Thursday, December 27, 2012

the long sigh

*please note that I am wearing the same shirt as I was on this other thesis day. sick.

In an unexpected and blessed turn of events, beside a warmbright fireplace and a twinkling Christmas tree, in a house and in a town buried in feet of falling snow, this little lady may have just finished her thesis. "Finished" meaning she has (finally) made a draft that just may pass muster. "Finished" meaning she has (finally) made a draft that she is kinda proud of. "Finished" meaning that so-help-me if I have to rewrite this thing again, I am throwing in the towel and moving to France, with or without my degree. This sort of torture has a way of killing part of your happy little soul.

And so tonight, I shall sleep the sleep of angels,
and tomorrow, to the city, for some lights and dinner and easy breathing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On Old Age and Dying

I read an Onion article today about a 38-year old man. 38's the kind of age that, when you're growing up, you think you'll never be. It's the kind of age where, probably no matter how old I am, I'll always think I'll never be. Even when I'm 42, or 69, or 107. Kinda like how I still have out-of-body moments when I read about famous people being 22 or 23, and for a brief second I think, "Wow, maybe I'll be famous by the time I'm 23." And then I realize...


And then this happened: in ten years, I'll probably be married to a 38 year-old. And in twelve, I'll be 38 myself.

And then I realized that my parents probably only have 20 years left to live at all.

(Cue strains of Five for Fighting's 100 Years.)

Memento mori. They're gonna be the death of me.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to the honey-voiced boy about the sadness that life is enshrouded in. The kind you tap into when a warm wind starts up on a dark spring night. The kind you feel when you see how quickly the days evaporate before you, how temporary this current state is, how all these things we take for granted will, in the blink of an eye it seems, change. The kind of sadness that comes when you see goodness all around you and wonder if you've given it all enough of yourself.

In two months time, I will have left this Utah home. I maybe might come back for good someday, but I also maybe might not. And once I've left, my sister will leave too, and then my brother&wife, possibly for good. The girls will grow up. My parents will age. And someday we'll all move away to different places and different lives.

This makes me cry.

I love everything about my life right now. Everything. Nothing is as sweet as what inevitably must change, and nothing is so lovable as that which you can lose.

In fact, I think I love most those things that I count on losing.

I only have this one little life.
Let me love.

Monday, December 10, 2012

music monday

1. "Man on Fire" (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros)

I try to live mostly without regrets. You know. I think we all do.

But I have a few deep ones.

One is that I didn't become a world-class ballerina. Or even just a professional-quality one. Or even just a serious one.

Anyways, this video is incredible. And it'll keep you dancing all week, no matter what kind of dancer you are.


Friday, December 7, 2012

a black tie white Christmas party

Oh, last night was so wonderful. I could have talked to each person there for hours and hours. There's never enough time, is there, to be with the people you love as long as you'd like to. Thanks to all who came and made last night so magic. So so grateful to have friends like you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

old man Carolyn

I've been sleeping like a grandpa lately. Goin to bed at decent hours (pre 1am) and sleepin like I'm hibernating. Which I suppose is fitting considering I live in a cave.

Other news here?

I am using every chance I get to use the word onus. Try it out. There are bazillions of opportunities every day. And every time you use it, a little Bon Iver will run through your mind. Sigh.

I broke down and bought myself curry this morning. Just because it will carry me through finals (seriously, the place I go gives you SO MUCH), and let's be real: I need to be carried.

I met a man who is into short hair on girls. This is akin to seeing a unicorn.

But alas, I've decided not to cut mine (hair that is) for a while... I figure the next couple years will be easier without bangs and without shortness. You can't braid short hair. You also can't put it in a ponytail. Or a bun. Or a braid bun ponytail. So there you have it. Long hair it is. For now.

Heard a girl pronounce regular "reg-uh-ler." Loved it so much.

I'm listening to loads of French accordion music. It is making my every action smack of romance and intrigue and sparkly walks along the Seine with a crepe in one hand and his hand in the other.

Lots of prepping for the last of a five year streak of Christmas hors d'oevres parties. Fitting that, after so many years of dressing up and being classy together at places, we're finally co-hosting a party.

Been typewriter-loving quite a bit recently as well. Which makes me feel like I'm Ernest Hemingway. Which makes me feel awesome.

Made multiple trips to Smith's for ice cream. The latest and greatest is Mint Moose Tracks: ribbons of thick chocolate through mint ice cream with mint chocolate cups. Incroyable.

Been reading my Book of Mormon in French to myself. My pronunciation is getting better and better and better and faster and faster and faster. If any of you would like a private reading, I do those. Eleven p.m. nightly, in my bedroom, pajahmas required.

I have come to believe in miracles.

