Without Particular Purpose

I am in Chattanooga right now, on my sister’s couch in my PJ’s, sleepily eating a buttered bagel. Hello.

Tomorrow we drive up to Nashville and on Friday we ride up to the fabled and much-loved Brookfield, MO with my aunt and uncle. I’ll spend a few weeks with my grandparents and then I’ll fly out to San Francisco because we’re having a family vacation at Lake Tahoe (and other places.) Then I come back to Cleveland for a wedding. Then to western PA to see a few friends, and, in mid-July, home at last. (It’s okay. You don’t have to remember all that.)

Aside from all those plans, I don’t have much to write about, but I very much want to write anyway. Which is, perhaps, dangerous. I keep a folder of all these entries and beneath them are notes for posts that never made it. There is one called “Courage, Compassion, and Documentary Films,” which contains only a long and odd list for documentaries I wanted to see and no courage or compassion whatsoever. There’s one called “Helvetica,” which is blank (I guess because I don’t have Helvetica?) There’s one called “Independence Day” (in which I seemed to want to write about Monica Lewinsky? No, thanks,) and one called “Thursday’s Children on Game Night.” There’s even an old one called “Unrequited Love,” which, though it has some positively heart-wrenching lines and everything, I think we can all agree is best kept off the world wide web.

I am, however, determined to for this little entry to make it. I suppose I am simply at loose ends. Because I am done with school and not yet begun teaching, there is not much for me to be doing except keeping myself clean and pleasant and helping out where I’m needed. I don’t even know enough yet about what I’ll be teaching in the fall to start reading up. I am without particular purpose. 

After a very full year of “doing the next thing” there are suddenly not many next things to do. This, I suppose, means that (once  I become a little less preoccupied with sleep,) I’ll fill my time with learning again to read, learning again to take barefoot walks by myself, learning again to write letters and long emails, to pray as I go. My heart is steadying itself to this slower pace. I’ll let you know what it finds.

Coming Up Clean

I’ve just put lotion on my ankles to soothe my bug bites and I am tired. I’m in a slow and simple mood this evening, so I’ll just tell the story from the beginning, though it is not spectacular. Perhaps because it is not spectacular.

Last Friday I got up at four forty-five and my dad drove me to the airport in Raleigh. I met Mary in Nashville at about eight-thirty and we set off driving up through Kentucky and Illinois. We stopped at a rest stop around lunch time and made sandwiches on top of her trunk out of rye bread and cookie butter. We laughed so much that some nice people at a nearby picnic table asked us to join them. We are so magnetic. However, we said ‘no, thanks’ and instead walked around and contemplated ousting small children from the see-saw so we could have a go. But, of course, we had already had our turn on that same see-saw when we were their age. We’ve driven this road so many times.

In St. Louis, I unwittingly pulled off at a gas station in a rather shady neighborhood. We got out of the car and did one quiet circuit of the little convenience store, then just climbed back in and kept going. By the time we got up to Macon and turned onto 36 a few hours later, my chest felt light like it always does when I pass through that place at that time of day. The fields stretched wide arms, speckled with hay bales, and the road rose to meet us, leading up into the low, late-day sun.

We got to Grandma’s in time for dinner, and then took a walk with my cousin Hannah up to the cemetery across the highway, where we typed in the secret code at the entrance for old time’s sake. My grandparents have arranged for plots there. Hannah read aloud from To Kill a Mockingbird while Mary and I did dishes.

The next morning Mary and I began the two-day task of taking our grandparents and aunt up to camp. My grandpa is frail. He cannot lift his feet well. He uses a cane and he struggles to lift his head up high enough to look straight ahead of him. His sweaters never seem to go on right and are always hitched up over his collar. He shuffles. Our trip was full of halting steps and slow. We stopped at a Walmart north of the Twin Cities to pick up about ten things Grandma had forgotten. I had to relearn much of that sort of patience which has fallen out of use at college.

And yet, that last thirty minutes of the drive held the same glow. Grandpa started telling us miles beforehand how much the topography looked like camp, then we passed The ICO and a moment later the great big Story Book Lodge signs came round the corner and we were home. It is sixth or seventh on my list of homes, but I knew it was higher for everyone else in the car, so I borrowed from their awe and comfort.

