Airplane travel is a suspension of time.

This is what I think as, for the second time this summer, a jet plane taxies down a Houston runway and lifts into the air, the city spread out below with a beauty that shines only in the dark.

It’s hard to really comprehend that not even twelve hours before I perched on a bench in the stifling heat of Clute Park for Across Life’s Mosquito Festival performance, and just a few hours after that I curled up with Penny, my ditzy, klutzy, adorable red heeler, to catch a few hours’ sleep. (To no avail, of course, but that’s not her fault.) Up at 2:30 a.m. Get dressed, grab bags, and climb into the backseat of Dylan’s dad’s truck for an hour’s drive to the airport. I can honestly say I haven’t done an early-morning flight like this in years, while my parents and I used to do them every summer. Now, it’s 6:07 a.m. Houston time as I type, and I wonder where these past hours escaped to, even though I know.

The sun peeks over the horizon now; soon, we’ll land in Atlanta, and then we’re off to Cancún for exactly the kind of vacation I’ve always dreamed of: sunny warmth, white sand, and blue water.

Time moves forward as slowly as an airplane feels, but we’re on our way.

The Elusive Goose

What in the world is an elusive goose?

Let me tell you.

When I used to stay with my dad’s parents overnight, I remember my Nonnie would often be up late, on the computer in the room next to mine. She was on the computer a lot, and as I got older, I would be on when she wasn’t, because I liked to write, and of course the easiest way to do that was through use of Microsoft Word. I also remember that she had this Mahjong game installed on her computer—a simple one that just involved matching the tiles until they all disappeared, and I loved to play it, too, especially because it was kind of like a quest, with different levels, with the objective of each level to unlock and match the golden yin and yang tiles. Anyway. There was a tile with an illustration of some type of bird on it, that resembled a chicken or a goose—I never really could tell which. (Come to think of, it may also have resembled a peacock…) Sometimes, Nonnie would sit in a chair close by and watch me play, and see matches that I didn’t.

I don’t remember how it began. Maybe I was having a particularly hard time finding matches to that certain tile, and started to complain about it. I think, in a very quick voice, I said something like, “I hate that stupid chicken!” and she laughed. Then, perhaps the same night or maybe it was another one, perhaps out of nowhere, in a funny, quirky voice, I called that bird “the elusive goose!” and she laughed again. So I did it again, and again, and I kept saying that because she kept laughing.

Nonnie has a new computer now, and we don’t have that Mahjong game anymore, but I wonder if she remembers that time. I think I’ll email her a link to this post and see. Maybe she’ll smile and laugh again.

50 Little Things That Make Me Happy

Because sometimes, it’s important to just focus on what makes you happy,
and in no particular order.

  1. A hot cup of coffee.
  2. A hot shower.
  3. Sunny blue skies, especially without clouds.
  4. Shapes and pictures in the clouds.
  5. Sassy music.
  6. The lush, grassy green field behind my church, because it wasn’t always lush and grassy green.
  7. Pretty things.
  8. Sparkly things.
  9. Books.
  10. Fresh notebooks.
  11. Office supply stores.
  12. Brand-new issues of Bella Grace magazine.
  13. Freshly laundered sheets.
  14. A clean, newly detailed car.
  15. Burning candles.
  16. Burning fireplaces.
  17. Perfect, untouched snow.
  18. Fresh flowers in a vase.
  19. The new wood floors in my house, and the feeling of how they transformed the familiar space.
  20. The feeling of my fingers flying across a laptop keyboard.
  21. New episodes of my favorite TV shows.
  22. Whenever Taylor Swift releases a new album.
  23. Summertime.
  24. Postcards.
  25. Letters.
  26. Driving through pretty neighborhoods.
  27. Silky soft sand.
  28. Manicures and pedicures.
  29. Carrying my own shopping bags (grocery bags excluded).
  30. The feeling I get from wearing high heels.
  31. Writing.
  32. Christmas lights.
  33. Correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  34. Dessert.
  35. Breakfast for dinner.
  36. Character customization in my video games.
  37. Banana splits with extra hot fudge.
  38. Milk chocolate, melted in a bowl.
  39. Adorable baby animals.
  40. Yearbooks.
  41. Whimsicality.
  42. Disney and Pixar movies.
  43. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year holidays.
  44. Lemon pastries.
  45. Peaceful and quiet alone time.
  46. Shopping.
  47. Pleasant surprises.
  48. Vintage, like typewriters and Polaroid cameras.
  49. Making and keeping new friends.
  50. Being able to carry on a conversation in French.
  51. The way Granny always (and is the only one to do so) sings “And many more…” at the end of “Happy Birthday.”

