june 24

Haven’t been writing much on here because children. Plus, summer gets me out of my head more so than usual.

Felt the need to update this blog because hey, this little place gets some of my darkest times splashed on here. It seems unbalanced to have so few of the calm times on there too, but those are when I feel least like I’m about to explode if I don’t write out my personal sensations and reflections.

So I’m currently sitting in the most lovely coffeeshop in South Carolina. It has periwinkle-painted metal chairs, they’re playing songs I last heard at Firefly, and there are flowers and coffee so good I want to melt.

And…another reason I haven’t been writing.

Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 2.43.07 PM

Cheers to good inspiration, to wrists stacked with bracelets, to my ten-year ring, to being at peace!

may 30

I work in cycles, and parts of the year are better than others. Not a winter person. At the end of the school year, I’m at my worst. At the end of the summer, I’m at my best. Part of that is Canada, our family escape every year. Part of that is simply having time for my head to settle, to realize that my school-year self is not the only one. My stress will not carry over. And part of that is camp, disappearing into pine trees and dusty wood cabins.

There’s something about sitting cross-legged on a lumpy camp mattress while it’s raining on a tin roof, french-braiding a nine year old’s hair. There’s something about long socks and XXL t-shirts, with friendship bracelets weighting down my wrists. A clunky watch. Low buns and braids. Getting into the habit of the “hey, girl” and dancing un-self-consciously to 2006 hits. Green tea, sparks from a fire, foggy mornings over the lake. The creaking of Crazy Creeks.Doing dishes in the HOBART, all hot water and dancing. Talking homesick campers through nights away. The satisfying thwack of an arrow in the archery range. The strange spirituality of voices and folk songs, lanterns flashing in the dark. Fireflies.

I never have time to write at camp. So I’ve written about camp before, but can never quite capture the mixture of sensations and feelings that emerge in my summer-camp self. It’s a good version of Grace, and I wish I could hang on to it for longer. At the beginning of the school year, I was too nervous to really let my camp self seep into August and September the way I like it to. But this year, especially considering it’s my last summer, I might let it linger. In the way I dress. In bandanas in my hair. In the time I take for myself, and the times I go to sleep. The way I dance. In the way I act.

There’s this strategy in writing, especially in novels. People say writing authentic people is about defining the contrast between who they want to be and who they can’t help but be.

I feel closer here to whoever the former is. I love whoever I am here, and I forget every year until I’m here again. I love the culture, and the pressure — not to be superior, but to try to be the kindest, the most helpful, the most authentic. It’s a good kind of expectation, and people rise to it. I hope that I do.

It’ll be different this year in terms of ages. I’ll no longer have sixth-graders who drape over my bed and write me notes in large, blocky handwriting. Instead, I’ll have ninth-graders (or rising eighth — depending on where I am on the hill.) Although I love the ability of eleven and twelve-year olds to be giddy, to be earnest, to be confused, I requested entering high school. Because now, I think that’s where I can best impact someone.

I’m a little nervous to plunge back into camp world for such a long time. There’s a tension between my life on the outside and my life on the inside, the tug of reality versus letting go. But this will be my last summer. In some ways, coming back to myself. In others, bringing whoever I am on the outside in. I’m a little nervous to have girls dealing with the awkward transition to high school. I remember when I was fourteen and dealing with the frustration of not being taken seriously. Feeling too big for my skin. Being included in camp friendships, but also wanting time to figure myself out. I know what I could have used then.

Going into high school was — existentially — similar to going into college. It’s a year of messiness, and sorting through identity, and getting a feel for surroundings. So in some ways, I do feel remarkably close to who I was when I was fourteen and stumbling.

