 2015

College Expectations

"We're like real college students now!" I told my roommate as we rode our bikes around a section of the lake just beneath our college. The temperature was perfect, barely hitting the 70s with a light breeze and enough remaining sunlight to still warm the insides of my body. I was so proud of myself for getting out and doing something, enjoying this Summer Vermont before it changes. We even managed to catch the sunset as if fell behind the lake, an amazing array of oranges and reds on top of all the shimmering blue.

Beautiful even with the swarms of gnats I kept biking through and the end stretch of uphill on crowded city roads. I like biking on the nifty bike trail. Biking in the city not so much. Burlington just has way too many hills.

Then Saturday morning we took the college's paddle boarding trip, which apparently also included kayaks. So we kayaked out across the lake to this little rock outcropping. I did jump off the rock, probably between ten and fifteen feet up, though I'm really bad at gauging distances and measurements. I'll tell you though, it was one of those moments I knew I would regret not jumping but really didn't want to jump.

I did jump, and had that moment in the air looking down at the water wondering "how in the world did I get here?" But it was awesome, and I'm glad I did jump even with a mouthful of lake water in my nose and ears.

We switched to paddle boards on the way back, which were a bit more difficult and I was starting to get tired out and sore, so by the end I would have to say I found kayaking more enjoyable. You don't have to think about it as much, and get more time to just sit still and look around without worrying that a wave will wipe you off your feet.

I got back from paddle boarding just in time to be swarmed by all my writing friends telling me they had all decided we would get together and work on our short story assignment. I had missed all the planning in the over fifty texts sent while I was on a lake and my phone was in a drawer back in my room.

But... I went with them and we talked a lot and laughed some and wrote a few sentences. Actually I wrote a full page while we were there, so, progress. It's just so cool to have friends who will sit in a room and write with me. The sound of four people frantically typing up an assignment we all hate but also all know we're actually enjoying is just so satisfying. It's kind of a sense of belonging, you know?

I concluded the day drinking Chai with my friends and Skyping my bestie. I know tonight I should be finishing that story, or applying for a second job, or something productive, but instead I just needed to write about this weekend. Document the fact that college isn't all bad, and so far this year I've had a lot of chances to enjoy the fun part of college and the beautiful part of Burlington. It's good. I have high hopes for this upcoming year.

August 31, 2015

The Chaos of A New Beginning

Tonight chaos lives in the folds of my mind.

I just finished my first day of sophomore year of college, and my thoughts are a colorful mess of chaos. I am not upset, not afraid, not depressed, I'm just overwhelmed. I get overwhelmed so easily.

There's just so much to think about tonight, or in college in general. There's the specifics. The curiosity about my  classes this semester, the professors, the classmates. I only had one class today and I don't know what to expect from the others. Or what to expect from this one even. The friendships. The "how do I avoid last year's problems" question which I still do not know how to answer. So far I've managed sleep before 11:00 every night, but I don't know how realistic that will be throughout the semester. Maybe. I have pretty high hopes and I think all my friends are willing to accommodate. They understand now how much I need sleep.

But then there's also this far away stuff. The "how am I ever going to pay for the next years of college?" I don't know if it's possible. There's the pressure I've given myself to get a second part-time job to help pay for next semester. The Wal-Mart representative at the Part-Time Job Fair was thrilled to talk to me. When he found out I was majoring in Professional Writing he even gave me all the specifics of how to move up in the Wal-Mart firm and eventually become manager or supervisor or something. I think he wanted me to dedicate the rest of my life to Wal-Mart, because it would make more money than writing. I didn't know how to tell him I just wanted a part time job. Five hours a week would do it.

I love the friends I've made here, and these last couple of days have been a lot of fun catching up after summer. Saturday night I had my roommate dye my hair with cheap Rite-Aid hair dye which the cashier forgot to charge me for anyway. The color was ten times darker than the color on the box, but I love it. It's different, and when I get too bored I like change.

Still, I can't help but remember how far away some of my other close friends are. The occasional phone calls just really aren't enough. It's rough having so much distance. I can point at a map and find at least ten places where there are people I wish could be here.

But, oh well. Life is life and I know that once I settle into the routine of things some of the chaos in my brain will also settle down and I'll be able  to think about one thing at a time. I know that I'm in college studying something that I love. I'll get to do a whole lot of writing this semester, and what better way to empty out the contents of my mind than by writing?

August 27, 2015

Stone Airplane- Shel Silverstein

I am sitting on a strange bed in a strange room that is supposed to be mine. I spent my first night back in college alone, laying on a towel and covered in my roommate's little teenage mutant ninja turtle because my bedding is in storage and won't get to me until Friday.

This room is in a newer building, much nicer than my old dorm even though I'm still undecided about this idea of wood floors. I liked laying on the carpet in our old room. We have an order in to rearrange the furniture some, but sitting here I'm not entirely sure there is any other way to arrange. The room isn't tiny bit it's oddly shaped without leaving room for adjustment.