❤︎

What 50 (or more) little things make you happy?

Summer: Sun, Fun, and Spreadsheets

The summer is already half over, and I just realized today that I have yet to write about my internship at Arte Público Press, even though it’s been a big part of this last month and a half. Blogging about it never crossed my mind, and maybe that’s because it’s just not very exciting. Not necessarily something that people online—usually seeking something more exciting than what goes on in their own lives—would want to read about, and I know that because every now and then at work I’ll take a few minutes’ break and check my Facebook or Instagram accounts, because I might find what other people post more interesting than the project or spreadsheet I’m currently working on.

A lot of spreadsheets, in fact. Several of these past weeks have been wrapped up in Excel spreadsheets of “metadata,” which is information about our books, that will be sent to wholesalers. I’d never even heard the word “metadata” before I started here, and doesn’t it sound intimidating, even just a little? It did to me.

If you aren’t able to tell by merely the fact that I’m blogging, I love to write. And my close friends might tell you that I’m good at editing—in the past, I’ve been their go-to person to edit papers and pieces of writing. So doesn’t it seem natural that I’d have liked an internship in the editorial department of a publishing company?

“So you know, interns work in our marketing department; our editorial department does not hire interns.” Not exactly what I wanted to hear from Marina Tristán when I emailed her about the possibility of an internship, but there it was, and, well, what could I say? It’s certainly understandable—I don’t think most publishing companies hire editorial interns, so why would APP be different? What would an editorial intern even do, really, yes, it makes much more sense to have a marketing intern.

A couple of people have already asked me if maybe this is something I’d like to do, as a job or maybe even a career. You know, I’m not sure. I wrote in my internship essay today that I don’t mind the spreadsheets, and so in that sense, I think I’m well suited for office work. So, I don’t think I’d mind it. I think I’d like it—being around books all the time, and maybe having time to work on my own writing. But even if that’s not something I end up doing in the future, I can definitely enjoy my internship now.

I’ve already learned a lot. Because it is a business, after all, I knew already that a lot has to go into the success of a publishing company, but I never knew details. Like I said, I didn’t know about metadata. I’ve never worked on a real website before this one before, so I couldn’t have any idea how complicated that really can be, and while it’s not difficult to do, it is fairly complicated overall. Emails, press releases, mail-outs. ISBN numbers, procedures, hundreds and hundreds of folders of files. A lot to learn, a lot to do, and a lot of which I actually like.

It definitely helps that my coworkers are awesome. Marina is the Assistant Director and my boss, and she is busy, and direct. The kind of person who gets things done while being open to questions, and who always makes me feel like my time is important. She often thanks me for my help around the office this summer, and seems just as concerned with whether I’ll meet my required amount of hours for course credit as she is with the projects that she needs me to do—and I so appreciate this acknowledgement. I’ve also worked closely with Eloísa, Events and Publicity Coordinator, and Verónica, Marketing Assistant, and I think they’re both wonderful. In fact, this morning, I had a nice chat with Eloísa before getting busy on a new spreadsheet, and, as Marina is out of the office today and tomorrow, it was Verónica I turned to for help with this project, and she was immensely helpful, even on day 1. We’re a team at Arte Público, and it feels that way, every day.

I wonder if Alex feels the same way. He’s the other intern—a high school “rising senior,” as Marina introduced him, and he seems like a nice kid. I think he wants to write, like I do, but maybe screenplays. Maybe he’ll make it.

