let me live my life in monochromaticisms

Besides the extra hour of sleep, daylight savings in the fall-time makes me bitter about the too-soon fading light. Tonight it is hardly 5:30 and my living room is in that in-between stage: too dark to see clearly, too light to turn on the lights. The colors drain, distilled into shape and shadow.

I can see a sunset reflection on the windows across the way. Right at 6--now 5--the reflected sun shines strong through the slats of our blinds, projecting a shadow show across our wall of half-frames and the little tree made of paper bag strips. The orchids, the daisies, the wildflowers, the rosemary plant, the colored glass jars leave a second layer of patterns on the wall, shifting by the moment.

And I am sitting here as I have sat all day long, curled up in a plaid blanket, too sick and weary to do much else but watch the sky, watch the light. It's been a long time since I've sat in one place, since I allowed myself the luxury of long-looking. Now the sky is gray-blue-purple, and Alexi Murdoch is playing softly in the background, and the only color left in this room is a faded orchid pink and a faded gerber daisy orange by the window.

This reminds me of:
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away—

I'm waiting for the scene to change. I'm not sure where I stand in the progress of this play; maybe past the climax, tripping through the falling action, nearing the denouement. Or perhaps the action is rising still, moving forward towards the climax.

But maybe the five-part structure just doesn't fit. I am still unconvinced that my life progresses in a straight line. If anything, I have been caught in a circle of rising action, climax, falling action, and back again, never reaching resolution, never reaching the all-important denouement.

What I do know is this: the last two weeks were weeks of color, bright, clashing, exhausting flares of significance. Now to recover I will steep myself in gray-blue twilight, in the murky darkness of black cream tea, in the stillness of deep dark ocean lit by a full moon, all while tasting words of full-bodied poetry on my tongue.

Now I am waiting for the scene to change and wishing my denouement to come. I am waiting for the lights to come on again, and for the background to be suddenly different, to be taken suddenly from the snowy Swiss alps to a flat grassy meadow in the Midwest. I am waiting for the weariness to disperse, for the fear to be stilled, for the healing to be complete.

But then I remember that this life is, excuse me Donald Miller and forgive me Shakespeare, like jazz and does not resolve. And, in this season at least, peace and grace settle unnoticed through moments of grays and blues.


on loss

So many questions this past week.

No we are not the exception. Somehow we have lived so much of life untouched; suddenly, now it all hits.

What I know now: nothing is constant. Pillars in life have shifted.

The seasons have turned. With the coming of the cold comes ripeness; then, too quickly, death, ruin, spoil. The fruit falls and trees unleave themselves. The wind blows through you as if you were not there. The cold heralds weariness yet sleeplessness, brings a deepness forgotten in the heat of summer.

Loss hovers like the morning fog: you wait all day for it to burn off. In places, sunlight, filtered, works its way through the oppressive mass. Here and there, hopeful attempts at creating relationship trickle through. Lately, I have been cynical; who knows if they will last?

There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

What happens when you can’t decide whether it’s time to weep or laugh, to mourn or dance? What happens when it is time to rejoice but only tears come?

We are discussing life and death, and not in the abstract, either; we are discussing my life and my death…Now is a time for simplicity. Now is a time for, dare I say it, kindness.

My mind cannot wrap itself around void. The concept is too large for me: to think that a person who is here one moment can be taken away the next. Something that reeks of unreality is now the sole new reality. What has been lost can never be regained entire, only renewed, transformed into something similar but never exactly the same.

What next? Are we in exile, left to wander the wilderness with no land to call our own?
How meaningless the words that fall from my mouth. How weary my feet as they carry me from place to place, my fingers as, again and again, they cover familiar black and white territory. How silly the inner workings of my mind.

The seasons shift from brokenness to healing to brokenness to healing, a little deeper, a little more honestly each time.

Loss rushes in and washes out, making the rough edges smooth.

