November 30, 2013


November's always been one of my favorite months, because it's filled with opportunities to reflect, celebrate, and be thankful.

I'm thankful for my students, who make me laugh, make me think, and make me feel like I hold a valuable place in the world.

I'm thankful for my work. This year, I've gotten to achieve some fairly substantial dreams: I've done work for National Geographic, and I've gotten to craft my own creative writing class. I am thankful for the trust those around me have had about my ability to do these things well. I work very hard, but I'm fortunate that so much of my work allows me to share my passion, and to fill my life with it.

I'm thankful for my writing, which inspires me to get up before the sun, and stay up long after it's gone to bed, exploring and dreaming and discovering. I'm thankful for the way my writing allows me to better understand myself and my world. I'm thankful for my critique partner, Ryan Graudin, whose encouragement, kind words, and "done yet?" emails help me remember how important my writing is to me, and how much I want to continue to pursue it.

I'm thankful for my friends, who keep me sane in the midst of my crazy work schedule, who make me laugh and feel seen, known, and celebrated. Even when they're far away from me.

 This Thanksgiving, I feel very thankful for my family. I feel thankful for the fact that, even though my brother and I are very different, we can still find joy in doing crazy things (like jumping out of a plane) together. I'm thankful for the fact that he's the ONLY boy who's ever been unembarrassed to dance with me around the kitchen. I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to sit around a crowded table and soak in the eccentric, outspoken crazy of my family members.

And - because I don't think we do this enough - I am thankful for myself: my resilience, my courage, and my continued desire to be open to the world and passionate about it, even when I'm tired and depleted and unsure.

November 9, 2013

Two Poetry Fridays: "Because I could not stop for Death" and "Detail of the Woods"

I love this first poem because it reminds me of my current novel-in-progress. I love the second poem because I just went for a run through autumn woods and wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that everyone should have a place, and it shouldn't be within someone else.

"Because I could not Stop for Death" 
by Emily Dickinson
(try singing it to the tune of Amazing Grace. Cool, right?)

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school, where children strove
At recess, in the ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

Or rather, he passed us;
The dews grew quivering and chill,
For only gossamer my gown,
My tippet only tulle.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries, and yet each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

"Detail of the Woods"
by Richard Siken

I looked at all the trees and didn't know what to do.
A box made out of leaves. What else was in the woods? 

A heart, closing. Nevertheless. Everyone needs a place. It shouldn't be inside of someone else. 
I kept my mind on the moon. Cold moon, long nights moon. 

From the landscape: a sense of scale. 
From the dead: a sense of scale. 

I turned my back on the story. A sense of superiority. 
Everything casts a shadow. 

Your body told me in a dream it's never been afraid of anything.