Saturday, June 30, 2012

Creativity Day 3: Describe A Room

Abravanel hall. Graduation day. Childbrides line the stage – wait those are the graduating group. Bouquets, awards, programs, diplomas. I hope you have more than two arms. Names read aloud. 56 kids walk across the stage. Kids that are adults because the piece of paper they’re holding says so. Gold leafing. They know it’s gold leafing from the 5th grade field trip there, when they first thought it was all pure gold. So much solid gold. The symphony played that day. Today, no symphony will serve. Just words words words. The right words? There are no right words for today, because today the happy thing is indistinguishable from the sad thing. Goodbyes are inherently sad, and yet... The childbrides are the forest creature in that one movie that the daddy has to yell to “get off, go” even as he cries, because daddy’s know what is best for forest creatures. Future. Past. Thank you. Congratulations. Good bye. So long. Farewell. Adieu to you my friends. My friends. I will miss you my friends, 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Creativity Day 2: Cliches

Here’s what can’t be true:
1.     If you bite off more than you can chew, you’re fucked.
2.     Once you’re caught between a rock and a hard place you might as well start cutting off your own arm with anything remotely sharp.
3.     It’s sink or swim and 99% sink.
4.     You grow where you’re planted and you got a shitty planting spot.
5.     Time flies and before you know it you’ve done absolutely nothing with your life.

Here’s what I want to be true:
1.     There are too many ways to go to hell for organized religion to be true.
2.     North Korea won’t actually launch a nuclear weapon at the U.S.
3.     Everyone eventually turns into their mother.
4.     Doing what you love makes life worth living even if you’re broke and desperate.
5.     Getting over it doesn’t mean forgetting.

Here’s what I know to be true:
1.     Coffee turns a shit fest into an endurable shit fest.
2.     If a Taylor Swift song makes you cry you know that you’re in a bad spot emotionally.
3.     There is ugly break-your-heart and beautiful break-your-heart and the distance between them is a million miles long.
4.     Value, virtue, and worth are not synonyms with in-tact hymen.
5.     Being a real adult means having your own REI and Barnes & Noble memberships.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Creativity Day 1: Getting Started

So remember how I've been working on a big writing project?
This morning I'm off to Europe for about a month. Lorin and I are going to Russia, Finland and Estonia. Judy, my two cousins, my aunt, and I are going to Italy. Then Judy and I are going trekking in Switzerland. Everyone kinda wanted to go on a trip with me this summer, which is awesome. It's also awesome that I get to spend some one-on-one time with each of my parents, whom I love dearly, if I haven't written that before (or enough).
However exciting the adventure, I literally couldn't bear the thought of letting my blog go blank for a month. So I found a set of prompts called "30 Days of Creativity". Then I started writing them and found them to be bullshit. They were more like bad therapy than writing prompts. So I've scoured my writing books, blogs and the internet and found 30 prompts to respond to for my own 30 days of creativity (special thank you to So I've spent June writing said prompts and scheduling them for posting. Some of them I spent a lot of time on, some just ten minutes, some are teeny tiny one sentence posts (and don't even think of judging me for my inherently shitty first drafts), but there's always something, so check in every day at 9:00, because I am proud to say that I've got one to go up for every day I'm gone. (It's worth noting that I was too lazy to post the entire prompt most days, but that the title pretty much sums it up.) I'm going to blog every day for a year if it kills me.
And if I happen to get internet here or there while I'm away, I'll post then too! Which would make for two posts a day sometimes. So stick with me. Don't bail on reading my blog just because I'm not in the country.
And here we go.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A List of Things Before I Leave

1) In light of my upcoming trip tomorrow, I was recently referred to Sounds stupid right? Why would you want to find a grave? So you can have pilgrimages to famous writers graves, duh. I've found out that Keates is buried in Rome and Pound is buried in Venice.

2) No more blogspot! I went ahead and bought the domain, so I can be and ligit and what not. It made me smile. I have a real blog all my own. In the next week the blogspot one will start forwarding to the new one.

3) For the first time in my life, my nails are long. I up and quit biting them. I'm pretty proud of myself for this one. It was kinda a battle.

4) I took the kids to Brave, and it was darling. Find a child and take them to it.

5) I realized that it's become incredibly normal for me to sit down at a computer open up my chest and write with vulnerability. I may end up erring on the side of too sharing too much, but I love that I can do that. I think it's put me in a good spot. I think I'm a better person because I do so frequently.

6) My birthday fucking kicked ass. Someday I'll blog more about that. Maybe.
The food was awesome. Breakfast at Ruth's Diner with my family and a picnic at Liberty Park with the best friends.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Now That I'm 18

It's my birthday. Happy birthday to me! Gone are the sweet days of childhood.
Here are 100 things that I can do now that I'm 18. I'm going to do 3 of them today. I'll leave you to guess which 3. 