The part that gets me the most about this room is the window. There's this massive window that goes the whole length of my bed from mattress to ceiling. I first held great hopes for this window, but when I pulled open the curtain a little bit I was reminded that we live on the first floor. And from the view of grass starting right at the edge of the window it looks like our building must sink in a little.

So I have a view of students walking across sidewalks, or biking, or skating, or longboarding. I see the walls of the other dorms in our quad, the newer nicer, not-restored-Victorian-mansions dorms. I can already imagine drunk and high college students stumbling past my window at all hours of the night to try and get back to their rooms. Not to mention the massive amount of light that comes through this window. All the lovely street lamps lighting up the quad also light up my bed. Good thing I have a couple of other curtains to double block this massive window. Maybe if it's blocked I can imagine a better view outside.

I have a poem here from Shel Silverstein with a really lovely picture. I'm writing on my phone and can't figure out how to add pictures so maybe later. In the meantime here is the poem. I feel this way often after traveling.

Stone Airplane

I made an airplane out of stone...
I always did like staying home.

Short but sweet. I feel like I can never escape this idea of travel but after traveling I always think I want to just stay in one place and never fly again. Only, within days I already am building airplanes into everything I see and imagining where I could go to next.

I'm rather a fan of change most of the time, so as this year two of college begins I need to learn how to take advantage of the changes, the knowledge acquired last year, and I just need to learn to have the best year of my life. 

August 21, 2015

A Penny for my Thoughts

I have a thousand words to write at this moment, but none of them complete. I'm thinking of pride and being proud of someone else. I'm amazed at the human mind and how we're tempted so easily but can also be so strong and can push away the temptation with endless persistence.

I'm thinking about right and wrong and about what builds our belief system and what causes one person to see light and one person to reject it.

I'm thinking about goodbyes and leaving and how often I've left and how now when I meet someone new I wonder when I will have to leave them or watch them leave me. I'm trying to decide if it's easier to be the one who leaves or the one who stays. I think the goodbye at the airport almost missing the next flight was the worst, because it's embarrassing to cry on a plane full of people. But the emptiness of staying just leaves a whole lot of reminders where the other person was once.

I am thinking of stress and wondering why all this college stuff feels so complicated and so restricting and I know I can't quit but I'm not sure why. And I'm trying to get excited and believing is but then remembering the hard work and the long days and the loneliness of it all.

I am thinking of family and of how much I love the people I used to live with and how my brother can do the same thing twice and make me laugh the first time but annoy me to death the second time. I'm thinking of my parents and which traits each of them has given me and what about them I want to copy and what I want to change and wondering if I'm not already a set blend of both.

I'm thinking of suffering and sickness and how unfair everything seems sometimes.

I'm thinking of the blessings this summer and of the extraordinary joy of reunion after months apart. I'm thinking of happiness and how my emotions are always at the extremes, and I am trying to remember how often this summer I've experienced the extremes of joy. There's that kind of deep happy that makes my whole self believe that I can fly.
These are the moments when we're standing together "gazing into each other's eyes" as my little brother said in his mocking songs. It's the moments of deep conversation when words I would have found nearly impossible to talk about with other people become so easy and so necessary. I feel like we can capture all of life in one conversation sometimes.
The moments of walking down a mountain next to my mom trying to help her down the jagged steps while also keeping myself going and checking to make sure I'm breathing all right, knowing if I need a break everyone around me would gladly stop for me.
The moment tonight when my sister showed me how to make a book and gave me all the necessary components to make one. I'm so lucky to have a sister who would help me make my own notebook.
The moments of taking pictures with cars. Our family pictures always seem to have some car or other in the background. I guess it's a fitting symbol of our ever moving family. We're like a whole lot of cars with no good parking garage.

Now I'm just thinking of the video game my brother is playing beside me and of the three hour drive we get to take tomorrow to another part of colorado and the fact they at this moment I should be sleeping since we leave at six in the morning. I'm thinking of how little I've written this summer and how much I've missed sharing my thoughts through words and how there's still so much to say but I have a lot more ways to share. 

August 20, 2015


I just said goodbye to one of my favorite people on earth after the most fantastic two weeks together. We hiked mountains, played tons of card games, ate lots of food, went on fancy dates, found the coolest coffee shops, built airplanes, played laser tag, went shopping, and talked for hours and hours. I can't explain how happy I've been these last two weeks. It's the perfect break before the start of college and the end of this peaceful break.

I still get another week before I fly off, and I'm looking forward to the time with my family and old friends here in Colorado. My sister and I still have a nail painting date we've been putting off since it's not exactly something my boyfriend would find super entertaining. So this week will be a lot of fun.

