Photo courtesy of NASA. Click for more images!
Photo courtesy of NASA. Click for more images!

God spread out
A woolen blanket
Of dark cold,
Then he took a handful of gems
Richest treasure,
Crusted with filth,
And like a gambler
Wishing for luck,
He blew His mighty breath on them
And they burst
Into flames
Of ice blue
And majestic purple
And dazzling gold
And brilliant orange
And scorching red
And He threw them
Across the blanket.
He scattered them
Across the dark expanse
Like a gambler
Tossing his die
Before a crowd of passive faces.
And He named them
For they are His
To give Him glory
And to illuminate this world
Stifled in an oppressive dark
And to mystify us
For all ages
As they silently sing for joy.

I Survived Awkward Day

My first day of classes!
My first day of classes!

Mama came in and gently woke me up.

I was awakened by sunlight streaming in through the blinds above my dorm bed.

I brushed my teeth. Mama pulled my fair hair back from my face.

I spread a towel on my bed and applied my make-up. Yawning, I strolled into the bathroom I share with my roommate and straightened my hair.

Mama made me a filling breakfast.

I poured myself cereal, too lazy to walk over to the cafeteria.

Mama smiled as she gave me my lunch box and had me pose while she took a picture to commemorate my first day of school.

After putting my student ID in my backpack, I took a selfie and sent it to Mom, so she could see her girl on her first day of college. Which I shall henceforth refer to as “Awkward Day.”

My first class as a college freshman, the professor strode to the front of the room. He placed his notes on the podium and peered at us through wire-rimmed glasses.

“Welcome to your first day of classes, or, as I like to call it, Awkward Day,” he greeted us. “Here, all of you are, sitting with pens and pencils in hand, waiting for me to say something profound or sagacious so that you can write it down. (Yes, I can see you.) And here I am, standing here, with nothing profound or sagacious to say.” A soft clattering and nervous chuckles swept the room as we put down our pens. “All of you are looking at me, sizing me up.” He lifted his tie. “Do you like my tie?” I had already approved.

He paused. “And you think you’re the only one making judgments?”

Starting college feels like being locked outside in your pajamas. And not cute little shorts and a tank top, more like footie pajamas with Dora the Explorer on them. Holding a sign that says, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!”

You get lost (a lot). You sit in on the wrong class. You walk into the cafeteria and discover that it closed 30 minutes ago. You forget your keys, your RA is gone, and your roommate doesn’t have her cell phone (sorry, Hannah!). You question what you’re doing, who you are, why you’re here, and what the heck is coming out of your mouth. My first few days on campus, I felt like the clumsiest, most tongue-tied person on the planet.

The good news is that, eventually, it does get better. (Now I only feel like the clumsiest, most tongue-tied person on campus!) Gradually, you learn the names of the buildings and how to get around. Crowds become people and people become friends. You figure out how to do things for yourself. One day, you calm down and realize you’re home.

Or so I hear.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s Awkward Day Part II – my first laundry day. I have to text my mom and figure out if I’ve sorted these clothes correctly.

Enter your e-mail in the box in the box in the right sidebar, or, if you have a WordPress account, press “Follow” to receive updates! I promise I won’t try to get your opinion on whether my running shorts belong with neutrals or darks!

Monster in my Closet

There is a monster living in my closet,
With bloodshot eyes that burn and glow.
My parents say it’s my imagination,
But he is really real, I know.

He has slimy scales and horns and claws,
I can hear his angry growls,
The rays of sun would melt him cold,
So only in the dead of night he prowls.

There’s a monster living in my closet,
I see his toothy smile, like a roaming shark.
Before I go to bed, I turn my nightlight on.
(Because he is afraid of the dark.)

Let’s Run Away

Let’s run away to sea, my dear,
Leave our past and problems on shore.
Let’s hoist the sail and plot our course,
Far from the life we knew before.

But if the waves become too rough,
Let’s find a jungle where we can hide.
We’ll hunt for food and swing on vines,
Wild and free, worldly worries aside.