1. Buy tobacco
2. Change your name
3. Get a tattoo
4. Get a piercing
5. Buy spray paint
6. Work more hours
7. Sue someone
8. Be sued
9. Purchase liquid white out
10. Pawn something
11. Get married
12. Get divorced
13. Adopt a child
14. Be on Jerry Springer
15. Go on Cruise
16. Buy a lottery ticket
17. Get a hotel room
18. Call some "900" numbers
19. Go to a night club
20. Get a Sam's club membership
21. Skydive
22. Sign legal documents
23. Gamble
24. Get a blockbuster membership
25. Get a loan
26. Buy insurance
27. Donate blood
28. Enlist in the military
29. Rent a movie
30. Get a non-prepaid cell phone
31. Sign a legal contract
32. Begin earning credit
33. Smoke a cigarette
34. Chew tobacco
35. Move out of the parental units house
36. Get paid more
37. Go to an adult jail
38. Be convicted as an adult
39. Become an undercover cop
40. Work full-time
41. Become a flight attendant
42. Purchase Nicorette gum
43. Purchase "the patch"
44. Drive any time of day
45. Visit a porn site
46. Visit a porn store
47. Become a stripper
48. Work in an alcohol serving establishment
49. Work in bar
50. Get a bar tending license
51. Work at Wal*Mart
52. Get a business license
53. Go to a strip club
54. Work in a strip club
55. Work in a night club
56. Vote
57. Pay a utility bill
58. Open a savings account
59. Open a checking account
60. Obtain a credit card
61. Enter a contest
62. Enter a sweepstakes
63. Buy a monkey (w/ a license)
64. Open an eBay account
65. Carry a weapon (w/ a license)
66. Order something off T.V.
67. Open your own AOL account
68. Write a check
69. Operate machinery at work
70. Become a mentor
71. Go bungee jumping
72. Work at a gas station
73. See a doctor on your own
74. Get a different type of driver's license
75. Rent a port-a-potty
76. Get the water bill in your name
77. Lease an apartment
78. Rent a house
79. Finance a car
80. Be a manager
81. Deliver newspapers for the Tampa Tribune
82. Sign yourself out of school
83. Work practically anywhere
84. Start your own business
85. Cash a savings bond
86. Buy nitrous oxide
87. Give a lap dance
88. Get a lap dance
89. Rent a post office box
90. Drive a company vehicle
91. Drive an ice cream truck
92. Buy a house
93. Breaks at work are no longer required.
94. Start a 401k plan
95. Apply for benefits at work
96. Receive more responsibility/stress/advantages
97. Pay taxes
98. Get a PayPal account
99. Make your own decisions
100. Have the freedom and independence you didn't have before

Monday, June 25, 2012

Home for the Holidays

You know what's awesome?
Everyone came home for my birthday.
Lorin's been fishing in Colorado all week. Originally he was supposed to come home tomorrow, but instead he's driving all night tonight to be home for my birthday.
Sam's been in Hawaii. His friends are staying until the 28th, but he gets in this morning, because I told him he couldn't miss my birthday.
The best friends are, of course, in Paris. They were going to come home a few days later, but instead are coming home today so we can have a birthday extravaganza tomorrow.
I am a lucky girl.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quote Sunday

I've also been sporadically reading East of Eden again. And this part never fails to move me:

The King James version says this – it is when Jehovah has asked Cain why he is angry. Jehovah says, ‘If thou doest well, shalt though not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire and thou shalt rule over him.’ It was the ‘thou shalt’ that struck me, because it was a promise that Cain would conquer sin... Then I got a copy of the American Standard bible... And it was different in this passage. It says, “Do Thou rule over him.” Now this is very different. This is not a promise, it is an order... The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel – ‘Thou mayest’ – that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’ – it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’

I really think this might be one of the most brilliant moments in all of literature. Thou mayest. The way is open. 
You know, I've always thought timshel would make a good tattoo. And I turn 18 on Tuesday. Just saying. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

On A Budget

Because of too many consecutive outrageously high bills, my parents took away my credit card and put me on an allowance. A fairly generous allowance, to their credit. Unfortunately, I've recently incurred another high expense: I'm addicted to Whole Foods cheese bar. Triple cream goat cheese, imported French brie, smoked aged English white chedder; it's really bad. I'll go to Whole Foods and grab normal lunches - salad, strawberries, quinoa - and then I'll pick up a piece of sixteen-dollar piece of cheese. Admittedly, it's kick ass cheese, but I'm not sure I can afford to have all my money go to cheese. 

Okay, so I end up spending an equal amount on poetry at The King's English, but really that's my budget? Poetry and cheese? I'm going to be the worst college student ever.

Friday, June 22, 2012

What I'm Reading

I used to only read one book at once. But in the past year or so, things have changed and now I read too many books at the same time. In some ways I hate reading that way, but I also can't manage to pick just one to read.
So here's what I'm reading now:
Yesterday I finished Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman. It was so tender and tragic - a mix of Year of Magical Thinking and Invisible Darkness - but I also found it incredibly beautiful. The capacity of the human heart to ache and to love is one of the most beautiful things in the world.
I'm reading two books by Gregory Orr. One is The Blessing which is possibly the saddest book I've ever read, but also super addicting and wonderful. I think that because Orr wrote it in his 50s, he can turn his emotional energy into words elegantly. The other one is called Poetry as Survival which is, bizarrely enough, one of the most difficult books I've read in a long time. Like 3 pages into the introduction I was huddled up crying, not because it's sad - it's really not - but because it felt like Orr was telling my story. In fact in the margins I wrote THIS IS MY STORY. And that's sorta difficult to read, if that makes sense.
I'm also (still) reading Faulkner's Light in August. I've been reading it for like two months now, but it's a book that takes more intellectual energy to read than the others - just because Faulkner's writing, while elegant, isn't easy to read - so I can only read it at certain times. It's totally worth reading, and I'm going to finish it before I go to college.
There are also several poetry collections floating around my life (wanna talk about the fact that on Tuesday I went to The Kings English and dropped $90 on poetry?) I recently finished Anne Carson's NOX which will, at some point, get a post all it's own, because c'est incroyable!
Now I'm on to Carson's Autobiography of Red which has the most interesting format style. I love poets who use the page as a canvas for art instead of merely a tool like a screwdriver to get done what they really want to.
Plus there's Sharon Olds' One Secret Thing which is simply good poetry. Clean and crisp and perfect for days that just need a little poetry in them.
Plus there's Franz Wright's Walking in Martha's Vineyard which I ordered on a whim like a month ago and am just now getting around to. It's jam-packed with things that make me whimper in the best way possible.
And finally, there's CD Wright's One Big Self which has the most interesting premise. It's about inmates in Louisiana state prisons and it makes my heart sigh and ask what are we doing to people?
So yes, that adds up to seven books I'm reading right now. Which is maybe a little out of control, but they're all excellent, so I have no remorse. I love that I get to be in that stage of life where there's more classically excellent literature for me to read than I possibly can; where I don't have to reread things or browse the newly published sections to get my hands on something new (to me) and wonderful; where pretty much every book I read stuns to silence.
I'm exploring the world of literature like I would a European city. Lucky me.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Working Girl

