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August 2007

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Aug. 9th, 2007

It's Official

Well, between being assured that I will have at least two readers and becoming more and more excited about my new layout, I've made the move official. From now on, I will be posting here. Not much will change besides look and location; as always I will be essaying and journaling and observing (and occasionally judging) profusely when time allows. And, as always, comments and discussion are welcome!

Query

For awhile now, I've been wishing I could put more pictures into my posts. Nothing spectacular, but I like the idea of spicing up entries with a little bit of color. However, LiveJournal is HORRID at posting pictures. Absolutely WRETCHED.

So it is that I'm contemplating a move. My question being this - if I DO move from LiveJournal, and therefore am no longer updating peoples' friendlists, will anyone still be interested in my humble writerly offerings? It sounds vain to ask, but you know. A girl has to have at least one or two readers.

Aug. 6th, 2007

Sunday

A pelican falls, sharp as a stone, meeting the water below in a silent splash that sends salty spray high into the air. My breath catches in my throat: I watch in awe, unspeakably touched by this dazzling display of beauty.

The breeze, gentler than usual but just as stickily warm, teases strands of my hair from their neat updo. The beach is the one place on earth where even my normally docile hair is rendered absolutely unmanageable - but I don't care. If I could live here, I wouldn't mind being totally bald.

I am sitting in my favorite position: curled in one of the Captain's chairs, my feet perched on the deck rail, facing the grey-green-blue expanse of the ocean. Seabirds wheel, noiseless and graceful, above my head - stately pelicans, grey gulls, and small, swooping white ones with black heads whose name I don't know. Though midsummer, it is Sunday, and so the beach is sparsely populated; a small group of simmers here, an abandoned canopy there.

"Hey, Ninny," Benjamin asked me earlier, as I stood on the deck watching faraway dolphins gliding through the waves. "Is there such things as mermaids?"

"Yup," I answered, my eyes still on the horizon. "Of course. They just don't like to show themselves to humans."

Being here, in my truest of homes, takes me back to my most essential self. For the moment I shed all the insecurities, the doubts, and the superficialities of the modern grown-up world. For one shimmering moment I am myself: Not Cindy, the adult, or Cindy Lynn, the child, or Ninny, the sister, or even Cynthia, the writer - I am none of these, and all of them, and more. Once, I wrote a poem about my grandfather's swing. "If ever a man were to love me/I think it would start on a swing," I wrote then - "For there, I am most truly Me." But I was forgetting, then, the even truer truth that is the sea, and what the sea does to me. No one could ever pretend to understand me who had not sat in silence by the ocean with me first - or at least been willing to try.

Jul. 26th, 2007

Five-Finger Scales

Each time my life moves from a moment of busyness to one of calm, I have to relearn - to remember - everything I've forgotten.

I have to recall what it means to rest, and what it means to be idle, and how those differ. I have to remember why it's important to seek a moment of solitude and reflection - especially after such a hungry, lonely semester. I have to keep hold of the days that have a tendency to slip by, silently, speedily, worthlessly. I need to take this time to stretch out my soul that has become so cramped in the rush of routine over the last three months.

I am a new person this summer, a different woman than I was in the spring. Now I need to pause, to take the time to explore this new me. Above all, I cannot let myself slip back into the petulance and pettiness of my fifteen-year-old self, now that things are easier again.

Growing up, whenever I left the house Dad would remind me to "Remember who you are." For so many years I've laughed that off, not realizing how easy it is to forget. In the heat of the moment it's frighteningly simple to forget all the things I've learned, forget the changes I've undergone, forget the God whose creation I am. It's too easy to let the sleeping snake of natural-girlness wake up and shake its ugly head, blinding me to my true identity, potential, even to my true feelings.

One of my goals over this break is to write. A lot. I want to write everything - stories, poems, songs, my Virtuous Woman book; I want to edit and rewrite the MaeNo (and, oh yeah, give it a title). I want to bury myself in fiction-writing this summer, and not come up for air.

But I think I'm not ready for that, not quite yet. This has been a year of transitions, of questions and answers and more questions, of revelation and beauty and pain and did I mention questions? And I think that, before I can dive into the stories of Maeallyn or Hytharan or even the woman of Proverbs 31, I've got a lot of writing to do for myself. There's a good bit of journaling, and pondering, and poetry-ing, and essaying that I've got to do on my own story, before I'm ready to tackle anyone else's.

And so it is that I make new goals on this, the third day of my break. I make a goal to keep an hour or so of each day to myself and the Lord. I make a goal to sketch everything - tastes, smells, sounds, thoughts - so that I will always remember this summer and the miracles that will happen. I make a goal to fulfill the measure of my creation. And, last and perhaps most importantly, I make a goal to live in full accordance with my beliefs, my values, and my truest self.

This is going to be quite the summer.

Later

This is what summer is supposed to be. Sun-child that I am, the heat of mid-July makes it impossible to spend too much time outside early in the day. It is only after sunset that the temperature is bearable again, and so, like owls, we all slip outside into the summer night.

