Saturday, October 24, 2009

History & Culture 101 - Stonehenge, Stourhead and Bath

". . . Have you ever noticed that there are people who do things which are most indelicate, and yet at the same time--beautiful?" - A Room With a View E. M. Forster

I wish this post could just be written the way the day was felt. I hardly know how to begin, but I’ll try.

Stonehenge. I’m probably exaggerating when I say my Dad’s been making semi-random mentions and references to Stonehenge since I could comprehend, but that’s how I perceive it, and therefore that is my truth. Like puppies. (You pick your favorite.—Name that TV show.) I sent my Dad a postcard, that’s how great Stonehenge was. I actually licked a stamp, since they don’t believe in sticker-stamps in this country (almost as dumb as separate hot and cold faucets) and put it on a postcard and sent it. Hardship. But it was worth it, because I Was there and he was all I could think about.

You see, although I’ve wanted to see Stonehenge since I could remember, I needed no help to strangle that desire with doubt—I don’t think I really believed I’d ever get to see Stonehenge. And now that I have, that doubt is entirely irrelevant. I love irrelevating doubt. I think I may spend the rest of my life doing it.

I wasn’t disappointed at all. Although I wish I could have touched it and walked through it—to date it would have been the oldest thing I’ve touched (if I could’ve)—because I’m not sure I could have found anything older. (Does anyone else have that insatiable desire to touch old things? You don’t have to answer that question.) But I’m content merely having been there.

My professor, Dr. Paxman, has spoken to us a couple of times about internalizing the information we receive and the places we go. He mentioned that sometimes people go places merely to check it off their list of things to do before they die. Honestly—although I love lists—Stonehenge was and is far too important to merely check it off my list. It’s been checked, don’t get me wrong, but he asked us what type of pilgrimage we were doing—one for show, or one for spiritual and intellectual development. I guess I don’t know the answer to that. It’s that Stonehenge is so old. It’s that Stonehenge proves men haven’t changed one bit. Sure, God is the best architect there is, but men get pretty close. That’s not to say Stonehenge is the most beautiful building or monument I’ve ever seen, but that need to build, that need to say something is a human trait I’ve always admired.

There’s an interesting idea, because after Stonehenge we drove to Stourhead. (Those are the gardens filmed in the newer Pride and Prejudice when Darcy proposes to Elizabeth; incidentally, the little temple where he proposed was closed for cleaning and repairs. You told me, Lindsey, you told me.) I said that the whole idea of God being the best architect and yet men coming close was interesting because the plot of land bought by Henry Hore in 1717 was transfigured into an “idealized” garden to be more of an ‘artful wilderness.’ In other words, the whole area is meant to look untouched, while all the while it’s taken care of so that it looks perfect, with several vistas—those picture perfect spots.

Here’s a few examples.

It sounds a little awkward, maybe a little like you’re being tricked into appreciating nature—but once you’re there none of that matters. It’s beautiful. The colors are vibrant, the water looks clean, the little temples in the background are picturesque, and you realize that God must not mind getting a little help getting the gardening done—not when it can create something so beautiful.

Last on the agenda for the day was Bath. I never wanted to go to Bath because I never really considered it as a possibility, but when I was told we were going I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. Bath—Bath. Where aristocracy used to go to on vacation, where the Roman Baths are, where people used to come to get well again. They thought the sulfur water could cure them of anything. I spent almost all my time in Bath at the Roman Baths, and walking around a small shopping area. I tried Ben’s Cookies for the first time (best cookie I’ve ever had, I think—except when Chocolate Krinkles are made perfectly), and went into Bath Abbey.

I will look back on the Roman Baths as one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. I still have a hard time getting my head around it. The only naturally occurring hot springs in Britain are in Bath. The Romans came to Bath in 43 AD, defeating the Dobunni tribe for the land. They immediately built the Baths there to model the baths at home in Italy, and did an incredible job of it. Along with the baths, they built an entire courtyard, a temple, an altar for sacrifices, and a staircase to the sacred spring that even the Dobunni used for worship.

I tell you this, because of the doorstep into the Sacred Spring. That doorstep had been crossed for worship so many times, it was worn away into a crescent shape. It wasn’t a mere polishing of the stone from feet rubbing across it—it was several inches of stone worn away by a constant crossing of the threshold. For some reason it just demonstrates such dedication and devotion to faith and worship—even if the worship was for the wrong reasons or to the wrong God. If they believed it, that says enough. We should be proud for our temples’ doorsteps to be so worn away.

