Friday, November 30, 2012


Traditions exist for a reason. Embedded deep within our individual psyche, traditions represent fond memories and actions we sometimes subconsciously treasure. They're often not practical, necessary, or outwardly significant, but there's a beauty to living by age-old customs; actions you know have been practiced for generations before you. Nostalgia is a magical and powerful thing.

Thanksgiving in Sacramento was different this year. New faces, new dishes, a new rhythm to the melody of the day. The pilgrim books weren't out on the coffee table and the string of leaves wasn't hanging in its usual place. The tablecloth covered in acorns and vibrantly colored leaves was missing and Keith Green didn't play. And yet, the box of my Johnson Brother's china emerged from the closet shadows and instantly sparked memories of cheerful preparations around a massive roasted turkey. The set had belonged to my mother who collected and protected them; I can't remember a Thanksgiving without those fragile plates and saucers. Sara got out her set of silver utensils that, again, used to belong to mom. We carefully set them according to table etiquette learned during our days as waitresses; knives protecting forks and spoons tucked just under the edge. Little by little, the Thanksgiving tables were transformed into the magnificent centerpieces of our childhood. Nostalgia is a magical and powerful thing.

Christmas this year is going to be very different as well. Come mid-December the Sacramento house will be strung with lights and a stately tree placed in the massive window beneath a star of gold. There will be a fireplace and mistletoe, eggnog and good old Bing Crosby singing on the radio. And while I'll be there for the pre-day festivities, on Christmas day I'll be with a different family far away from chilly Sacramento. It's going to be wonderful and I find myself thinking about December 20th on a daily basis...oftentimes hourly basis. I can't wait for my man to be home and I can't wait to be with him. And yet, my family will be hundreds of miles away and I'll be far from their hugs and laughter. In an effort to remain as close to Farrell traditions as possible, there is a tall douglas fir standing in my dorm's livingroom as we speak. It's full and straight with no gaping holes or strangely colored branches. Twinkling white lights sparkle off the fifty holiday ornaments we found at CVS for $10. There are paper snowflakes all around the room. The house smells like Christmas, and if I close my eyes, I'm our wide open livingroom bathed in wintery sunlight, listening to the cat play with the low-hanging branches. I'm there, with siblings goofing around, Mom humming "Mary Did You Know", and Dad making chicken soup in the kitchen. The aroma is deliciously overwhelming, full of spices and  simmering vegetables. The memories are beautiful; achingly beautiful. It's a life that no longer exists, but one we all try to recreate in our small little ways. For me, it's the tree. Nostalgia is a magical and powerful thing. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Through the Loopholes

The careful balance between writing on what is academically interesting and relevant to the intellectual world, versus what the sleepy grad-student wanting an easy checklist paper is looking for.  There's a bigger picture this paper fits nicely into, but doing so might lower my grade. Ironic.

Can't wait for grad school. Though...I could see this happening there too. Dissertation committees are biased too.

Can't wait for the real world. I'll just write a book. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I fall in love regularly,
with each person whom
passes me in the streets,
or who sits beside me on the bus.
Not in the romantic way;
No, we hardly even speak
a word to each other.
But I sit, quietly observing
all of their body language and all of their expressions.
Their smiles and gestures;
the way they lift their coffee,
or smile as they read
that new text message,
or count the change in their hands.
I watch vigilantly, tracking
the manners and movements,
and appreciating all that
these people are.
I spend some time thinking about
their families and lives,
and the life they lead.
I consider what they might do
for work, and what they
went to school for.
When they woke up that morning, and
how they did their hair.
I study the details of these people,
that may otherwise go unnoticed.
Researching each of them,
noting our similarities, and
rejoicing in
the beauty of human nature.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Life's Little Pleasures

Singing at the top your lungs when you're alone in the car

Months with three paydays

Lying in bed with freshly-washed sheets

Having the exact change to pay for something


Sticking a leg out from underneath the blanket and feeling just right

That first intense body stretch after waking up

The smell of bacon. The taste of bacon. Everything about bacon

Cuddling and getting wrapped inside someone's arms when it's freezing cold

Spontaneous adventures

Baby laughs

Waking up, checking the clock and seeing you have plenty of sleep time left

Driving over little hills and getting the mini roller-coaster feeling

Finding money you didn't know you had in your pocket

Catching a song you love on the radio just as it starts

Lying in bed after an exhausting day and feeling every muscle relax

Asking a question on Google and seeing it finish your words, meaning there are others out there wondering the same thing as you

Late night conversations with a glass of wine

Having a brother come visit in 13 hours

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sin Nombre

“Nobody can claim the name of Pedro,
nobody is Rosa or María,
all of us are dust or sand,
all of us are rain under rain.
They have spoken to me of Venezuelas,
of Chiles and Paraguays;
I have no idea what they are saying.
I know only the skin of the earth
and I know it has no name.” 
― Pablo Neruda 

Monday, November 5, 2012

"Then I speak to her in a language she has never heard, I speak to her in Spanish, in the tongue of the long, crepuscular verses of Díaz Casanueva; in that language in which Joaquín Edwards preaches nationalism. My discourse is profound; I speak with eloquence and seduction; my words, more than from me, issue from the warm nights, from the many solitary nights on the Red Sea, and when the tiny dancer puts her arm around my neck, I understand that she understands. Magnificent language!"
- Pablo Neruda

Can't get enough of him. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pauma Farm

The morning was warm and bright sunshine brought freckles to my cheeks as I sunk my pitchfork into the steaming mound. Dirt flew as others around me hurled shovelfuls of compost into the trailer below us. Seven of us bent into our work and with each shovelful, the air turned to a fine mist of brown earth, straw, and colorful pieces of plastic. Our arms and faces were covered in glistening dust. Girls don't sweat, we glisten.  And with our glistening muscles, plus some really strong guys, we managed to hurl and move over a ton of compost today. I feel like a garden warrior.

A sore garden warrior. 

We were back at the Pauma Valley IRC farm today - this time as a club. Joe and I have worked on the farm with fellow volunteers a couple times and it's magical to see the changes in less than a year. The 20 acres that, only months ago, were overgrown with weeds and thistles and from which we yanked hundreds of feet of drip tape are now green with foreign agriculture. Refugees in bright colored skirts sing softly to themselves as they tend to harvests that didn't exist earlier this year. There's a massive compost bin in the far field...that we built. And today we hauled contaminated compost out of the farm and raised the roof on a 24-foot wash-station for the refugees to clean their harvested veggies and hands. It's hard, strenuous, beautiful work. The kind of work you can look around and see the difference. The hums of the Somali and Burmese refugees floated along the breeze and a crow hopped noisily along the weedy path. My blood and sweat is literally invested in this farm, and while I've only been able to work there a few times, I feel like it's something I'm intimately connected to. I love being there, surrounded by tall mountains, dried brush, green crops and accented song. I love waving to new friends and working alongside them as we struggle in the heat. It's hard, but like most difficult things, it's rewarding and humbling. 

I really hope we can get back there sooner than later.