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice
And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And I pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

dona nobis pacem



can I just be five and live my life over?


nothing out of the ordinary really

little pattern in my life these days

the days surprise me by the end
when I look back

so much unreality these days

[I'm thinking of jail time, engagements, babies]

where is my promised land?
how many more years of wishing, of wilderness wandering?

the seasons of brokenness then healing then brokenness then healing then brokenness
where is the moving forward?

after the revelation, always this pulling back, always the hiddenness again

maybe I should graduate early and just get all this over with.

[who knows if the moon's a balloon?]
so much unreality these days

for the time being

on the one hand there is so much to say.
on the other hand there is nothing:
only life to be lived which pulls either way.


what comes naturally

this weekend is like coming home.

midnight wanderings on campus. all things have settled, absence of people. westmont feels deceptively mine when I am the only one walking. no sound but cricket song.

I'd forgotten this sensation: the stillness, aloneness completely free of loneliness. the hollowness is somehow deeper this time, and my feelings fall out my bottomless heart.

even as a child I remember grasping at emotion, uncomprehending. is this sadness? am I sad? this is what she says sadness is; this must be sadness. still I lack words to describe my emotions. in all my happiness there is always melancholy; in all my loneliness there is always joy. naming my emotions traps them, soon I lose them to numbness.

I cut off a couple inches of hair today. unpremeditated. spontaneous and freeing.

midnight in a dark practice room. my mind shuts off, my fingers move, I realize subconsciously I am swaying. now my head is bent down close to the keys, now reaching up, stretching to contain this beauty that streams from my fingers. it's uncontrollable, heart-wrenching when it happens just right.

if there's anything I have learned, it is this: I am not a performer. music heals me when unwitnessed; music in performance hurts me, deepens insecurities. no I am not a musician til I am alone in darkness with a piano.

in spite of all the sleeplessness, this weekend I have found rest. I find my peace in solitude, in friendships that have grown so deep that we can be with each other comfortably, with speech or without, drawing strength simply by presence, a squeeze of a hand, a knowing look.

home: let me settle back in to tonic, practice the scales of rejoicing, the little ways of redeeming the TIME BEING from insignificance.

one thing
malachi 4.2
theatre as magic
the wild thyme unseen
healing through autobiography
my pen suddenly not dry and weary
artichokes and tomatoes preserve community

[shantih shantih shantih]


thought hodge-podge

so many good days in a row! caaan't handle it

1st day of autumn, 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness'

assignment: be/write like annie dillard. am I setting myself up for failure? yes but who cares

oh let's get rich and buy our parents homes in the south of france let's get rich and give everyone nice sweaters and teach them how to dance let's get rich and build a house on a mountain making everybody look like ants from way up there, you and I, you and I

I met a man named Raphael today who asked me if I had Indian blood in me [I was barefoot] and if I loved Jesus

oranges! make me smile and my day just so much better :)

also, clean laundry, and the soft warmth of clothes fresh out of the dryer

I miss: writing poetry, reading poetry, reciting poetry, replaying poetry in my head

I would like: to learn names of birds and trees

I have: remembered how to make paper cranes and paper stars

I enjoy: cooking, home-decorating

I found: a perfect concerto piece

I was given: a 50 dollar macy's gift card from the music department. they like me alot.

I wish: I had pictures in my head to paint/draw

I want: to play with my lil brothers!


[notice what you notice]

so much good in these days.

I don't feel quite awake; I'm not fully aware.
the days run together.

too much to notice, too much to claim.
too many gifts in these days to fully receive them all.

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows."
Malachi 3:10

now what?


Here, again.

Despite all the promises we made (we'll never forget this night these walks the way the wind circles around us the droplets of light the dailiness of our joy) these moments slip back into consciousness, elbowing me, whispering "remember me? do you remember?"