The Baths are still lined with lead, just as they were during Roman times. The pipes from the hot springs still run into the baths. They found gemstones and roman coins at the bottom of the baths, either lost or sacrificed. They found curses etched into lead sacrificed to the Sacred Springs—asking for the death of whoever stole a pair of gloves, for the blindness of whoever stole a hood. Reminds us of why the Roman Empire fell, doesn’t it? But if I really think on it, the Romans probably left more good in this world than bad; a lot of idealism, and beauty, and sincerity. I’d rather have that.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Piece of Shakespeare

"I walk slowly, but I never walk backward." -Abraham Lincoln

My view of catching up has fallen flat, but I don’t want to leave you out of anything—not that you’d really know if I did. (But I’d know.)

3 October 2009

Stratford-Upon-Avon, where Shakespeare was born, probably where he grew up, where he was married, where his wife lived, where he came to during the theatre’s ‘off’ season, where he retired to, and where he died. Funny that a man whose work has made it across the world and through centuries should have lived mainly in only two cities: where he was born, and where he worked. It reminds me that you don’t have to go far to make a difference.

It’s hard to go back to the beginning of October because so much has happened since then, but I’ll certainly give it a try. The pictures help, so maybe I’ll start with those.

We drove into Stratford-Upon-Avon with a view of the river; the river made more beautiful by its name, no doubt. Avon really is a good name for a river. It still amazes me that a man who gave so much to literature and to theatre is such a mystery. There are lesser men who have volumes written about their lives—some of which they wrote themselves—but Shakespeare, nothing. Sure we know enough: that he was born in Stratford, and that he worked in London, but we don’t know how he met Anne, or why in her mid-twenties she was interested in an 18-year-old boy. We don’t know anything about what Shakespeare did from 21 to 28 years old, and we don’t know how he felt about his family, who his friends really were, where he enjoyed eating on the weekends, or what his favorite thing was to do in the summer when he went home. It seems that it’d be easier not to glorify him so much if we knew what sort of a man he really was.

I’m sure if I were sitting across from myself, I’d play devil’s advocate and say that we can learn a lot about how he felt about the world, and the sorts of things he enjoyed by reading and viewing his plays. But as a person who writes, I know that my stories don’t always accurately depict what I personally believe. In fact, in many ways my writings depict the very things I don’t believe and in some twisted way reveal what I see as truth. But no one could really know. Even if I blatantly stated what I believed it probably wouldn’t be wholly accurate. And in saying that, that’s probably why it doesn’t matter that we don’t know much about Shakespeare and that Stratford-Upon-Avon is really enough.

We went to Mary Arden’s house first, which was interesting, but unhelpful since the most interesting parts of it were what I imagined in my head. Mary Arden was Shakespeare’s mother, and we visited the property where she grew up. I imagine that her family lived there even after she was married and had children and that perhaps she brought her son William to visit her parents or siblings and that perhaps as a child he ran around the meadows and haystacks, and perhaps helped with the chores. Purely conjectures. I see now why sketchy pasts likes Shakespeare’s would be so inviting for film-makers.

I know this picture looks as if I’m rushing things, but I just liked the lining up of his life (minus the seven-year “lost years”).  CLICK ON IT.  Please.

First his birthplace: Here’s the problem—they tried to make it look as it MIGHT have looked when Shakespeare was born there: period furniture, bright drapery and colorful linens, toys, tools, wallpaper—the works. But to me, it looked like Disneyland. I’d have much preferred empty rooms; I’d have preferred reverence and contemplation. I couldn’t feel ‘Shakespeare was born here.’ Instead, I felt, ‘Shakespeare was born in a place like this.’ This mostly stems from the fact that I still feel like I’m visiting places LIKE the original, rather than THE original. But that’s just the problem—these places try too hard and instead of coming off as authentic, they come off as insincere. It was more impressive that Ralph Waldo Emerson might have stood where I stood while visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace. I feel more of Shakespeare at the decades-old Globe Theatre than at the centuries-old birthplace. A purist would probably murder me.

We walked past the grammar school where Shakespeare probably attended school: where he learned to read and spell, where he learned sentence syntax and punctuation, where he learned how to write, about poetry, and how to tell a story. I would trade my visit to the birthplace for anything, but I preferred walking just outside of the school.

