my heart won't stay entirely in this ribcaging

take it from me

hello, world
i'm in a poetry class (second semester senior year, what what) and this is the first week that we haven't had constraints on what we write about. so here's what i have written so far...please tell me which one you think i should bring into class to workshop :)


when maps were an experiment
they used to write “where there be dragons”
in the margins, unforeseen continents and unsailed oceans.
today it’s all spelled out, across coasts and capitals and river deltas.
yet i see the sharp point of Baja California
spit itself out into the Pacific
and wonder.

the space from you to me is full of dragons.
unbidden, carried with me as i walk
throughout my day.

what i cannot say – the gap between us – hovers, winged, illusive.
i would never put us together in a picture frame in my mind
floating in between dreams
so why is it that you unhinge me?
you have class.


on some days i carry you with me lightly
stepping between puddles, a smile
for that old man shoveling the path
who knows my name.

on some days your smile tucks itself
in the wispy hairs at the nape of my neck
from where you kissed me
before you left for work.

today you clung to me for hours
tucked inside the plaid cotton of my shirt
whispering, a constant distraction.

you, are loud.
you talk a lot – more than me, and we both know
that’s saying something.
your voice reverberates around corner hallways,
doesn’t dance, but chases.
you don’t walk gracefully, no careful placement
of scuffed leather on the pavement.
the laces are untied (though mine are double-knotted)
and we walk for blocks
before you notice.
i’d like to think it’s because you were looking at me.
i think you’re scared of eye contact.
avoiding the intimacy of a prolonged stare,
slinging a joke, a sarcastic remark, anything.
you don’t intimidate me,
and i would never put us together in picture frames in my mind
so why is it, then,
that you unhinge me?
for every quick comment
the slow trail of your finger
charms my collarbone
the brush of your breath, delightful,
fans the wisps at the nape of my neck.
i’m not cold, but i shiver
and for once, we are quiet

so, it's been a while.

There is something altogether SOFT and RIGHT
In the combination – the certainty – of butter, sugar, and eggs.

Knead, press, knead. Break up the butter, smear it with your thumb and forefinger
and feel it slip back into the bowl.

When you combine ingredients, they bake well.
When you follow the rules: cake, pie, tart, crumble.

She was used to that: baking, at sea-level, with the swell of the ocean
and the corresponding rounded tops of her cupcakes. Beautiful.

At eight thousand feet, instead of squirrels, there are marmots.
Instead of seagulls, hawks.

The pies fell flat on their pretty dimpled cheeks before they left the oven.

Stop! She said, glaring at them. Can’t you see it’s just the same?
She reached for the butter, rhythmic pouring of flours and sugars.
Began again.

Grasping instead of kneading, the dough fell apart, sticking to her cuticles and creeping under her fingernails, ugly.

Standing in her kitchen, she began to cry.

hi there...
...i'm back! at least for a little while, since i won't be updating my study abroad blog while i'm home.

i wrote this on the plane last night, and i think it comes across as more angsty than it should, but whatever.

What am I going to do with my life? What's too big or too small? Should I stay on the East Coast? Move to a new place? Go to law school? Become a journalist? Try to get a job with Obama 2012? Pretend my life is a real version of The West Wing? Get married? Join AmeriCorps or even Peace Corps? Travel? Live at home? Sell out to the big firms and make six figures in my mid-20s? Or go into public defense and make under $40,000 for my entire career? When will I get a kitty? How long will I have my family around? What will happen to high school and college friendships? Who knows best? Where is the door to power? How can I compete with men in the professional world, AND WIN, without becoming a cold-hearted bitch? Will I always be a romantic? How do I know if and when he's the one? What will America look like when I'm 30? Who will I lose? What will find me? When will clarity arrive, and will I know it when I see it? How can I make something important happen? Am I an adult? What does it take to change someone's mind, on a big scale?

I want to find out.
I'm back until Jan 7th. Call me :)

New Blog!
New blog for my year abroad! Everyone should go there and become a follower by clicking on the link on the right hand side!
This will be the best way to hear about Oxford, if you're interested.

xoxoxo C

go on, go on, leave me breathless
August 7, 2009...????????
When did this happen? Didn't I leave Tufts on May 7? I could have sworn that was three months ago. And in two months, it'll be October 7, and I will have been in England for 4 days. Whoa.