I can’t tell camp in order. You never can, especially a family camp. Mary and I stayed in the Ark, which was very cozy with two beds and its own alarm clock. I spent lots of time with cousins. We attempted a couple games of Monopoly, which will never be enjoyable, but also went kayaking, met Hannah’s friend-boy (not boyfriend,) played Old Maid with Grandma and Sally, and drove over to Virginia after evening meeting one night to see Wolverine. It turned out that it was in 3D, which no one except the boys was pleased with, but giggling and snarky comments have improved many a cousin film.

On Thursday we threw Molly a little family party for her eighteenth birthday. We made Mary Brammer’s Black Forest Torte (a family classic), Faith passed out glow sticks, and when Joe would not come down in time to sing, our Aunt Sally scaled the stairs to retrieve him. (That was our favorite part.) We took lots of pictures. I was impressed with how we have grown up. I don’t mean that we have gotten taller and more employable, though we have, but that I saw in my cousins something better. I saw that they are kinder, more willing, harder-working, more thoughtful, and unabashed (though perhaps, with each other, we have always been that.)

But noticing more than I used to includes the less savory. I saw problems with good people in a good place. I saw imbalances, injustices, frustrations which I knew would go unaddressed, things which made me itch to change and fix them. But that job was not for me.

Instead, after every meal, Mary and Molly and I stood behind the counter to receive the rush of dishes. We scraped and stacked the platters at record pace, consolidated bowls of ranch dressing and emptied pitchers of water and milk. Afterwards we helped with pots and pans—I was always on dry-and-put-away duty. Mary had set up her slackline, which magically attracts people of all ages and sorts in clusters, so she took great joy in knowing the names of all the little kids and their intricate relations. I just liked knowing that the wide rubber scrapers went in a certain drawer in the bakery and that the cutting boards went under the microwave. It made me feel important.

On Wednesday evening my cousin Charity was baptized down in the lake along with three other teenagers. (I can call them that now that I no longer am one.) The sun was setting way over behind the island and I watched as each of them came up clean, at sharp angles with the water, their hair dripping smoothly back from their faces, their arms crossed over their chests, leaning into the arms of their fathers. Then they would slosh back to shore and stand shivering in a towel to be hugged by their family.

I thought about coming up clean out of the water and out of the “soul-cleansing blood of the lamb,” not just once but over and over. The best message of the week was on Friday morning. Ben Scripture talked about trading in excuses for simple confession. We confess and Christ is eager to intercede. We are always needing fresh washing, new garments, but they always come free. They come free and they come strong. I must let my Father cleanse me of frustrations and weights which are not mine to carry. They are His, as I am.

We left camp on Saturday morning. Sunday morning we passed the fields of smooth, white windmills in northern Iowa. I remembered why even when we were younger, my cousins and I always got so quiet at this stretch of highway. They are unimaginably big and rather beautiful, but they are also frightening to me. They call up a small, stubborn Don Quixote out of my chest, ready to fight a hundred other battles which have not, in reality, been given to me.

So I came back to Missouri in peace, handing my grandpa his cane at rest stops along the way, and stopping at a Russell Stover outlet for my grandma. Back to the only place I am comfortable hanging all my laundry out to dry, even my most inexcusable underwear. The pool filter needs to be run. This is the job my Father has given to me, so I will come up clean, tend to those bug bites, and have a chat with my sister. There’s more road before us.

Summer Readings

Since it seems less and less likely that I will find much in the way of summer work (though I’m still certainly open to the option,) my main occupation for the summer has become that of reading and writing.

Since I’ve been home I’ve been forging my way through Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel. I do mean forging— my mom finally started to say encouragingly, “Alice, why don’t you read something for fun?” I finished it last night, but, man, Eugene Gant drags his feet getting from ages zero to eighteen—I swear he grows up slow and sticking as molasses. His father, Old Gant, spends a large part of the book wasting away from cancer and alcoholism, then right near the end, Ben, the only character Tom Wolfe has deigned to paint sympathetically, comes down with pneumonia and up and dies, bringing the whole dysfunctional family together and causing me to cry at a book I didn’t even like. On top of all that, Old Gant is still alive at the end, and Eugene has never had a love affair with a woman who isn’t at least five years older than himself or even achieved a decent haircut.