Anne Hathaway’s cottage was quaint and pretty. I could imagine a woman there. Once again, I preferred imagining to the information they provided at the cottage—not so much about Anne, but about the people who lived in her cottage after her. I suppose people just desire to get as close as they can.

Shakespeare’s last house—the house where he died—was torn down, but they now have a park to commemorate Shakespeare’s death place, only yards from his birthplace. One doesn’t go too far in life, do they? No matter where you die, you were born on the same planet, just yards away. The world isn’t quite so big as we tend to think it. The more you see, the more you realize it’s closer together than you thought. Not that I’ve seen anything near what others have seen. But I’ve realized this in London: it’s such a big city, but as you visit places, you realize how it all connects, that each tube stop is closer to the last than you thought, that you can see St. Paul’s from a mile away, that if you can find just one street you recognize you’re going in the right direction, and that if you’re lucky one day the whole thing will just be a map in your head.

[End of tangent.]

Lastly we paid .50 pence to see Shakespeare’s Burial place. That was worth it because I saw something real: the small font where Shakespeare was baptized as a baby. It was off in the corner, practically worn away, but a piece of paper was posted in glass beside it and it read a list of names baptized, and one of them was William Shakespeare. They didn’t cover the font in garland or lights, they didn’t have giant neon signs pointing to it, it was just in the corner under a stained glass window beside the quire seats. Thank you for the sincerity. The part of real life; a real part of Shakespeare.

I got to touch it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chapter Houses and Shakespeare

“The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind. Many circumstances hath, and will arise, which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all Lovers of Mankind are affected, and in the Event of which, their Affections are interested.”—Thomas Paine in Common Sense (x)

I am determined to catch up. This determination will cost me a day, no doubt, but a day well spent.

2 October 2009

At Canterbury, and York Cathedrals, my favorite rooms were the Chapter Houses—little rooms off of the cloisters where monks would congregate to read a Chapter of the Bible every day. There were two main reasons I liked the room: first, for architectural reasons—at Canterbury, the room is rectangular and has several magnificent stained-glass windows,; in York the room is circular, and has better acoustics than could be recreated today—the Chapter House in York is also the largest without a center column to hold up the ceiling in all of England. Both had steps around the room where the monks could sit during the reading. But more than that, I loved the idea of the Chapter Houses: that every day the monks would gather together to read a Chapter of the Bible, perhaps discuss the meanings, perhaps contemplate the word of God. But, even if they didn’t discuss or contemplate, they did build a separate room simply for the use of reading God’s words.

Of course everything about Westminster Abbey was beautiful, but his Chapter House was slightly disappointing, seeing as it was my favorite room of both Canterbury and York Cathedrals. The entire place was utterly crammed with monuments, memorials, graves, flowers, people and history. My favorite thing there was the coronation chair. The coronation chair has been used for every coronation in England since 1305. It’s small—smaller than you’d imagine a chair used for the crowning of Kings and Queens to be, and it’s old. It’s less impressive than you’d think; there are names and words carved into the wood, nail marks in the back and seat of the chair from the fabrics nailed to the chair as decoration for coronations, and the wood is worn away at the armrests. But it’s gorgeous.

Also at Westminster Abbey is the tomb and shrine of Edward the Confessor, Elizabeth I, and Mary I. Then there’s Poet’s Corner—where Chaucer is buried— Lady’s Chapel—which has the most gorgeous quire and ceiling—and of course all the normal parts of a Cathedral, which makes it no less beautiful, the nave, quire, transepts etc.

Also that day I went to the National Gallery where I saw Van Gogh’s Sunflower Painting. I went there for a class fieldtrip, which I loved. Being able to see the paintings we’re studying is still something I can’t fully get over, and the National Gallery has such a large collection. But, I took a picture of the scene I saw my second day in London which was my first, ‘I’m in London’ experience—because I looked up and saw Big Ben off into the distance.

Lastly, the Globe—which deserves another mention. The Globe is my favorite place in London. I know that sounds like a presumptuous thing to say, since I’ve only been here a month, and have most certainly not seen everything there is to see, so I leave that statement open for possible change, but so far, the Globe is my favorite place in London. I’ve been inside four times, and have been to the productions, “As You Like It” (which I saw twice), “A New World,” and “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” I’d be going 12 more times if the season weren’t ending. My favorite of the three productions was undoubtedly “As You Like It” which I enjoyed much more the second time, when I paid £5 to stand in front of the stage, rather than £13 to sit way off to the side. The reason standing is better than sitting, is because you can see everything the actors do—their facial expressions, especially—and it makes Shakespeare come alive past all recognition. I swore I read As You Like It, but when I saw it on stage, it was just so much better.

