little sarah Big World

Category: Journal

I used to write all sorts of things–poetry, prose, vignettes, fiction. Nowadays I mostly do this, plus a letter here and there, and then my journal. When I’m feeling good to myself, or when I’m feeling alone.

I used to write things that rhymed, that followed a form.

I used to read these things out loud, in front of people, to dare to expose myself. I used to say openly that I wanted to be a writer.

Was it naivete? Or just one of the many pieces of myself that I let fall by the wayside?

Lately, I’ve been picking up the pieces. Saturday night, in my delirium, I wrote something that rhymes.

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Sunday, August 19th, 2012

(café on 1st)

Sitting here, puzzle nearly finished, everything bagel with hummus, soy hot chocolate. A new journal, an old dress. This is me, I need to remind myself. This is me, without friends, without family or lovers. I exist. I have likes and dislikes. I have quiet, pleasing moments.

I go on.

A Writer, in South America

This blog used to be an outlet for my writing, with maybe a few occasional photos thrown in. As examples, or proof, or to illustrate my words. Photos were the compliment to the writing.

Now photos dominate, and sometimes it feels like this space is a relentless, oppressive, compulsive documentation of my every waking hour.

Don’t get me wrong, Friends–I love capturing the small, gentle, simple moments of every day life. I like being able to communicate visually.

But maybe this isn’t the outlet for that?

We’ll see. In the meantime, some long-overdue words. A feast of words, Friends.

(from my travel journal in South America, mostly unedited, but with parts left out)

Friday, May 4th, 2012 – Day 1
(airplane: SLC – Houston)

I have to say, I’m excited to be traveling again. I think I must be one of those rare birds, because I actually ENJOY traveling–cramped quarters, strange people, random and bad snacks and meals…I love the little routines I’ve developed, after years of traveling solo. Never getting to the airport too early, always bringing socks, buying trashy magazines that I read cover to cover…I always board with my left foot first and disembark with my right, saying “Left for Lenore” and “Start off on the right foot.” (Lenore is my father’s mother who died when I was about 5). I like to think that grandma will watch over me and protect me.

I guess flying by myself to visit Cousin Em when I was 12, 13, 14 years old I always felt so grown-up, so mature and independent, and I’ve never lost that feeling.

There is no time I feel more littlesarahBigWorld than when I travel alone. I like that feeling.

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Afternoon in Puno, Peru

(from my journal)

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Stray dogs in the market (the meat section). Pasta, beans, grains in bulk, the air tinged with spices. Boys playing fútbol with an empty water bottle in front of a grade school. No stoplights or stop signs; taxis, bike taxis, pizzerias and internet cafés everywhere you turn. Constant, though non-aggressive (and sometimes friendly) horn honking. Just to say “hello” or “coming through.”

Mutual Inspiration

My Mary and Emily friends recently started a blog called (5) Five Things, wherein one or the other of them writes about 5 things that happened to her on a particular day. I dig it. I like the idea of a specific theme, and consistent collaboration. I like how you get to see little peeks of their relationship through subtle cross-references.

It’s inspired me to write a little Five Things of my own, to see what a simple list will reveal. Interestingly, Emily said that littlesarahBigWorld was one of her sources of blog-speration. One good turn deserves another, Em. Hope you approve.

*       *       *

This is What Loneliness Looks Like – 5 Things for Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

1) Where is my mind?

I splattered my face with hot wax today. Unintentionally, but still. I was trying to blow out a candle that I’d accidentally left burning while I went for a long run, turning its opaque, taupe-colored wax into thick, translucent brown liquid, like maple syrup. The flame wouldn’t go out easily, and without thinking I blew as hard as I could.

2) Where is my mac?

That wasn’t the first thing, though. The first thing was that I woke up, ate a cookie that I’d told myself last night I would NOT EAT FOR BREAKFAST, then watched an hour and a half of Weeds, while eating cereal and drinking tea, trying to pump myself up to write a blog post. But when the time came, I just felt shitty and worthless from so much TV and extremely pissed off that I lent Kevin my Mac to take to Spain and there is no iPhoto (no iAnything, really) on his PC. Plus the big desktop screen encourages TV watching.

3) Where is my man?