But. That doesn't change the fact that my boyfriend is now on the way to Texas in a beat up little pink car which hopefully still has enough life to get out of the Colorado mountains. Even after assuring him I wouldn't cry I lost a couple of tears while we prayed for his trip, the upcoming semester, and the end of the summer and thanked God for the awesome summer we've had so far. It's just so hard saying goodbye, knowing that it will be so long until the next time we're together and then it will just be another short trip before months apart again.

We really did have pretty awful timing with this whole thing.

But I don't want to complain. We both go back to great schools perfectly tailored to our majors. His smart people, hard classes engineering school makes him smile like a fool and he can talk for hours about the projects he's done, 3D printer and gloves to let blind people see. I loved being able to hear him talk about it and watch his face light up because he just loves engineering so much.

And while he commented that I have a much quieter excitment, I am thrilled to be at a school where writing is a community and I'm not the weird one who loves poetry, but instead one of many. I have a couple of new professors and a lot of work ahead of me, but I feel ready for a new semester.

I'm not looking forward to the rest of the goodbyes and I wish I could keep all the people I love the most together in one place, but if God wants me in Vermont then I'm going to go to Vermont. No matter how scattered my family and friends may be, I know God is scattered along with them but also set and stable right beside me, no matter where I am.

I can't go far enough away to escape Him. 

August 14, 2015

Beneath a Starry Sky

Tonight I wrote a thousand poems.

Tonight the stars lit a path for me as I walked alongside my boyfriend around the block, and then around another and another as one conversation slid into another and we talked about stories and creativity and college and family and disease and hope and friendship and futures. It felt so good to let loose. To share my fear with someone and then know as I spoke that somehow in the end everything will be okay. The walk was a poem. Every conversation was a poem. The careful way my hand fits into his while we walk is a poem.

When we said goodnight and he left me in my little trailer (life of a missionary kid. In one summer you can sleep in a thousand beds. This week has me in a trailer parked outside my sister's house with everyone else inside. A slight step up from the tent last week) I picked up my Bible and read a couple of chapters of my latest read: Jeremiah. The whole thing seemed to be about how terrible us people are. We really are. I don't blame God for being angry. But- throughout it all there's also this hopefulness. This knowing that there will be a return to God sometime. In some way. It's a tragic and yet beautiful poem.

And then there's this verse in 9:24 that says if people want to brag then they should brag about knowing and understanding God. And I'm like, but I don't understand God at all sometimes. He's too big for me. But then the verse goes on to say that He is kind and fair and does things that are right. And I do understand that. And I do want to brag about that. And that is perhaps one of the most lovely poems of all.

Last Sunday in church my pastor said that we were not created to serve God but to enjoy Him. And I love that. I can't do it right on my own. I'm not going to save myself no matter how good of a person I am. But I can enjoy God, and I do enjoy God. And He is so good. And when I step back and take a look at this life I live, well it's pretty stinking amazing and I am so full of all the wonderful poetry that has joined to form each and every day of my life. 

August 11, 2015


How can I write a post after I don't even know how long and somehow cover all the moments that joined to make up those unknown numbers of weeks. I don't even know what my last post was, and I don't want to go back and read it because I know I would get distracted and put off this post as well. 

I survived summer camp, ended with a week as a counsellor, simultaneously the best and most exhausted week of the summer. I loved it, loved the girls in my cabin (called Schrak), loved being able to listen to chapel with them, loved watching four of them give their lives over to a life of believing in God, the creator of the world and their savior. They may only have been nine years old, but they got it, and then reminded me how important it is to live with that passion and excitement which I often forget. Believing in God sometimes becomes a routine thing for me. I forget how awesome it is to know I live with a purpose. These girls reminded me. 

Still, if I have my way I don't plan on doing it again. 

That same week my parents finally made it to the same place as me. I can't tell you how good it was to eat meals with them, cry on my mom's shoulder when the day got really tough, eat grasshoppers they brought me from Mexico. It's just another reminder that home is a group of people way more than a place. 

I worked an extra week at camp doing kitchen duty as well as housekeeping, painting, and even setting up a million gazillion chairs for a wedding. It was pretty tough work as well with no breaks and trying to get permission to get off camp in the evenings to join my family at meals with various good family friends. 

But by the end of the week my crazy yet wonderful boyfriend finished his eighteen hour drive from Chicago to Colorado to come visit for a couple weeks. We've explored camp, played with styrofoam airplanes, hiked, watched movies, painted, and I don't even remember what else. It's been amazing. The perfect break after a long summer. 

Today we're headed off to laser tag and tacos al pastor. Every day is an adventure and I've smiled more than my cheeks can handle. It's incredible. A gift from the God who created this beautiful state and put me here surrounded by all these people who add so much color and so much joy to my life. 

Hm. I could keep writing but there's a lot to do and this post is already more than long enough. I promise the next one will include a poem. 