And also, I wore my blue paisley blazer today--the one I bought at the street-tent market in Rome, the one I haven't yet worn. It's making everything about my life turn paisley.

Which is always a good thing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book of Wonders 2

The weight and thickness of some letters, the thinness and lightness of others, on a typewriter page. Like a lawn of grass. A page of grasses. Serifs moving and beckoning and retreating in the slow pulsing, in and out, of the boldness or shyness of each subsequent letter.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book of Wonders 1

I haven't much time to blog these days. I'm writing a lot, just not here, and I'm thinking a lot, just not here, and I'm loving a lot, just not here. These holiday-days are some of my favorites, and so I'm using every moment I can to do things like play games and drink cocoa and snuggle with the people I love.

But I do have time to wonder.

'Tis the season, after all.

Last year, author Melanie Rae Thon came to my creative nonfiction class and shared with us her writing. She told us each to begin a "Book of Wonders," a place to daily record some of the marvels of this world, the things you encounter in everyday life that are astonishing, beautiful, transcendent, disturbing and spectacular--whether that be something in nature, in the grocery store, or in human interactions. She said her goal is to put every beautiful thing she's ever seen in that book. She said that day's entry would be our beautiful mountain range.

So in this harried busy season of finals and festivities, this will be my offering: small pieces of wonder from these my last December days (at least for a few years).

The cool and well-worn silk of grandma's hands clasping mine, while she says to me softly the things between a grandma and her granddaughter.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

an autumn picnic

Thanks to Ben and Elisa for being so fun to photograph!
(And yeah he really does play the accordion.)

Friday, November 23, 2012

moments of joy, matters of gratitude

"Joy is the simplest form of gratitude."
--Karl Barth

having a whole night to myself at the Art Institute of Chicago
the great prank of 2012
nights under the big tree out front, listening to This American Life


a bright warm home with quilts and fireplaces and mangoes on the counter
sisters who love laughing and cuddling
brothers who are endlessly cracking jokes, and who care so much about their silly sisters
parents that protect and advise and love love love
roommates who listen and laugh and are always on your side
the ability to read, the ability to write
friends who celebrate
a country where people care about political outcomes
a God who is patient, who is kind, who is good

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Today I was parked in 30 minute parking for 6 hours (accidentally) and didn't get a ticket.

Today someone recognized me by my perfume. She was standing in front of me in line and smelled the DKNY and thought, "Carolyn," and turned around and there I was, reading, not realizing she was in front of me or else I would have said hi already.

Today my students all aced their last paper which means I either am a bomb-diggity teacher, or I have the best students in the history of the world. (Hint: it's the latter.)

Today I saw Beasts of the Southern Wild and cried for not knowing what to make of it all. The music is beautiful.

Today I learned "Poison and Wine" at a piano with a honey-voiced boy.

Tonight I sleep until the morning sun, because tomorrow I have no class and will spend the entire day becoming a scholar.

Monday, November 12, 2012

music monday

Some music to dance to. Or wake up happy to. Or drive through the canyons in the snow to.

1. "All Eyes on You" (St. Lucia)
2. "Take It Slow" (Good Old War)
3. "Bright Whites" (Kishi Bashi)

Sunday, November 11, 2012


"If you observe a really happy man, you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his child, growing double dahlias or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi Desert. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that had rolled under the radiator, striving for it as a goal in itself. He will have become aware that he is happy in the course of living life twenty-four crowded hours of each day." 
-W. Beran Wolfe, 1900-1935, Author and Psychiatrist

When I was in middle school, I decided to learn the guitar. I think I'd envisioned being cool. Instead, my mom signed me up for classical guitar lessons. Not cool. (Until later in life when you realize there aren't many things hotter than flamenco. Alas.)

Classical lessons lasted a year. Sixth grade. I'd walk over to my teacher's house every Tuesday with my guitar and have a lesson for an hour or so. She was a good good teacher.

Then I quit and didn't pick up the thing until ninth grade, when I learned about these things called "tabs." I taught myself. First it was "More Than Words." Then Third Eye Blind--"Motorcycle Driveby"--and Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven."

In high school, I would spend hours sitting on my bedroom floor figuring out songs. Tabs were my greatest friend. My Ben Harper phase was simultaneous to my Jack Johnson phase (thanks to a particularly inspiring youth counselor I had one summer). I knew a little Weezer, a little Ataris, a little Cyndi Lauper. I could lose myself in those songs. And slowly the fingertips on my left had grew thick and padded and I actually could play for hours without having to take fingertips-on-fire breaks.

Now looking back, it seems some of my happiest phases in life were ones I spent with the guitar. I'm not sure if this is because when I'm happy, I play, or if because playing makes me happy. Either way: the symbiosis is lovely.

