"If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." (Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey)

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door… You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring)

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


May 6, 2010
Captain’s Log

I have truly fallen off the Face of the Earth. Aye, it is a strange tale indeed, the journey that took me off the Edge of the World and back, and I count myself blessed that the Good Lord has allowed me to live to tell it.

I knew something was wrong with this New World when I saw the lemons. They had all gone rotten. The air was thick with their sour-sweet stench. It got into my men’s heads and I swear we all slowly went mad from it. There was no other choice—we had to leave. And so we packed everything back up on the
Andromeda and once again set sail.

Only, we had no heading. We were like pirates following a treasure map that bore no X. What was more, my compass had mysteriously disappeared. No stars shone in the sky. We were lost. Hopelessly adrift in the wide and lonely sea.

Then the men caught the yellow fever and they lost their minds. They threatened mutiny if I did not turn back. But by then it was too late. The ship began to tip over the edge—the Edge of the World. And we fell. Countless fathoms down and down and down. Until we landed… in a sea of limes.


I saw them and, Lord help me, I cracked. I began to laugh and couldn’t stop. After our search for lemons, we fell upon a sea of limes that spread as far as the distant horizon! I felt that Fate was laughing in our faces. There we floated for countless days without a clue as to what to do. One by one, the men left me, attempting to swim to what shore could be found, or just jumping into the lime-sea for something to do.

I was alone.

It is not a comfortable feeling to be left alone beyond the Edge of the World. You find you can’t run or hide. There comes a time when you feel yourself adrift that you are forced to face the person you are now, the person you once were, and the person you are striving to become. It is the coward who hides from the truth. The truth that I discovered was that I had come so far in search of lemons only to realize that perhaps I had left them where I began.

And so now I am somehow making my way through this sea of limes back to the beginning.

In not so many words, that’s what I’ve decided to do. In my search for lemons, I’ve come to a world of limes. And so now I realize the best thing to do is go back to where I started and try again there. I don’t see it as failure. But I’ll let Mother Angelica say it, as only she can:

“We don’t want to step out in faith and say, ‘God, the only hand I have is Yours, even though I don’t know where You’re going.’ I think that’s the most thrilling experience: not to know what God is doing—but going out and doing it anyway.
It’s very difficult for a real Christian to mess this up. If you try something and you fail, you’ve been humbled. You’re a little smarter the next time; you learn to depend upon God and not yourself. You can learn much in failure. If you succeed: you are aware of God’s spirit, aware of His using you in extraordinary ways. So from a spiritual perspective, you can’t fail no matter what happens.”

Well, that’s what I’d hoped I was doing, stepping out hand-in-hand with the Lord, letting go and letting God… but I ended up fighting it a lot of the way. I was hoping to find direction in life, to make some sense out of it. But I became even more lost than I was before. I lost God’s hand in the darkness and tried to find my own way—never a good idea.

In short, God gave me a big fat piece of humble pie.

Finally, when I stopped my whining and swallowed my pride, He worked some of his magic, and He did show me some unexpected lemons among the limes. (This isn't supposed to make any sense to most, but I had no idea Panera had such sweet lemons ;0)

Life is still a journey, and just because I’ve decided to return home to “gorges” Ithaca (the weekend of May 22) still lost, directionless, and unemployed, it doesn’t mean that it’ll stop journeying.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now far ahead the Road has gone
And I must follow if I can
Pursuing it with eager feet
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet
And wither then? I cannot say.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Leap

March 23, 2010
Captain’s Log
We set sail on the HMS
Andromeda five days ago. The setting off is always the most exciting: the briny wind in your face and the sea stretched out endlessly ahead of you. It was smooth sailing from the Port of New York all the way to the Carolinas. The New World holds great promise. It is a land awash with lemons. The only problem the crew and I have now is… which ones do we choose?

On Wednesday, March 17, I packed my little red Toyota Yaris with eight boxes, a laundry basket, a poufy comforter set, and a bunch of other random essentials. And, to my immense surprise and relief—it all fit, and with room to spare!

On Thursday, March 18, I bid farewell to my dad and my brothers, and my mom and I set out on our “blind road trip”. Blind because we had no set plans, only to get as far as we could, perhaps try to reach Roanoke at the farthest, and because we couldn’t see out the packed-nearly-to-the-brim back of the car! We drove through Pennsylvania, a tiny piece of Maryland, and then a bit of West Virginia. But I was most excited to hit Virginia—my native state! It was also the most beautiful part of the trip. We were surrounded by mountains (I want to say on one side were the Appalachians, and on the other were the Blue Ridge.) At sunset the world became awash with layers color: the grass a bright emerald green, the trees red with bursting buds, the mountains behind purple, and the sky glowing orange. We made it to someplace 15 minutes outside of Roanoke and stopped for the night.