In Idaho, even in July, nights are crisp and cool and quiet - as different as possible from the hot summer dusks we have at home. Here, the air is warm and heavy and full of the sounds of summer creatures - crickets, cicadas, tree frogs - all joining in in a chorus that is loud enough to keep you awake at night. I am sitting in the hammock chair, my fingers twined into its colorful threads, rocking gently back and forth and listening to the summer sounds. Along with the wildlife, I hear voices from next door - the cat begging to be let into the sanctuary of the porch (where she would promptly proceed to dig her claws into every soft surface available and leave long hairs all over the chair cushions) - children playing somewhere in the neighborhood.

The night around me is dark, rendered completely black by the porch lights, but unfrightening. Unlike the wild desert nights in Idaho, this dark holds no menace. Mine is a tame jungle - nothing worse than snakes and a quintillion species of insect lurk in the trees; the only howls are those of the neighborhood dogs in their constant quest to outbark one another.

The door to the house opens: Two blond pirate-hatted heads and one plastic sword peer around the doorframe. It's nearly ten, but bedtimes later in the summer, when the heavy Southern heat encourages afternoon naps and makes the night more interesting, anyway.

The invaders look around for a moment, seeing only Jason and I sitting each in our own shell of silent journaling, and pop quickly back inside. I am left with only Jason's intermittent observations and Tiger's plaintive wails.

I look at the words I've written, ten minutes or so of steady streaming, dotted with crossings-out and hasty corrections. Most of it, I know, isn't very good - I'm rusty, overdescriptive, after a semester of neglect. I'm full of cliches, of worn-out words. I've forgotten how to be spare, and sparsely beautiful.

And yet: I'm smiling like I haven't smiled in - well - awhile. It's not much, I know. But it's a start. And for tonight - as the deep, thick dark of a Carolina summer night hangs around me almost palpably - it is enough.

#1

Reason #1 I Am Glad To Be Home:

Hearing the little kids run around the house singing in deep, sonorous Ben Folds voices, "Oiiiiii am, Oiiiiiiii am, Oiiiiiiiii am, the Luckiest."

Jul. 25th, 2007

Home Again

When I write, I like it to be in a still moment, when all of my senses are attuned as delicately as possible to the world around me. (There is an inexplicable but very real link, at least for me, between sensory functionality and poetry.) So it is that I have a much harder time achieving verbal beauty when I am sick and sniffly and sore.

Still - despite the congestion and the allergies and the hovering headache, sitting out on this porch makes me positively serene.

They say you can never come home. I've disproved that theory twice now: Two times in the last twelve months, I have come home so completely that it feels like I've never left. (Luckily for everyone concerned, this second homecoming has been much less neurotic than the first.) Each time, I have slipped easily back into the pattern of my old life, so seamlessly and effortlessly that a part of me wonders if the last months really happened.

This time, I know that they did. Not because my hair is longer (though it is) or because the seasons are different (though they are) or because the triplets are showering me with gifts and drawings (though they are). Because I have changed so much.

I am a completely different person than the one who stepped off of a plane and into the Salt Lake City airport three months ago. I like to think it's an improvement, personally, though only time will tell. (Nah, who am I kidding? I love the person I've become. It's like discovering that your next-door-neighbor is actually your best friend. We get along great.)

But it's still good to be back.

I'm sitting on the porch, in a butterfly chair that wasn't here when I left (one of the many superficial changes that have taken place in my house over the last three months), my feet in the hammock swing. Swimsuits and pool towels drape over the clothesline that is strung above my head, evidence that it is midsummer in North Carolina. Clamps, paint, wood glue and two-by-four blocks litter the table to my left, proof positive that my mom has been busy while I've been gone. Around me, the jungle that is a Carolina July hums around me (I'd forgotten until I went to sleep last night just how loud those cicadas can get). I can see why those who've grown up in deserts get claustrophobic when they come here, but I love it.

It's been a weird, wild summer, full of confusion and loneliness and even a dash of heartbreak. (Nothing too serious, but - still.) All week, I've looked around with a dazed sort of expression, proclaiming every day or two that "It's over! It's actually over!" Which exclamation is usually met with the reply, "Well, you're going back in six weeks." And I know I am. But I have a hunch that it will be different - better - that it won't have that sheen of this-is-a-test glittering over every experience. And I'm excited for that, excited to go back.

But for now, it's good to be home.

Jul. 10th, 2007

Not Taking A Trip To Vegas

I told my roommate the other night:

"If I had been gambling with money this summer, instead of just placing bets on how my semester would go, I would not only be broke this semester - I would be deeply in debt."

At this point, I'm just doing my best to sit back and never, ever make guesses about how things will turn out ever again. I feel like I'm on the world's most unexpected roller coaster and it keeps getting more unexpected by the moment. Sometimes good changes, sometimes less-good.