A New World—written by Trevor Griffiths was about the life of Thomas Paine. I went because Thomas Paine is one of my favorite writers, and by far my favorite rhetorician. Griffiths paid America it’s dues by making the whole first half of the play about Paine’s time writing during the American Revolution, however, the entire play made more sense after the second half, when Paine moved back to Europe and wrote in England and France, pushing for revolution of authority and ideals in both places, like he had in America. The production was incredible. If I could have renamed the play, I think I’d have called it “The Revolutionist,” but I’m sure Griffiths had a reason for calling it “A New World.” My problem with that title was that it was slightly misleading, although I can think of a lot of deep reasons why it fits Paine’s life well.

There was one point in the play that hit me hardest. When the French Revolution was going rampant, and the use of the guillotine was in full swing, Paine was avidly preaching against the chaos and bloodshed going on at the time. Many of the revolutionists he’d been working with and writing for disagreed with Paine’s desires to do without the violence, and in a sense pushed him out of their circles. He’d just finished the first part of ‘Rights of Man’ when, because of a misunderstanding, Paine was found by revolutionists and thought to be against the revolution—he wasn’t the wearing the right hat, as I recall—and he was thrown in jail. He was in jail a long time, and the man in the position of ambassador for France from America did nothing to save Paine from his imprisonment (Paine and the current ambassador had disagreed about a lot of things during the American Revolution and didn’t get along). Without much hope, Paine continued writing the second part of ‘Rights of Man.’ Then one day he got a visit from a man who claimed to be the new ambassador of France from America—he said that the previous ambassador had left not a single note about Paine’s imprisonment, and that he’d only just found out. He promised to try to get Paine out of jail, but before he left Paine made him promise to give the second part of ‘Rights of Man’ to a friend to publish. On the ambassador’s second visit to Paine, he told him he was still working on his release, but first he pulled a small book out of his bag and put it in Paine’s hands, “American.” Paine looks up at him, realizing it’s been published, but then the ambassador sinks his hand into his bag again and pulls out another small book, “English,” he says. Then again, pulling out another small book, “French.”

It’s just that Paine’s been sitting in this dark, damp jail cell for months and months, without the knowledge of whether or not his writing was published, and not only has it been published, but published in three separate countries. The whole theatre was silent.

I walked home from the Globe with a new appreciation for Thomas Paine—the writer I’d already admired.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

DAY FIVE: Liverpool and Derbyshire

“There are only four people who knew what the Beatles were about anyway.” –Paul McCartney

This post is specifically for Rachel and Lindsey. Let’s start with the pictures this time, shall we?

The Beatles Story Museum. It’s unfair to start there, because the real reason we went to Liverpool was to see the docks where thousands of British converts to the church left the UK for Louisiana, up the Mississippi, across on the Missouri and then across the West to Utah.

The Albert Docks were peaceful and it was interesting to stand where so many people had stood before—preparing to cross the Atlantic. The Albert Docks are only a fraction of the size they used to be, but they’re still pretty impressive.

Now, Rachel—the Beatles Museum. You’d love this place—the Museum took you through their entire story, with the beginning of Lennon as a member of The Quarrymen, when Paul and George first met, and included a lot of the very same instruments that they used as teenagers. I have pictures for you later, but they’re not great pictures because of glass casings. None-the-less, you’ll want to see them. Then it brought you through to the first time the group (without Ringo—he comes later) went to Germany—their name changed several times before they finally decided on The Beatles. I took a picture of ‘the Cavern’ they recreated where the Beatles played often before their record labels and traveling began. Of course it takes you through Ringo’s joining of the band, their first visit to America—footage was playing of them getting off the plane, and going into their Hotel, they were so young and they looked terrified, which was interesting to see—through their ‘glory years,’ their ‘weird years’ and their breakup.

At the end of the exhibit were these:

I took this picture for you, Rachel. His “specs” are worth ONE MILLION POUNDS. At the moment, that’s the equivalent of almost 1.6 million dollars! And the only thing between me and the specs was a lousy piece of plexi-glass.