Since I'm graduated and what not, I'm being an adult.
When I say I'm being an adult, I mean I got a really rockin babysiting/nannying job this month. It includes me driving a red minivan. They pay really well, and the kids are damn awesome. I absolutely love them. They're smart and independent and super fun to play with. We've gone swimming pretty much every day. Which is great.
Today it was me and the 9-year old at lunch. We played would you rather. But really we played would Hannah rather. Would you rather be a shoe or a sock? Why? Would you rather be a monster or an alien? Why? Would you rather be salsa or guacamole? Why? Whenever I'd ask her one she'd ponder it a moment and say I don't know, but mine were never accepted without a why. She also told me today, I think that when I get married I won't change my last name, because I really like my name the way it is. And I was like score one for feminists of the future.
The younger one is a doll. She always holds my hand wherever we're going. She also likes to grab my bellybutton. Which is weird. But she does it to her mom too, which makes me feel better. She also loves to quote movies. We'll be in the car and for fifteen minutes straight she will quote Shrek and Toy Story and Despicable Me.
Anyway, I adore my girls. I'm sincerely going to miss them once I'm not seeing them every day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Vonnegut still makes me smile

If your day today is feeling blue, feeling empty, feeling like it could do a little better with some Vonnegut in it, then I have a treat for you. If not, it's still a treat, but a less needed one.
So watch this and smile and write a better short story than you would have yesterday.
Six and Seven are my favorites.


1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things-reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Still a Socialist

Last night, I ate sushi, painted my nails and watched MSNBC. And it occured to me that I hadn't blogged about any of my socialist politics lately. Also, Michigan kicked ass yesterday. Also, this came in the mail.

It's a car magnet, so that when Lorin takes it off, I can put it back on. We call that compromise in my house. (My poster for my dorm room came too!)

So Michigan. Lisa Brown is one of my new favorite people in the universe. I adore her. Watch this. It's the last part that gets played over and over again, but the whole speech is actually quite impressive.

"And finally Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but no means no."

So, as the entire universe has heard by now, this got her kicked off the floor for bad "decorum". No more speaking. Which is not even a teeny tiny bit okay. Right. I agree with that. But it's what's happened after that I find most interesting.
Brown was on MSNBC last night (with Eve Ensler, who we'll get to in a moment). The really poignant point that she made was this: The Michigan penal code uses the word vagina three times, and this was an abortion debate. If we're going to legislate vaginas, we need to be able to use the word. 
So anyway, Eve Ensler came to Michigan and did what she does best: kicked ass. 5000 people turned out for a giant performance of The Vagina Monologues on the steps of the capital; a performance that, of course, included Eve Ensler, Lisa Brown and other legislators. 
I would've given anything to be there.

I just love that women stand up like this. Last night Rachel Maddow said "don't mess with nuns. Nuns always win." But really, I think it's don't mess with women. Women are capable of connected-ness that is so much more than a force to be reckoned with. Women's connections make things like this happen. Women are done taking this shit; now days, we get shit done. Women are smart and articulate and funny and will not be silenced for saying vagina. No more. As Eve Ensler says, "vaginas are here to stay."

PS. This happened too.
And this:

Monday, June 18, 2012

When I had to talk in church

Yesterday I had to talk in church. It was father's day. Here's what I said:

               My dad and I have always ridden horses together. Before I could speak in sentences I was sitting in the saddle with Lorin riding around the pasture. And as I grew I got to ride on my own horse with a lead-rope that Lorin was holding on to. Over the years his grip slackened and before long I was going on rides all by myself. And now I’m graduated and on my way to college and I’m not allowed to bring along my horse or my father. So today, on Father’s day, I’m going to share with you five lessons I learned from Lorin.
               Through our time in on the horses, Lorin has taught me lots. I can identify a sticky geranium and differentiate between stinging nettles and mint leaves. I know to spot elk and deer and moose, and I know what do with a spooked horse. Without gentleness and patience, horses get spooked. They do not react kindly to sudden movements or loud noises. Now, neither gentleness nor patience are inherently part of my nature. And you know, I’m not sure they’re inherently part of Lorin’s nature either. Yet whether it’s dealing with a horse, talking politics with his borderline socialist daughter, or getting the news that, yet again, daughter’s car had a run in with a telephone pole, Lorin reacts with patience and gentleness. Which is lesson number one: patience and gentleness make life softer and sweeter.
               As well as teaching me to ride, Lorin tried, quite unsuccessfully, to teach me to fly fish. I went on exactly one fly fishing trip with him. In that one fly fishing trip, I managed to catch three fish as well as to hook the guide in the nose. And that was the end of my fishing career. But don’t think for a second that Lorin has ever let me forget that one fishing trip. Yet, sick as I get of hearing that story told over and over and over Lorin’s relentless teasing has taught me lesson number two: don’t take yourself too seriously. Laughing at yourself is healthy. Laughing at yourself leads to a happier life and better relationships.
               As the only daughter, I required a few “man activity” concessions from Lorin. So sometimes we have father-daughter outings that consist of shopping and lunch. Okay, so more often than not we skip the shopping part and just do lunch. But Lorin is always up for lunch together. Which is really meaningful, because it’s nice to know that there’s always time in his life for me. In fact, whenever I ask Lorin to be somewhere for me, he’s there, which is lesson number three: sometimes the most meaningful thing you can do is be available. Knowing that my father is someone who will show up for me, someone who’s there to check in, someone who always has the time, is a constant that I’ve relied on.
               Even before the horses and fly fishing and lunch dates, Lorin would read to me. My earliest memories of Lorin are of reading books together. We’d read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series by the time I was nine. One of my favorite parts of the series is in The Silver Chair when Puddleglum the Marshwiggle stands up to the evil queen and says,
Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself.  Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones… I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t an Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.
I love this passage because I think it may actually be one of the most beautiful speeches in all of literature, and also because it’s my favorite example of lesson number four: integrity. Puddleglum knows what he believes and stands up for it. As, might I say, does Lorin.  Whether it’s reading his scriptures ever single day, insisting that home night happen this week or donating to Romney whatever I donate to Obama, Lorin stands up for what he believes. And even when I entirely disagree with him, I’ve respected and learned from Lorin’s deep-seeded integrity.
               Somewhere in the many many hours spent reading with me, Lorin realized that words mean more to me than anything else; that I cherish and hold on to them. And so, throughout my life, Lorin has written me notes. Little notes passed to me as I’m getting out of the car or on my way out the door or before I go to bed. Little notes just to say I love you, I’m proud of you and here’s why. And those notes have made the difference, because sometimes, that’s all a girl needs.  Wherever we were at in the epic journey that is a father-daughter relationship, I knew I was loved. In fact, I had proof I was loved. So the fifth and final lesson is this: find meaningful ways to show your love and do so frequently.
               I am so lucky to have such a wonderful father. And start my own life, I’ll carry with me the lessons he’s taught me. And I believe I’ll be a better person for it. 