Most days I am unaware of time passing. Suddenly I am not chasing fireflies anymore. Suddenly my two front teeth are gone; suddenly there they are again. Now I am catching tadpoles, baking bread, sewing quilts; now I am watching the monarch butterflies in great clumps of movement in the trees. Suddenly I have peach juice sticky down my face, on my fingers; suddenly I am making peach pie, peach cobbler, peach fruit leather; suddenly the peach tree is barren. Now I have three sisters, and now a brother, and now another (will it never end?). Suddenly I speak; suddenly the world awaits.

Suddenly the day is done; suddenly two weeks of senior year are gone.

I think of Thoreau's deliberate and Dillard's wakeful awareness and Marilyn McEntyre's long looking; these words I have lived by, hoped to grow old in, to fit into like a favorite sweater. And yet I stand here forgetful, wakeful, aware more so than ever of what has been and is no longer.

So much change surrounds these days. I walk through the campus, wide-awake to my memories. I try to notice what I used to notice. In my head, I picture old faces in places that don't exist anymore. I see bare dirt where beautiful trees once thrived. I hear construction when I used to hear birdsong and see orange tape where I used to see green wilderness. I walk and feel, I walk and recite lines of poetry and song like a broken record, I walk and notice how my way of thought has shifted, and again, and again, these past years. The end is coming, and here again the beginning presses in on my consciousness.

In broad daylight, I walk through the VK parking lot, and think of the fog rolling in, headlights, the silhouette of a girl talking on a cell phone. Not the walk back to Armington; now it is the walk from Country Club to Ocean View.

In Reynolds, we have new poems from the underground hung on the walls. One is Feste's song. I know the backstory to this poster; what were the backstories to the old posters?

I never step into the DC anymore. There is too much glass; too many new bright lights and fancy decorations; too few familiar faces. Remember our five o'clock dinners that lasted til seven or later?

These are not constants. All is shifting, all is changing, but the changes help me see more clearly what I had at one point in time. This was my time and now the time is running out. I have looked and noticed, lost so much, hurt, claimed joy as my own, taken captive moments of absolute perfection.

This place is mine; I have loved it deeply enough. And I am learning that that is enough. That this place was never mine enough for me to control. That I can release my grip with confidence and gratefulness. That this place is like me, unrecognizable on the surface, under construction, burned and bare, but growing still, alive still, fundamentally the same as it always has been.



I haven't been so happy in so long.
neither have I been so exhausted.

one week of school so far and already I am sleep-deprived.
but life has been good and I have lived free and full.

there is so much brightness here. and rushing waters. I have been baptized again into hope.

every hour there is opportunity for new sight.

we live by creativity. sometimes to push ourselves towards new sight. or sometimes only to remind ourselves that creation is good, that art gathers together.

something about this apartment breathes blessing. whites and browns and reds. seeping sunlight through the slats. daisies candles old copies of Browning and Milton. the absence of television noise. art from scrap. conversation.

I'm remembering how to make cranes.

[playlist for today:
ben harper: she's only happy in the sun
page france: jesus
big japan: all the fish in the sea are stupid sluts anyway
amos lee: keep it loose, keep it tight
welcome wagon: up on a mountain
augustana: sweet and low acoustic
the smiths: please, please, please let me get what I want
adele: make you feel my love]


Annie Dillard teach me your ways.

She is nine, beloved, as open-faced as the sky and as self-contained. I have watched her grow. As recently as three or four years ago, she had a young child's perfectly shallow receptiveness; she fitted into the world of time, it fitted into her, as thoughtlessly as sky fits its edges, or a river its banks. But as she has grown, her smile has widened with a touch of fear and her glance has taken on depth. Now she is aware of some of the losses you incur by being here--the extortionary rent you have to pay as long as you stay.

Aces and Eights

I who have died am alive again today

well here I am. moved into a new comfortable cozy apartment. wonderful friends and happy reunions.

something feels funny though. something heavy. the night before I left we talked of brokenness, uncertainty, sickness. a friend of mine is praying each day for her husband's life to be spared overseas.

and summer is over. with it goes that strange season of nothingness, of blankness, of emptiness. I lost myself this summer; I became somehow less.

but now to be in this place surrounded by people who know me at my best and fullest. to realize how many steps backward I have taken these past few months. to see again, and bitterly, and more acutely than ever before, how living at home reinforces my insecurities and renders me functionally incompetent.