I haven't played my guitar for something like 3 years. I mean really played. The kind where you're alone and you lose track of time and you come out a changed person. The guitar has kind of been phased out with things like photography and writing and reading and the general busyness of life in this here century. And I've decided that's okay--you grow out of things, your hobbies change, the things you lose yourself in change.

And so I don't play anymore.

Until last night with Glen Hansard and Damien Rice and Bon Iver and Iron & Wine and I remembered how supposed-to I feel when I'm holding a guitar.

Welcome to my Sunday night. Couldn't be happier.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Internet Dating*

I'd like to place an advertissment:

One temporary (2-3 months) boyfriend needed to:
+ study with me in the library
+ text me funny things sometimes
+ have adventures in the evenings
+ hug me lots
+ tell me I'm a rockstar and really smart, even though Thesis is taking me so-dang-long.

That's it. Anything more is optional.

Preference will be given to men who:
+ like laughing
+ smell nice
+ are handsomely groomed
+ like driving the canyon with the windows down.

Check yes or no,


* My dad brings up internet dating to me every now and then. Ha. Dad, this one's for you. ;)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Presidential Election, 2012...

...according to my Facebook feed. This patchwork of opinions (and juxtapositions) is really beautiful to me (and at moments poignant, and at moments hilarous).
Well, luckily I'm not graduating soon and needing a stable job.
Can't we just try an experiment and let the different areas of the country be lead by those they voted for and compare results in 4 years?
Quick! Unsubscribe to everyone on Facebook! 
Cute how everyone at obamas celebration are practically in sweats, and at Romneys they are in suits and ties. I'm glad the un-working drug smoking people living off my hard working money won.
America will be fine people, please.
23 years ago, my best friend popped outta the oven. happy birthday McKay!!
Even if your candidate of choice did not win tonight, have faith in your country, support your president and be more mature than saying you're going to running off to another country. Come on, America. The future is as bright as your faith.
I think we should just have royalty and give all the money that would be spent on campaigning to the starving children. Think of the future royal weddings! And who doesn't want to save the children?
So does this mean I get my Obama-phone now?
When in doubt vote for debt and higher taxes. This is something to be excited about.
I ate a lemon cheesecake bar. And it was sooooo delicious. In other news, I turned in my finished zombie paper today.
WHY AFTER 12 Years can FLORIDA still not figure out how to VOTE!
When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic. ~ Benjamin Franklin
I find it interesting that less than 50 years ago our nation was willing to go to war to stop the spread of extreme socialism from filling the earth. Now, as a nation, we are embracing it. What happened?
I didn't vote for him, but let's all be respectful.
Time for Americans to start studying places in Western Europe like Greece, Italy, Spain and others for a preview of coming attractions for our formerly great nation.
"A vote for Obama 2012 is a vote for Jesus 2016."
Romney wins most states and yet still looses?!! Dang electoral votes...
Now that we know that the male-white vote isn't worth much, can we finally get rid of affirmative action or at least title IX?
Gotta get to work early in the morning, I have a lot of food stamps and contraceptives to party for.
Well, I hope President Obama does a fantastic job, because although I disagree with a lot of his policies, I love America and want it to be the best that it can be.
Cue the end of days predictions....
holy fantastic! OBAMA! a hugely important victory!
The worst day ever!!
I am grateful for our political system. While I am upset with the outcome tonight, I love the county we live in. Hopefully there will be changes that benefit ALL Americans not just the 50% who supported Obama. These are scary decisive times we live in.
Looking forward to 6 dollar p/g gas prices. Anyone want to trade my jeep for a Prius ?
FLORIDA! You're killing me! I feel like its like this EVERY. FREAKING. ELECTION!
It's too bad they don't give electoral votes by square mileage... Texas would choose the President every election!
America has survived as a country for over 200 years, through all kinds of leadership. We've had presidents resign among scandal, challenge political rivals to duals, be investigated for criminal acts. As no man is flawless, neither can be one office. Whether "your" candidate won or lost, be proud to live in a country where you have the right to exercise your opinion. It doesn't matter who you voted for, support your President, because I can guarantee that he needs it.
Well, may the next four years bring lower gas prices, better foreign relations, increased entrepreneurial spirit, and lemon cheesecake bars for us all! And perhaps more important, in the spirit of our great Declaration of Independence, may we each commit to more actively pursue the things that really bring happiness.

