Wednesday, October 27, 2010

you forgot it in people

It's the first day of November. I love November. It is the perfect place between fall and winter. I only have a month and a half left of my undergraduate studies, and then I am moving to DC for the semester to intern for Amnesty International. Interning there, and developing a sense of the international issue that I feel most strongly about while continuing to write, is the next step in what I have outlined as my current life's ambition.

I went to see one of my professors today to ask him his advice about things I should do to work toward my goals while I'm in DC. He asked me a lot of questions about what I want to do, and I explained everything to him as succinctly as possible. It's hard because so many things appeal to me that I change my mind all the time. I like so many things that it is hard to know what I would be happiest doing. That could actually be a really good thing, couldn't it?

My professor basically said that what I wanted to do was admirable but lofty, and that I should keep my focus and try to make it work. He called my plans 'grandiose,' (perhaps a euphemism for naive) but said that grandiose plans are the best thing I could have at this age. Life seems to often jade people, so if you don't start off a little bit idealistic, where will you be in 20 years? Things might not work out exactly as you want in life, but you have to try. I try to remember that the things I attract into my life will be in conjunction with my dominant thoughts, so that I have to think positively. That sounded like a bunch of little quotes I just strung together, but it wasn't.

I thought that what my professor was saying was really refreshing to hear. He said talking to a student who hadn't resigned to the fact that their goals were unattainable made his day. Talking to an adult who still hasn't resigned to that made my day. I hope you have a good day too.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

so glad to meet you, angeles

I've been feeling pretty morose lately, partly warranted and partly unwarranted. Once someone told me it made her happier to mentally list all the good things that happened that day before she went to sleep. Here are some things I've liked lately. I hope you like them too. ok? ok. :)

1. dave eggers, "a heartbreaking work of staggering genius"
2. listening to elliott smith walking around campus and noticing all the pretty leaves. this tree by my apartment looks like it's covered in red stars.
3. looking at the the sun and understanding the seasons/position of the sun in the sky because of things i learned in astronomy
4. not feeling much pressure school-wise
5. consequently, reading books i want to read instead of the ones i'm supposed to for school
6. these words: snow, lust (in spanish- lujuria), overture, constellation
7. when my journalism teacher talks about ernest hemmingway and hunter s. thompson
8. this kid in one of my classes who goes out of his way to be helpful for no reason
9. the idea of tying sheets together to make a rope ladder to escape out a window
10. the lost feeling dave eggers articulates in a.h.w.o.s.g. to describe losing his parents: "having suddenly found oneself in a world with neither floor nor ceiling."
11. these quotes:

This writer guy, he says it's easy. You just sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. But what if you're running out of veins?

I can't find who said this, but I love it.

It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.


I am frightened by truth sometimes, but I need it like my own blood.

Sabrina Ward Harrison

Be deliriously happy, or at least leave yourself open to be.

Meet Joe Black

These are the days that must happen to you.

Walt Whitman

It must be those brief moments, tiny moments, like islands in the ocean beyond the grey continent of our ordinary days… there, sometimes, you meet your own heart, like someone you’ve never known.

Hans Borli

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

Roald Dahl

12. you. totally.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I can't think about the fact that there's an ocean between us. So much water, and probably a lot of sharks. I don't know why people get to see you everyday and not appreciate it. They don't know how much I would want to switch places with them.

Sometimes the sun setting on the water makes it look golden.

I think you see the same stars over there that I do here. If you looked up and drew out a map of the constellations, it would look the same as mine. That makes me feel a little better. Knowing that you are seeing the same thing makes me feel better.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

a mari usque ad mare

i've gotten to travel a lot, but for some reason my road trip to canada with my old roommates remains something that i think about all the time. i had just gotten back from italy, and after working and saving for a few weeks we took off driving for toronto and then montreal, ending at the jazz festival before driving back through lansing and all sorts of little towns.

i love little, out of the way towns. i love driving through them on road trips, especially during the summer. the small towns we went through on our way north were so picturesque and americana.

canada was a turning point, because i realized that just on a whim the world could be ours. we could find the world in these little jaunts all over the place. we could find the world there.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

other truths

Today Philip Graham, a writer and the husband of my Anthropology 414 professor came in to talk to us about his career in creative writing, creative nonfiction, and ethnography. I couldn't read both of the pieces by him that we were assigned before he spoke, because last night I was too transfixed with Zeitoun to stop reading it. The one that I did read, though, "Angel," a story from Graham's book Interior Design struck me so powerfully that I can't stop thinking about it.