Okay, so I've been super lame about updating my journal. Like, WHOA. But here's a little taste of what my summer was like.
I worked at a small, bi-partisan think tank in the Dupont Circle area of DC called The Constitution Project. The organization has a small staff--7 full time, plus interns--and maintains 7 active committees, made up of prominent legal thinkers and former politicians from around the country. We seek to resolve complex constitutional and legal issues through consensus solutions. And all the "bi-partisan" language isn't just talk: for example, the Death Penalty Committee has former prosecutors and conservative Congressmen who support capital punishment wholeheartedly, and also includes strong advocates of LWOP (life without parole) instead of the death penalty. The other committees include Sentencing, Liberty and Security, and Courts.

I had no idea that I was going to learn so much INFORMATION this summer. In the first few weeks, I didn't even know enough to know what questions to ask. I felt completely out of my league, over my head, and out of the loop. But I persevered, and listened a lot, and took to reading political web sites and blogs during my lunch break, and going to events which might not have been at the top of my list...but I learned.

For the first two weeks, I didn't get to DO much. Mostly researching contacts online, updating spreadsheets, reading some of our reports. I was just beginning to worry that my bosses didn't trust me with "real" assignments. Then our Senior Counsel called me into her office, and I got my first real writing task. A daunting one, considering the topic, and my lack of background knowledge. I worked on it for almost a month--crazy, especially when you consider that the overall word count is maybe 700 words--and after edits by 5 different people, it was published on DailyKos, a political blog-website. You can read it here, if you're so inclined. I would say that about 75% of it is my writing; 25% is my bosses'. I'm okay with that!!!

What else? I did some cool stuff this summer. (Stuff is such a GREAT word...) I cooked, and baked, a LOT. If you're really nice to me I might invite you to the fancy dinner party I'm planning back in Seattle. Highlights from the summer include: carmelized cauliflower, chocolate-covered coconut macarooons, 4 kinds of banana bread, balsamic barbeque chicken, and french-style yogurt cake with lemon glaze.

I also went bowling at the White House. More specifically, in the EEOB, which is NEXT to the White House. Super cool. Went on a tour of the White House. Pentagon, too. Met people who have interviewed KSM at Guantanamo, managed U.S. operations in Iraq, met weekly with Hillary Clinton as the State Dept's Acting IG, and Justice Brennan's sole autobiographer.

I asked questions all summer. I went to the grounds of a deserted mental hospital in one of DC's worst neighborhoods to meet with a Public Defender (PD) and get insight about her career path. I hobnobbed at parties and accepted glasses of wine when they were offered. I went to a luncheon and shook hands with a man who had been on Death Row for over a decade. He was exonerated and is rebuilding his life. I asked all of the intelligent, motivated people I met what they loved about their jobs, and what they wished was different. I asked about law schools. I tried to glean what kinds of people get into what kinds of careers, and who succeeds. 

And after so much learning, and so much NEW--god, I feel like someone took the blinders off me and I can SEE--I think I know what I want. It will have to wait (duh), since for almost anything I think I will pursue professionally, a law degree is necessary. So, law school first. But afterwards?

I want to be a public defender. I want to go into jails, bad neighborhoods, places where people feel like they've been forgotten. I have always believed so very strongly in the right enumerated by our Constitution, that every American has the right to a free and fair trial, and to a lawyer to represent them. The crisis of indigent defense is so horrible, and it doesn't get enough media attention, funding, or help. I want to fight for the small victories, the day-by-day battles to make sure that poor people, or black people, or women, or people who have just been hurt by the world, are not screwed over even further by the American judicial system. I'm so excited, and so scared. I want to do this almost more than anything else. And you know what?

I think I would be good at it. I say that not over-confidently, nor cockily, but just with this sense of calmness: I feel like I SHOULD be doing this.

But right this second, I SHOULD be packing. I get into Seattle early Sunday morning!
I can't wait. There is so much life to be had.

6:30 p.m. commute, DC metro
it is stuffy and close and stale
the smell of people’s days, hanging around them like discarded spiderwebs
you thought you brushed them off
but they’re still clinging, trailing to your sleeve.
newspapers, rubber, cigarette smoke, sandwich bread, sweat.
what does your day smell like?
modesty is impractical and impossible
in the crush of bodies
back and forth, stop.
don’t try to hold upright.
just close your eyes and sway
let your arm brush the woman next to you
don’t flinch as a man bumps into you
close your eyes.
close them.
picture somewhere else, picture oxygen.
when you open your eyes
everyone else will have closed theirs.

she has arrived...
I'm in DC! (Sort of). By sort of, I mean Arlington, VA--the closest Virginia suburb to our nation's capital. I flew out of Seattle on Wednesday morning and stayed with my aunt and uncle there for a few days, as well as visited Eric in his new suite at Hopkins, and cooked dinner with him and his friends. This morning, I got up fairly early (considering that jet-lag kept me up pretty late) and my aunt and grandma drove me to Arlington (about an hour away).