Tried to skype Kevin, but he wasn’t around, so instead I sent him a series of increasingly hysterical SMS texts. I may have told him that I hated him. Okay, fucking hated him. For abandoning me.

4) Waaay out, on the water, see them swimming?

We did skype, eventually. Twice. The first time I sobbed and averted my swollen eyes, saying things like “I just want everything to be in one place, I just want all my things together in one place!” And, “That Sarah doesn’t exist anymore, there’s no point in having accomplishments for a person who doesn’t exist anymore.”

Then I took a nap, woke up anxious, ate some peanut M & Ms out of a chicken feeder that I had promised myself I would NOT EAT AND WOULD SAVE FOR GUESTS…before trying again. This time we made silly, scrunched-up rodent faces and I said things like “You have to be more fun! I can’t be the fun one all the time! I can’t always be the one that makes it fun to go to the grocery store–you have to be fun at the grocery store, too!”

5) Yeah.

Dinner at Moms’. I taught Rosie to play War and read her bedtime stories. One was about the life and death of a tree named Steve, as told in a letter from a father to his children, passing through various stages of their growing family in relation to Steve, the tree. And on one page was a picture of the whole family, the children playing under the tree, and the parents “looking on” (as they say), arms around each other. I had to fight back the tears and read with a throat closing tight, because I miss Kevin. Because I want us to be a family.

An unproductive talk with Mom, and I cried most of the ride home. Almost got hit by a car, even though I had my flashy lights going on my bike. And now I’m home, in bed, alone. With pen and paper for company.

More Adventurous

Hangover: Round 2 (Electric Boogaloo)

Last night was the institut-sponsored “spectacle,” where students from the institute (where I study) sang, danced, recited poetry, played music, etc. for each other and also the general publique tourangelle. Down at the guingette. And guess what, friends? I totally performed! I totally Bached-out with my you-know-what out! AND did some jazz improv with some of the other students for “Fly Me to the Moon” (Frank Sinatra). And I was nervous! But I did it anyway!

Then afterward we all danced to “Groove It,” by Earth Wind & Fire. And the sky was like this:

I’ve been riding a consistent wave of self-confidence here, feeling more adventurous and independent than I’ve felt in a while. Last weekend I went on a 15-mile bike ride all by myself, and though I didn’t know it it to begin with, nothing could have possibly made me happier. Renting a bike here turned out to be a good choice.

It was a gorgeous day, and I was wrapped-up in a sweet solitude, making plans for the future, thinking my thoughts, enjoying just being by myself. This is from my journal that day:

“…I could not be more content. Happiness is a bubble of light and air in my chest, it is radiating out from me, filling me up, warming my spirit…Glad I came alone. I had wished for company, and then hesitated this morning, because of the overcast sky. But the ride was beautiful–miles and miles of gray clouds rolling heavily above neat rows of gnarled and bright-green vineyards, soft straw-colored pastures…”

There’s Got to Be a Morning After

This morning:

hungover, drinking hot chocolate and watching Futurama in French

Why, Chase? Why oh why did I let you buy me that 6th cup of wine? Why did we think it would be a good idea to eat nothing but crêpes with nutella all night?

I’m not going to beat myself up too much about it. After the hot chocolate, I went back to bed for another hour, and that seems to have helped. I just need to remember that getting up early to run/explore the city/eat pastries makes me happier and is more satisfying than staying up late to drink, and that the two are often mutually exclusive.

TODAY IS MY HALFWAY POINT HERE, GUYS! That means I’ve been here two weeks and I have two weeks left. Wow. It is not enough time, let me tell you, and I am sad to have wasted even a bit of it on a lousy hangover this morning. I feel like there is so much to do and see and experience here, and I spend so much time blogging and running and playing viola. But I try to find the balance between keeping up with the things that are essential to me and making the most of my limited time in this lovely place.

Lots of students here want to jet-set all over, to see as much of France/Europe/The World as possible before it’s time to go home. But I’ve played that game before, and it was too much for me. Too frantic. I don’t want to spend all of my time traveling when I’ve already traveled so far just to arrive HERE. I don’t want to pack my days with as many museums/spectacles/concerts as possible (though last night was fun). I don’t want to go out to eat for every meal, either.