Monday, November 5, 2012

music monday

1. "Red" (Taylor Swift) A disclaimer: I'm not what you might call "a Taylor fan" and I lose interest in this song once it gets to the chorus, but man that first verse? Gives me chills.
2. "Hanging by a Thread" (Nickel Creek)
...And now a dancing song...
3. "Houdini" (Foster the People)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

How to Choose Friends

 (from Christmas 2009's Black Tie White Christmas)
A few things I've realized:

This world is chockfull of exceptional, loving, beautiful people. All of whom I want to be around 

A few weeks ago, two friends from other lifetimes (it seems) called to congratulate me about going on a mission. These are friends that I only get to talk to every once in a great while, but people who are very important to me, people who shaped me, people who I very deeply care about, maybe because I sense they care deeply about me too.

So here’s what I’ve learned: life's kind of too short to be spending it with people who don't really care about you. So a few words about choosing friends. These are things I've learned from those who care about me the very most--lessons from some of the greatest people in the world (okay so maybe I'm a little biased). Anyways, these speak volumes about the kind of people they are, and teach me volumes about how to shape up and start being awesome like them.

How to Choose Friends:
  • Choose the people who, even though miles and years have diluted the frequency of your friendship, write you letters sometimes and meet you for lunch when they come into town.
  • Choose the people who make you feel good about who you are.
  • Choose the people who are trying to become better people.
  • Choose the people who consistently show they know what’s going on in your life.
  • Choose the people that see you and smile at you and acknowledge you.
  • Choose the people who laugh at your jokes.
  • Choose the people who seem genuinely interested in your life.
  • Choose the people who inspire you. 
  • Choose the people who want your input on things.
  • Choose the people whose lives don’t depend on yours.
  • Choose the people who bring you Ben & Jerry’s ice cream when you have your wisdom teeth out.
  • Choose the people that hug you.
  • Choose the people who, when they know you’re going on a mission, tell you not to go because they’ll miss you too much.
  • Choose the people who want to talk about you first, not themselves.
  • Choose the people who don’t get offended when it takes you a few days to call them back.
  • Choose the people who let you talk.
  • Choose the people who believe in your dreams, sometimes even more than you do.
  • Choose the people who see you better than you yet are.
Choose these kinds of friends and you'll have a very happy life.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

happy halloween!

I've spent the majority of my weekend with paint on my face. There was some of this:

And some of this:

And best of all, some TRICK-OR-TREATING (which has nothing whatsoever to do with paint, but is still best).

The story is long and belabouring (but delightful, so I'm telling it):

I really wanted to go trick-or-treating this year. Like I do EVERY YEAR. But I'm old and tall (the latter being the biggest deterrent, if we're being honest). So I don't go, in order to preserve my dignity and such.

Well this year, the desire for that pillowcase full of Butterfingers and Smarties and Tootsie Rolls (to say nothing of the candy-trading) outweighed the dignity factor. So Paige and Sam (partners in all best ideas) and I decided we were going to go trick-or-treating. And thus began our afternoon concocting (please note ghoulish diction there) strategies for successfully trick-or-treating, despite our age and average height of 6'.

We went through various costume ideas that would mask our height (ET in the bicycle basket, wheelchaired old people, a horse) and various door approaches that would most likely ensure candy. Ultimately, we decided that the only way people would give us candy instead of turning us away with spurning looks would be if we offered some sort of entertainment--a "trick" for the "treat," as it were.

And what we came up with was truly a stroke of genius: three gondoliers, in a cardboard gondola, singing Italian love with my accordion, Paige with her guitar, Sam with his gondola oar.

We bought striped shirts, we planned our route...

and then tonight, at the last minute, we bailed. Turns out our dignity (but probably more the apathy of being in your mid-20s) won out.

I went home to my house-home-family-home instead, for a haunted dinner.

Which is when the magic happened. After dinner, the youngest of my sibs went trick-or-treating. Being the youngest, she had no one to go with, so she begged us older kids to at least walk with her. She's cute, so we did.

After three houses, she comes back and more or less says that trick-or-treating is lame when you have to go to the door alone.

Say no more, sweet child.

My other sister and I ran back to the house, put on the bird regalia, and were off to trick-or-treat (for our sister's sake, of course) for the evening. We had a ball. I may be sans dignity, but guess what I do have: a stash of Halloween candy.

The stash is small, but oh so perfect.

And we even traded candies after.

Christmas-wish: that it'd be cool for adults to trick-or-treat.

Monday, October 29, 2012

music monday

1. "Lost in My Mind" (The Head and the Heart)
2. "Reign of Love" (Coldplay)
3. "Lost in the Light" (Bahamas)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What kind of bird are YOU?

Sam & Raven.
Moonrise Kingdom.
Halloween 2012.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

oh, the first snowfall of the winter...
{music monday part 2}

 (Further proof that Music Mondays have the power to change the course of events, to change the weather, to change the world! This Monday, on a perfectly beautiful autumnal afternoon, I wrote about Christmas songs. And SHAZAM. Snow! You're welcome.)


