everybody's doing it...

bucket list:

1. play all of Chopin's Nocturnes and Preludes
2. play jazz
3. live on Prince Edward Island in a house with a wrap-around porch
4. keep some bees
5. write a family history
6. document my grandparents' recipes
7. get on a bike again
8. make collages
9. make as many things as possible from scratch for a month: bread, jam, soap, clothes, paper, etc.
10. sew a quilt, maybe communally?
11. backpack through Europe
12. spend at least a few months in each of the following places: Northern Ireland, Portugal, Greece, the Pacific Northwest, San Francisco, Greenwich Village, my grandparents' village
13. cultivate my own little orchard/vineyard
14. laugh daily
15. sail
16. tattoo
17. purchase books from only local or used bookstores
18. speak Chinese fluently
19. write my own nocturne
20. furnish my home with findings from thrift stores and garage sales
21. drink one full cup of coffee
22. take photos and develop them myself in a darkroom
23. learn the art of book-binding
24. walk everywhere/use public transportation
25. live through the winter
26. wash feet in a Maundy Thursday service
27. attend a Pentecostal church service
28. open a community frozen yogurt coffeeshop


these grey days

Suddenly it’s like winter. And with the turning of the weather comes a shift within me. This is what it feels like: dark grey cloud cover hanging low and ominous, pressing down on my head, releasing no rain; the walk back to Holland House through the long, dimly fluorescent-lit hallways and out into the penetrating cold that carved an aching hole in my center, between my ribs, below my heart; the lights in the trees that revealed the swirl and shine of fog as it rolled back in, draping the branches like wisps of cotton.

I am thinking of my sisters and me sitting on the heater eating breakfast with a blanket over our laps before 7:30 piano lessons, where our songs called up the sun to scatter the darkness. I am thinking of sitting on radiators, thawing out our feet and hearts after getting caught in the rain. I am thinking also of just last year, how our heater was broken more often than not, and how we wrapped ourselves in blankets and stood in front of the oven, mugs of tea in our hands. I am thinking of pumpkin bread, butternut squash soup, roasted sweet potatoes, carrot cake, hot apple cider. And I am thinking of a beautiful, heart-breaking book called the Meadow, which details a history of neighbors living through the lonely winters of Wyoming.

Generally, I like the somberness that comes on me like a veil, uncalled-for and unexpected. But it makes me unproductive. All I want to do is stare at the ceiling, trace patterns with my eyes or count all the cracks. I want to close my eyes, put fallish/winterish songs on repeat: William Fitzsimmons, Rosie Thomas, Gregory Alan Isakov, Damien Rice. Or walk on the shore for hours on end, sit on the edge of the wharf, and stare into the breathing mass of grey mystery until my mind is empty and clear. I want the world to be still enough so we can speak in whispers and all be heard.

For a few days last week, when the sun was shining, I carried a blanket and a pile of books everywhere I went and read with an abandon I haven’t had since I was twelve, losing my name and identity in other worlds. It started me dreaming and daydreaming again, beautiful vivid dreams full of color and laughter and adventure. Now I wake up breathing deeply, trying to catch the last bits of dream-air, full of hope. Then my eyes catch sight of the grey light, and the hope and optimism trickle away.

Yesterday, I pulled R.S. Thomas down from the shelf and found myself suddenly there, with him, in a dark chapel, morning sunlight filtering in weakly, my knees resting on the cold stone floor, the air heavy with presence, my heartbeat my only prayer because the words wouldn’t come.

R.S. Thomas

Moments of great calm,
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer, waiting for the God
To speak; the air a staircase
For silence; the sun’s light
Ringing me, as though I acted
A great rĂ´le. And the audiences
Still; all that close throng
Of spirits waiting, as I,
For the message.
Prompt me, God;
But not yet. When I speak,
Though it be you who speak
Through me, something is lost.
The meaning is in the waiting.