PS. Remember that other talk I gave? Look who made the official website. This girl!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Quote Sunday

So I have to talk in church today. In preparing for this, there were some intense google searches on religious poetry. Not because I'm talking about poetry again, (I'm not), but because poetry always gets my guts running. And because poetry makes me feel like I'm not alone. Like someone else in the world understands me intimately without having to understand any details at all. I'm addicted to that feeling. 
In this set of intense google searches, I found this poem. It vaguely reminds me of Franz Wright's "The Only Animal", but I can't really explain why I feel that connection so potently.
Anyway, here it is. Happy Sunday.

“Six Apologies, Lord" by Olena Kalytiak Davis

I Have Loved My Horrible Self, Lord.
I Rose, Lord, And I Rose, Lord, And I,
Dropt. Your Requirements, Lord. 'Spite Your Requirements, Lord,
I Have Loved The Low Voltage Of The Moon, Lord,
Until There Was No Moon Intensity Left, Lord, No Moon Intensity Left
For You, Lord. I Have Loved The Frivolous, The Fleeting, The Frightful
Clouds. Lord, I Have Loved Clouds! Do Not Forgive Me, Do Not
Forgive Me LordandLover, HarborandMaster, GuardianandBread, Do Not.
Hold Me, Lord, O, Hold Me

Accountable, Lord. I Am
Accountable. Lord.

Lord It Over Me,
Lord It Over Me, Lord. Feed Me

Hope, Lord. Feed Me
Hope, Lord, Or Break My Teeth.

Break My Teeth, Sir,

In This My Mouth.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Single Tree

A Single Tree

When I was little
my parents cut down scrub oak
to build me a playground. And
in that cut-down scrub oak was a single tree
with an abandoned magpie’s nest in it.
When we looked inside we found
a yellow game piece.
Day after day
summer is warm     ,     with
mountain wildflowers blooming early this year
and my hair fitting right into a ponytail
naturally as I fit into a flowered dress
with Sunday afternoon Sangria.
On days like this
I listen to little wet feet, thinking that
I like the way you make my thoughts taste,
that my journal is
every book I’ve ever read,
that you shouldn’t believe
all the words I don’t mean, (that the rain
will wash them away anyway)
that you don’t know
everyone else is going to dance,
that when I waved
it felt like having a tooth pulled
and that in the hole
(the one my tongue liked to feel)
I found not a soft truth to burrow in,
but a sharp one that stung like a bumble bee.
So in the meantime
I will feed the horse with my hand
and while I peel oranges or burn firewood
that I am still the girl
who wears dresses in winter
who always hugs the snowman goodnight
who listens to

the sound of the kitchen door
     peoplecomeandgo –
i promise to come back

the girl you loved.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Made My Day

I've recently started keeping a list on my phone of things that made my day. Here's a few:

1. When we went to the spa for sluff day, there was a lady there who asked Kat where we were all going to college. Kat told her "Barnard, Stanford, Duke and Swarthmore". She said, "wow, you guys are really smart. Who's going to Swarthmore?" "Me!" "Well, you must be a writer." "Why yes, yes I am."

2. A hypnotist came to the post-graduation party. He was giving his "you need to be quiet so I can hypnotize people" speech when he said "the only tool I have is language" at which point I raised my hand and asked "did you major in English?" and he said "yes, I did, and there's no money in it."

3. I'm nannying 3 kids a few days a week this month (more on that later). They wanted to play truth or dare. But where I got all the truths and they got all the dares. So I was trying to think of a good dare for a nine-year-old, and finally came up with "stick your toungue out and do 10 jumping jacks in the front yard." The five-year-old started laughing hysterically at this, and I thought I'd done well until she got enough breath to yell "that's the dumbest dare I've ever heard!!"

4. I found a face cream that smells just like red wine.

5. On 5th south, right by the freeway entrance, there is a giant billboard that says
 Prepare for June 26
Now, technically, this is a billboard reminding people to prepare for the primaries on June 26. BUT, June 26 also happens to be my 18th birthday, so really that billboard is telling people to prepare for the wildness that will be unleashed once I'm a legal adult.
[I just realized that if I'm getting married the day I turn 18 I better hop on finding something to marry. Let the husband search begin!]

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A poem will always fit

So there's this Sherman Alexie short story called "Indian Education" in which Alexie writes a little bit about every year of school. It's really sad, but also kinda moving. When we first read it, maybe 2 months ago, in English class, I started a mimic, but totally hit a wall and found myself entirely unable to finish it. Yesterday I revisited it, and came out with this prose poem/ verse something-or-other.

A Poem Will Always Fit

Blonde hair and blue eyes. On days when Hannah misses her parents she gets quiet. We ask her to tell us about her trips to Hawaii. She usually perks up when she talks about that.