Tomorrow, I’ll finally have my cabin. I’ll hang up my Christmas lights, plug in an iPod, throw a mattress pad on that lumpy blue mess. Make signs with quotes of the day and “remember your nalgenes!” and a job wheel with ten names in loopy handwriting. In the mornings, I’ll get up early and sit by the lake for some peace, drained but happy. I’ll serve french toast sticks onto plastic white plates and sip half-coffee-half-cocoa concoctions from a green Life Is Good mug. I’ll teach dance (hopefully) and spend my mornings in a lofty old lodge with old yellow lights, snapping eight-counts. In the afternoons, I’ll shoot thatched arrow after thatched arrow. Sit on the wall with girls running around, crunching the gravel, biting absentmindedly on a Camelbak straw. Evening programs — goofy costumes, old dances, that sting of the sun dipping below the hills, the quiet of a day closing down. Watermelon at the farm, greasy paint on our legs, canoe formation, bedtime whispers from campers, late nights in Curtis. At the end of the summer, I’ll wipe my eyes when we push candles into the lake, floating into the center. When the first girl pushes off her wishboat, it looks from the other side like there’s a second sky touching down on the dock, some convergence of stars. I don’t know who I’ll be this summer but I know I’ll fit the mold of utter acceptance and feel that push to “be a great girl.” Not for me, but for the girls I take care of.

Here’s hoping I can be someone for them.

happy list — may 27

puppy eyes
long drives
light fixtures
when the passport office only takes ten minutes
oil paintings
French bread
loose leaf
morning songs
New Girl
pj shorts
closure texts
garage doors
seeing people try not to smile
debutante dresses
cold glasses of milk
hot baths
family friends that are like brothers
embarrassing stories that are only funny in hindsight
living out of a suitcase
long-exposure photos
climbing trees
patio furniture
when bruises finally fade
that earthy scent of the woods
fake astrological profiles
old lanterns
zip-up jackets
rock walls
fogged glass
Iron & Wine
when you leave your laundry in too long and kind souls leave it be
sneakily wearing pajamas in public
unchipped paint
grapefruit juice
drinking a full bottle of water in one go
the cold side of the pillow
people who love their jobs

may 26

Restless. Forever restless. Thoughts going through my head today. To set the scene, I’m packing (yet again) for my summer venture. Getting ready for a last dinner at home — steak, wine, lists scattered everywhere. I’ll miss my house with its cream rugs and wide windows and dark wooden tables. It’s a place that’s definitely been lived in.

There’s a song under my skin today. When I get a song stuck in my head, it stays there for days. It’s this buzzing, colorful feeling that makes me want to run out and do something and also burst into tears. (It’s a good feeling though — that’s how I know I like a song.) But when it stays with me, it stays for ages. I want to write. I want to suddenly make it all significant and condense a feeling.

In some ways (in many ways), I miss being a dancer. It was a concrete way for me to get the song out of my veins — dance until I was sore and laying against the floor of my studio. (What’s the word for that black, almost chalky-smooth material they have on the floors of dance studios?) I was always passable, never great. But I’d still stay there for hours watching the better dancers practice solos, or doing turns. Even now, the tug of my heel in second-position turns, the revolution of my center, is a dizzying feeling that my heart yearns for. I’m on the hip-hop team at W&L, but we meet rarely, and I’m still self-conscious about not being that good.

But frankly, I don’t have the technique anymore to attempt chasing dance wholeheartedly again. My ankles are weaker. My muscles are stiffer from lacrosse.. I lost all my flexibility — which is what I was always best at. If I tried to do a tilt, I’d probably fall over. I’ve been out of the game too long. I always thought when I was older, and making money in some city somewhere, I’d spend my money on a good piano and ballet lessons.

It’s always an art I’ll appreciate. Something I’ll long for. If I had picked dance earlier, if I hadn’t fallen that day in high school, if I had taken more classes when it mattered…

In any case, I think good lines are gorgeous. A stunning contemporary solo will tug at my heartstrings like nothing. I could watch dancers for hours. I went on a date to Coppélia once. I wore this black halter dress and paced by the Riverwalk while I waited for him to show up. I remember going on pointe for the first time — the pinch,the blood, the pride of that pink satin. Trying to figure out how to sew.

(Even now, writing about it, my heart aches and I’m mentally running through ways I could dance again.)

Now that I don’t have dance, what ways do I have of getting a song out of my skin? Or these thoughts, blurring and humming in ways I can’t stop or control? It would be easier if I didn’t dream, or always wonder about everything around me, or feel the pressure of recording all of this.

I write on my walls.
I drive around.