It was so fun. They did a great job of bringing you through the life of the band and a lot of the different things the different members were going through.

If I could chose to go back to one place I went in the North for an extended amount of time, I’d chose Liverpool. There was a weird and intriguing vibe about the city that I just wanted to explore.

Back on the bus for several hours—we watched the BBC Miniseries “North & South” which was incredible. I want it. The end. We stopped one last time during our trip up north: In Derbyshire. Lindsey, this one’s for you. (I have no clue if you’ve been, so if you haven’t—then enjoy!)

Yes, Pemberley. Except the house is really called Chatsworth. We got to go inside and see some of the rooms, then walk around in the garden. My favorite part was the sculptures room—seeing the sculptures in real life was just incredible after seeing them on the film. Absolutely beautiful.

Finally finished with the trip up North!  We can look forward to more of LONDON!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

DAY FOUR: Preston and Chorley

"It snows in the South, but people are just smart enough to stay inside."--American South History Professor (Winter Semester 2009)

All of September fell on us today. Now I know what it feels like to traipse through Kent for 9 miles in the rain. It had to happen, since September merely sprinkled, and October certainly got its revenge. My socks were so wet I could wring them out. Was it worth it?: Yes. I had my first truly packed tube experience, with mean glares being shot at all of us crammed girls as we fell over every time the tube stopped. I learned that I’m terrified of the possibility of slipping down steep, slippery hills. I confirmed that no matter how high your spirits, damp socks always brings them down. I tried Ginger Beer with .05% alcohol in it, and it burned down my throat; the closest I’ll ever get to drinking an alcoholic beverage while on earth. And now, just thinking about the entire walk, I’m so glad I did it.

For the most part, I forgot to take pictures. This really doesn’t bother me, but pictures are necessary for my blog entries if they’re to count for class. So here you are:

 Now, steadily onward with the North.

24 September 2009.

“It’s very possible I’ve been to the place where my first ancestor to cross the Atlantic to the New World grew up. What better place to find it out than at the Preston Temple? I’ve always wanted to go to the Isle of Man—always—merely to be where Standish grew up and was born. I can’t explain why. Maybe because he gives me courage that none of the world is quite so scary as the prospect of never having left home. The New World was the equivalent of what many seemingly far-off countries are today and if it weren’t for him—just one of many, but on the whole, a representative of that whole—I might not have been an American, or a believer of my particular faith. God has everything in mind, doesn’t he? And there are pieces of Standish that followed his family straight to my family, even if I don’t know what they are. With Standish’s emigration to the Americas there is a bloodline of my family that has lived in America for about 370 years—almost as long as any English man could have been in America—and so I can no longer call myself of British or English descent even in blood, because I am American. More in heart, probably, than anything else.

“The Preston temple is beautiful, but I still have yet to find a temple that really gets me. Probably an uncomfortable and unfortunate (and rare) side effect of being exposed to so many beautiful things in my life time, temples included. I think temples are beautiful, of course, but I never seem to have the same intense admiration for their beauty as others. I do wish to find one that I simply cannot get over seeing. This temple may come the closest. What I love most are the lily pads on the ponds in front of the temple and the inscription near the top that reads ‘Holiness to the Lord.’ I know most temples, if not all, have that inscription, but it’s what I love about them all. And I love the placement on this one—on the steeple, right in the middle. It’s what we do, like the Catholics and the Anglicans and the Indus and the Sihks, to dedicate our most beautiful works to God, a way of saying: ‘We give up these riches, pour them into the creation of a beautiful place to worship, to see, to stand as a beacon of our love for God.’

“Undoubtedly, being here is peaceful—that is alike with nearly all temples—one place I really never mind being alone.

“After Preston today, I felt I couldn’t really connect. I don’t know a whole lot about my British/Mormon ancestry during the 1830s and 40s—my Mom would say I don’t know enough about my ancestry at all!—and so I didn’t feel like anything I saw pertained to me. I thought seeing the River Ribble where the first baptisms of the church in Britain were held was incredible, I loved walking around the town where apostles walked, and I loved going to the little towns in the Ribble Valley where the missionaries taught. The problem was as much as I loved those things, I was far more disturbed that Preston seemed to have demolished a good three-fourths of its history. ‘Such and such was here, but it’s been torn down.’ ‘Such and such was here, oh, but that’s been torn down too.’ I know it’s for the better of the modern city, but it’s worse for those of us who want to see and touch history as it was. I just felt so disconnected from Mormon culture and the enjoyment of Mormon stories and communities.

