I slept for twelve hours last night and I’ve got an attractive bass cough. I’m not sick, it’s just been a full week.

I spent a huge amount of time with my classical ed classmates, trying to figure out what to do about our midterm and our class and our lives. By having us spend so much outside-class-time together, Dr. Edwards has kind of created a monster. I’m tempted to try to write you some hefty, ideological entry, because that has been my week. But yesterday, after our Hamlet discussion, when I told Dr. Dixon that I’ve just been in a really critical mood lately, he said, “Yes. You have.” So instead, I will be gentle.

Since I’ve seen you last, I’ve written an Easter poem, done my laundry, gotten a cuddle-wrap in the mail from my Grandma, walked Pinchalong, and cleaned and cluttered my desk several times over. I’ve had an interview for a summer job, planned for an independent study, cleaned up when a four-year-old didn’t make it to the toilet, gotten an apartment for next year, stayed up till three talking, and found rides to and from school for Easter break. Since I’ve seen you last, I’ve been blessed.

And now I am sitting here, not knowing what else to tell you, which is unusual. Usually I write my entries before I actually write them, if you know what I mean.

I guess the purpose of this is to tell you again (though I’ve told you before) that after twenty years, God’s goodness is still large and small, unexpected and regular. There’s no need to say anything more spectacular than that, and there never will be.


Just now I came across some very unexpected free time and I said to myself (aloud, mind you,) “What if I wrote a blog entry right now?” So I’m doing that incredibly dangerous thing: beginning to write with no end of either kind in mind.

These couple weeks have been very busy. I’m playing in the pit for the musical, which has devoured my evenings, I’m beginning tutoring on Thursday, and lots of medium-sized assignments have begun to crop up out of nowhere. Also I’ve been having a fair number of meal dates. (Alice is popular—Hooray!)

All of these things have done a fair job of keeping my mind off of something I’ve been avoiding thinking about: mercy. You see, I always thought the principal thing about mercy was to give it. But I’m slowly beginning to realize that I’m not usually on that side of the transaction. I sin against God and sin against others, but since I’m no paragon of virtue, I find that people very rarely sin against me. So in my dealings with mercy it is usually being offered to me by kind, wounded hands.

I’ll tell you: I don’t like taking it. It’s not that I mind admitting I was wrong, but often, I cannot bear to be set right. I don’t like taking “the bleeding charity.” I would rather wallow in my sin and say, “No, but I belong here—you will not raise me up.”

That realization has been nagging at me for a few days now, asking me to deal with it, and today in Fantasy we talked about Return of the King. I re-read one of my favorite passages, the passage that first made me cry. But this time, to my great discomfort, I read it differently.

“Wormtongue!” called Frodo. “You need not follow him. I know of no evil you have done to me. You can have rest and food here for a while, until you are stronger and can go your own ways.”

Wormtongue halted and looked back at him, half prepared to stay. Saruman turned. “No evil?” he cackled. “Oh no! Even when he sneaks out at night it is only to look at the stars. But did I hear someone ask where poor Lotho is hiding? You know, don’t you, Worm? Will you tell them?”

Wormtongue cowered down and whimpered: “No, no!”

“Then I will,” said Saruman. “Worm killed your Chief, poor little fellow, your nice little Boss. Didn’t you, Worm? Stabbed him in his sleep, I believe. Buried him, I hope; though Worm has been very hungry lately. No, Worm is not really nice. You had better leave him to me.”

A look of wild hatred came into Wormtongue’s red eyes. “You told me to; you made me do it,” he hissed.

Saruman laughed. “You do what Sharkey says, always, don’t you, Worm? Well, now he says: follow!” He kicked Wormtongue in the face as he grovelled, and turned and made off. But at that something snapped: suddenly Wormtongue rose up, drawing a hidden knife, and then with a snarl like a dog he sprang on Saruman’s back, jerked his head back, cut his throat, and with a yell ran off down the lane. Before Frodo could recover or speak a word, three hobbit-bows twanged and Wormtongue fell dead.

Do you see me? Do you see me in the character I’ve always pitied, and, therefore, from whom I’ve felt comfortably separate? Do you see me in the refusal of the outstretched hand, the whimpering return to agony and rottenness? Do you see that it does not end well?

I don’t understand. I don’t understand why I would rather label myself with my sin than with God’s grace. I don’t understand why I do not want what is good. I don’t understand why I would rather be endlessly chastised than forgiven. I don’t understand why I’d rather look at my feet than at His glory.

I behave as if Christ on the cross meant nothing, as if “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” did not absolve me also, as if no one’s ever told me He loves me.

I feel a bit like the one hundredth sheep, who has caught herself deep in the briars. Come find me, Lord. I’m crying mercy, or beginning to, at the very least.

Again and Again

I’ve had things to write about. I just haven’t got round to it, see. So all these nice ideas were piling up in my head, threatening to form this big, old entry about things I like and things that are great and things I’m thankful for, and I thought, “Man! That’s so unoriginal. That’s been DONE.” And it has. Again and again. By me. Here and here and here and here and also here. (For example.) In fact, that’s most of this blog.