On Friday, March 19, we set out once again. But first, we had breakfast. It was free. A word to the wise: never eat breakfast anywhere if it’s free. About a sluggish hour or so later, we had a second, much better breakfast and gained back our energy. We drove through the rest of Virginia, the whole of North Carolina, and then finally hit South Carolina. (I’ve never seen so many trucks before!)

On Saturday and Sunday, my wonderful new roommate showed my mom and me around Rock Hill and Charlotte. I think Ithaca spoiled me. It only takes five minutes to drive anywhere there, and the most complicated highway is Route 13 with two lanes. In Rock Hill one must drive on two- and three-lane highways for at least 15 minutes. I must say, though, that I’ve never seen so many shopping centers in one area. (It’s a good thing I haven’t that much money to spend!) A big challenge for me will be getting used to driving on the interstate. But I suppose if I can drive on 81 and 77 with a stuffed car, I can drive to Charlotte with an empty one.

But I think my favorite thing so far—aside from the freedom, my wonderful roommate, the super cute French bakery in Charlotte, the enormous Barnes and Noble, and the Panera Bread—is being around holly and magnolias again!

It has not been the great shock I feared it would be. Usually when I venture out on my own, I get hit with a paralyzing fear and all I want to do is cower under my covers. But it hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps it’s the leftover practice I got from college. Or perhaps it’s just further proof that it’s past my time to be out on my own. And there appear to be plenty of lemons for the picking. But you know what they say about appearances....

Well, we’ll have to see what comes next.

Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. You need to remember that when you find yourself at the beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will, too. (Hope Floats)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Down the Rabbit Hole

One day last summer, my mom and I took a walk. We went to Buttermilk Falls State Park to hike what we call the Lower Trail (though I think it’s really called the Bear Trail.) We got lost. Which was odd because we (my mother, brothers and I) used to always walk that particular trail in the summer when we were little. But there was no denying it—the once familiar trail that wound its way through the woods had somehow vanished and we found ourselves standing in the shrubbery in what appeared to be someone’s back yard. One with a tennis court in it. There was not a soul in sight.

We discovered then that we had followed a trail called the “Duck Trail.” A few steps next to it was one called the “Doe Trail.” We decided to follow it to see if it might lead us back to the trail we remembered.

It didn’t.

It led us back to the backyard. On the other side of the tennis court. Odd. Ahead of us was a gravel drive.

I’ve always said about myself that, if I were a cat, I’d’ve long been dead. Such is my curiosity. I suggested that we follow the gravel drive. And so we did, all the while expecting someone to catch us. (Perhaps the Queen of Hearts.) But we came upon no one. The drive turned into a blind curve flanked by rows of fat firs. And then suddenly we were facing the back end of what appeared to be a very fancy and white apartment building. There was a white tent set up in the expansive back lawn, complete with white wicker chairs and floral cushions. Still there was no one around. (But I couldn’t help suspecting that if we remained hidden for just a few moments, we might catch a tea for some White Queen.)

We continued on toward the building and, upon turning a corner, as if things could not get any more bizarre, came upon a life-sized chess set. This was when I knew we had, in fact, fallen down the Rabbit Hole. Then there was an awning marking the entrance to some sort of spa. Stairs led down, and at the bottom stood a bronze lion as though stationed to devour anyone without a proper invitation. Faint, withering music hung in the air above the lion like some acrid smelling Oriental incense.

And still not a soul! We had fallen upon a ghost town of a parallel universe. Only a few moments later, we realized we had come upon La Tourelle from behind.

You know that odd feeling you get when two separate parts of your life collide? I imagine it’s rather like having your boyfriend meet your parents. Only… not half as awkward. I had never been aware that one could access La Tourelle via the Lower Trail of Buttermilk Falls. Those two places remained in separate dimensions in my mind. And having them all of a sudden collide—with me in the middle—created something like a supernova in my head.

That’s sort of the same kind of bizarre feeling that lies in the difference between deciding to do something… and then actually having to do it. It’s the distortion with which Change contorts the familiar. It’s the way I feel whenever I’m about to do something crazy—that heart-racing, sickening anticipation before the leap. Anything seems simple enough when it’s a month away. But three days? Two? I haven’t done anything terribly crazy in a while, so I’m afraid I’m out of practice. In fact, I’ve always been inclined toward the cautious life. But then… what is it they say about the cautious life?

Courage is not the absence of fear but the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all. For now you are traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be. (Meg Cabot)

I suppose that’s one of the reasons I feel this needs to be done. (Though I know I’m not the only one who thinks so. I’m pretty sure that Someone upstairs gave me the idea first.) I’ve certainly tried to be less cautious, but I never took it as far as it ought to have gone. That particular part of me needs to change. And it is the very thought of Change looming on the horizon that’s making me nervous. Rather like the Jabberwock—

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

Terrifying. But it’s there, waiting for me on what will be my own Frabjous Day (March 18, Moving Day), and it must be confronted. Perhaps it’ll tell me where I can find my lemons. In the meantime, I just hope I don’t forget to pack anything.