“I know Miles Standish wasn’t Mormon, but it seems now that finding out he may have been from Chorley, rather than the Isle of Man gave me the link I deemed necessary to make this trip personal and insightful. God has everything in mind, doesn’t he?”

(Click on the picture to load the correct size version--and to read the text.)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

DAY THREE: Dove Cottage and Waterfall Hike in Ambleside

Poetry: “A way of remembering what it would impoverish us to forget.” –Robert Frost

23 September 2009

I am SO behind. It seems like everything has been backed up by two or three weeks. Time just goes by too quickly and there’s never enough time for anything. It seems I spend half of my life waiting for internet to work, and the other half doing homework although that’s an unfair estimation since I only have classes twice a week, so in the grand scheme of things, I’m most certainly out at least two to three times a week. Things are beginning to pile up, though—just like in Provo. It seems that unless you’re a slave to your school work, it piles up no matter what you do.

Day three up North was spent in the Lake District in a town called Ambleside. Our first stop was at Dove Cottage—where Wordsworth lived during his most successful years as a poet. Dove Cottage was built initially as a pub on the main North and South route through Ambleside, and looked out onto the Lake. It was named the ‘Dove and Olive Bough Pub.’ Some of the floors in the cottage are the same floors set down for the pub—easy to distinguish since the floors are smooth stone—easy for cleaning up beer spills. There’s also a little room that the Wordsworth’s used as a refrigerator that in its ‘pub days’ was a Beer store. Water runs underneath the stones to keep the room cool—and it works.

Wordsworth moved to the cottage in 1799 and initially lived with his sister. He decided to move there because he’d grown up in the Lake District with his family before his parents died and he and his sister were separated from each other.

My favorite part of the Dove Cottage was Wordsworth’s writing chair. He hated desks—he thought they were instruments of torture—so he sat on a chair that looked like a combination of a regular wooden dining room dinner chair and a corner stool. The room the writing chair was in was the most beautiful—the natural light streamed into the room through the window that would have once looked out onto the lake (since then, buildings have been built in front of the cottage). I can’t say I know Wordsworth’s work well, or that I know about his life, but I could imagine writing in that room: in that was my connection to him.

After Dove Cottage, Lisa, Sarah and I went on a little hike through Ambleside to this waterfall to do some sketches. The waterfall was defiantly beautiful, but I’ve realized that in all the time I used to spend drawing—I really hate sketching. I don’t know if I’m bad at it because I don’t work at it, or if I don’t work at it because I become so bored while sketching. I’d much prefer to sketch little architectural niches that I find interesting in Cathedrals or on streets than nature.

This brings to mind the month I spent at California College of the Arts taking printmaking and Illustration. I remember my Mom saying something about how she hated that since going there I never drew anymore. At the time I remember her saying something about how she thought I didn’t draw anymore because I thought everyone was so much better than I was, so I just gave it up. I’m sure that’s partially true, because it was more than disheartening to be such a poor artist, surrounded by all these people who loved and were incredible at painting, drawing, or etching. I thought that I loved art, and then it turned out I wasn’t very good. It probably didn’t help that I never received very good feedback in my Illustration class. Printmaking was another story—I loved printmaking and if I could take another printmaking class, I’m pretty sure I’d thoroughly enjoy it. BUT—enough. My point is, I remember sitting there spending all that time doing art for classes, and all I could think about was how badly I wanted to write. I wanted to write. I wanted to write. But instead, I had to sit there and work on an art assignment that I knew no one would find impressive or the least bit interesting. So maybe my Mom was right—but only partially.

Since then, I haven’t found anything I loved more than writing except movies. But, movies and writing can be done together and apart. But more than that, I’ve made a conscious decision that writing isn’t something I want to give up, even though I feel strained here—like I don’t have the freedom to write, and like it wouldn’t matter even if I did. I’m certain I’ll fall back into writing when I have more time, because I still feel the desire to write, I just don’t have the ability to do so—I don’t have the quiet, I don’t have the peace, I don’t have the light. I only hope that the things I’m seeing and experience will fill up my writing well, so to speak, and that I’ll be able to draw on those experiences later.