[note to self: never live at home for more than two weeks straight ever again.]

it's nice being here, of course. the freedom is priceless. here I can be a person, find myself again. but here I no longer have the safety of indifference. here I feel, here people treat me with respect. here I will be found out.

sanctification, it seems, is a continual crumbling into bits. always I am breaking, healed only to fall apart again.

[so I turn to annie dillard yet again:
"Holiness is a force, and like the others can be resisted. It was given, but I didn't want to see it, God or no God. It was as if God had said, 'I am here, but not as you have known me. This is the look of silence, and of loneliness unendurable; it too has always been mine, and now will be yours.'"]


life is good in santa barbara

I found the piece that was missing. in Santa Barbara, of course.

now I am home but just waiting to get back. I am whole and brimming when there.

my santa barbara friends teach me about living, growth, possibility. we adventure, we explore, we walk. we don't sleep much--there is too much life to live.

lights in a garden, classical guitar, black tea, fire pits, peach hookah, a corner loveseat.

heavy rolling clouds of fog, streetlamps.

freedom. yogurtland at 11 at night. hours spent in antique shops. a penis traced in the dirt and ash on my windshield? somehow it all feels like I am finally living, like I have finally stepped into the world I've been watching turn on its axis.

the ocean is there. still and ever-moving. always the same, always changing. so easy to lose the baggage, to drop all that weighs down. it is enough to surrender, to let the beauty surround, to realize yes I too belong in this picture, I am beautiful too.

one day I will have a little house and decorate it all in blue and white with birds and vases and candles. maybe I'll start collecting now.

I am humbled in this city
There seems to be an endless sea of people like us
Wakeful dreamers, I pass them on the sunlit streets
In our rooms filled with laughter
We make hope from every small disaster

Everybody says "you can't, you can't, you can't, don't try."
Still everybody says that if they had the chance they'd fly like we do.

weepies, a painting by chagall


Summer, a sketch.

Somedays I wake up, look in the mirror, and don't recognize myself. Everything is the same: I can trace the contours of my face, nose, mouth, I see how comfortably my hair falls across my face and eyes, I even see how my body fits just right in the little familiar bathroom space. But something unnamable, something just underneath the surface is different.

That strange unsettling feeling defines my entire summer. Everything is normal on the surface, but there is something deeper that is not right, something that remains just beyond the reach of consciousness. This summer, like every summer, like every time I spend any extended period of time at home, I lose touch. I live in indifferent routine, moving from day to day, task to task mindlessly, accomplishing nothing.

I've written little all summer, and I think the reason is because writing requires long looking, attention to detail, stillness, thought, analysis, patience, work. Almost daily, I realize I am slipping, somehow losing parts of myself that I have worked so hard for years to maintain. When I was younger, there was something inside me that compelled me to make music, to write, to stargaze, to seek solitude and silence, to create--no matter what the circumstances. But I've realized this summer that the need to create is gone.

In a way, it's been freeing. I've been thinking about Hedda Gabler's obsession with Ejlert's "beautiful death," and I wonder if I have had an obsession with living a beautiful life, with creating beautiful things because somehow that beauty will transfer back to me. I am learning to let things be, to let myself be: a process approaching but never reaching product, in continual refinement, change, and growth.

At the same time, however, I feel blank, lost, somehow less than who I know myself to be. Spending more than a few minutes at the piano every few hours gets more difficult with each passing day. The moments when I lose myself in a book and find myself more invested in the lives of fictional characters than I am in my own life are few and far between.