Few moments bring me back to childhood as quickly and as thrillingly as the first snowfall of the season. After a cold cold get-out-of-bed-at-four-a.m.-to-put-on-a-sweater kind of sleep last night, I opened my blinds to this...a quiet and white and lacy kind of morning.

Today is the sort of day for reading poems in bed.
Today is the sort of day for eating steaming soup from a big red bowl.
Today is the sort of day for wearing cableknit stockings and cableknit sweaters.

Today is the sort of day for starting your Christmas wishlist.

And so I shall.

Wish #1: That Sufjan Stevens (the featured artist on this week's Music Monday) will make a quick stop in the Great Salt Lake (City) on his Christmas tour.

And here's why: His Christmas tour (officially titled "The Sirfjam Stephanapolous Christmas Sing-A-Long Seasonal Affective Disorder Spectacular Music Pageant Variety Show Disaster") is rumored to go something like this (from his label's website):

“All Grinches be forewarned: The show will consist entirely of Christmas music, inviting audience participation. Be prepared to sing along with bawdy bravura! Song sheets will be provided. There should be plenty of low-production props and gags, dollar-store giveaways, inflatable unicorns, cheap confetti, make-shift costumes, and Gloria in excelsis deo.”

Let's break it down:
  • consists entirely of Christmas music
  • audience participation
  • singing along
  • song sheets
  • giveaways
  • unicorns
  • confetti
  • costumes
  • Gloria in Excelsis Deo!
I'm sorry, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a better party to kick off the season.

Plus it's Sufjan Stevens. The man who thus far has produced ten (TEN!) Christmas volumes (plus his new Silver and Gold album to be released in November), all of similar Yuletide joy.

Anyways, the point of all this is that this magical Christmas tour makes many stops, but Utah is not one of them. So me and a couple of friends are trying to change that. We've decided to start a movement: the Bring Sufjan to SLC Movement.

BringSufjantoSLC = us sending him all the Christmas love and wishes we can muster.

One girl had her entire school class make Christmas cards for him. One grown-up boy is recording a Christmas song about how Sufjan made him see Christmas like a kid again, complete with Christmas letter and all. I am making him holiday postcards and possibly holiday cookies, and otherwise tweeting my little #BRINGSUFJANTOSLC heart out.

All told, it's been a ball so far. A Christmas ball.

Now, if you are still reading, you either really like me, really like my blog, really like Sufjan Stevens, really like Christmas, or are in bed with your laptop trying to put off braving the snow and the homework that exists outside of your bedroom. If any of the above reasons are true, will you please join us in the fun?

You can tweet @asthmatickitty with #BRINGSUFJANTOSLC.
You can share this post on facebook.
You can email me a letter to Sufjan, and me & the crew will snail-mail it for you (short letters are just as good as long ones!).
You can join the group on facebook to get more deets.
Best of all, you can leave a comment down south about why a SLC-Sufjan-Christmas would make your holiday season merry and bright!

If you do any of these things, I shall send you a Christmas card with my love.

I want frosted windowpanes, I want a winter wonderland, I want to deck the halls and sing fa-la-la-la-la with those I love! Come, Sufjan, come!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How Marcus Fell in Love ❤

Remember how a few weeks ago I dreamt that Ryan Gosling and I fell in love? Well last night I dreamt it was Marcus Mumford. You know, the man responsible for this:

And this:

Well I dreamt we fell in love. Correction: I dreamt he fell in love with me, and I totally played it cool. I was practicing a song on a rickety upright piano for an upcoming concert, and when he asked me what song I'd chosen to play, I was so embarrassed that it was one of his, that I switched and told him I was playing "Loch Lomond." I knew this was a smart choice because 1) I could already play it like a boss and 2) I figured he'd appreciate my love for Scotland.

So naturally I asked him to come sit on the piano bench with me and help me with some chords.

*STAR STRUCK* (but still playing it cool).

He was totally into it.

Anyways, in some grand mixup, he suddenly disappeared (thanks a lot, dream). But don't worry, by dream's end I'd fallen in love again...

...with one of the 13 dwarves from The Hobbit.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On Writing a Thesis

Sometimes writing a thesis is going down a slide,
or eating a pan of brownies,
or watching every episode of Little Dorrit in one night,
or a conversation with the person you love love love,
or driving through the canyon in the fall,
or taking pictures of the pigeons and lampposts in Venice,
or reading Harry Potter late into the night, back when Sorceror's Stone first came out:

You get sucked in and don't ever want to get pulled out.

Sometimes it's pulling teeth.

I wanna go find that man with a cane.