My first memory of school is learning to write the letter N. We had, thus far, been learning the letters in alphabetical order. The day we learned N I had finally learned every letter necessary to write  my name.
That was the moment I first had access to words.

A golden eagle was hung above the hall
 that we walked through to get to music class.

We stand next to each other in line as we walk through the hallway. Let’s be friends. Let’s be friends even though I’ll confuse the Backstreet Boys with the Beach Boys. Let’s be friends even though you’re better a football and singing. Let’s be friends even though our futures are different. Let’s be friends because we both have blonde hair and because we’ve got at least a decade to keep being friends.

My favorite multiplication table was 6 x 12 = 72

When our teacher had surgery we had a substitute, Mrs. Bolberg, who we loved for being so much fun. One day, four of us hid in the cubbies instead of going to computer class. Mrs. Bolberg came and found us and told us that if we didn’t go to class she would get in trouble. So we went to class. Sometimes, we follow rules because we care about others, not because we care about the rules.

A new wing of the Lower School was built for us. In that new wing was a new library; my new library. I became friends with the librarian and read at least one book every day. I discovered that there are new worlds to be explored inside a book, that books are better – more entertaining –  than T.V. and that there is power in words.

Now I can get detentions.
Now I wear plaid skirts instead of jumpers.
Now I am old enough to ride a horse all by myself.


Around finals week, my friends all started saying they were “stressed”. And though I understood what stress was, I couldn’t understand feeling “stressed”. After all, you do your homework, study for your tests, rely on your friends and life works out. The next year, all my friends went to public school, where there was less stress. I stayed. And thrived.

Freshman means high school means please act your age.
Freshman means fresh meat means younger girls get hurt.
Freshman means youngest means don’t believe the seniors actually have their shit together.
Freshman means changes means scary, exhilarating, and things are on the upswing.

Come pick me up. Pick me up so we can be best friends. Pick me up to go get coffee. Pick me up because you can drive and I can’t. Pick me up and take me wherever the future is taking you, because I’m along for the ride.

The year tasted like espresso, hard work, and meaningful friendship.
Hannah is a fireball. A streaking comet. While she sometimes crashes, she seems to be able to summon every bit and more of her energy back to shoot through the sky again and again.

I am so proud to be walking across this stage with such a talented, passionate, remarkable and downright epic graduating class. A class whose daily presence I will dearly miss. But I think things will be okay because I believe Carl Sandburg when he wrote “poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes,” and I know that a poem will always fit in my pocket, even if the Waterford school won’t.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

213 Days

Well, it's day three of my best friends being in Paris, my brother being in Hawaii, and me being at home, and naturally, I've been writing to cope. (I've got a big project I'm working on.) Now that my life is so un-busy it could be called boring, I've noticed that I'm perpetually itching to read and write. I suppose that may have always been there, I just didn't notice.
As of today, I've been blogging/writing every day since November 13. That means I've written every day for 7 months or 213 days. This writing project has taught me so many beautiful things.
Writing has taught me to think critically about my world: that the things around me are more than they appear to be and mean more than they seem to mean. Writing has taught me that I have a voice, and that when I'm willing and disciplined, that voice can be powerful. Writing has taught me what it feels like to be heard. Writing has taught me that relationships are built on vulnerability and that the more you really know someone the more you care for them. Writing has taught me about secrets and what happens when things are left inside to rot . Writing has taught me what to do with the icy acidic anxiety, what to do with flowing tears, what to do with untamed love, what to do with aliveness. Writing has taught me how to drop everything, take a break, and listen to the world around. Because it's in those moments - those moments when a poem or essay or blog post starts and I run with it - that writing fills me up to the brim.
And, writing has taught me to ask for help. Because I know that without feedback and critique, a piece of writing never gets above mediocre. And that might be the best lesson of all.

PS. maybe I love pinterest too much

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Measurable Differences

Measurable Differences

This is what it feels like
to know that I might not live forever:
honey & salt,                        
the sound of my own name
smells wrong–
Am I creature enough?
The year tasted
of melt in your mouth

Yes, come,
let me tell you my secrets
my handwriting
the way I hold a pen
the paper cuts of my fingerprint.
Until the sun rises,
let me show you eternity
with a measure of wisdom
before tomorrow
           then today
           then yesterday.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Speech