July 19, 2015


Second weekend in a row no post. I have so much to say and this time even have poems to share, but camp is just sapping my time and I really don't have time to post. It's really frustrating and one of the greatest challenges of the summer- having to learn how to do long distance relationships the old fashioned way- snail mail letters I send every week. It's so hard being out of touch with my family, not knowing what state they are in each day as they drive across Mexico and the USA to eventually land in Colorado. I've had to form a whole new system with my boyfriend and hear about the metal splinter in his eye days after the fact minutes at a time. Plus I have to survive with only ten minutes on the phone and three texted sentences from my best friend as she gets ready for a gymnastics competition which she's super stressed for. It's hard not to be able to comfort her.

So the lack of posts comes with the general lack of communication. But I  still here, still serving, diving into poetry since I don't have the time to concentrate on stories. It's been quite the summer. Exhausting and exhilarating and beautiful. I've seen a lot happen and gone through a lot of ups and downs and I don't know how I'll end the summer. But I know God is working and it's pretty cool to be a part of. 

July 5, 2015

Poetry in Love

I'm going to start with a poem. 

What if all we have ever wanted
Isn't hiding in some
secret and faraway dream
but inside of us now
as we breathe one another
and find home in the way
our arms always seem to fit
perfectly around the spaces
between us?
What if we are the answer
and love was the question? 
What if all this time
it was us you were supposed
to find? 
I am filled with wondering a 
questions and doubt
but of one thing I am certain:
it will always be you
that gives flight to the
butterflies inside me,
calm to the sea I have become
and hope to the darkness 
all around us. 
It is you and it has always
been you...
You that soothes and excites
and spreads joy like rainfall
on the already damp earth;
You that pulled me from the longest 
sleep and kissed my tired eyelids
If life is a question mark,
then you, my love, 
are the proud and bold period
that is typed with certainty. 

I got this book of poetry, Chasers of the Light, which probably I have already told you about, by Tyler Knott Gregson, and I cannot tell you how much I love to have my breath taken away by poetry again. Now I'm seeing poems in everything, the deer under the teepee in front of me, the blue blue sky, the sound of children's laughter. Luckily I bought a new notebook to go along with my urge to write poetry like oxygen. I feel as though Friday and Saturday this week lit me on fire with joy, and even in the small moments of darkness I am filled with hope. 

That isn't to say that my heart isn't still full of longing. Three weeks until I get to see my parents again. Five weeks until I get to see my boyfriend. I wish I could see my best friend in Mexico who I didn't even get to call on her birthday because of working here at camp. I wish the world wasn't all so big and so fascinating. I miss Mexico and I miss the countries I've never seen. 

But this next week is week five and I want to be content. Last week I survived an incomprehensible amount of drama among both campers and staff, and I tested out the limits of my patience in a lot of different ways. Not to mention I went to sleep an hour later than usual every night this week. But I also got to see some of the legacy of this camp. We advertised at a booth at some little Fourth of July fair and so many people came up to tell us what an impact this camp had made in their lives. Even the name of this camp, I'd-Ra-Ha-Je begs a question and answers it with a message of all this camp stands for. It's cool to see that what I'm doing here is helping to grow a camp that touches thousands of lives every summer. It's so cool to know that these kids are being taught that love is the answer- the ultimate hero. Love changes everything and while I realize that this poem was written for human love it also fits the love of God. He calms the storm that I've become, and he is the answer to the question mark of life. 

You can't get better than that, and as week five sweeps me off my feet and throws me in the dirt I want to laugh and smile and rely on love. It's all I can do sometimes. 

Also, speaking of love. My sister got a new puppy. The most adorable thing ever. I am in love. 

June 20, 2015

Ketchup Stories

Yesterday evening I hand wrote what I thought would be this next blog post. I had stories and life revelations and lessons from God all tied up into a neat post.

Unfortunately that page is sitting on my pillow back at camp while I sit at the library. Oops.

But I think even in the hours after I wrote that my perspective is a little bit changed. Last night was the Stick Service, a special service the last night of every camp in which campers get to share what they learned and then throw a stick into the fire.

I remember doing this as a camper myself years ago. We were at an outdoor chapel and it started raining. Not enough for us to run inside soaking, but enough to put out the fire. I think I cried I was so upset that I wouldn't have a real fire to throw a stick into. Almost like I thought I needed the little twig to burn in order for me to actually have learned anything. But just as I was getting up near the front of the line to take my turn something happened and the flame just jumped back up and burned for a few more minutes, just long enough for me to share my tidbit of knowledge and watch my stick turn into ashes. Call me crazy, but I know God lit that fire specifically for me.

Now I get to watch these campers talk about their week. I get to hear child after child say "I rededicated my life to God" or "I gave my life to God for the first time" and I tell you, there is nothing better in the world than to hear those words.

