Where the Heart Isn’t

My writing desk vibrates with the hum of Florence + the Machine, the echoes of her voice as it thralls and throws the air, a soft vibrato all the way to my fingertips, my toes.

My toes sit soft at the ends of my shoes, slightly sweetened by sweat and the long walk across campus I made today–twice–beneath the blistering North Carolinian sun.

My right shoe is pressed flat against the floor of the faded maroon carpeting of my new campus apartment, only the ball of my left foot hitting the floor, my heel raised as I lean forward, poised for creativity, ready for my words to rewrite the world.

I’d say it feels like home, but it doesn’t. It isn’t.

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Failure and Reprieve

This post has been in progress for more than two weeks. The title and idea came about even further back than that. It’s hard to trace the timeline of something ethereal: does it come into existence when the audience sees it, or when the idea is conceived?

Trifling nonsense aside, this has been a trying semester–for a myriad of reasons, perhaps my hardest yet–and words have at last come to challenge me. They stick to my tongue like tar and won’t say what I mean to say–or I don’t want to say what I really mean.

It’s like Alice all over again, but then, wasn’t that what I wanted to be? The mathematician-turned-writer-does-both like Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll himself? A moot point. A tangent. A space without definition, to be called “obvious” and “left for the reader to prove.”

What I mean to say is I’m exhausted. Mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. I need recovery. This is perhaps the closest I’ll get.

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Around the Block

Plans are made to be broken and clichés are meant to be forgotten, but when the sun rises, even if the blade is blunt, it hurts all the same. I’m making no sense, and doesn’t that leave me without change?

Cut the homonyms, they don’t work as well in writing.

Where to begin? It’s been an adventure–and every step unexpected.

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2014 Goalkeeping #2

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in on my goals this year–but mostly that’s because I’ve been keeping to them well and I haven’t had much to write about. Now that I’ve achieved a few of them and the summer is about to start, it seems fitting to look at them once more.

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The Heartache Addendum

It’s been a few days since I wrote last. On Wednesday I felt like an emotional wreck–a feeling that had been building up for days since parting ways with my boyfriend. But it wasn’t just emotions at play, you see, and when I realized what else was going on, things took a drastic change in direction.

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To Alaska

The time has come: In barely twelve hours I’m leaving for Alaska. Past connecting flights in Chicago and Seattle, I’ll leave the lower 48 and have the chance to serve in a culture completely different than what I’m used to.

A different language, a different lifestyle, and I’m so excited to serve them.

Unfortunately, online access will be limited and I won’t be able to post while I’m away. Instead I’ll be eating lunch with the children in school or having dinner at the senior center. I’ll be in classes to learn Tlingit and classes to help students in math and reading. And in the rare moments I’m not actively serving, I’ll be participating in team reflections, writing in my journal, taking pictures, and using poetry to capture my experience.

I've got my boots and I'm ready for the snow.

I’ve got my boots and I’m ready for the snow.

Most of these pictures, poems, and other writings will be invisible to the world for a number of reasons that will prevent me from sharing them publicly–but I still want to share my experience privately with as many people as I can. I’m still fundraising for my trip, and anyone who donates at least $10 will receive a journal of reflections, photographs, and especially poetry from my service trip in Alaska. For those interested in experiencing my 2013 service trip, a $20 donation will also include my Belize adventure book.

My fundraiser ends on March 7, so please be sure to donate today if you can.

Thank you for all of your help and especially your readership!

Darren

Sexy

Sometimes I lie.

I was walking across campus–I leave for Alaska in 36 hours, and with advising, doctor’s appointments, and laundry to do, I know precisely where all my time must go–when I was approached by a woman handing out flyers for an event tonight.

“Have you heard about the Sexperiment?” she asked.

“No,” I said. “Could you tell me more about it?”

Except I had heard about it.

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Throwing Eggs on the Floor

Part of N.C. State’s motto is being globally engaged but locally responsive. For most students this probably remains an abstract concept, fuzzy words that don’t mean much from one day to the next, but for those in the Alternative Service Break program, it’s engrained in every trip: Not only do we have a service project in diverse parts of the world, both domestically and abroad, we also have a service project in our local community.

Last year, before my team went to Belize to build a drying rack with cacao farmers, we spent one weekend helping rebuild a house with Habitat for Humanity. The work with hammers and nails was certainly invaluable experience to get us started.

This year’s service project no doubt has prepared me just the same for Alaska.

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Sharing the Love of Learning

It’s no secret I love learning, but if you press me to share the most memorable moments that made learning come alive, each of them would share a common theme: a teacher who inspired me. My favorite Hebrew school teachers were understanding and compassionate, sharing stories of living in Israel and talking to us in Hebrew. My favorite math teachers humanized abstract concepts and spoke to us as equals, helping us not only to learn, but to love. My political science teachers have made dull topics exciting by impersonating polar bears flopping around on the ice or breaking the tension with a sarcastic comment that leads the class into laughter; writing teachers have given encouragement, honest feedback, and shown an intimate interest in helping me to grow.

It is no small task, the work and effort I’ve put into my education at every level–from my earliest memories of being homeschooled through today–but if not for the passion my teachers showed me, all of this would have meant nothing.

So wouldn’t it be amazing, if only for a few days, I could inspire others as much as my teachers have inspired me?

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Heartless

He was drunk. At least I think he was. I heard the can clink against the grey metal box on a pole I had never noticed before while I was still across the street. I had just finished rehearsing my performance for tomorrow night–a six-minute splathering of emotions into air–and here he was, clinging to his beverage can–I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he wasn’t drinking–just to keep his balance.

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