Thursday, October 14, 2010

autumnal beauty

Fall has begun. In the morning a thin feathery layer of frost spreads across my windows. My breath comes in cloudy puffs as I run. Crisp, bright air paints vivid spots of color on my cheeks. Beneath my feet, a rich crackling carpet has formed. Above my head, a heavenly dappled dome, the sun glows through leaves of gold and scarlet. And all about me, enfolding and caressing me, sweet warm, earthy air swirls in with the harvest.

Today fall was perfected into a day of warm, blissful beauty.

As my family biked up to a park near the river, my heart consigned me to driving to meet them - but as in all things it worked out for good and not evil, joy instead of sadness, and stillness amidst my busyness. 
As I drove through the canyon, along the river, and over the bridges the vivid blue sky reflected in the river created a watery pathway. Along its  rippling edges dark layers of rock build there way up to touch the sky and colorful trees cling to its cracks and creases, dotting it with bright splotches of crimson, chartreuse, and ocher.

As I step out of the car autumn fills my lungs, transporting me to hundred different places at once - I am flying into a giant pile of leaves, I smell that sweet bonfire and feel the apple cider clutched in my hands spreading it's warmth along my fingertips, I feel the slippery cool insides of a pumpkin entwined around my fingers. And as I make my way to the river, the rustling of furled brown leaves underfoot, reminds me once more that fall has indeed arrived. At the river's edge, thousands of minnows swirl in choreographed perfection and dropping leaves twirl and spin along with the eddies of the current. Is sit there, alternately losing myself in the in the landscape and the witty prose of my newest Jane Austen novel. As I glance up, as I have a million times already, the loveliness makes my heart swell and my mind turns to praise the Artist.

My family arrives and we settle down to a simple picnic, made delicious by the effort to reach it and the surrounding beauty. Afterwards my sister and I roll up in quilt, leaves tangle in our hair as we squirm and laugh. We grab our camera and snap pictures that send us into body-quaking spasms of laughter, slowly we settle down listening to music, swinging from giggles to reminiscence.

Slowly time moves on and my family makes there way back into town, I give them a head start giving myself a few more moments in my autumnal paradise. I lie on my back and think of little besides the clear azure sky stretched above me. Drifting between my books and daydreams I slowly pack up, lingering by the river for one last gleam of sunshine on the water and a glimpse of my dancing minnow friends. Happiness seeps through my being, joy awakening every sense.

We rendezvous downtown, strolling down the streets and wandering into the shop of choice for a resignedly jealous look at things I will never need and never afford. Slowly the scents of the surrounding restaurants coax our stomachs into suggesting dinner. We gather up our provisions and once more head to a park to soak up the last rays of sun filtering through the trees.

It was a day  heart-rending happiness - a thing of beauty.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

so this is 20

"You're twenty, do you feel any different?"


But, you see, I thought I would.

Age is a surprisingly fickle thing. I always expect so much out of a certain age, projecting myself forward into the years, imagining how grown-up, mature, and changed I will be. When I was 12 I thought of 18-year-old Breanna with such awe and respect, but when I was 18 I still looked up to that ever-teasing shadow of grown-up Breanna. I've been chasing her through the years. Now, my latest projection is that of a worldly-wise, elegant, svelte, poised 25 year-old Breanna. Shockingly I imagined that exact same vision for 16 year-old Breanna. Some things don't change through the years... and I am among them.

For 20 I had great ambitions of maturity, beauty, and charisma but instead what I find is this strange child. You see, twenty year-olds are not supposed to pounce on there almost-sleeping parents late at night. Twenty year-olds are not supposed to get into tickle wars with their Daddies.  They are not supposed to stick their tongues out at their little sisters. They are not supposed to laugh at bodily noises. They are not supposed to slide down the banisters of the state capital. Twenty year-olds are not supposed to be silly, goofy, awkward, or immature. And yet, somehow, I find that I - twenty year-old Breanna - am all of the above. And yet, somehow, I am strangely pleased with this Breanna. Strange child though I may be, I'm loving life.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I sit, suspended in a world of light.

The water around me casts blue light shadows,
From beneath, green light glows deep,
Where distant gold lights flicker in the sand.

Eyes closed tight, a crimson confusion swirls.
Love and fear.
Passion and angst.
Eyes wide open, the blue light envelops me:
Cooling and soothing, 
Hopeful and thoughtful. 

Layers of light in a color-full life.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Birds and a One-Inch Picture Frame

Life for me, a confused 20-year-old, at times feels like a massive rock I'm trying to push up an insurmountable mountain. I feel like that guy, Sisyphus maybe, in one of those Greek myths – sentenced to pushing a rock up a mountain, only to have it roll back again and again, a tragic tale of the futility of hard labor.
Lately, though, I have been trying to view the future not quite so bleakly...
After reading Anne Lamott's book, Bird by Bird, which was about writing and not at all, really, about life counseling, I've been trying to adopt a philosophy of life that reflects the way she chooses to write - by short assignments.