Sometimes I think us adults undervalue the importance of things like camp. It's easy to brush these kids away. After all, how can a ten year old actually understand what it means to be saved from sin and rescued into eternity with the creator of all things? What does a twelve year old know about dedication? But we're wrong. We're so wrong, because these campers get it. They understand so much and so simply and sure, maybe some of the campers just want to hear the staff cheering and clapping for them, maybe they just want to go along with the crowd.

But so many of them know exactly what they're doing.

One day during lunch a little six or seven year old boy showed me a cross made by a french fry and ketchup on his plate. "It's a cross," he said. He scribbled around the red again and said, "Now it's Jesus." I smiled and kept eating, watching as he created yet another picture. "Jesus is gone," he informed me. Before I had the chance to say anything he continued, "Do you know why Jesus is gone?"

"Why?" I asked, curious about what his answer would be.

"Because this is the tomb. That's the stone, rolled away, and Jesus isn't dead."

Friends- that is the message of the gospel. That's the summary of my whole life. Why I'm at camp this summer, why I'm a Christian. Because Jesus isn't in a tomb.

This week I struggled with this whole camp thing. I don't like not having my phone- the thing that keeps me connected to so many friends who are such a huge part of my life. I don't like being always tired. I certainly don't like frantic camp disinfecting days when we have to wipe down every mattress because some camper or staff member got pink eye.

I was enjoying camp and loving the campers (especially the sweet Pioneer Campers who are six to nine years old and so tiny. Most of them can't even see over the counter in the General Store.) but I felt like my life was on hold. Even as I was praying or eating or talking to campers I felt like I was counting down the days until summer is over.

I don't want to live a life of waiting. This is where I am right now, and I want to be all here. My amazing friend from Mexico and England sent me a letter this week and I wish I had one of the quotes she sent. It made me cry (in the middle of a room full of staff checking out for the weekend) because it was exactly what I had been feeling.

The thing is, I may look forward to other things in the future- but I don't like in the future and I don't want to. God is working at camp right now and somehow He's working through me. Even if I barely get the chance to read and have written only one poem in three weeks and not a word toward my novel, this is still life and I can still make it awesome.

I have no good way to end this post and not enough time to hunt down a good poem to include. So, goodbye, see you next week with, I'm sure, some new cute camper story to share.

June 13, 2015



I am at a loss for words tonight as I try to capture a week of camp into one blog post. I've had this conversation with a lot of people already, talking to my boyfriend about every detail of camp my tired and fuzzy brain could remember, telling my mom about the full time staff, telling my sister the fun camper quotes and about unique campers, telling my mother in law (I think that counts if she is the mother of my sister's husband. We are all family of some kind.) about the spiritual battles happening on this camp's ground. God is working.

Kids are experiencing love and attention. Counsellors are being stretched already, trained to deal with any and every situation. I cleaned fifty mattresses yesterday. I helped calm down three kids crying because they were homesick. I wanted to tell them how homesick I get too. Instead we talked about stuffed animals. My fourteen or so year old Panda feels kind of like home. I guess it works for kids too. What is it about animals that can hold so much love? Even fake ones.

I die a little inside at the thought of my families new puppy which I will not meet for at least a year probably. My sister wiggles with excitement at the husky she and her husband are soon to get. Animals are special. They understand us in their simple lack of understanding.

See? I really don't know what I'm writing anymore. I should get sleep while I can. The point is some times God works like lightning and leaves me a little bit blind at the end. I'm kind of blind tonight- waiting for the next strike as I slide into week two of camp. 

June 6, 2015

Why Camp is like McFarland, USA

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." This is 2 Timothy 4:7 and the perfect verse for my thoughts tonight. Today was my only full day off between the end of staff training on Friday and the beginning of camp tomorrow. I slept in, got dressed up for a homeschool graduation of someone I've never met, talked to my mom for about an hour. One of the most positive conversations we've had this year, she said, and it's true. I wasn't calling to complain or cry or ask for advice. I just wanted to talk before I turn in my phone tomorrow morning for the rest of the week. It felt good to talk about camp and hear my family's new puppy talk to me through the phone. I wish I could go meet her and talk to my mom face to face.

But tonight we watched a movie called McFarland, USA, which is the real reason I'm writing this post instead of getting some much needed sleep before the week kicks off. But this movie spoke to me and I need to now speak it into words because I can't process otherwise. If you haven't seen the movie I highly recommend it. Also I'll be spoiling it a little, but it's a really predictable movie anyway so don't worry.

It's about this coach who keeps messing up and gets stuck in this tiny immigrant town in California teaching the first cross country team. The kids are all first or second generation Mexican and they and their families are pickers. The kids work mornings before school and then work again as soon as they get out of class. The coach comes, after complications finally learns what these kids lives are really like and helps them to find hope and purpose in running. He gives them something to live for and hope for.

This summer I'm going to be like that coach. I've messed up plenty of times. In theory I'm more than qualified to work at camp. I have experience and training and knowledge. But so did the coach. He had anger problems and was too hard on his previous sports teams. I am impatient, easily tired, and easily discouraged.