My life is a constant state of transition, it seems. A continual give and take, a neverending loss of one thing and gain of another. But I think I'm okay with that--I've been reading Annie Dillard lately:

At a certain point you say to the woods, to the sea, to the mountains, the world, Now I am ready. Now I will stop and be wholly attentive. You empty yourself and wait, listening. After a time you hear it: there is nothing there. There is nothing but those things only, those created objects, discrete, growing or holding, or swaying, being rained on or raining, held, flooding or ebbing, standing, or spread. You feel the world’s word as a tension, a hum, an single chorused note everywhere the same. This is it: this hum is the silence.

We were put on earth to recognize God's work before we carry out His will, to receive before we give, to experience before we create, to see before we share, to be before we become. It is enough to be here, to rejoice in what is known and the mystery of what is not yet known, to see the beauty that dwells in all.


too long.

I haven't written in ages.
something about me feels lost.

oh well.

this entire month I'll be home in gilroy [the middle of nowhere] with nothing to do. my older sister already left for college, my younger sister is leaving this weekend...and I won't be leaving til the last week of august. hopefully I'll write.

new favorite pandora station: she & him.
currently reading: angela's ashes, a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.
and I'm a little in love with jim halpert.


mayterm, growing up, going home.

book after book. I'm sifting through, trying to read word by word. so much, too much to process so quickly.
I want to stop, let the words and meanings seep deep into my soul and mind and heart, change me. but there isn't time.
the words, the pile of books relentless.

but I love this experience, love the progress I have made, love how much I have learned in just one short week.
for the first time in my life I know prolonged stillness, quiet, independence. I'm living in a little house with two girls, one works from 8-5 each day and the other is just as busy with class and homework as I am. so the house is mostly empty most days.

now this is no small change for me: I come from a loud in-your-face chinese homeschooled family with five siblings and always relatives or friends at my house which make dorm life seem quiet and calm. strangely enough, the shift to living in a neat quiet house with eight hours of sleep every night came smoothly, completely naturally, as though this is the life that I was meant to have all along. except the learning how to cook for just one person thing.

in high school I craved time alone, an empty house. I would snatch at times when I could sit alone, listening to silence. I remember those rare once-every-two-or-three-month occurrences, after putting the children to bed, turning all the lights off in the house moving blindly from room to room like a ghost or sitting in the center of my house, resting, not anticipating anything, not waiting, not thinking, just sitting, eyes closed, body still, heart rate slow, resting.
sometimes with a bowl of ice cream and mango cubes.

and here I can read a string of books in a week's time, here there are no interruptions to cook dinner for ten people, or pick up someone from dance class and drop off someone else at boy scouts and buy a chinese newspaper for my grandpa.

but of course I know all this is short-lived. four weeks from now I'll be back home with my entire family and both sets of grandparents and an uncle and aunt from the east coast and going half-deaf with all five languages spoken in my house, and chinese tv shows, and stir-frying, and kristina's hannah montana, and maddie's...everything, and maria's need to control the craziness, and the boys running around and screaming and laughing, and my mother trying to pay attention to everything and talking to everyone at once, and my father trying to make peace, and my going-deaf-and-senile grandparents repeating everything twenty times and loudly and all at once.

so every moment I am learning to value for what it is now, hoping to bring that all-pervading peace I know so well here back home with me.

don't get me wrong. I love home. I love my family. I love the craziness, although in small doses. and in a strange way I long to be back now because nothing will be the same from here on out. maria's going to med school, maddie's going to boston, and the children are growing up. gabe couldn't speak in sentences when I first came to college and now he's reading and writing. kristina looks more like maddie each time I go home, and mikey is getting wiser, concerned about how much of a temptation candy is for him.

sometimes I want my brothers to never grow up, to keep picking me flowers and drawing me pictures, and climbing onto my lap and asking me to tell them stories about dragons and adventures and aliens, and to always be entranced by the squirrel in the front yard, and to always find something to laugh about, but in other ways I'm so glad they're growing up and changing. because, strange as it seems for me to be saying this, I have been growing up and changing and becoming more deeply myself or at least accepting more of myself and it's not half bad.

...but oops I should have reading all this time.