But if the lion starts to prowl,
Let’s build a castle in the sky.
We’ll water our garden with clouds,
Spending our days where eagles fly.

But if the air becomes too thin,
And our love remains thick and strong,
I suppose we’ll come back home again,
To live and learn our whole lives long.

Drop Anchor or Set Sail?

mugrimWhen I think of my childhood, I think of the beach. I think of hours tramping in the ocean; wandering along the shore, collecting shells and driftwood with a childish eye for beauty and perfection; being flung around like a ragdoll in the washer after slipping off my boogie board; sundry family vacations; and constructing castles out of sand, shells, sticks, seaweed, and any other simple treasures I could find.

I remember standing on the seashore, watching sailboats skim across the rollicking waves, squinting against the sun as I tried to make out the figures on the ship. But no matter how hard I looked, they always remained elusive silhouettes gliding onto an unknown destination.

As a final “hurrah” before I laborday3left for college, my 21-year-old cousin Brittney and I visited a favorite old spot of ours – a pottery painting studio. (Admittedly, we are not the wild ones in the family.) This was a chance for us to talk and have fun, but it also served a practical purpose – I needed a mug.

For weeks, the thought of college hasn’t left my mind. Over and over, I imagined transforming my dorm room into a comfy living space, sitting in my first class, poring over books and notes at the coffee shop, confidently walking around campus with an armful of books…I spent hours lying on my bed, propped up on my elbows, browsing Pinterest for tips for college freshmen and researching the different organizations on campus. I have been wildly anticipating this and can’t wait strike out on my own, try new things, and meet new people.

laborday1However, there is a “sweet sorrow” in parting (to quote Mr. Shakespeare). I wanted my mug to remind me of home, too, and bring me back to this very moment, sitting with my cousin, two young adults looking hopefully into the future.

It’s no surprise that I immediately thought of the beach. What did surprise me was the phrase that popped into my head: Drop Anchor or Set Sail?

There is a point in our lives where we all need to ask ourselves that. Do I stay where I’m comfortable and content? Or do I lift the anchor and sail off to a new adventure? That was what I constantly asked myself during senior year. It was never a serious question, though. I knew that I wanted something different. I wanted to go where I didn’t know anybody and would be forced out of my comfort zone, where I could learn about myself and plan for my future without anybody expecting anything of me.

I also painted a quote inside the rim from one of my favorite authors, Louisa May Alcott: “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning to sail…” (emphasis added).

I’m so wrapped up in fantasies, it’s hard to remember that I will inevitably make laborday4mistakes. Once, I saw a boat catch on fire. I watched people leap from the vessel as it belched black smoke into the serene June sky. Those people might not have made it to their intended destination, but they were safe. And that boat definitely never sailed again, but I still remember it, years later, when countless other ships have sailed (pun intended) out of my mind. Mistakes (obviously) are unpleasant and unwanted. But I’m learning. I’m learning about journalism and science and math, obviously, but, more importantly, I’m learning about myself. I’m learning how to live on my own. (Financially supported by my parents, that is.)

I have no idea what the next four years hold for me, let alone what I’ll do after I get my diploma. Statistics imply that I will change my major (perhaps multiple times) and end up in a job that has nothing to do with my degree anyway.

Maybe I’ll sink in a dazzling bonfire. Maybe I’ll find refuge on an exotic shore, unscathed and fabulously tan (hey, a girl can dream!). Whatever happens, I know that it will be an adventure.

Lift the anchor! I’m ready to set sail.


Let’s Set Sail

Yes, it has been a lovely day.
The sun is shining, the water is blue.
I love to watch the birds with you,
And hold your hand and admire the view.

And yes, I’ve enjoyed your company,
Your humor and manners never fail,
But doesn’t this feel cliché and stale?
Why don’t we just set sail?

I want to traverse a distant shore
And learn an exotic, alien tongue.
Why waste away while we’re still young,
Like a beautiful song that’s left unsung?

This boat has become my prison cell,
Teasing me with all my thoughtless hopes.
Lift the anchor! Cut the ropes!
Stop watching the world through telescopes!