There's this scene in the movie when the coach goes to pick in the fields with his runners to understand what it's like. He has no idea what he's getting into. He's exhausted. He hurts his back. But he realizes what the runners go through every day. He becomes one of them for an afternoon. And it's hard. That's what Jesus did. He became one of us so that he could learn how to help us. It was hard. It hurt him. This is what I will be doing as I work at camp this summer. I will be lowering myself to become a kid for 8 weeks. To shower in the tiny cube that switches from burning hot to freezing cold a thousand times in one shower. To share three bathroom stalls with over 100 kids. To eat the same camp food every day, week after week. To get dirty and muddy. To walk through the rain. To run until I can barely breathe because the kids want me to play with them. It's going to hurt.

But I cannot help these campers unless I know what it's like to be one of them. I know that some of these kids will come from homes that are broken. They may be poor, they may have to work every day, they may have been abused or abandoned. I won't be able to understand it completely. Like that American coach stepping into a tiny town of Mexican culture I will feel lost at times. I will get frustrated when I can't understand the kids. I will want them to do more than they can. But if I get to know them I will be able to show them that even if I cannot understand, I can care.

I can run the race- or at the very least train these campers to run their own race. I can show them what it means to finish strong. To find their faith and chase after it no matter what. People can laugh, mock, say no, even try to pull out guns. But we have a faith that keeps us going. We have a finish line worth so much more than just fame and accomplishment. We run because running gives us hope for a future. Running this race gives us something to believe in. It gives us purpose for our lives. It gives us life.

This is why I am working at camp tomorrow. Not to sell T-Shirts with the camp logo and not to teach a ten year old how to play capture the flag. I am working at camp tomorrow to change lives. To teach weary children that they can have a family and that they can have a hope. 

June 3, 2015

Too Much

I wish I could write more.

No time.

No internet connection.

Starting next week no phone.

How can I say everything I have stored up in my heart in one half hour break? And say it quickly, since I only have limited data and I don't know how much data a blog post takes up. There's so much. I feel so stretched. Joyful and excited, happy to be here, but tired. Uncomfortable. Unwilling even.

Even now I am staring longingly at my book The Handmaid's Tale, and I am wishing I had more time to read. Or write. I want to write poems again, but I can't write a poem in a half an hour between activities. Actually it's usually more like twenty minutes and I have to debate between phone calls, blogs, reading, and being social with the other staff members like I am supposed so. We are a team. I'm here to support the counsellors and other staff. But I need to write. I need to read. I'm exhausted.

But before I read for my remaining minutes: the view. I love the view here. These mountains. The moon, the stars, the wooden crosses on the mountainside. I love it. I love the beauty that surrounds me at every glance here. Everything is so amazing. I am in awe. Amazed.

May 29, 2015

And so it begins

Today is Friday night and the end of my first day of staff training. I got in and survived a mess of paperwork and signatures and panicked phone to mom: "When was my last tetanus shot? What's the address for my insurance? Please keep that stray puppy you found." 

I think eventually I'll have my phone taken and will only get to use it during my free time with permission. In the meantime for tonight I can keep up my Friday blog post as I was hoping. 

It was awesome to see old staff members who have known me since I was a baby and are like family now, as well as all of the new staff (which includes a super cute baby wearing a superhero costume. 

The theme for the week is the Ultimate Hero and one of the full time staff made an incredible video I can hopefully get ahold of and share on the blog because it was so epic. Superheroes are the best and I know the best superhero of all. It's going to be an amazing week. This is one of those places you just show up to and feel good. It's a good place to be. So full and peaceful and wonderful. 

I got to see a friend I didn't know would be working at camp. She and I started a bible study for middle school girls a couple years ago and she's amazing. Turns out she'll be working in the store with me and I am so excited to be working with her. She's a lot of fun and so encouraging. 

But also this whole place just feels like renewal. 

It'll be difficult and I know I'll be stretched out of my comfort zone and pulled in directions I could never have imagined. 

I'll admit I'm not thrilled about meeting a bunch of new people and all the hard work but camp makes it easy to make friends and feel comfortable even outside of that comfort zone. It's awesome. I'm so excited and scared and amazed at the fact that I'm here. 

But it's almost lights out and I am more than exhausted so that's enough of a blog post for today. 

May 28, 2015

Year after Year

It's great to have friends. This morning my sister and brother in law drove me down to another Colorado town to visit a friend and then start work at camp. (I am so so glad everything worked out so that they did get to drive me. At one point it looked like they would go camping in the opposite direction and I would be going down on the bus with all my five bags of stuff. Luckily they signed up for pictures at a church directory in this town, and I think maybe just felt kind of bad, so I got a ride after all.)

This friend I'm staying with for a couple days had been my friend for years. In fourth grade we ran around playing fairies at recess and when I left after one semester we stayed friends somehow. I came back in eight grade and we clicked instantly. It was like we'd never been apart- though we abandoned the fairies in middle school...