It is about a boy who believes so strongly in his guardian angel that he tries to chronicle every emotion and sensation he gets throughout life for the guardian angel to understand. The excerpt was heartbreaking, and it reminded me of the obsessive tendencies I have to write down everything that I think and see in the world, and how I never can, and it frustrates me to the point that I don't know what to do.

"Dizzy and oppressed by the seemingly endless supply of the world, he doubted he could ever chronicle it all." Philip Graham

Graham passed around some of the books that he's written, and while I was reading the back of one I noticed that it was published by "McSweeney's." "McSweeney's" is Dave Eggers' (the writer of Zeitoun) publishing company. So, the writer who had written the book that kept me up last night was the publisher of the writer I was sitting in class listening to, transfixed by. The way I was feeling at the time, overwhelmed and lost, made me think it was more than a coincidence. Just when I think that the world is too much and I don't understand anything, a little sign like that happens, and then I remember that everything is more connected than I think. That maybe I was supposed to be reading Zeitoun last night, and maybe I was supposed to be in class today. Maybe there is some kind of guiding force that makes things more than just painfully random, and even if I can only experience that force in little things like a speaker in my Anthropology class, that's enough for now. It's enough to make me think that things are unfolding the way that they are supposed to and I don't have to be so anxious about everything.

I remember a professor told me that life's opportunities would present themselves to me, I just needed to calm down. That's something I've never been able to do, calm down. I can't wait for things to come to me, I'd rather go out and find them myself. If that means traveling thousands of miles away or trying to absorb everything I see and not being able to sleep that's just what it means. I don't really know what I'm looking for, and I am always overwhelmed with what I find. If you don't know what you're looking for, everything seems like it could be the answer.

Sometimes I try to cry, because I feel like these things that I think about might get washed away. Maybe my thoughts will leave with all the adrenaline. I like the feeling of sweat when I go running, because I feel like some of the restlessness might come out of me.

"He stared at the rows of bottles lined up beneath the mirror, those almost transparent bodies filled with clear or strangely colored liquids: how he envied how they could be so easily emptied." Philip Graham

I try to listen to people as closely as I can when they talk to me, and sometimes that results in eye contact that might be slightly more intense than customary. I also sometimes write down things when people are talking. I hope it doesn't come across as staring or randomly writing about other things, and that they know that I am listening to what they are saying, and that I'm typically trying to get everything I can out of it because it is showing me the world they have inside them.

"I hate when people use that word, 'myself.' Bullshit, 'myself.' When you say that, you're obscuring all the other people and impulses within you." Philip Graham

Sunday, October 10, 2010

autumnal equinox

The sun has looked especially beautiful as it's been setting the past few days. I think it's because September 21st was the autumnal equinox. At an equinox, the Sun is at one of two opposite points on the celestial sphere where the celestial equator and ecliptic intersect. On September 22nd and 23rd the Sun was exactly vertical. I learned that in Astronomy 121. Anyway, these pictures are from two drives from Champaign to Chicago. In the first one I really liked how the city lights looked from the El, and in the next ones I liked the way the light was falling on my friend Amber's hair. She thought that in one of them her eyes looked like lasers. It was pretty enjoyable, going to Chicago together on the bus, murmuring about school and life and secretly drinking mixed drinks out of water bottles. Sometimes it surprises me how many beautiful things you can see in a seemingly boring drive through cornfields. Not really boring at all.

The best thing about the days getting shorter is the nights getting longer.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I really want to move to Berlin, and live for a few months in Germany. I could drink gluvine and discover my heritage, and visit a lot of cities that end in 'bourg.' The winter will last forever there, but that's fine. If I could drink gluvine and discover my heritage I could allow the coldness.

I also like the idea of moving to the tropics. That term is pretty vague, "the tropics." I didn't even know exactly what places that included until I just googled it: "The tropics is a region of the Earth by the Equator. It is limited in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere at approximately 23° 26′ 16″ ( or 23.4378° ) N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere at 23° 26′ 16″ ( or 23.4378° ) S.

That also works for me. So, this time in a few months, I may be writing to you from a place ending in 'bourg' or from somewhere between 23° 26′ 16″ N & S.

Here is a poem I found during my afternoon at Borders, I hope you like it. It is by Octavio Paz. Have a good day beautiful, it's all happening.