(aka: If I Were in Charge of the Debates)

So I watched the debates. And I get that Obama doesn't understand Romney's financial plan. I get that Romney has a five point attack strategy for any question thrown his way. I get that Obama has talked to individual people all over the country who has an emotional story about the car industry, losing jobs, or the education system.

But I gathered all that in the first thirty minutes of the debate. The FIRST debate. The one three weeks ago. Since then, everything's been variations on a theme. Sometimes not even variations.

You wanna know what would have really spiced up this last debate? You wanna know what would have secured maybe a few more of those proverbial (and probably fictional) "undecided" voters?

How bout a recorder solo from Obama to express his views about trade relations with China?
How bout if Romney spontaneously broke out in French and then apologized--"I'm so sorry, sometimes I do that."
Or what about a necktie-tying contest?
A round of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon?
A debate-off between Romney's grandchild and Obama's daughter?

And you know what would have really taken the cake?
A closing statement delivered entirely in rhymed couplets.

(Either that or a question where the two candidates had to work together to come up with the best solution for the country--one where they were forced to cooperate. That may be the most telling interrogation of all.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

music monday {a special post}

Last night, I went home for Sunday dinner. Let me tell you what that entailed: four younger sisters, a brother and his beautiful wife, my parents and my sweet sweet grandma, a roast, potatoes and carrots, homemade rolls and homemade jam, lively dinner discussion, picking apples off the apple tree in the back, playing 500 in the yard while the sun went down, playing Rummikub on the carpet once it finally had, pumpkin autumn cream-cheese frosted cake with mini-leaf sprinkles, hugging, warmness, love.

And best of all, Sunday night included discussion of Thanksgiving break...meaning what pies we're going to make and more wonderful still, how we were going to decorate our gingerbread houses.

Which meant we also may have sung a few Christmas songs while we were picking those apples out back.

Now, I've been listening to Christmas music since July. (Last year I started in August, which means by the time I'm in my thirties and have children, they will be listening to Christmas music starting in January. Consider yourself warned, future husband.) I just figure that Jesus Christ's birth is something that we can celebrate all year round. Why not! And also, I have found that I appreciate Christmas music more--I feel the wonder of it more--if I'm listening to it in July, or October, reminiscing about past Christmases, anticipating (like a little kid again) the joys of the holiday season.

I started Music Mondays to share the songs I've been listening to during the week--the great finds, the favorites, the ones I can't get out of my head. So I've gotta be honest here: I have no non-Christmas songs to share this week because all I've been listening to is how there's no place like home for the holidays. Lots of fa-la-laing around here.

But hold up, all those of you who have a no-carols-before-Thanksgiving-let-alone-Halloween rule: Before you tune out, just give it a little chance. Do you like Christmas? Do you like presents? Candy canes? Snowflakes? How bout happiness? I promise that these are not your typical Christmas songs. They won't ruin the season for you. They won't jinx you. They will only and completely make you happy.

So, in part one* of this week's music post, I present 3 songs from one of my favorite artists. They are technically Christmas songs, but I think they should be enjoyed any day of the year (especially on October 22nds).

1. "I Saw Three Ships" (Sufjan Stevens)
2. "The Friendly Beasts" (Sufjan Stevens)
3. "Once in Royal David's City" (Sufjan Stevens)

*And yes, I am plotting a part two to this little post, and part two will ask you to do something important and wonderful, so clear your schedules and get ready! (Just kidding about clearing your schedules--it will require minimal but delightful effort on your part.)

Sunday, October 21, 2012


I saw a man with a cane at the grocery store. I used to see him quite regularly, but that was before the summer, before he used a cane. And now I can't quite place where it was that I always saw him. But I remember the suede jacket, and I remember he was always alone. I don't remember the swoop of hair brooding over his left eyebrow.

He looked so tired.

I wanted to go with him, tell him I'd push the cart at least.

He looked like an entire universe in one body,
an entire universe of sorrow.

But of course I didn't push the cart,
of course I just said, "Excuse me" and squeezed behind him looking through the spices
(what was he looking for?)

I wonder sometimes why I play by these rules I play by.
I wonder sometimes why I can't say,
"I can never find the cardamom..."
(They're alphabetized, you know.)
"Let's be friends.
I'll push your cart.
What happened to your leg?"

Thursday, October 18, 2012


("Stormy Landscape with Pyramus and Thisbe" by Nicolas Poussin, via)

She drew back shuddering, the sea
that is ruffled when a slight breeze skims across its surface.
But after a pause when she had recognized her love,
she struck her blameless arms with a loud blow,
tore at her hair, embraced the body that she loved,
filled his wounds with tears and mixed her weeping
with his blood.