It’s all part of my summer reading, see, which is intended to spur on the writing of a story about a teenage boy and his little sister. Several of the other entries on the list are re-reads, including The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye, which I’m very nervous about now that I’m no longer sixteen. I also want to re-read all of The Mennyms books, which are a British children’s series about a family of life-sized rag dolls. I’m sure they’ll help me incalculably. Right now, though, I’ve begun a collection of sweet and simple essays by E.B. White. Following on his heels will be some Henry James and Eudora Welty.

I want to love books again this summer. I want to love them the way I used to. My book-habits now involve stacking them in pretty towers and smelling their pages and touching their spines reflectively and taking pride in how quickly I can find my favorite bits with having to fumble through any unnecessary pages. I’d like to read them again.

When I was a kid I sometimes read three books in one summer day. I would block out my little brother’s kicking feet and my mother’s requests to set the table and my sister’s demands to not hog the bathroom for hours at a time, and I’d simply fall into pages which pulled me along at a pace I never questioned, to the homes of lifelong friends I’d made the hour before.

If, on occasion, I did have to leave a book, to eat dinner with my family, or go to bed, or some such, I would, an hour or so later, get a funny hunger in the pit of my stomach. The uneasiness would grow more and more acute until I realized: I missed my book. I’d been holding my breath since I put it aside and I needed back in so I could breathe again.

I remember being in awe that some light little packet of paper which I could hold in my hand could captivate me for hours. Even at the time, I think I was aware that in actuality there were much smaller pieces of technology with much larger memories, but they did not impress me in the same way. I could see and account for everything that made the book what it was: the paper, the ink, the words, the little punctuation marks, and yet I couldn’t understand it. I sat down to consume the story and it ended in consuming me. A good book was something beyond.

So in the next couple months, I will remember how to love in a book, not what I pretentiously claim are its finest features: its paper and stains and ink and splendor on my shelf, but its expansive pilgrim soul which, in this world, always remains just out of reach.

 

Names

Summer is a convenient time for losing your mind just a little. Like just now, I decided to count all my t-shirts. I went by twos and covered my bedroom floor with little pairs of “t-shirt buddies!” (exclamation point necessary.) I felt they had to match each other, so that friendships could thrive. There were thirty-nine overall, which meant an odd man out, so I am wearing him to make him feel less lonely. (I think my brain is turning into tumblr, y’all. I can’t even.)

However, I have done some more constructive things today: I helped my little brother clean his room, got a pedicure, and finished applying for a job, but those are less fun to tell the internet about.

So, to return to fleeting eccentricities, the other day I wrote a fan letter of sorts. John Green (of Vlogbrothers fame) just had a daughter and named her Alice. To clear the air, I wrote her the following note. And sent it. With a stamp.

Dear little Alice,

Hello! You were born just the other day. I’ve written lots of letters before, but never to someone so small. I am a little more than twenty-one years older than you, and will probably never meet you. (We live hundreds of miles away.) However, we have something important in common. My name is Alice, too!

A few months ago, (this was before you) I watched a video, which I’m sure you’ve seen, of your parents having a chat with President Obama. You mom and dad asked the president if they should name you Eleanor or Alice. Eleanor was my Grammy’s name. She died about four years ago and I loved her very much. (Almost as much as she loved me.) Eleanor is also the middle name of my big sister, Mary, who is my best friend in the world. And Alice, of course is my name. I share it with a little girl in a blue dress with a big imagination.

Now I’ll tell you something that makes me a little ashamed. When I saw that video, I was very annoyed with your parents. I did not want to share either of those names with you, which was selfish of me. (Particularly because I know my Grammy would have been delighted to share her name with you.) I complained quite a lot.

But now you have been born and you are called Alice! So here I am, learning a valuable lesson about sharing, that I should have known since I was two. (Growing up doesn’t happen all at once—I’m beginning to suspect it takes all our lives. Probably till we’re eighty-five.)

Honey, regardless of how selfish and silly I am, I want you to be sure to wear our name well. It’s a lovely one and I know you can make it lovelier. I don’t usually like labels very much. In fact, though I like a lot of your dad and uncle’s videos, I’ve never even called myself a nerdfighter. I always figured my name, (our name,) was enough. It sounds pretty, it looks pretty, it’s easy to spell and say, and best of all, it means “noble.” So be noble, little Alice. Run with the young and walk slowly beside the old. Give as much as you can. Forgive fully and gracefully. When others talk, listen with your mouth shut. When you are angry, speak as slowly as you can. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Always say what you mean. Say ‘thank you’ when someone gives you a compliment (even if you don’t think it’s true.) Smile at strangers and say ‘hello.’ Also, remember that a handwritten poem is the best birthday present. (I’m sorry I fall short on that front this time.) Don’t forget. (I know you won’t.)