After a year I left again (it seems like I am always leaving somewhere) but this time we made use of Skype and email and when we rejoined in eleventh grade for a semester we knew everything that had happened in each other's lives over the gap. She knows all my friends from high school in Mexico just because of how much we talk. I know way more of the kids here in Colorado than I would otherwise because of hearing her stories.

Yesterday we were talking and she pointed out some event I'd gone to that I didn't even remember. We know each other so well, and seeing her again feels so great. I haven't laughed this much in a while. I can talk about the hard things that have happened and don't have to explain back story because she already knows it.

It's a fantastic bit of joy before starting camp and I am thankful beyond words. 

May 25, 2015

As the Poems Go- Charles Bukowski

Tonight I stumbled upon the poems of Charles Bukowski. I was looking for a poem to include in this post and found one I really liked. Then I found another which my amazing Writing Professor in college had read at the beginning of a couple of different classes. So I decided that I would use one of his poems for this post and spent way too long reading poetry by Charles Bulowski, and I love him. In a one writer to another sense, of course. I also began a list of poems for my next poetry anthology which I am sure I will have to compose next time I take a class with said writing professor. He always makes his students hand copy fifty poems as a final project for class.

As a result I am writing this post from my phone, which is a lot harder and can't be very good for my thumbs. Not to mention I am so tired- my brain is fuzzy- and my head is spinning with poetry.

Today was a rather emotional day, packing always brings me down for some reason- even if I'm packing my sister's stuff and not even my own. Plus long distance relationships of every kind are hard, and sometimes I feel the distance more than others. Not just my boyfriend, I can feel how far away my family and friends are as well.

Thank goodness for writing friends who will show me ridiculous cat pictures and talk about poetry with me and for sisters who make strawberries and pound cake for dessert and boyfriends who stay up later than planned to make sure I'm smiling. It's hard to stay sad with people like this in my life.

Yesterday I was up at six to volunteer at a bike race, handing out water, energy drinks and snacks to the participants as they biked past. I have no idea why that was so much fun, but I had a blast. Not to mention breathtaking mountains on every side and that sweet Colorado smell of sage and damp dirt. I love this place.

We also tested out my sister and her husband's new car by driving up a mountain pass and getting to go four-wheeling up a mountain. Again with the beauty. Then I got to play with a baby, daughter of a couple my brother in law works with while at a party.

I just completely lost my train of thought and have no idea where this post was going. I think it's bedtime. I'm sto recovering from these stupid allergies that always turn into sickness and asthma for me, so more sleep is always good.

Ah! I almost forgot the Bukowski poem I ranted about in the first paragraph. Here it is:

As The Poems Go

as the poems go into the thousands you
realize that you've created very
it comes down to the rain, the sunlight,
the traffic, the nights and the days of the
years, the faces.
leaving this will be easier than living
it, typing one more line now as
a man plays a piano through the radio,
the best writers have said very
and the worst,
far too much.

May 22, 2015

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond- e.e.cummings

My life is going to change this summer. I can feel it. I came to Colorado with a plan to get a job, make some money, and spend a quiet summer with my sister and her husband and soon to come husky puppy. Instead I'll be living and working at a camp four hours away from my sister, making less money than I could and working more hours.

I worked at the same camp two summers ago (The camp is an amazing place, full of meaning and memories for me. I imagine at some point there will be a post all about this place.) That was the summer after my tenth grade and my year had been so difficult and I spent the last months of school praying that over the summer God would transform me and speak to me and use me. And He did. He really really did, and it was incredible.

This past semester of college was also hard, but I survived and I think I wanted to just keep surviving, but I know something even better is going to happen. I'm not going to have a quiet, easy summer. I know that already. But it's going to be amazing. It's going to change my life. I don't know how I know this, I just do.

But for now I do get one more week of quiet and rest, and I'm trying to make the best of it without just doing nothing all day, which tends to make me feel slightly depressed instead of rested. My sister and I hiked through Black Canyon the other day and followed along a family of geese. We had to pass them eventually and I was so terrified that I would have to add "attacked by goose" to my list of things I've done, but luckily the angry father goose let us pass without too much trouble.

I also saw a marmot which was so cute and super exciting, and so many chipmunks and I just can't get over how adorable animals are.

Even tonight when I'm fighting for breath and suffering trough itchy eyes and a runny nose because we spent the afternoon eating at someone's house with a couple of dogs. I still love animals, especially the tiny puppy we went to see today that will be my sister's puppy in just over a month. So cute. You have no idea.

Equity Blue has a few more pages of writing as of today and I even wrote a few poems, but then misplaced them and benedril is making me way to tired to go search. So here is a poem by e. e. Cummings, a man who somehow gets away with doing all my biggest writing pet peeves and yet no matter how hard I try to hate him and all his poetry they're just so good that I can't.