We won’t follow a despotic map or compass,
Let’s wander where the wild wind blows us,
Find ourselves where nobody knows us,
And explore whatever this wide world shows us.setsail

Time to Get a Watch


watch2I think that everyone has gotten that old crack.

Innocently, you ask someone wearing a watch, “What time is it?” “Time to get a watch,” they shoot back, smirking at their own cleverness instead of wasting three seconds to glance at their wrist and report the time.

Well, I have one thing to say to you, wise-crackers: it’s not that easy.

For weeks, almost months, I have been searching for a new watch. Armed with my wallet, I hunted in every store in this town repeatedly, both in person and online. I scoured Etsy. I browsed Pinterest. I’m fairly certain that less effort went into constructing Big Ben.

There are several complicating factors to selecting a wristwatch. My requirements: it must be polished and stylish, but casual enough for everyday wear; it needs to be durable and high-quality, but not too expensive; any metal must be silver to match my jewelry; the color of the band can’t clash with my clothes; I have a very small wrist, so the face can’t be too big. My pursuit of the perfect watch made the search for the Holy Grail look like a Disney vacation.

In my unending quest, I eventually stumbled upon a display of Hello Kitty watches. Immediately, memories of a shy, tow-headed six-year-old darted through my mind.

First grade represented a major change for me. I was leaving the friends I had been going to school with for as long as I could remember.

Me at my kindergarten graduation, posing with my diploma.
Me at my kindergarten graduation, posing with my diploma.

School would no longer be half-days. I stopped signing my papers “Cat” (my favorite animal, which is what all of my friends called me) and I started wearing a uniform.

My individuality faded into khaki almost-knee-length shorts. My personality was stifled by collared shirts. My only form of self-expression was my backpack – a pink and purple monstrosity with Hello Kitty’s serene face on it. That backpack was my sole link to the little “Ali Cat” I was in kindergarten. As I prepare for another transition in my life – college – buying a Hello Kitty timepiece seemed appropriate in a sappy, metaphorical way.

It seems like the closer I get to leaving, the more I want to retreat back into the little blonde who did an arabesque at her kindergarten graduation, who wanted to be a scientist so she could make magic potions, who dressed up as a cat every year for Halloween, and who – perhaps craziest of all – enjoyed math.

That little ballerina wants to dance one more time. She wants to pile all of her stuffed animals – all cats – on her dorm room bed and hide underneath their soft warmth. That girl is still a part of me. She is worth remembering. She is definitely worth wearing a Hello Kitty watch for. (Although, in retrospect, the Hello Kitty shirt, stuffed animal, hair accessories, and pajamas might have been a bit over the top.)

My first day of first grade! (I'm wearing the Hello Kitty backpack.)
My first day of first grade! (I’m wearing the Hello Kitty backpack.)

But I’m not that little girl anymore. Not completely. Maybe that’s another quality of a “floating shift”: learning to float along, cope with, and overcome the constant shifts and changes in life. I’ve grown. More than that, I’ve matured. I hope that I’ve become someone who is kind and respectful toward others. A hard-worker. A good friend.

I promise that I am the kind of person who will give you a straight answer if you need to know what time it is.

What time is it? Time to put your e-mail in the “Follow Blog via E-mail” box on the side of the screen! Yes, that joke was painful for me, too. I’ll watch it. Okay, just enter your e-mail, pretty please :]

Making a Quilt with Memories

I am making a quilt with memories,
Of every person I have ever met,
Of where I have been and what I have seen,
Of the things I hope to never forget.

I’ll snip a stained piece of tablecloth,
Where I crudely drew and learned to write.
I will steal a shred from our battered couch,
Where we laughed together every night.

I’ll take a piece of my baby blanket,
That is too loved-out to really use.
And the ribbon from my furry darling,
The queenly cat it broke my heart to lose.

I’ll collect a special piece of clothing,
From every member of my family
So they can shield me from the ruthless cold.
When winter comes, I hope they think of me.

I am making a quilt with memories.
There is a loving warmth in every thread,
That reminds me of home and who I am,
No matter where it is I make my bed.