All my love,

another Alice

By the time I finished writing it, I was very much wishing I that it was addressed to little girl who did not already have half the internet fawning over her, in other words, a little girl who might actually read it someday. But then, patient advice like I tried to give above could still be good for another Alice I know—who apparently still has selfish little identity crises spurred by strangers’ unborn babies.

It’s funny really, that we wonder so much about who we are, that I feel the need to broadcast my giddy delight over forcing my clothing into intraspecies friendships, that I feel the need to tell myself to the world. Maybe I’m snobbily adverse to labels as a means of defining myself, but I still go in for stories, and clothes, and words, (and, um, a blog…)

My friend Hopkins wrote a poem called “As Kingfishers Catch Fire.” Here’s a bit:

“Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:

Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;

Selves – goes itself, myself it speaks and spells,

Crying What I do is me: for that I came.”

I love this poem, as I do most Hopkins, and yet these lines make me unsure. I am surrounded by young people like myself, who scrounge for whatever platform they can get hold up their me-ness where everyone else will see it. The internet is crammed with people nonchalantly begging for everyone else to affirm them. “Like it, will you? Like me, will you?”

Hopkins’ poem has a second stanza. (Good poets always do their best to answer the questions they pose, even when they pretend they have been open-ended.)

“I say more, the just man justices;

Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;

Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is –

Christ – for Christ plays in ten thousand places,

Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his

To the Father through the features of men’s faces.”

So here we all sit, playing in mud, knowing in our gut that the self is important and interesting.  We run around and shove ourselves in everyone else’s faces asking, “Oh, is this as good as yours? Or maybe (Oh, please!) even a little better?” As usual, we have got it all wrong. We think that the self is meant to be worshipped, when really it simply is meant to worship. (Dastardly passive voice, y’all…) God intended the self to shout, to jump, to cry Abba Father, to join with all the various and sundry brother and sister selves in singing “O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall show forth your praise!” (That’s from Psalm fifty-one. I don’t really need Hopkins as much as I pretend.)

A Million Bucks

I don’t really have or need a million bucks. The title was just for show. However, I am quite interested in money.

Most summers I’ve had a hard time finding work, but this time around I’ve had a particularly high rejection rate from all sorts of places. So, besides going down to apply at the local temp agency, I thought I should go ahead and make the internet aware of my marketable qualities, in case anyone out there is in need of my particular skill set.

1. I give really good hugs. Unfortunately, all those people with the “Free Hugs” signs have somewhat ruined the business for the rest of us. Maybe I could classify mine as Deluxe and charge 20 cents each.

2. I have a whole system for washing windows. Both my grandma and Janice Brown are in awe of my skills. I make them shine.

3. I have a good sense of direction. When we went on long car trips as a child, I always used to ask for the atlas so many times that my dad always just gave up and told me to keep it in the backseat. So if you’re in need of a passenger seat (or even backseat) navigator for a cross-country trip, I’m plenty available.

6. I can make handmade ravioli. (That’s a thing I learned in college.)

4. I’m quite good at reading aloud. In fact, if you’d like, I can even come over every night and put your kids to bed, complete with a chapter of classic children’s lit, while you go watch Doctor Who or drink margaritas or whatever it is you like to do without small people underfoot.

5. I adore ironing. Apparently everyone else hates doing this, and I don’t understand why. It’s so warm and soft and satisfying. In fact, if I wasn’t poor, I’d do it for free.

7. I can find books in the library really, really fast. (Especially if it’s the Library of Congress system and what you’re looking for is British literature.)

8. I’m a pro at crying in public. So if you have a father-in-law whom you want to make uncomfortable and guilty enough to fork over the down payment for a house or something, just bring me along and I’m totally on that, so long as I get a cut.

9. I love heights, for whatever that’s worth. (Is that worth anything? Man, I hope so. Maybe I could be a chimney sweep. I’m real little…)

10. I put the belt back on a lawn mower once. By myself… (I’ll stop now.)

If any of the abilities above are of interest, then please be in touch. I’m sitting at home with my phone in my lap.