Taking a leaf from the Mad Hatter’s book (I wonder if that’s wise?), I seem to have lost my muchness. I know I can be much more “muchier” than I am now. It’s buried somewhere deep inside and I just need to dig it out. The only question is... have I the courage?

And, oh, by the way—why is a raven like a writing desk?

March 18

is the Big Moving Day! Ack! That's two days from now! Who's crazy idea WAS this? Oh, right, it was mine.

I forgot to announce that properly. Sorry!

A Note On My Age

There must be glitch in the Blogger system. I just thought it would be prudent to announce that I am neither 1,927 years old, and that I was not born in 1927. I'm just 27, though there are those who still think me a teenager. I'll be carded until I'm 77.

I prefer to think of myself as ageless.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Beginning

Everyone knows the old adage, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." To my knowledge, this is an illustration of making the best out of whatever life gives you. But what happens if life stops giving you lemons? I'm sure no one ever told me that there might come a day when lemons will cease to be available. No one is told that. It's rather like how every young girl is told that somewhere out there is a special person looking just for her. She just has to wait a little while for him to find her. But what if there isn't? No one is told that perhaps there isn't a special someone for everyone who looks for him. Of course no one is told that--who wants to hear that? It is something that must be learned--and accepted, if one runs into the misfortune of having to accept such a lesson--on one's own.

It has been about four and a half years since I graduated from college, and as I stand on the path that is my journey through life, I notice (with something like horror rumbling in my stomach) that I haven't moved very far ahead. This is not for lack of trying (much like the single state of my relationship status--which, despite all my attempts to change it, has remained laughably unchanged since birth). Insanity has been defined as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." It seems it's time for me to stop acting insanely and do something different.

But first, to regress a little. I've kept busy, worked here and there and helped where I could, as far as my shy and sometimes somewhat anti-social tendencies have allowed. There were plenty of things I thought I wanted to do, from entering the military to going back to school. Lots of lemons to choose from. The fact that I could never actually decide on which branch of the military to join, or which Master's program to enter, rather forced me to realize that perhaps none of these were what I really wanted to do.

Then there was Ithaca College. For a few years I really thought I wanted to work there. And for a little while, I really thought I was going to. But the more I waited and the more I tried, the more I began to realize... that nothing was happening. I was forced to admit that there were, in fact, no more lemons.

It was only just over a month ago now that I sat in the I.C. cafeteria on my lunch break after having been told that, no, I would not be getting even an interview for the job at which I'd been temping for the entire past semester. I sat there and waited for the world to shatter around me. It was December--the day after my birthday, in fact--the end of yet another year in a job that had not given me the ability to move into my own place, where I would have finally been able to taste the sweet fruits of freedom. (Temps at I.C. aren't given benefits, and if you want to live alone in New York State, you need some damn good benefits.) The beginning of yet another path that would lead to yet another temporary position that would give me yet again neither freedom nor assurance for the future.

I panicked for about two minutes.

And then, quite suddenly, another path opened in front of me. It was the path of least resistance, the one I'd been eying, in fact, for the past three years--the path I'd turned a fearful shoulder on over and over again despite the nagging curiosity of what, Oh! what lay at its end? Here it was, opening wide and bright in front of me. And it was at that moment that I began to traverse it.

I took a few hesitant steps forward, questioning the choice that loomed before me like a terrifying and yet tantalizing lure. With one foot in front of the other, I walked forward, entering the mouth of what appeared a dark and dank forest. I pushed aside the weeds and branches and trudged forward. Then the trees began to thin and the light grew brighter. Finally, the trees fell away and the world opened wide before me. Brightness and beauty and birdsong saturated my senses and lifted my spirits so that I was nearly pulled to the heavens.

One more step.

Two more steps.

Three more steps.

And then the earth fell away from my feet. My toes hung over the edge of a great cliff that dropped incalculable depths into an abyss below. This was the Leap of Faith that I somehow knew had been waiting for me at the end of the curious path. The very thing that I had searched for and yet run from. Here it was--and there was no turning back. I held my breath and closed my eyes... and jumped.

My decision is made. On the great mysterious Ocean that is Life, I have set my course. I know not the monsters or angels I will inevitably encounter, but I sail ahead, eager for every adventure. After 20 years of living in Ithaca, New York (minus the four I lived in Steubenville, Ohio, during which time I lived for a semester in Austria), I've decided to pack up and move to Rock Hill, South Carolina. As I stated earlier, I thought I wanted to do a lot of things. But this is the one thing I know I need to do. I move only with the assurance that I have a place to live for a time (thank you Cathy!), and on the hope that there, perhaps, I might find some lemons. For it stands to reason that, life having obviously ceased giving me lemons... what else remains but to go and look for them?

I conclude with a line by Celia Reese in my favorite book of hers, Pirates!:

"You may wish me luck or curse me for a damnable pirate, but do not look for me. I will be gone to parts beyond the sea."