            I know that we each have our gems of senioryear, and mine was poetry. Which, I realize, sounds a little silly. A littleteen angsty. But really, it changed my whole year, because what I discovered isthat poetry is about truth – not look-you-in-the-face, put-shiny-label-on-it truthbut dancing-around-the-way-things-feel, trying-to-grasp-some-understandingtruth.
            W.H. Auden described poetry far better than Ican when he wrote, “a poem is a tangle of opposites working towards unity.” Ofcourse that’s true: a poem is a magnolia tree in full bloom, a favorite pair ofred stilettos that never fit quite right and that feeling you get beforegetting off the ski lift for the first time. A poem is getting at the truthwith things that aren’t supposed to go together, like, say, poetry andcommencement addresses.
            Consider this: if you walked into our seniorlounge during this school year, you would likely have witnessed: a rivetinggame of sting pong (welts and all); a group of boys – pale from lack of sunexposure – playing Magic or Super Smash Brothers in the corner; a deep andmeaningful conversation about Anthropologie dresses (or reproductive healthcarerights) coming from girls on the couch; and blaring out of the speakers,Sinatra.
            A tangle of opposites? Absolutely. A poem?We’re getting there.
            Not unlike Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the class of2012 sets up and subverts expectations. Our soccer players write comedysketches, our mathematicians make films, our student body president leads adouble life as Voldemort. Our birdwatchers write short stories, ourphotographers ride horses, and our lacrosse players fight breast cancer. Not asingle member of this class could be put into a box of the absolute, definite,here-is-your-identity, look-you-in-the-face and put-a-shiny-label-on-it truth.This is, at least in part, because we’re not afraid of trying new things and wedon’t make our decisions to avoid failure. Classes and activities were pickedup (and sometimes dropped) on whims. Sometimes we excelled, sometimes we nearlygot expelled, sometimes it was just worth the experience of trying it, but hereat Waterford we were afforded the opportunity to indulge any interests we had –and we had a lot. We grew into racquetball, lacrosse, robotics, crew,volleyball, and soccer champions; to genuinely engaged historians,mathematicians and scientists; to award-winning photographers, artists, and writers;to moving actors, dancers, and musicians.
            In such a group, unity is not always evident.With one notable exception, each time our tangle of opposites had to make agroup decision, chaos ensued, because in reality our grade doesn’t have asingular voice. It’s not that we’re voiceless, in fact, it’s just the opposite:everyone has something to say and everyone says it. We are a group of peoplewho speak up. We’ve been called fractured and splintered at times – like when wefailed entirely to choose a senior class theme or when we nearly missed gettingsenior sweatshirts and electing alumni representatives – but we also had briefmoments of absolute unity, because when push comes to shove, we are more thanjust a group of people randomly thrown together through education. We areunified as teammates, classmates and friends. And each one of us has, at one point or another, had a crush oneither Parker Dolbin or Kasandra Rasmussen.
            Our prime moment of unity came in choosing oursenior gift, when we made our decision unanimously and instantly, insisting wedidn’t want or need any more time to consider other options. For our seniorgift we’ve created a scholarship in the name of Linda Kitchen. Every single oneof us contributed money (the second class to do so in Waterford history) andwith help from our parents we recently hit $22,000, with plans for thescholarship to be sustained in the future. We made this our senior gift becausewe felt that it was a way to thank Linda Kitchen for the impact she made oneach of our lives.
            And though she’s special, Linda Kitchencertainly isn’t the only person who we would like to thank. Thank you to parents,grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, neighbors, friends – all who haveplayed a role in helping us get here today. We appreciate the sacrifices youhave made to get us to where we are, the fights you have fought for us, and thelove with which you have taught us.
            Thank you to the administrators and teachers ofWaterford. We relied on you as constant forces of goodness in our lives, and asrole models for people we’d like to become. Thank you for believing in us, makingsure we knew it, and pushing us until we too, believed in ourselves.
            Additionally, each one of us graduating todayespecially thanks someone - often many someones - who has gone out of his orher way to individually take care of us, teach us, put us on the right path, dowhat was best for us far beyond what was required. To the deans, coaches andteachers who personally made immeasurable differences in our individual livesthrough their actions big and smallwe offer a deeply felt and most sincere thank you.
            Finally, the class of 2012 would like toextend a special thank you to Mr. Alexander for being our exceptional dean forthe past four years. Thank you for being our teacher, friend, ally, and forknowing what was best for us far better than we did. Thank you for the lifeadvice – we promise not to buy health insurance or houses – and thank you forjoking with us while insisting we serve our detentions. Above all, thank youfor seeing beyond policy and procedures to look out for us. Mr. Alexander, welove you, we’ll miss you, and you are so invited to come to college with eachone of us.
            Really, we love this place. We are so gratefulto have grown up here. It isn’t all that us easy for us to be leaving. PaulValery wrote “a poem is never finished only abandoned.” Valery rightlyrecognizes that you can beat a poem like a dead horse unless you’re willing toput it to rest and understand that better poems are waiting to be written. Andthat is really how today seems to us, because even though it feels like we’refinished here, the things we’ll be loosing and abandoning, weigh heavily on ourshoulders. Yet we believe we’ll do just fine because as we move on we’ll carrywith us the values this community has instilled in us: the understanding thatintelligence is not rolling your eyes and saying something snarky; the grace tobe humble in both excellence and failure; the wisdom that it’s most importantto be good.
            And while this school has played a very largerole in our lives, we as a class have also shaped each other. We teach oneanother – whether with a much-needed slap upside the head, a hug in thehallway, or the passion with which interests are pursued. We may know too muchabout each other, but we are friends that can be relied on for whatever’sneeded - we have one another’s backs. We have been a part of each other’s livesfor two, five, fifteen years. Some of us have lived our entire lives atWaterford. Some of us are absolutely dying to get out of this town. But there’snowhere else we would rather be graduating from, and we are so proud to beleaving together, with all 55 seniors that came onto campus in Septembergraduating today, walking across this stage and onto the next.
            My very favorite Mary Oliver poem ends “tellme, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” And Ican’t really tell you what anyone in my class with do. Catherine is most likelyto marry the governor of Maine and it’s all too likely that Richard will inventthe next Velcro and make a bazillion dollars, and if we get our way, Kathy willbecome a tattoo artist, but really who knows where we’ll end up. We’re18. Some days we hardly know our right foot from our left. But I know that theending spot, wherever it ends up being, will be good. I am absolutely sure ofthis because the 54 people behind me are a group of unusually high-caliberhuman beings who have character far greater than most graduating seniors. Infact, I think that character is our class’s defining characteristic.
            As seniors, the tone we set for the upperschool this year was something to truly be proud of. Applying to colleges, wewere there for each other through every admissions letter – cheering for theacceptances, angry for the rejections – and never were there any bad feelingswhen someone else got into our dreamschool. We set the example that we were a team and college acceptances couldnot change that. And this year there were no issues with inappropriate dress upday attire. In fact, on Halloween, probably the most iffy was Clark as psychomantis. And anyone who knows Clark can recognize the beautiful humor in that.
            Laughter wasever-present (perhaps too ever present) in our classes. A member of the classof 2012 is equally likely get a 5 in APUS as to quote the entire Mean Girlsscreenplay. And whether it was the endless water fights on senior trip, ourriveting game of assassin or our senior service day spent helping out withLower School Field day, our class’ character is shown in our perpetualwillingness to have fun.
            We made our senior year, without question, thebest one. At times it felt like finishing out a prison sentence, at times itfelt like our final time before we had to walk the plank, and even though Istill can’t tell you if today is a happy day or a sad day, I can tell you thatI am so proud to be walking across this stage with such a talented, passionate,remarkable and downright epic graduating class. A class whose daily presence Iwill dearly miss. But I think things will be okay because I believe CarlSandburg when he wrote “poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes,” and Iknow that a poem will always fit in my pocket, even if the Waterford school won’t. 
            Today, we are on happy paths to where we wantto be. Exciting paths. Challenging paths. Unknown paths. And while we’re sad tosee that this especially wonderful Waterford path has run it’s course, we’rethrilled by what we find at the end: our future, which asks us that samequestion it has asked those who came before and will ask those who come after:
Have you enjoyed your poetry?
Andthe Waterford class of 2012 can answer with absolute certainty yes.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Quote Sunday