(from "Pyramus and Thisbe"  
in Ovid's Metamorphoses
trans. D.E. Hill)

[Addendum: You know you're doing what you love when, four hours ago, you told yourself you could stop working at 8pm, but now it's 8:30 and you have no intention of stopping.
Thesis. Library. Books. Latin. Love. Love. Love.]

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Sandbag Room

My bedroom this year is bottom heavy. Everything that comes in sinks to the ground with curious familiarity, with curious magnetism, as if the air is quicksand. Clothes congregate in stolid piles on the chair, on the carpet, on the accordion cases in the corner. A soldier-row of books lines the west baseboard perimeter. Papers fall like dead birds from my hands or my bags or my bed straight to the ground. The blinds resist me so much that even my body weight does little to move their stubborn, parallel little pieces. Even my body feels the effects of the floor's pull: my bed is only two feet off the ground and my cold and train-wrecked limbs are sand-heavy every morning.

Here, everything sinks to the bottom and settles.

I feel like Alice: so big in this tiny dwarf room where everything ends up on the floor, so nestled in this mountainous room where books and papers and sweaters become walls of warmth and familiarity.

In a way, it's kind of like scuba diving. In a way, it's realizing the person you like is actually the person you love.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tonight I found Gandalf in my family tree.

You may be wondering about his curiously long life (700-1579).
This is obviously because wizards live longer than humans.

And curious that there is no death date or place...

This find does a lot to explain why I feel compelled to do things like this.

Other notable finds of the evening:
  • Earl Malcolm II MacHeth of Moray, who lived in the Orkney Islands (yeah Orkney!) and was killed trying to regain the Scots throne.
  • St. Margaret Queen of Scotland, who died in Edinburgh Castle (been there!)
  • Duncan I King of Scotland who (and I quote) was "killed by Macbeth in Bothganowan, Elgin in 1040"
  • Vivill "the Snow-King" from Ringrike, Norway
  • Charlemagne Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Emperor. (Love how they say Emperor twice. Like, " in the Emperor-of-the-Holy-Roman-Empire Emperor.)
In other words, check out Family Search if you want to have a rockin time.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

For the Love of Literature (no. 2)

Some days, when I quiet my anxieties long enough to get myself to the library, I remember why I got into this gig in the first place. I'm buried in Latin dictionaries and seven different translations of Ovid, and all I want to do is sit here for the rest of the day (let the football game and the rain and the hoards of Saturday students not studying march on!) and think about the words and about what they mean and about why that makes any bit of difference in this big wide world.

It's silly, but in moments like this, sometimes I could cry I'm so happy that words and books and stories exist.

Silly, right? I know.

But kinda lovely too.

a cabin in the misty mountains

"Men come tamely home at night only from the next field or street, where their household echoes haunt, and their life pines because it breathes its own breath over again; their shadows morning and evening reach farther than their daily steps. We should come home from far, from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day, with new experiences and character."
Henry David Thoreau
"Baker Farm"
I dream of such things.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

of a Whale and a Swoosh (or On Assuming)

There are not many more things I'd like than you explaining why, me explaining how,
while we wait for the crash of the flagrant surreptitiousness of it all.
There are not many more things that exist
than those days in autumn and the empty hours ahead.
I'd punch my heart into paper with these words again and again:
Let's walk.
Let's walk.
Let's walk.
And you with all your guarded curiosity would let loose the words,
And your eyes so small could see all the world.

Monday, October 8, 2012

music monday

1. "Mighty" (Lord Huron)
2. "Old Pine" (Ben Howard)
3. "Wrecking Ball Heart" (Jack's Mannequin) This is the last song Jack's Mannequin is releasing. Done. They're done. So soak it in and love every bit of it and hope there is another Andrew McMahon project soon. (You can download the song for free here.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

and then, in front of her 20 students...

I've had some awkward moments as a teacher. Like the day after lover-boy and I broke-up and my students found out and more or less tried to console me. (Tender.) Like the day I wore the bright red paisley shirt, and when I asked if any students had questions, one of them raised his hand and said, "No offense, but when you got dressed this morning, what were you thinking?!" (Rude but awesome.)

But today took the cake.

Today I passed out.

Yep, in front of all of them.

Passing out is no foreign land to me--I practically have a summer home there. So when I was walking down the stairs from my office to my classroom and everything started getting blotchy and tingly, I knew it wasn't going to be good. But I made it to the teacher chair at the podium, sat down, and tried to ward off students until I could recover. No bueno. These students of mine are inquisitive and apparently love nothing more than to talk to me before class starts (which thing I love).

Thus, on the brink of a major fainting spell, I decided to just cancel class, if I could just ... stay ... coherent ... long ... enough to ... tell themmmmm ...