I fidget, and have intricate conversations about why. Why am I here? Why do some things hurt, and why are others better? What is my purpose? What’s the point? Who am I going to connect with? What am I good at? What’s going to happen? And all those questions sound remarkably self-centered, but they aren’t that specific when I’m talking to someone. More of just a general we live on a pale blue dot and this is all so random and uncontrollable sometimes but not in a way that makes me feel helpless conversation. I’m painfully aware that I’m not any more significant than the person next to me, or a person I’ve never met. People who have hurt me or angered me or impeded my goals are just as deserving of happiness and fulfillment, so who am I to resent the cards I’ve been dealt? Sure, I have people I vaguely dislike situationally but I don’t think I’m really capable of hating anyone as a whole. (Kind of gets me in trouble sometimes, but I digress.) It could be also because I drive myself crazy thinking about how nobody necessarily has the same thought process, and you’ll never know, and therefore you can’t really judge or put yourself above them. I dislike ideals of superiority.

I know it’s hard to keep it all in perspective when difficult things happen. I know it’s hard to believe that my life will settle out in the way it’s supposed to.

Every moment that I’m happy, I’m aware of its fragility. I remember one moment from early March, lying in my bed and mulling over the strange flutter in my chest of pure joy. I remember thinking “this isn’t going to last so how do I stretch it?” I don’t mean that in a negative way, either, but I just know that the bumpy, disjointed nature of our lives means that there’s inevitable contrast. I can use it the same way when I’m deeply sad, lying in my bed, mulling over the inescapable feeling of darkness. “How do I get past this?”

If I can have this much life crammed into six years, I can have so much in sixty. Beyond what my mind can comprehend right now. So surely it will all be okay.

I’ m rather aware of my inability to look two years ahead and know that everything I worry about will be okay, that I’ll have a new set of separate worries to obsess over. It’s never-ending, which could drive me a little crazy, but my lack of peace just drives me to be constantly searching for whatever it is that I want even if I don’t have the name for it. I want to matter. I want to scream out into the ether and find whatever deep-rooted otherness I often feel when I’m watching the sun dip below the horizon or when I see really crowded stars or uninterrupted golden stretches of farmland. Whatever beauty makes me thrum.

I still keep coming back to that word restless.

It’s like in your chest there’s a magnet, a magnet not for metal but for a substance not available on this planet. So that it is constantly pulling […] at something it will never draw close. Must be where they got the expression aching for something. Because it is a kind of ache. To want something and want something and. After a while you begin to feel intimate with the missing part.

Aleida Rodríguez

I roll my eyes at inspirational or sappy quotes, but find deep solace in poems that seem to echo my sentiments in subtle ways. Talking about light or the particular sadness of watching a day end and wanting to cling to it. The fading presence of memory.

I’m so curious as to what people want. Because you can take the question at its base level — some sleep. A hug. An A in that class I’ve been dying in. Or you can analyze why you want those things. I want to not be so tired every morning. I want to feel like what I’m killing myself for is worth it. I want to feel validated, or like somebody out there loves me. I want to feel seen. I want to be able to set myself up for a life of comfort later, in which I have the opportunities to make my life bigger through travel and experience. Or you can take it deeper. I want to disappear. I want a world without boundaries, to run off into the wilderness sometimes. To feel my very bones explode with feeling and reach that point of meaning.

It’s so hard to see someone as a player in your life versus a fully-developed world of thought, confused and sensory and wanting in all the same ways you are. Once I see that, I can’t unsee it. I can’t go back to seeing them as players, and so I can’t divide them into neat categories that would make it all easier. Yeah, these are words on a page that convey some of my thoughts on knowing and wanting. But I’m sure they aren’t Grace-specific. I’m sure they’re universal in some way, and so do they really make a dent? Does it change the way you see me or am I still just a supporting character? (Is it supposed to? What if I’m just the person you’re meant to bump into on the sidewalk one day, or catch a glimpse of, or have in a random class? Clearly I’m not meant to be important to everybody, even though that has the ability to hurt sometimes.)

Last night, a friend suggested I try meditation and I said I already had about twenty minutes per day that I just stared off into space lost in my thoughts. She said, no, that wasn’t the point, the point was to not think at all. And I said I just wasn’t sure that would work because I could never turn off my thoughts. Someone else laughed and said yeah, meditation was not for me.

But how can I help being in a crowded place and being fascinated by all the people whirling around me? Being drawn in by the humanness of this all? That definitely makes me high-maintenance sometimes, but it doesn’t feel like a conscious choice to be this invested in the way everything turns out.