I put this in my journal Monday night:

Most of this past week that made my heart sing. And this quote got me through the other parts that broke my heart. But I don't know if I can explain why, exactly.
I think it's because, to me, it means the same thing as the Beloved quote "anything dead coming back to life hurts." Growth doesn't come without sacrifices. Growing is messy. Growing up is messy. And when you plant a tree, your hands get dirty. But it's okay, because they you have a sapling. And that sapling grows into a tree. And that tree is so beautiful and big and important that it doesn't matter that your hands got dirty planting it.
At graduation, I talked about the Paul Valery quote “a poem is never finished only abandoned.” And that Valery is saying that you can beat a poem like a dead horse unless you’re willing to put it to rest and understand that better poems are waiting to be written. Which, I guess, is the same thing I'm trying to say. There are trees waiting to be planted. I just have to let go so that my hands are free to get dirty planting. And it's hard, but that's okay. It's okay to have a hard time saying goodbye. Because, it's worth it. There are so many beautiful things in the future.
I have faith in that.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Ring

There were lots of graduation presents that I really loved. I got a month's worth of books, some beautiful letters (I love getting letters. I might go all JSF on everyone and start asking people to write me letters), and my parents got me an aquamarine necklace and a fountain pen! But I think the thing that meant the most was the ring.
I asked Judy if she'd pull my mom's wedding ring out of the safety deposit box so I could wear it to graduation. After I got home from graduation, I took it off to give to her and she said "you know, if you want it, you should keep it. It makes more sense for you to have it than for it to just sit in that box." And that was my favorite graduation present.
It's just a simple gold band. When my parents got married, my mom said she'd rather just buy a nice sleeping bag than have a ring. So they got matching gold bands and sleeping bags. And I love that.
I love the way the rings feels on my finger. A whole lot.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fourth Grade Me

So once upon a May 17, 2004, my fourth grade teacher had us write letters to senior selves. And once upon a last week, she mailed them out. Here's mine:

Dear senior version of me,
I will be on the Waterfod swim team if they have one. I will be taking French and playing the claranet. I will be trying our 4 alot. I want 2 go to BYU. I want 2 try 2 convince whoever it should be Waterford warthogs not ravens. I will still think Orlando Bloom is cute.
When I graduate I will be a layer I still want to be friends with Kasandra, Jeannie, Syd, and Chandler (the girl). I want 2 have better handwriting. I want 2 have a laptop and a phone.
Remember in forth grade when Megan Rimlisbacker taped her mouth shut to keep from laughing. Her face was so red. My favorite color is orange.
the fourth grade version of me

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Today's the day

Graduation is today. I can't believe it actually ever came.
Remember how graduating isn't sad but saying goodbye is? Here's the thank you bit of my graduation speech. It feels so true it hurts:

Thank you to parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, neighbors, friends – all who have played a role in helping us get here today. We appreciate the sacrifices you have made to get us to where we are, the fights you have fought for us, and the love with which you have taught us.
Thank you to the administrators and teachers of Waterford. We relied on you as constant forces of goodness in our lives, and as role models for people we’d like to become. Thank you for believing in us, making sure we knew it, and pushing us until we too, believed in ourselves.
Additionally, each one of us graduating today especially thanks someone - often many someones - who has gone out of his or her way to individually take care of us, teach us, put us on the right path, do what was best for us far beyond what was required. To the deans, coaches and teachers who personally made immeasurable differences in our individual lives through their actions big and small we offer a deeply felt and most sincere thank you.
Finally, the class of 2012 would like to extend a special thank you to Mr. Alexander for being our exceptional dean for the past four years. Thank you for being our friend, ally, teacher, confidante, and for knowing what was best for us far better than we did. Thank you for knowing us individually – for being the one that would listen, talk, tell us we were out of uniform, and thank you for joking with us while insisting we serve our detentions. Thank you for the life advice – we promise not to buy health insurance or houses. Above all, thank you for seeing beyond policy and procedures to look out for us. Mr. Alexander, we love you, we’ll miss you, and you are so invited to come to college with each one of us.

Saying goodbye is hard, because there are a group of five or six people that I've gotten to know at Waterford that have, in so many ways, changed my life. And I feel like the boy in the Billy Collins poem offering a lanyard; there's no way I can say thank you enough times.
So, because I'm graduating today and I can do things like this now, here are the lyrics to a song that Mr. Alexander wrote and sang in assembly. They are funny and awesome and a reminder to take care of what's important and let all the other shit fall in the dust. The song is a lot more too, but I don't know how to say more. 

Listen To Your Dean
(to the tune of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong to Me”)

I’m on the phone with Mrs. Heuston and she’s upset.
She’s goin’ off on all the students who forget
To wear their clothing prim and proper like she wants.

I’m on the quad it’s a typical Tuesday morn.
I’m looking at the kind of fashions that get worn.
And I’ll never get compliance like she wants.

‘Cause you wear short skirts, he wears t-shirts,
Swappin’ out shoes depending on the teacher.
I’m dreaming ‘bout the day when you’ll wake up and find
That your upper school dean has bigger fish to fry.

If you could see the policies the way that I do--
One big waste of time, so why can’t you see?
One day you’ll be free; so listen to your dean.