Maybe going home for six weeks will calm things down a little.

Jul. 4th, 2007

Growing Pains

I am a history girl. I go through obsessions with different historical periods, reading and studying them as much as I can (read: as much as I have time for). I have often wished for a time machine.

I used to be head-over-heels for the era of the Revolution. I loved it all - the stories, the ideals, the dresses, the heroism. Once upon a time, all I wanted was to grow up to be an indentured servant in a colonial town around the time of the Boston Tea Party. (This is, of course, before I got a little older and realized that really, the life of an indentured servant was not all that fun.) Something of that same spirit still catches me when I see red and white stripes snapping in the breeze - I start to hear the vague strains of "Yankee Doodle," and think about Deborah Samson. History is grand, I think.

But it wasn't always that way. I'm fairly certain that the people actually involved in all those massacres, all the intrigues, all the long days of tramping through the mud, weren't quite so starry-eyed about their ordeal. I'm sure they groaned, and cursed, and I wouldn't be surprised if one or two decided that taxation without representation really wasn't that bad, after all. The bullets were real, the nights were cold, and the agony felt at a loved one's capture or death was nothing to make light of.

Today, this country is all grown up: A world power, a force to be reckoned with (and not just because you could die eating our fast food - yuck). And yet, I'm guessing that getting to this point involved some significant growing pains.

I came into this semester with high expectations for my first Rexburg summer. Everyone said it was the best time to be here (and I won't contest that - it's beautiful). I had strong hopes; it would be like last fall, only even better, because it would be sans negative temperatures.

As the weeks went on I watched as each expectation slowly dried up, like Hughes' proverbial raisin in the sun. Time went by - weeks, then months - and nothing changed. I still had (almost) no friends. No dates. Nothing. I have become, as I told someone the other day, the Amazing Invisible Woman. The summer has been full of pumpkin bread, day after day after day. (When I went on a geology field trip Monday and it turned out that nobody had actually ordered our bus, I wasn't surprised. You see, that's been the way my whole social life has gone this semester.)

Now, the semester is (finally) almost over. Fifteen days, and I will be living it up at Education Week. Twenty days, and I will be on an airplane headed home (at last). It cannot come too soon.

And yet: I know that it's been good for me, in a non-trite, deep-and-spiritual sort of way. I am, quite literally, a different person than I was three months ago. I have learned so much in this summer of tears: Patience, faith, trust, hope, independence (while still being totally dependent on God). I have found new passions, and reconnected with old ones. I have come to take a deep, vibrant joy in just being me, no matter what the circumstances.

Some day, when I am a force to be reckoned with, a world power (ha, ha) I will look back on this cold-mud-and-gunpowder summer and smile indulgently. "Yes, it was difficult," I'll think as I wave my little flag and watch the fireworks. "But really, all it was was growing pains."

Jun. 28th, 2007

My Life Would Be A Lot Better If It Were A 24/7 Tangeuro

People (mostly people who don't dance) laugh at me when I say this, but it's true: I would be a much better person if I had the chance to dance every day.

BYU schools are good for dancing. Really good. Every Wednesday there is country and swing dancing, and every Thursday there is latin and ballroom. I never went to either one last semester; I wasn't confident enough in my own skills, and none of my friends liked to dance. (The latter being the more pressing reason.) This semester, as I have only about two friends anyway (and one of them is my uncle), I said "what the heck" and started going to Thursday night dancing by myself.

Now, I arrange my schedule around it. Those three hours on Thursday nights are sacred. Even tonight, when I had an orchestra concert that didn't get over till 9, I zoomed over to the student center as soon as my violin had made it into my locker. I only got an hour of dancing in before it ended, but boy, it was good.

Dancing makes me happy. All kinds of dancing, but partner dancing more than anything, because that combines both dancing and social interaction (which I need). And the more involved in it I get, the more I love it. I've lost count now of how many Thursdays I've gone dancing; nearly all semester, and now I know all of the "regulars" by face and many of them by name. It's also quite the ego-boost - though a couple times a night I end up with a partner I just can't dance with (those of you who dance will know what I mean), I am usually able to follow guys who have been dancing for many years more than I have. I'm even told fairly often that I'm a good follower.

This is pretty high praise, considering that this girl couldn't follow worth beans at the beginning of last fall.

And then, of course, every now and then someone tells me I'm "amazing." OK, well, it actually only happened that once. But you know. I'm still riding the wave.

Amazing

I was putting on my street shoes after class when Taylor came up and started talking to Ben.

"Do you know your partner is amazing?"
"Yep."
"She's really cool."
"Yep."
"You should feel honored."
"Yep."
"Blessed."
"I do."
"Good."

And it was at that point that I looked up and realized hey, they're talking about me! And it was at that point that my day was MADE, man.

I am a simple person. It doesn't take a lot to make me happy. Being told I'm amazing will take me a looong way.

I told them they could build a statue of me on the Taylor quad. I'd be OK with that.

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