(Everything I’m writing feels corny, but I don’t mean it to be. I’m just trying to put it into words, whatever it is.)

may 25

This little journal-blog is a strange place.

I have a few outlets, and also too few. I write in my journal about events, specifics, thoughts about certain aspects of my life. (I also write it like a book — dialogue and punctuated moments and a bit of flair.) I write in here about specific feelings or questions related to those events. Not so much for the purpose of remembering, but for sorting through the restless words in my skin that positively scream to get out. It’s compulsion, rather than a want.

Still, for every moment I spend recording other moments, I’m aware that I can both a) never fully articulate the nuances of a given moment and b) never fully capture all the ones that I want to condense. What about the in-between moments, the linking ones?

And I also write when I’m in the mood to write. There are plenty of sides of me that don’t fit within that designation, and so never make it onto paper. So while I’m glad that certain parts of my thought process make it into the realm of the “discoverable,” I’m also continually mulling over the idea that someone might discover these and not totally get the full picture. People will fill in where they want to. It’s not that I only ever write on here when I’m emotional, or existential. (And there are moments in which I feel that way and it doesn’t feel appropriate to write on here.)

I’m the queen of psychoanalyzing myself, trying to figure out why my mind works the way it does. Why do I sometimes feel compelled to record on here, versus in my journals? Why will I go for two weeks writing every day and then suddenly not need to anymore? Is it related to my surroundings or some trigger in my head that I haven’t totally figured out?

I’m also curious about the distinction between preserving thoughts vs. sensations. Ideas vs. the particular, distinct contexts in which those occur. A little bit of both make it into both mediums.

It’s not a public space, although it is technically public. (I see my stats, and I know who reads it and when. It’s a small number.) It automatically links to my Twitter, but that’s left from the old days when it was mostly poems and essays. I don’t publicize it unless I’ve written something I want feedback on — like a piece of flash fiction. I see it as a space in which to obsess about cyclical thoughts that won’t leave me alone, or to capture moments of the in-between nature that don’t quite make it into the folded pages of my journal. Ones that would otherwise be repetitive, or too familiar to quite merit the attention of a fraction of my records.

I am glad, though. Sometimes I forget about the diversity of thoughts and experiences I’ve had, and I can flip through these preservations.

I’m curious about how people still manage to find me hard to read. In some ways, I’m a very public person. People who know me at school know about my Instagram, know about my thoughts that make it on there. A lot of my meditations slip into quotes I highlight, or books that make me cry. (I always found it fascinating to see what art affected which people — how you can tell so much about a person by their music, their tastes. Or at least pretend you know about them.) I like to share a lot. But that information is also curated by the virtue of when exactly I’m in the mood to post. There’s also a lot that will never, ever make it onto here. Or onto my Instagram. Or into my persona when I’m out.

Maybe the distinction comes in being very private about certain aspects of my life that others are very public about. Or trying to resist the poker face. I have this way of shutting down when I’m in public because I’m unbearably shy in a lot of situations. Or trying not to seem like an absolute mess even when I feel like it. Apparently some people at school think I have it all together (???) which shocks me. Despite my weakness for branding and curating (it’s something I enjoy, although I do worry when it seeps into the way I present myself as a human being), I have no idea how people really see me.

That’s why I like that some of my concerns and thoughts are in some ways discoverable. You’d have to look pretty hard, but I think you could do it if you wanted, even though it wouldn’t give you the full picture. (It’s a worry of mine that somebody will look at who I am when I’m online and assume that’s all I am, and not just a fraction.)

I wrote about it to my pen pal the other day actually (a third outlet — not quite sure what mood I’m in when I write to him, but I’m glad we’ve started talking again.)

“Aloof, not abandoned or awkward. It’s a balance between wanting to protect myself (i.e. not seem vulnerable or lonely) and wanting to actually not be alone.”

I would like to be elegant and graceful and put-together, although that’s not always an accurate depiction. But that doesn’t mean I want to be unapproachable.

I’m a big believer in social media, sure, but for myself and what I’d like to do. I do believe in its ability to foster meaningful conversations, and it’s definitely given me the confidence to go up to people and be all “hey, I love that line you posted. Do you want to get lunch sometime?” (It’s given me several friends once I realized that they’re drawn to similar things.) It’s also given me the freedom to withdraw and not worry as much, because people will know it’s because I’m hard at work or in a quiet mood or whatever.

