26 March 2014


I've reached a certain place of lucidity about what happens in the next stage of my life. The time for my few acres, giant garden, and possibly some goats––I don't know why goats, it just seems like a thing that would be character building––has not yet come. (That will come though, right? In Montana or even still my brow-beaten North Dakota?) But I know some things that are next. And I'm surprised, but not surprised, to find the clarity has come through fire, through the perpetual forcing of this introvert out into the world until she loses much of her sense of terror, past the fields of breathless anxiety. I am surprised at the amount of discomfort this has taken. Before I supposed I would work through discomfort to a place of comfort and then triumph! Now I'm learning to fall in love with the sense of falling. Are you aware of that team-building practice of letting yourself fall backwards trusting the person behind you will catch you? Forget the team-building part for the moment, and the person to catch––I'm falling in love with the sense of falling and trusting. Trusting without knowing when I'll stop falling, what will be there to catch me, or even if there is an end. Even if I fall flat on my face, break my nose and several ribs...

I've reached a certain place of lucidity about what happens in the next stage of my life. I don't much want to speak of, or define things yet. There are these sprouts coming out of the ground and we'll all have to wait to see what arrives.

The empty feeling still drags at me regularly. This is just a thing I think I must accept. A part of me that will greet me on many mornings, lay me down to sleep many nights, and haunt me through long afternoons. "I'm in Paris!" I tell it. "Go away! I just toured three different countries, did well on a French test, and ate all my fruits and vegetables!" "I just went to the Louvre! Can't we be delighted and exalted? What is wrong?! How can I feel empty after that?" It spurs me on in it's own way. Writing has become a lifeline, not to keep me living but to keep me healthy. I certainly am excited and grateful for this opportunity, for these people I'm meeting, the things I'm seeing and doing. For all the hollowness in my heart there is a fullness and wonder that breaks forth and eats up this world with joy. Accepting joy comes easily though, while it is hard to not greet the empty feeling with guilt. Guilt that I can't shake this stain of sourceless sorrow. Guilt that I must be doing something wrong, I must be sinning, I must be failing to cause this emptiness. It is the guilt that must be shaken off, it is the true devil here.

Let me take you back to a wonderful place, though. Let me lift you up out of the murky recesses you may have slipped into, and let me share with you a few brilliant things. 

As recommended by my sister:

This song:

And two last, most important things: 

Memory One: A memory of my mom, I was probably in high school and she was probably in the middle of making bread, and she stopped what she was doing, drew me into the kitchen to listen to Camelot with her and to explain the significance of the song.

Memory Two: Enjoying a sunny Sunday lunch with a French family and friends, gathered around the table singing Beatles songs together. At one point assuring them that "a hard day's night" is really a sort of nonsense phrase. 

Do you have dear musical memories? Have you ever tried on Shaq's coat? When's the last time you had horchata? 

23 March 2014

Conversation with a 14 yeard boy

After the manner of my friend Becky's hilarious blog posts of conversations she has with her twin boys, Conversations with 3 year olds, I have one conversation I must share with you that happened yesterday with the 14 year old in this house. To give you some context: I'm an au pair for a French family. I speak to them all in English as that is my main purpose, to help them all speak English fluently. They're all quite good, however, sometimes really fantastic things happen.

Me: I really think yoga would do you good.

C: You know what our neighbor told me about yoga?

Me: What?

C: That when you do yoga your anus passes gases. 

11 March 2014


You are possibly familiar with Elton John's song Tiny Dancer and maybe even Joseph Gordon-Levitt's amazing job lip syncing to said song. While listening to Tiny Dancer almost every day in January (not all day long...just half a day or so...) I kept imagining this scenario of a sweet, belittled young man who's missing a finger and the stumpy knuckle has a few inexplicable holes in it. One day as he's walking along, in the grit of the street he notices a little ballerina figurine at the base of which are a few prongs which perfectly fit the holes in his knuckle. Now he's got his tiny dancer in his hand, always with him. He's not lonely anymore.

10 March 2014


Bottled here is a taste of spring which arrived in Paris last week. Inside is the sight of flowering trees; the song of birds chirping loudly all day, calling you out to lay in the grass and soak in the warming weather. There are also memories inside, memories I’ll happily share with you of walks along canals lined with Parisians out to soak up the sun––they come out like iguanas, say my friends from Columbia. Can you feel the warmth on your freckling cheeks as you sit outside at a cafe table having doffed your coat? Can you feel your soul lifting and relaxing in the spring air?

Let me apologize beforehand if by writing this I curse someone somewhere, if I bring winter back upon our heads, let it be known I‘m sitting next to the wooden beams that hold up my ceiling and I knock upon them now. Here’s the thing: I can’t believe I’m going a whole year without snow. I’m a bit dazed, I’ve never had a year without snow in my life. I suppose many people would find that wonderful, certainly many who’ve suffered the polar vortexes back in the States, and as a proper North Dakotan I don’t want to seem ungrateful…I just feel…dazed. This winter didn’t rage around me, dominating my life giving me snow days that I treasure as a sweet blessed relief from routine. This winter I was never blinded by white as I looked out the windows of my home. And no one has been able to understand how I’ve been the happiest on the rare nights when the wind howls across the roof that’s two feet from my head. This winter, plus spending a month and a half in the horribly hot Mediterranean last summer really cemented how much I’m a woman from cold northern plains.

Recently I had my two week vacation which I spent traveling Europe. I’d harbored secret little hopes that Germany or at least Denmark would have a little snow. Denmark did have a more bitter cold and less daylight than anything else I’ve experienced this winter but still all I got was some light rain. One night, when there was no rain, we drove out to a beach. It was seven or eight at night, pitch dark with no stars or moon breaking through. The pale sand faded away not far from us into the sound of the Baltic Sea we couldn’t distinguish from the black sky. It was like standing at the edge of a terrifying and beautiful hungry nothing. With everything so dark, would you realize how close you were to waters edge before it was too late? Before it ate you up and sucked you into its lonely vastness? It was as close as I’ll ever get to my dream of returning to earth in 10 billion years to see the blackest sky that envelopes when the stars have drifted too far away for anyone but butterflies to see their shining light. The Baltic Sea at night was possibly better, though, because of the sound of waves rolling invisibly in and out.

PS. Here's an actual photo from my trip to tide you over as I slowly pull myself together.

Corsham, England