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though I have closed myself as fingers,
you open myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skillfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if you wish to be close to me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands 

May 21, 2015

The Things We Don't Expect

Last night as I was returning from watching a movie I developed an awful headache just as I was remembering that I needed to write a blog post. I wasn't going to stay awake long enough to find out if I had a migraine.

So here is a few hours late post for Wednesday. After Monday's head to head with failure I called my mom for a wonderful conversation and then wrote back to camp, where I had applied, been accepted, and then I had said no. I wrote back and was given a very enthusiastic: "yes, we have a position. Please come!" So Tuesday I called in for an over the phone interview with a good friend I've known for years.

My parents met at camp and got married there, and worked there before we left the country. Going to camp is like going back. So I said yes. It felt like God has taken me for a loop. Camp was one of the first places I applied to even though I knew I would probably just turn it down in the end. Then I applied to what felt like a thousand more places and nothing worked out. I was so frustrated, and then He brought me back around to look at camp.

I'll make les money than I would at basically any other job I could have taken, though I do have the opportunity to apply for a scholarship. It will take more of my time than the other jobs. It will require more energy. I'll have to live at a camp instead of this lovely room to myself with my own bathroom and everything. At camp there's a good chance I'll have to hike up a hill to teach the bathroom. Camp will limit my access to technology by a lot, and at this point I don't even know if I'll be able to keep up on my blog. I may have to drop down to a weekly post.

But even with the list of negatives there's something about working for camp that just sort of feels right. I'll admit that it was tough to get calls from three of the places I'd applied to the moment I said yes to working at camp either telling me I was hired or asking me to come interview. But I had already said yes to camp, for the second time, and I think it's the right decision. Maybe that's just because in the end I didn't get much of a choice at all.

And here's a poem that really has nothing to do with anything, but at least it's a poem:

They all sing songs of Icarus,
ballads, stories, poems.
Fly too high,
touch the sun,
never fly again.

But who tells of that
other fear,
that pain of flying.
as all the world below
starts to fade away, leaving
unforgivably alone,
in the vast expanse of sky.

May 18, 2015

Face off with Failure

Dealing with failure. Sometimes we just fail. Nothing goes the way we hope and expect and we just have to face failure. So what do we do? How do we handle failure?

I've been applying for summer jobs for at least three months now, and nothing at all has come through, except for a job at camp which I turned down because I thought I had so many other options and I didn't want to have to spend a whole summer essentially off the grid. Long distance relationships are hard enough without only being able to talk once a week.

But application after application and interviews and phone calls and yet I'm still sitting here with no job. I'm facing failure right now, and it hurts.

After my interview at the grocery store today I bought myself an iced coffee to celebrate one more interview done and trick myself into thinking how great a chance I had and how everything was going to work out. But then I got home and my sister asked how the interview went and it was like a tidal wave punched me in the stomach.

The required background check can take anywhere from three days to two weeks, and my interviewer said it will take longer if I've ever lived out of state. Great. Not only have I lived in Colorado, Vermont and Indiana in the last seven years, I've also lived in two different states in Mexico and I did a couple months in Europe. Considering what I know about Mexican Bureaucracy, which my English teacher and good friend compared to a tangled ball of Oaxaca Cheese, they'll probably never finish the background check. If they do, it'll for sure take the whole two weeks.

And then there's always that possibility that after those two weeks I'll get a call saying I don't get the job. Or more likely I won't get any calls, since that seems to be the trend with all the thousands of places I've applied to. I mean, as much as the rejection hurts, it's better than the uncertainty and abandonment of not even getting a call. I'm not even worth a phone call to hear that they don't want me.

And now it's too late to apply anywhere. Summer is pretty much already here, and business have already hired the people they want, as was explained to me in a ten minute long voice mail by the only business who did call back. "I'm applying late in the game." I wonder if she would have said that if she knew how many hours I've spent trying to find a job.

So my first reaction to dealing with failure was to mumble something to my sister and run up to my room, close the door, throw myself on the bed and cry into my pillow. Makeup and tears don't mix well. I hope the mascara doesn't stain the sheets...

My second reaction is to write about it, because sometimes when I'm feeling awful writing it all down helps me to see that it really isn't the end of the world and I'm just overreacting.

I don't know what the next step is. My sister said I should call my mom, but I'm not up to talking to anyone except paper (or theoretical paper here on the computer screen). I'll call her later and see if there are any places in this tiny little town I haven't applied to yet. I'll pray my voice out that somehow the background check will only take three days and I'll get a call telling me I got the job. Any job.

I know God has some sort of plan not just for my life but for this summer. It's just really hard to see what that could be when every door I try to walk through seems to just slam back into my face. I don't know what to do anymore except try to use this unwanted free time to work on my novel some more and crank out poems that hopefully aren't awful. Here's to writing- apparently the only thing I can do.