After a jaunt through the panicked day-dreams of a writer's blocked writer (which are shockingly similar to those of a confused 20-year-old), she says,

“I go back to trying to breathe, slowly and calmly, and I finally notice the one-inch picture frame that I put on my desk to remind me of short assignments... it reminds me that all I have to do is to write down as much as I can see through the one-inch picture frame. This is all I have to bite off for the time being... I also remember a story that I know I've told elsewhere but that over and over helps me to get a grip: thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at that time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
On the kitchen table of my mind I am surrounded by birds - unfinished stories, half-formed dreams, unexplored ideas, and shadowed visions of the future – and I am “immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead.” I am gazing at the tapestry of my life, so large that in my close proximity I cannot see the whole of it. Yet, despite it's epic proportions I somehow how, depressingly, still manage to spot the sections left to complete, the frayed ends of untwisted threads and it seems impossible to conquer. Overwhelmed, waves of panic and confusion roll over me, my mind goes into over-drive listing all the things yet to do, organizing them by importance, then reorganizing them by priority, then becoming bitterly disappointed with the realization that I do not in fact have a hundred hands to juggle this all. But, somehow, amidst all the crowding, clamoring thoughts a small voices speaks, miraculously getting through my muddled brain,

“Bird by bird... Through a one-inch picture frame,” it says.

“Impossible,” I retort.” Have you seen how many birds there are?”

“Bird by bird...”

“Hmph,” goes my schizophrenic, self-arguing subconscious.

Defeated but slightly relieved, I begin to breath. Calming down, I peak through my fingers, fingers that are bravely, though misguidedly, trying to separate me from reality. Gazing through the slits, I see once more my life-tapestry, huge and beautiful in its divinely ordered confusion. Standing right up close, my nose brushing the rough fabric, I resolve to look through my one-inch picture frame. I un-crick my neck from it's upward-gazing position and shift my focus to what is placed in front of me, a small, pretty pattern in need of completion. Slowly, reluctantly, I pick up the ends of the thread and begin to knot them together, hoping that somehow what I'm doing will make something of beauty and all the while reigning in my panicking upward- and outward-gazing mind. As I weave I remind myself that one small knot in my tapestry is one small part of the whole, and that in its mundane simplicity it is a thing of beauty and purpose. Over and over again I remind myself that for me to live is to take life one bird at a time, one line of life written with care and beauty in the smallest details, one thoughtfully constructed stanza of the poem that is my heart's journey.

Slowly I work and slowly, one inch at a time I push my rock over the mountain, realizing all the while that life isn't about reaching the top but finding beauty in the pushing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

changing faces

On the clothesline of my heart,

a hundred faces hang.

I fly  
the bold colors of 


They flap in the wind,

that gale of opinion.

Upon the Legion I gaze, 


Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Maybe it's a memory, maybe it's a childhood fantasy, maybe it's from that old Mary Kate and Ashley movie, It Takes Two, maybe it's a memory of a childhood fantasy from that old Mary Kate and Ashley movie. Whatever it is, wherever it's from, there is an image in my mind.

I have this image of me - a small child, bent head with hair in a riotous confusion of dark curls, the slightest pink tip of my tongue working itself back and forth between lips pursed in concentration, busy hands still dimpled and plump, lacking full dexterity, retaining the faint, yet visible echoes of babyhood. I sit, my short legs straddling a potter's wheel of epic proportions (in my child's perspective). I have cupped within my hands a whirling lump of silky, slippery clay. With fierce determination and visions of vases and beauteous bowls, I set out to find the fantastic form that is concealed within this mysterious mound. Each time, though, as I begin to apply, what I believe to be, the slightest amount of pressure, a clay geyser shoots up only to quickly flop and return to its previous globule form. Frustrated but as determined as ever I try yet again... and again... and again. But with the reliability of Old Faithful, I achieve nothing more than a clay fountain each time. With an exasperated huff I slump, wilting under defeat. I push an offending curl out of my eyes, smudge my face and give the even more offending lump of clay the stink eye. But from behind I feel another body settle next to mine and I hear a warm, reassuring voice whisper in my ear, "Try again."

"Huh uh." Even my child's brain can figure out the outcome. But once again that whisper comes, "Try it again, we'll do it together."

Weathered, practiced hands cup my own, enveloping mine, blurring and merging the lines of young and old. Slowly, slowly the wheel spins. Slowly, slowly we move our hands up and down. And slowly, slowly a form begins to emerge. Faster, faster I try to spin the wheel, eager to see the finished product. But gently, strongly the hands restrain and guide my own. "Patience, patience little one," says the voice once more, "in time we'll see."

I feel my life taking shape under the Master's hands.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

a facebook-status life

This afternoon I was asked how my week went - a simple, nonthreatening question - but for a panic-stricken moment I was transported into my own brain: a dusky, dusty library. While there, I began urgently rifling around in a catalog full of neatly and efficiently categorized memories. In that catalog there is a small section entitled "Short-term Memories," as I flipped hastily through the pages, small, random clippings fluttered, revealing memorable moments in the not-so-distant-past, but there, in Section 8 pages 22 through 28... nothing. Not a single jot, not a single lazily scrawled thought or roughly sketched image - a stark white blank page of un-extraordinariness...

Often I have caught myself  enviously scrolling through the status updates of my friends on Facebook, jealously coveting there status-worthy lives. Given, this is not a regular occurrence. In everyone's life there will always be the mundane, trivial blurbs that no one really cares about but there are a few, privileged people who seem to live lives just made for a Facebook status; their updates are peppered with brilliant flashes of poignancy, pleasure-filled moments of joy, profound thoughts on profound experiences. Filled with dissatisfaction at the blank space after my name that is my life, I find myself walking through my life cultivating vignettes, specially crafted to dab color on an otherwise gray canvas. In part this is a helpful way to engage with the passing hours of my life, but also in part this is a sadly pathetic indicator of the tenor of my life.

... Recalled to the present, I guiltily stammered through a vaguely strung together reply. But the ugly truth stood out with the nakedness of those empty pages - I had lived a week of my life and could remember a wasteful nothing. And in my world living life means daily updating my Facebook status and living a meaningful life means being able to follow that update with 3-7 exclamation points.