I find the greatest joy in the little routines that I’ve developed, and in the small pleasures of every day life. Like how my cheap little treats from the pâtisserie near the post office come wrapped up like little gifts:

Or sitting outside in the courtyard, eating quiche and pastry, and posting to my blog:

I like going for runs in the botanical gardens, where there are peacocks and wallabies and flowerbeds and greenhouses. I like running into Bernard (mon père) around town, out for his daily stroll or running some errands. I like dinner together with the family, especially when Bernard uses his fork to point out a landmark or give directions on the map on the china cabinet, without ever rising from his seat, or when Colette tells us that we bring her such joy, that taking in international students allows her to travel the world.

I like going to the movies by myself, or with friends. I like riding my rental bike around and getting to know the city better. I like treating myself to Lebanese food after successfully haggling with the guy at the bike store and then changing my train ticket, all in French.

I like who I am here, I like the life I have here, and though I know that it is temporal, that it is fleeting, I am enjoying it. I know that I will be able to take a part of it back with me, that I will not regress. I will progress. I will go easy on myself while continuing to grow. Always grow.

From yesterday’s journal entry:

“I’ve felt something opening up inside of me for some months now–ever since I dropped out of music school–but here, in France, on my own, it’s begun to truly blossom and take shape…the truth is that I cannot go back to self-hate and punishment and anxiety all the time. The truth is that I accept myself, and I trust the part of me that knows what I want and–more importantly–what I DON’T want. I refuse to continue to live up to others’ expectations of me, whether implied or explicit, at my own expense. I just can’t anymore.

I realized last night that I was lost to myself for some years–caught up in relationships that could not fulfill me. And though I mourn the loss of all that time, I refuse to go back there. I refuse to lose any more of my time or myself. I resolve to grow, to know and love myself better and better. To do everything in my power to create the life that I want for myself.

And I am contented with that.”

Inner Workings, On A Plane

Friday, May 27th, 2011

(airplane: SLC to CDG)

A loss of interest in food and eating has arisen in me again. It all seems like so much effort. This is just over the past few days, but already I can tell it’s going to stick.

I wonder if anyone out there has ever kept a diary/journal without once hoping that it would be published, if only posthumously. I know it’s not the ONLY reason I keep one–it is helpful, or at least interesting, to look back over what I’ve written (educational)–but of course I also think that my words are fit for print. That my inner workings are universally fascinating. Or should be.

I need to write more. Haven’t written in [my journal] in any REAL sense for almost two months, and it was a month before that.

That’s okay, though. I’ve been absorbing myself in books, soaking up pages and pages of other people’s lives, and just waiting. And I’m okay with that, suddenly okay with LOTS of things. Like not packing a favorite cardigan for a month in France (or any pads), not writing in my journal very often, not having finished “setting up” my apartment. It’s all okay. I do what I can.

Bigger things, too: minimal plans for the future, minimal funds for four weeks in Europe. Overlapping loves…

And a new love, for myself, that crept in so slowly–first leniency, then acceptance, and now something tending towards nurturing (if you can believe it!). Kevin would be so proud. I know I am.


Monday, January 3rd, 2011

(Dad’s House – Pleasant View, UT)

“Lately, my first thought upon waking is that I do NOT want to be awake. Or alive. I’m flooded with anxiety, regret, and disappointment at having returned to consciousness.

Doesn’t bode well, does it? This, of course, is why I’ve chosen to seclude myself in Pleasant View, my own little suburban Walden. Bright, expansive wintry days to read, write, run, play viola, bake, and see if I can put myself back together–assemble the rough pieces into some sort of coherent whole. Stop hating myself. Stop hurting myself.

That’s the plan, at least.”


Dream Catharsis

Dreamed early this morning that I tried talking to bring up what we were going to do about _____ at band practice, and I made my points, just like I’ve rehearsed, but to no avail. I got angrier and angrier, until I blew–quit the band and ran, just like that (real) day walking home with Kevin, the feeling of my legs growing more and more tired, heavy, but not wanting to stop.

In the dream, I was running past the palace and cathedral on the west side of Madrid, people everywhere, a sunny winter’s day. My friends chased after me, and when I fell to the ground, my face on the grass, exhausted, Chi brought his head down near mine and whispered kind words, kissing me gently.

I woke up confused.