Next thing I know, Student 1 is holding my arm and Student 2 is asking if I've eaten anything that day and Student 3 is saying, "Carolyn, what can I do for you. Tell me what you need." and Student 4 is looking seriously freaked out of her mind.

I look around, realize what's just happened, and start laughing. I couldn't help myself, the whole thing was so ridiculous and so pathetic and so so funny. Then everyone started laughing.

They said I was just sitting there, slumped over at the podium, eyes open, not responding to anything. They said they thought at first that it was going to be an object lesson that they'd have to rhetorically analyze (so proud of them). Nope, just me and my fainting! They were such troopers and so kind to me.

And so then I taught the class! Ha, funny how your body can just reset itself like that--how a little black-time and a little clammy-sweat and suddenly you feel great!

And it's a good thing I did go on with the lesson because it produced this gem of a sentence (written by Student 1), with which we practiced comma usage:

"Carolyn really enjoys teaching her Writing 150 class, but sometimes class is so boring, even she falls asleep."

("--Before class even starts!" I chime in. To which they all good-heartedly laughed.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

life lately

Every weekend lately has felt like the best weekend of my life. How this is possible, I have absolutely no idea, but somehow each one trumps the one before. This results in me living in a constant state of utter content.

Oh, and by "weekend," I mean Friday through Tuesday. Incredible.

1 Another photo-drive up the canyon with Andrea early early Friday morning. The fog was nestled down in the valley.
2 A Friday night football game...which means I definitely made other plans--other plans which included playing my accordion, practicing French, reading a really delightful book about French culture, and otherwise sitting in my bed and doing exactly what I wanted to do. Lame, you say? Perfect I say.
3 Saturday morning adventures--first a breakfast of buckwheat pancakes with cinnamon syrup (!) followed by berrypicking and a good chat with a farmer and a friend. On the way home we had an impromptu flea market raid, where I found a lovely little ring that fits my finger perfectly and that might be fake but that I have a sneaky suspicion actually isn't.
4 Getting a new hard drive so my computer runs licketysplit instead of sloooowwwwwww
5 Naps
6 The post office lady calling to let me know the latest volume of Kinfolk has come for me and she'd like to know where to deliver it (such service!)
7 Monday night dinner group was tacos. There doesn't exist a faster way to make me happy than tacos.
8 And then we did what we we've been doing every Monday night as of late--bundled in our blankets, laid under the big tree, and listened to "This American Life."

As if all this wasn't enough, today is Tuesday, aka: heaven day. I have no classes, no appointments, no nothing. So I sleep till I wake, go to yoga, then spend the day getting studying up to be a missionary and getting my car registered and making sure everything's square in the budget department and buying four boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios on sale for $1.88 each and eating them all day long.

Life's happy here.

(Oh one more thing: I dreamt this weekend that Ryan Gosling and I fell in love. In my dream, he was the kindest boyfriend in the entire world. I take this as a sign that Operation Get Carolyn a Date with Ryan might actually work and that we need to put it into effect ASAP. And no, I'm not kidding. It's real, people. And we're going to make it happen.)

Monday, October 1, 2012

music monday

1. "Call Me in the Afternoon" (Half Moon Run) *incredible video. Please watch.
2. "Life" (Avett Brothers)
3. "Cavalleria Rusticana--Intermezzo" (Pietro Mascagni)

Thursday, September 27, 2012


My friend Amanda just sent this video to me. Watching it made me want to pack up my backpack and fly to Europe again.

In the first watch, I caught the Louvre, the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park, and the escalators up to the Park Güell in Barcelona...and then I went through and paused it a million times so I could catch everything. What places did you catch watching it??

What's incredible to me about traveling is that once you've been to a place, even if for only a few days, it gets burned in your memory, and all you have to see is a split-second shot of it, and you know exactly where it is, and remember exactly what you did there. We waited in a huge line outside the Louvre to get in for free on student day, and one our last night in Paris, the air was cool and I was in my purple skirt, and we were alone in front of the Louvre and we climbed on pedestals and took pictures. I was alone in Hyde Park and the Albert Memorial was under construction and was draped in orange tape and orange barricades and I walked around it and around it and the sun was bright and warm. On our ride up to the Parc Güell, I wore the sunglasses I had just bought off a fat old man and his fat cheery wife at the bottom of the hill. I was thinking, "This is brilliant--an outdoor escalator up a hill that no one's gonna want to climb."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Autumn Leaves

Last weekend, the talented Andrea (partner in all things artsy and adventurous) and I went up the canyon for a little photo-play to capture this transient and fragile little phase we're in, before the leaves change and before our lives change. So, so happy to be friends with this girl.