25 March 2010


Last month I took a trip to Scotland to visit my dear friend, Katherine. One sunny afternoon, Katherine and I visited a used-book shop near her flat in St. Andrews. Here I found a beautiful leather-bound volume of John Keats' poetry.

One of the poems, "Walking in Scotland," caught my eye as I flipped the old letter-pressed pages during my first night as owner of this book. Keats captures an aspect of Scotland--and Ireland and England and Wales, for that matter--that is hard for a visitor to articulate. Well, it's hard for this visitor to articulate.

"There is a charm in footing slow across a silent plain,
Where patriot battle had been fought, where glory had the gain..."

The poem, to me at least, articulates the feeling of significance that seems to quietly rise up from the shores of these tiny bits of land that once seemed to conquer every corner of the world. Each castle and stone bridge has a long memory of battles fought and love won and adventures sought.

Lately I've been feeling quite the opposite--very insignificant. I feel as though I will always live hand-to-mouth each month. I am discouraged in the departments of love and looks. I am tired and bored. I feel invisible.

But I know I am not alone in these fits of melancholy.

Today I spoke with three friends. One was fearful about an upcoming change in jobs, another was full of regret for her decision to enroll at a particular school, and the third was discouraged about learning that a guy she hoped would be was actually not to be. In all of these conversations, I wanted to say, "Woe is I! Listen to my pathetic lot! I'm eternally dateless! I'm earning less than all of my friends! I drive a Civic that is covered in dust and dents! I'm so selfish lately I can hardly stand to be around myself!" But I didn't.

Instead I listened in amazement at the words of encouragement that came from my mouth. In this dark place I seem to have taken up residence, I somehow saw light. As with many people, I presume, depression a loyal friend to me. But I am glad to know that this friend, very much unwanted, is not making the decisions around here like it once was.

All of which reminded me of something Katherine said over a pint back in Scotland, the gist of which was: "It's not what we dream that matters. It's what we do when we wake up." Very wise words.

And now for a few photos:

10 March 2010

Short Story: The Spoon

Dear Internet -

Yes, I know. I owe you pictures from my trip to Scotland and Ireland last month as well as stories of the grand and not-so-grand adventures that have kept me too busy to write to you. For now, a peace offering in the form of a tiny story I wrote for a writing class last year.


The spoon belonged to a set of flatware called “True Rose”. Purchased from a JC Penny’s wedding registry, the spoon was tucked inside a velvet pouch before embarking on a life of transit between drawers, bowls and dishwashers. The stem was graceful and strong; embossed scrolls defined its edges. At the tip, a tiny rose.

To bend the handle, a bit of force had to be applied, for the spoon’s stem never intended to be shaped like a tear. Once the stem bowed and weakened at the center, the spoon could wrap itself around a finger. The spoon became more than a vessel for Cheerios and Fruit Loops.

The spoon was passed—from a girl with brown hair dyed shades of gold and honey to a boy called Tom. The shallow palm of the spoon held one tiny rock. A flame danced along the smooth curve of the spoon, and the rock began to bubble and hiss.
First came the smell of marshmallows roasting. Then, like a marshmallow left to rest over a campfire for too long, the caramel aroma burned. By the time the spoon held only liquid, the room filled with the acrid smells of ammonia and sulfur.

Oh sweet alchemy! Several drops of poison transformed despairs into moments of escape. In the darkest of night, time lost all power. A deep, soul-full horn signaled that somewhere, away from here, a train snaked through the thick Pentecostal pines toward the banks of a river.

The spoon sat on the coffee table, its warmth fogging up the glossy cherry finish. The belly of the spoon was now charred, bearing the color of grief.