I'm staying with old family friends of my dad's, who are incredibly welcoming. I have my own room with a queen bed, full closet, dresser...also my own bathroom. Not bad at all, considering most places I looked at on Craigslist offered much less AND I would have had to pay rent. This lovely family is letting me stay with them for the summer free of charge--they won't even take money for groceries!

Within a few minutes of unpacking, my friend Emma (also a Tufts student and fellow American history/politics junkie) called. She and Evan (another Tufts friend) are both interning in DC this summer and were meeting this afternoon to walk through the Smithsonian. She wondered if I wanted to go. Did I want to go???? This to the girl who reads history books for FUN, geekily remarked that Obama's inaugural address had eerie similarities to Richard III's "Now is the winter of our discontent...", who is getting ready to write an 80-100 p thesis on nothing BUT American history. Yes, I wanted to go. So my host dad (I don't know what else to call him...) very generously drove me to the Metro stop (the DC area subway) and I bought a SmartCard and was getting off at the Smithsonian stop in under 20 minutes. Not bad at all.

And then I walked up out of the metro stop, and I was on the National Mall, and the Lincoln Memorial was on one end, and the Capitol, and the Washington monument, and the WW2 memorial, and the Vietnam memorial, and I could see the White House, and it was all RIGHT THERE. I'll be perfectly honest--I felt a little bit like you do when you first walk in the gates of Disneyland: completely overwhelmed, SO excited, and aware that you're now seeing in person what you've only seen before in pictures. So I gawked, strolled, and probably unknowingly walked through several people's snapshots before getting over to the Smithsonian Museum of American History, which was pretty fantastic.

Among other things, we saw: Judy Garland's ruby-red slippers, Lincoln's stovepipe hat, a draft of Ike's inaugural address, and the kitchen which served as Julia Child's television set. I was in American history-politics heaven...

We left the museum and walked all over, taking tons of pictures and commenting on how crowded the Mall was. Now, I am going to expose my own ignorance, but I'm hoping that since I didn't know this, other people might not have either. Until about six months ago, I thought that the term "National Mall" referred to an actual SHOPPING mall. Hahahah. It doesn't.

FInally, I said good-bye to Evan and Emma and after only a slight Metro snafu, found my way to 18th St NW, walked several blocks, and found my office building, where I will start work on Monday. I have very little idea what I'm going to be doing. All I have been told is that I'll be assisting with legal research, writing op-eds to go in the newsletter, and attending and reporting on congressional briefings. So, we'll see.

Now comes the major task for tonight. Ironing. Basically every single piece of clothing I need to wear to work requires an ironing. Good lord, but I am going to be an ironing pro by the end of the summer. Oh well. I will take the ironing in stride, as long as I get to walk around DC and see such amazing things...

some more good news...
I guess this is kind of my week? So far, at least.

I got into Oxford! I will be spending my junior year at Pembroke College, studying History & Politics.


I had my third and final interview this morning for the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal thinktank in Washington, D.C. At the end of the interview, the director said, "I don't normally do this, but I would like to offer you the position."


I will be working in DC from June 1 to around August 8th doing legal research, coordinating press events, and writing op-ed pieces!
I am so excited.

over-committedness and sporadic thoughts
So, yes...I did it again, and it seems far worse (or better?) than last semester. On top of my five classes, I have the show, my job, tour guiding, and internship hunting. Oh yeah, and just summer planning in general.

I just peeled an orange and now my hands smell like it, which is my biggest pet peeve...dammit. At home I always make Eli do it for me :)
I miss my little brother, who isn't so little...tonight is SAAS's winter ball on the Space Needle (jealous!). He's going with a date and I gave him all sorts of instructions about putting her corsage on and not clashing his tie with her dress, etc etc. I wish I could be there to see him all dressed up.

It's cold outside...I've been good thus far going to the gym--almost every day, and today's walk over was FRIGID. My abs will be sore tomorrow. And it's not even February yet! (Okay, fine, so it's tomorrow).

Ooh, good news. I got an interview for one of my summer internship options: The Constitution Project. It's a legal advocacy group based in D.C. that defends constitutional rights and enters a lot of amicus briefs in the Supreme Court. Yay for making the first cut...but now I have to wow them enough that they hire me (!!). It's next Friday.

Everyone should watch this all the way through because it made me so happy:


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