But funnily enough, in all that listing and enumerating I have yet to exhaust God’s blessings. Think of that. And I’m commanded to praise the Lord. Again and again and again. Isn’t it lovely when what you’re commanded to do and what you want to do is precisely the same thing?

So here we go, friend.

One thing:

Last week I went to a little meeting with the staff of The Quad and we had this discussion about why we read and what it means to be a good reader. And normally, that would have been just fabulous, but this time instead of participating properly, I quietly had myself a little existential crisis.

Why did I read? I knew all the right answers, about how it makes you more fully human and more fully alive and all that, but why did I, Alice, who had written multiple papers on this very topic, actually read? What were my real motivations? Was I only mimicking my parents? Did I really even like it? Was my whole life a façade?!?

So I sat in the corner and stewed and drank apple cider and did not contribute to the discussion. But then later, you know, I figured that if my life was a lie and all that, I probably would have had an inkling of it before age twenty. I’m fairly introspective (read: self-absorbed.) Also maybe, just maybe, I’m a normal person who reads for the normal reasons. Sometimes to escape, sometimes out of habit, sometimes because I have to, and sometimes that I may “know life and know it more abundantly.” So now I’m re-assured. And that’s a good thing.

Another thing:

We’ve had game night at the Edwards’ a couple times so far this semester. And it’s a little thing, but for me it’s also a big thing, (and after all this time I still don’t even really like games.) Sometime I’ll write another separate entry to tell you why, but no hurry. It’s going to be a part of my life for the next while here.

A third thing:

I have a smallish job this semester and it’s a gem. Every other week on Friday or Saturday morning I borrow my dear roommate’s car and drive to Mercer while everything is still dewy and chilly, with myself and the quiet and that one field of sunflowers by the side of the highway. And then I clean Dr. Brown’s house. This morning I did windows. Soap and rinse, time to dry and Windex. (Time to dry is my favorite part.) I’m tired at the end. I’m tired at the end because I did something. In the quiet morning, I did something.

And then I drive home, put on decent clothes, eat lunch, and go to class to read books. It feels marvelously like a double life. And I like both parts.

The next thing:

There’s something else that deserves a whole entry, which I’m hereby scheduling for late February. It’s the American Shakespeare Center at Blackfriars in Staunton, VA, or, as I like to call it, the happiest place on earth. I’m going over our break in February with Dr. Harvey and other delightful people for a one credit travel course to see four plays. There’re still spots open, so you should come too. Even if you think you don’t like Shakespeare, even if you think you don’t like anything, you will like this.

A particularly delightful thing:

One of my favorite things about this semester so far has been the friendships. Every day, I wake up shocked to discover how great it is to have friends. (God only knows why I’m surprised to find that this is blessing.) I’ve always had friends (really, I have—even in seventh grade when I specifically planned not to because I was only going to be at that school for a year and who really needs ‘em?) But this year, we’re upperclassmen, spread across campus, (or even states and countries) busy with non-intersecting things, and I seem to have entered into the wild, wonderful, and weirdly adult world of intentional friendship. The kind where you send notes and emails and say you and me tomorrow, kid.

It keeps surprising me what friendships grow and last, when I didn’t think they could. It even surprises me what friendships happen at all, and how once you get past the first layer of person there’s more of them underneath and more and more and more. C.S. Lewis wrote that “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” It’s true, friend. And it’s kind of astounding.

The greatest thing:

Well, I suppose the best part is the again and again, the knowing of life more abundantly. Miss Jan, a dear friend from long ago used to sit at the fascinating piano in her living room that had keys and magical buttons, and sing the final verse of “Amazing Grace” this way:

“When we’ve been there ten MILLION years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun!” (Again and again and on and on)

College’s Best-Kept Secret and How to Overcome It (I think)

Here are some reasons that I haven’t written in a while:

1) The next “favorite” on my list was favorite people, and when one really comes down to it, how does one write that entry? Could get a bit touchy, you know?

2) I’ve been working. Mopping floors and filing papers—quite enviable.

3) I’ve been writing. A little story for the new Mr. and Mrs. Upper along with the beginnings of something much longer.

4) I’ve been watching Good Mythical Morning.

5) I’ve been reading Suri’s Burn Book.

6) I’ve been slacklining. (Excuses are wearing thin at this point…)

7) Mainly, I just haven’t.

Before college the inhabitants of every corner of the earth converge to give you conflicting and vehement advice, but there’s one thing no one ever tells you. Unless you’re one of those mission driven people who gets an internship or works at a camp (and if you are, that’s fine, I still love you) then here’s college’s best kept secret: SUMMERS ARE WEIRD.

It goes like this. You come home and you think “Oh! I’m home! It’s summer!” and then you do nice home things and you go to work and you come home at the end of the day and you think “Oh! I’m home… Where is everyone? Oh. It’s summer.”