Things

It’s raining while I’m writing. And I’m thinking about things. Things I’m packing, things that are following me to Pennsylvania on Friday. Jewelry and clothes and books and paper clips and notes from friends and shampoo and paper and too many shoe boxes and bobby pins and boots and notebooks and two teddy bears of varying sizes and a couple very tiny ceramic pigs.

I’m working on a story right now, and the other day I had the distinct pleasure of listing the contents of a character’s room. The list was longer and less sensible than the one above. I really like it. I like imagining all those things piled together with no seeming order.

Though I don’t know many people rich (or silly) enough to have one, I have never liked the idea of a room that looks like this.

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It looks like the place Darth Vader would go to relax. Even the plants are dead. Give my little Victorian heart clutter any day.

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Beautiful, beautiful unmatching clutter.

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Touchable, holdable, lovable things.  Things that sit on your desk and wall, and say, “Remember?”(which leads to another “Remember?”…and another and another.)

Remember intercampus mail?

Remember the time Reb made you stop dressing your boy bear in girl clothes?

Remember when you wrapped food up in a napkin to look like a purse and sneak it out of the gala, but then you had to stop in the photo booth first?

Remember when Karen first fell in love with giraffes?

Remember that second day of seventh grade when you were so scared to go back that you threw up, but then you found a brand-new, sunshine yellow beanie baby in your backpack?

Remember your cousins when they were little and grinny?

Remember when George used to sign all correspondence “From a loving brother”?

Remember kindergarten when you were all set to marry Spencer Hill and be a rescue nurse in forsaken places like Nevada?

Remember when you got to fill a new (to you) room and year with these things, and smile at them? Oh, wait. No you don’t. That happens on Saturday. Excellent.

Adventure is out there!

I started planning this entry on I-40 East coming home from Nashville. That has been my nice surprise of the month: I got to spend this past week in Missouri at my grandparents’, which you will have heard about in entries like this one and especially this one.

I didn’t bring my little computer at all and so was basically sans internet and mostly sans phone for over a week. I sat in the Raleigh airport a week ago Friday waiting for my flight and my head was spinning. I had just finished powering through season two of Mad Men at such a rate that sitting there I kept thinking every man I saw was Don Draper. Not that North Carolina boys are a bad-looking lot, but my, my, Alice, let’s not get carried away. My brain was fairly addled, and I felt disembodied. I felt as if I was no longer quite in possession of a self.

So here’s what I did all week: I read Tolkien, I washed a few windows, and I worked on a story. I had one white night, I watched one Jimmy Stewart movie, and I cooked some beans. I cleaned my grandma’s cabinets and went to Walmart only twice. One lovely afternoon I floated in the pool with a book and a milkshake from Tastee Treat.

I woke up a little, I think. It was a slow waking. I did not notice that I felt particularly different. Perhaps I was simply spending less time noticing myself and more time noticing the breeze on the dam of an afternoon, how many pages I had managed to fill in my little notebook, and marvelous quotes from the Hobbit to copy into it, though what I am writing is not at all a conventional adventure story. All hearty things for a kid in my condition—nothing like a computer screen to make you dwindle.

Then on Friday evening I sat in my aunt and uncle’s house watching the opening ceremonies and at the soaring shots of the countryside and the sound of the children’s choirs, I felt a near-forgotten longing. By the time all those Mary Poppinses floated down to vanquish Voldemort I had nearly lost my head.

I wanted to go. Karen and I had planned since we were sixteen to go to the 2012 Olympics. We were supposed to be there! What was I doing watching it from the couch? At the very least I was supposed to be headed there to study abroad this year. Off to visit the dear homeland of the Pevensies, the Bastables, the Mennyms, Pongo and Lady, the BFG and every other dear friend. (There is no faster way to my heart than British children’s literature.)

And thus it was that without warning I found myself saying to my mom in the car yesterday: “What if I got a job in England next summer?” Because, of course, I need money, (even at the end of this summer, I’m still scrambling for work,) but maybe I can quietly trick my scared little self into an adventure, if I make the arrangements fast, before myself notices.

I have often felt frightened and trapped and every miserable thing for the last year or so, but in the words of the indomitable Bilbo Baggins when he is trapped in a dark tunnel, lost from his friends and pursued by narsty, narsty goblins:

“Go back? No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!”

He does not even think of standing still.

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.

Summer

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.