Walkin’ the halls with you in your WOW day jeans,
I can’t help thinkin’ this is how it ought to be.
Laughing under my breath, thinking to myself,
Hey isn’t this easy?

But you’ve got a Starbucks coffee you’re guzzlin’ down
You say you got it from your mom--can’t you see my frown?
Don’t you think I know you better than that?
Hey what ya’ doing off campus like that?

Y’say you’ve got your needs but I’ve got teachers
Making sure deans are following procedures.
I’m dreaming ‘bout the day when I’ll wake up and find
that my days’ll be spent on something more sublime.

If you could see the policies the way that I do--
One big waste of time, so why can’t you see?
One day you’ll be free.

Standing by and watching all your mistakes,
All this time how could you not know, baby?
One day you’ll be free; so listen to your dean.

Oh I remember you comin’ to my door
In the middle of the block;
I’m the one who makes you laugh;
I’m the one who’s there to talk.
And I know your favorite things,
And you tell me all your dreams;
Think I know just what you need
And it’s not a policy!

Can’t you see that I’m the one who understands you?
Been here all along, so why can’t you see?
Listen to your dean.
Standing by and watching all your success;
Understand it’s never just policy.
Take some advice from me, and listen to your dean.

Hey, listen to your dean!
Have you ever thought, just maybe
You’re more than a machine? Listen to your dean.

PS. Graduation henna. A little satirical henna here and there never hurt anyone.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Full Circle

In a really wonderful way, everything in my world came full circle yesterday.
(Okay, well, maybe not everything).
First, I got to drive a Waterford golf cart. The janitors drive them all around campus. I've wanted to drive one forever. And we were doing senior service day stuff, and guess who finally got to drive one?
This girl.

I also went ahead and had a Perks of Being a Wallflower "I feel infinite" moment:

So then in the afternoon, we helped out with field day. Field day is the thing that the lower school does every last week of school where the kids wear normal non-uniform clothes and do activities outside for the afternoon. In lower school, it's basically the best thing ever.
It was incredibly fun to play with the kids. I love kids. I am coming to terms with the fact that I'm incredibly maternal.

So the way it worked was that each senior or pair of seniors was assigned a class to go along with. And I got a Kindergarten class. I walked into the room to introduce myself, and the teacher called me by name. I was semi-confused until she said "I had you in my nursery classes." As it turns out, she taught me in nursery threes, making her the first teacher I ever had at Waterford. There is some kind of incredible closure about spending my first full day at Waterford and my last full day at Waterford with the same woman. 
Even though there's a list of things I hate about Waterford, I really do love this place. Leaving isn't all that easy at all. In fact, it kinda hurts. Graduation anxiety set in yesterday at 5:30 right after I left the hair salon. I don't know how to say goodbye to this place that I've lived my whole life. For fifteen years, I've been showing up at 8am, Monday - Friday, September-June. I just don't know what it means to stop doing that. And once I say goodbye, it really is gone. I don't get to be a Waterford student anymore. I'm no longer entitled to email teachers at midnight for feedback on something I'm writing, and I no longer get to wear that uniform the signifies I belong.
Not belonging to the one place I belong. I just can't reconcile that. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sluff Day

We had, without question, the best sluff day ever.
(Someone once told me that sluff is only a term used in Utah. I hope not. I think it's a great term.)
First we got pedicures. Perhaps pedicures are irrelevant, since our graduation shoes have to cover our toes, but I think they were worthwhile. Pretty toes make me happy.
Next we got massages. Good massages. I secretly think that massages are the best way to break writers block. I secretly believe that words get built up inside the blood stream and locked in the muscles and that a good massage brings them out and back to life. I guess I believe that because whenever I get a massage I leave with words spinning around my head. It's kinda like running. Running makes me a better writer. There is a connection that I don't understand, but that I believe in, between the body and the brain.
After massages we went to the Melting Pot for cheese and chocolate. And it was so incredibly filling, but we also had an absolutely wonderful time, because we're graduating and life is good.

PS. Can't fucking wait

Monday, June 4, 2012


So like two weeks ago, I stumbled across this essay. And maybe it kinda made me cry. Then, through the grapevine, I heard about this awesome event going on, where Sunday morning a group of people called Mormons Building Bridges (a group that, incidentally, was organized by a teacher at my school, because the coolest people teach at my school) who were going down to the Pride festival to march in church clothes to "extend a message of love and support to our LGBT brothers and sisters by marching in the Utah pride parade. Each step we take will be an outward demonstration of our commitment to loving our neighbors. We are marching for the values of empathy and compassion that the Mormon faith teaches." So I really wanted to go, because I can't think of a more valuable thing to do on my Sunday morning. (It even made the onion)
Admittedly, I felt a little funny about marching as a Mormon. Which was a funny moment for me. But when I first heard about it, my first thought was "oh, they only let Mormons march. That's too bad." Then I remembered that I counted enough to march ("All who wish to march whether currently active LDS and/or former LDS are welcome"). So I felt less like a poser and more like I could go. It was funny to realize I actually don't consider myself a Mormon.
Nevertheless, I really wanted to go, so I went. Kasandra and I went together. We matched in our navy dresses, which was cute.

It was amazing how many people showed up. There were probably 300 Mormons marching. Lots of kids, which was really touching. 

It was really quite incredible to march. I don't know if I can explain why exactly. You know how people always say there's so much love at Pride? There was an extra lot of love in this march. It was funny because while we were there trying so hard to show love, it felt like we were being shown more love. The organizers put is in the front of the parade. And people cheered for us loudly. But there we also a lot of people on the sides just weeping. Again and again what we heard was "thank you". Which was beautiful and moving. It was incredible to get to be a part of the pro-LGBT Mormons community and the LGBT community coming together, because they don't very often, and there is a lot of power and love when they do. It was so touching. What an incredible experience. It was so cool to put aside gay rights and mormon propagandas and say You're human, and I love you for it. 

After the parade, Kasandra and I went to the festival.

We got matching bracelets.

And visited the whole foods tent.

And it was lovely.