Although if you really want to know me though, look at my phone notes.

may 17

I hope that in the future they invent a small golden light that follows you everywhere and when something is about to end, it shines brightly so you know it’s about to end.

And if you’re never going to see someone again, it’ll shine brightly and both of you can be polite and say, “It was nice to have you in my life while I did, good luck with everything that happens after now.”

And maybe if you’re never going to eat at the same restaurant again, it’ll shine and you can order everything off the menu you’ve never tried. Maybe, if someone’s about to buy your car, the light will shine and you can take it for one last spin. Maybe, if you’re with a group of friends who’ll never be together again, all your lights will shine at the same time and you’ll know, and then you can hold each other and whisper, “This was so good. Oh my God, this was so good.”

I think a lot about the concept of ghosting. Irish goodbye, French exit, whatever you want to call it.

At the end of the year, I’m taking down my quotes from the walls. And I’m a person who explodes visually in my room. Lots of scrawled book passages, reminders to myself, photos of mountains, letters, ticket stubs, corks, dried flowers.

I always wonder — is it worth throwing them all away? What would happen if I started with a blank slate? Who do I become if I forget those fragments, re-remember them in later years, add to my slate then? Or should I build on them, add to them over the years, watch the layers combine?

Maybe the reason I’m so expressive on my walls is that at home, I literally graffiti them. I take a Sharpie to my bedroom. I have any number of signatures, inside jokes, poems, song lyrics. Sometimes, it’s rather cringeworthy to look back on what eighth-grade Grace found relevant. Other times, I’ll stumble upon memories I’d forgotten — a landscape of hidden absorptions. I used to lay back on my floor for hours just reading.

Taking down the walls — paint chips and all — feels personal. It feels like the final goodbye, my soul scrubbed bare and packed away in an accordion folder and bulletin boards chipping at the corners. I’m that numb kind of good-sad that means I’m saying goodbye to something really lovely.

I didn’t want to take down my walls with my parents around. That feels too personal. There’s a lot up there, and I didn’t want to run the risk of crying. This year has stripped me of everything, but I do see the merits of who it shaped me into.

I’m not ready to say goodbye. I need more time. I want some more nights, another term full of moments I’ve lost.

I think a lot about the merits of knowing whether a time will be your last. Even when it relates to something as small as the last meal of a year at a favorite restaurant, or a house I go to when I’m out. I wish I could put the concept into prettier words, but this week, I’ve had a lot of split-second decisions that have resulted in me realizing last Sunday was probably my last Napa Thai of the year or that means I won’t hike again for a while. It definitely makes me realize the weight of it all, those momentary lapses and divergences.

I’m also always scared of goodbye — of everything fundamentally changing when I’m somewhere in the ether. Whether it’s not only the last time seeing/experiencing/doing, but perhaps the last ever. And I would never know. Is that terrifying or freeing — moment by moment? A lot of times, I’m hesitant and I cling to certain moments during them because I know they’re fragile, that they could fall apart at any moment. That I don’t think the exact circumstances will ever lead to a similar or identical compilation. It does me no good to worry about the tenuous nature of an instant, but I do. And a lot can happen in a summer.

There are so many people on this campus that I want to say goodbye to, but the idea of tracking them all down, or somehow condensing the depth of this year into words is a bit crippling. I’d like to just walk away and disappear without dealing with any of it. Just hope that the natural rhythm picks back up again in September.

happy list — may 16

cold, cold water
table flowers
finding old letters
The Band
meeting a deadline
a smoothie when I’m sick
husband pillows
being up and in a good mood at d-hall
long leisurely walks through town
hall bonding
blue Gatorade
wearing other peoples’ jackets (ha)
foiled wallpaper
walking in the rain alone
freshly cut grass
finally sitting down to do an assignment that’s been hanging over my head
California Sun-drieds
baseball tees
the shadows peoples’ eyelashes make on their cheeks
the number 17
black-and-white movies
swing-dancing until I get dizzy
finding my swipe when I thought I’d forgotten it
school assignments I actually like
cold cider
bar stools
watching lacrosse
world maps
friends who let me constantly annoy them with my problems
caprese sandwiches
the sounds of waves
thick straws
the pleasant surprise when someone remembers my name
that table at Pronto by the window