As One Listens to the Rain

Listen to me as one listens to the rain,
not attentive, not distracted,
light footsteps, thin drizzle,
water that is air, air that is time,
the day is still leaving,
the night has yet to arrive,
figurations of mist
at the turn of the corner,
figurations of time
at the bend in this pause,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
without listening, hear what I say
with eyes open inward, asleep
with all five senses awake,
it's raining, light footsteps, a murmur of syllables,
air and water, words with no weight:
what we are and are,
the days and years, this moment,
weightless time and heavy sorrow,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
wet asphalt is shining,
steam rises and walks away,
night unfolds and looks at me,
you are you and your body of steam,
you and your face of night,
you and your hair, unhurried lightning,
you cross the street and enter my forehead,
footsteps of water across my eyes,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the asphalt's shining, you cross the street,
it is the mist, wandering in the night,
it is the night, asleep in your bed,
it is the surge of waves in your breath,
your fingers of water dampen my forehead,
your fingers of flame burn my eyes,
your fingers of air open eyelids of time,
a spring of visions and resurrections,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the years go by, the moments return,
do you hear the footsteps in the next room?
not here, not there: you hear them
in another time that is now,
listen to the footsteps of time,
inventor of places with no weight, nowhere,
listen to the rain running over the terrace,
the night is now more night in the grove,
lightning has nestled among the leaves,
a restless garden adrift-go in,
your shadow covers this page.

Friday, October 1, 2010

what we are and are

Tonight while walking on the waterfront in the angelic streets I suddenly wanted to tell you how wonderful I think you are. Please don't dislike me. What is the mystery of the world? Nobody knows they're angels. God's angels are ravishing & fooling me...Well, here we are in heaven. This is what heaven is like.

Jack Kerouac to Allen Ginsberg, January 13, 1950

most of these pictures are from

the letters

I'm home now for my cousin's wedding. I always have really mixed feelings about coming home, and there's something about the fall here that's slightly haunting and nostalgic. It's especially nostalgic when I'm sitting in my kitchen, drinking hard cider. It reminds me of the song "This Must be the Place (Naive Melody)" by the Talking Heads. Maybe it's because I've recently spent so little time at home, and because I was so far away over the summer. There isn't even an ocean between here and Bolivia, but I felt like I was in another world.

Tonight I went to Borders (the only thing that I actually needed to get was a book to study for the GRE), but I didn't actually buy any books. I forgot to even look for the GRE book. Whatever. I sat in a chair and read parts of "Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters," "The Dharma Bums," and "The Lady Matador's Hotel."

I wouldn't really have a problem with spending my money on books (even though since I did my report on independent business I feel bad buying books at Borders and feel like I should get them somewhere else). Because I have been moving so much lately, though, (approximately every 4 months I think, or something) the last thing I want is to have a bunch of books to bring with me, or to stay in my house. Do you ever feel like that? Like you don't want so many things tying you down? I also kind of like getting books from the library, because I always wonder how many other people have read it and how many other train rides it has been on and backpacks it has lived in. Maybe that's similar to the feeling people get from vintage clothes.

Anyway, I was reading two Kerouac books because my obsession with Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation has been rekindled. It had been temporarily overshadowed by my desire to read South American writers (by that I mean mainly just Pablo Neruda) and Ernest Hemmingway, but I remembered why I loved them so much a few nights ago when I reread Howl. I wanted to write down all these things from the books I was looking at, but the lady at the desk wouldn't let me take the pen to where I was sitting. So I read a few things a bunch of times until I thought I'd committed them to memory, but I wasn't sure so I hurried home as fast as I could. I didn't want to stop reading, but I couldn't ignore the compulsion I felt to immediately write them all down. When I'm reading something really beautiful it's hard to stop because I know that the next part could be even better. I get kind of obsessive, actually.

I noticed that Jack Kerouac signed some of his letters "as ever, Jack" and I really love that. When I fall in love with someone, they are going to get the best love letters ever, and I will write them when it's really windy out and I am drinking hard cider, and I will sign them "as ever, Carolyn."

I also wanted to do a post with some of the nice things that people have emailed me about my blog. Some of them have been sincerely touching. I compiled them all, but then realized how pretentious that something like that would be. "Hey, I'm not a published writer or anything, and half the things I write here are quotes, but, here is some PRAISE for my blog." So I don't think I'm going to. Thank you to the people who have written to me, though, it means everything. I am going to try to rewrite the things I loved from those books now.

as ever,