And that’s when it hits: you thought summer was going to be like partying inside of instagram, but it’s really more like sitting in your messy room looking at everyone else’s instagram, which you’re pretty sure (but not positive) that they’re all inside of partying without you.

So here’s some suggestions for my fellow weird-summer enthusiasts (or not so enthusiasts):

1) Read your summer books aloud: to your friend, to your cousin, to your teddy bear, to yourself.

2) Look up all those quotes whose origin you’ve never actually known, for that satisfying feeling of I-once-was-wrong-but-now-I’m-right.

3) Dry your laundry on the clothesline.

4) Go for a run in the heat, come home and say, “Welp, I did THAT.”

5) Turn halfway down the stairs into your regular hang-out spot.

6) Paint a room alone. Write secret messages in large letters then cover them up and giggle.

7) Try on old clothes and sit around in them for an embarrassingly long time.

8) Drive. Be loud in the car in whatever way you can think of.

9) Go to the farmers’ market on week days to make the venders feel loved.

10) Make lists. Surprisingly easy and surprisingly fun.

Do this and you will be left with a sore throat, extraneous knowledge, nice smelling clothes, a bunch of lists and no pictures or gas. Summer well spent.


I could tell you about this year, about my accomplishments and finishings, but I am tired. My dear sister graduated from college today, and in a few hours will be home for the summer, as I have been since Wednesday. And that is what I want to talk about: Summer.

Here is what I plan to do: clean my church every week, babysit a lot, go to a wedding, write a story or two, read some good books, wean myself off the internet, train for a 10k (God help me), throw an unbirthday party, write some letters, get vitamin D, cook a lot, finally write that review for the Quad, organize my books, spend time with people I love, and stay HOME.

Something else I plan to do is breathe a little life back into this blog. I’m going to start with what will probably be a five part series on those of my favorite things with which I think you ought to be acquainted. I’ll try to post at least once a week. They’re likely to be very list-y, so, you know, get excited.

I want to get together with lots of people this summer, and write lots of letters, so if either of those things sound appealing, please be in touch!

Happy Heart

I missed a week. I’m sorry. In the meantime I have been thinking deeply about blog ideas. I thought about writing about going running, about heartsickness, about boldness and hypocrisy, about summer jobs, about Hopkins and Emerson, and about the letter V. So here’s that blog entry:

I’m bad at going running; heartsickness sucks; I am not bold, but I am often a hypocrite; I need a summer job; Hopkins and Emerson are marvelous to read; and the letter V is very passionate.

But the blog entry I’m going to actually write you today goes something like this:

I have a folder on my desktop called “Happy Heart” and it is full of other folders which are full of pictures.

My dad took this in July when he ought to have been packing up the car so he and Mom could leave Brookfield. I had just been a mechanic and gotten the belt back on the mower. Also, don’t you love the lake? I miss it.

I love this person.

This is my backyard–mostly my mom’s garden. It was my desktop for a while.

This is my French professor from last fall and my current Symbolic Logic professor. They’re married to each other, and I’m sure they have no idea I’m in possession of this picture.

This is cool.

These are some of my cousins and me on my grandpa’s eighty-sixth birthday. We ate pie and I like them. This was my desktop for a while too.

I love this person too.

This is my dad and my grammy. I like their faces.

We have Storytime tonight. In Heidi’s room. And it’s gonna be  Just. Like. This.

New Things

I wish you could see me right now. I’m sitting on a borrowed beanbag, cuddled in a blanket and an oversized purple sweatshirt, with the hood up. It has been up for hour, and I like it that way.

I don’t look like it, but I did two new things this week. The first one was that I wrote a poem. I love to write, but this was exactly the second time in my life I have voluntarily written poetry. I liked it, too, so I sent it in to The Quad. We shall  see. The other new thing I did was that I applied for a job at Campus Safety. I have great doubts that they will hire me, primarily because the man I to whom gave the application wasn’t even sure they had any openings, but can’t you just see me on patrol, 10-2 Saturday nights? Yeah, man. That would be an experience to relish.

I secretly find it a little exhilarating to do little new things like these. I will have to think of more new things. Maybe, when my roommate’s out, I’ll turn on some music and dance. Maybe I’ll study in the library for once and giggle loudly over my textbooks. Maybe I’ll make a pact to audibly say “Hello!” to seven strangers. Maybe I’ll read a novel. Maybe I’ll play Bach’s Prelude, and focus on smiling through the whole thing. See? I told you, very small things. I am not afraid of the big things, of my past or of my future. It is the little bits of here and now, the little sand grains of the present which make me cower. It is much easier to hold my head up and walk away than it is to hold my head up and walk in, and stop, and stand, and do.

So here’s to climbing trees, getting in the dang panini queue, and cinching in your hood so tight that all the world can see is a purple blob with a smile. “Happiness is finding out you’re not so dumb after all.”