I have less than a month left, and then it will very quickly be back to school. I’m not very much looking forward to that. More days per week. Homework. Exams. You know, I honestly think I’d rather stay at APP, and I honestly know I’ll miss it, and everybody there, when it does come to an end, as all good things must.

Not to be melancholy, but isn’t that the cliché?

Do You Believe In Magic?

“Do you believe in magic, in a young girl’s heart?”

— The Lovin’ Spoonful, “Do You Believe In Magic” (1965)

Yes, I do. I also believe in magic in an old man’s heart, and in the heart of a 20something who often wonders if there’s anyone out there who really cares about her blog. True, the subject matter of the song, if you really listen to the lyrics, refers to the magic that exists in music, and that’s not what I’m talking about here, but the reason I chose that lyric, that song, is because it’s featured during the credits of Disney’s Peter Pan 2: Return to Neverland, and always resonated with me because of that. The plot of the movie is that Wendy’s daughter Jane learns that faith, trust, and pixie dust are more than just elements of the stories her mother told her. Jane learns to believe in magic, and maybe that’s the point of the stories of Peter Pan: to teach children and to remind adults that magic is more than just an idea. If you believe, it’s real.

Unfortunately, the reason none of us received letters from Hogwarts when we turned 11 is that Hogwarts isn’t real, and neither is Harry Potter, nor the kind of magic that involves cauldrons and spellwork and wands. Most disappointing, I know; but I’ve recently come up for air after several weeks spent buried in the world of Harry Potter, and since it had been so many years since I’d read the books, rereading them was like experiencing all of it for the first time again. I laughed, and I cried, and I experienced suspense and exhilaration and frustration, because I lost myself in the magic that exists between the pages of those books. Not just the magic that involves spellwork and wands, but simply the magic that is contained within a very good story.

I think I create my own magic. I also think sometimes I have to go looking for it, and I think that oftentimes it exists where I wasn’t looking at all.

I have this beautiful, perfect memory of a moment when I was 12 or 13, and I was in Huntsville, at sleep-away camp with the rest of the junior high—a grand total of about sixty students. Forest Glen is an awesome place, especially in the fall, and it was November. It must have been a clear day, sunny, and I was outside by the lake with my group members for the fishing activity, on the wooden bridge that crosses from the mainland to a small island that is part of the camp. It was probably cold, so I would have been bundled up, and I sat on the edge of the bridge, with my legs dangling over the water and a fishing pole propped up against the wooden railing in front of me. I faced away from the open expanse of lake, toward the narrower stream of water between the shore and the island, with the island to my left and the shore on my right, and I probably spent a good chunk of that time just letting my mind wander off into space.

But then, in a moment, I suddenly came out of a reverie and registered exactly what was in front of me: tall trees, growing wild and changed by the arrival of fall into brilliant hues of russet, amber, red, gold, and emerald, and perfectly reflected in the tranquil mirror of the lake. I registered exactly what is usually so easily overlooked: Nature done up in her finest, quiet and graceful, patiently waiting for somebody to see. That day, I was lucky to be that somebody.

It doesn’t sound all that extraordinary, and honestly it’s not. Lots of people enjoy this same picture every year, and I don’t know if it’s something they take notice of or not. I don’t get to see it every year, and I haven’t seen it since that day in quite the same capacity. But for me, it was a perfect moment, and that made it magical.

Something else that has always, always carried a bit of magic for me? The blank, lined page of a crisp, clean, brand-new notebook. Frequently a Lisa Frank—remember those neon rainbow notebooks and folders that every girl had in elementary school?—or another one with a pretty cover. When I was a young girl, my favorite aisle in every store was the one with the school supplies on it—the notebooks and folders and pens and binders—and my favorite shopping trip was the one to the office stores when the school supply lists came out. Every year. See, I’m a writer, and those pens and blank notebooks carried endless possibility. A magical unknown.

Last year, my mother volunteered at the RT (Romantic Times) Booklovers Convention in New Orleans, and came home with an assortment of swag. A couple of items were little mason jars, glittered and painted so that they glow in the dark. I think she called them “fairy dust,” and while I know it’s not more than paint and glitter and maybe Elmer’s glue, there’s just something magical about seeing them glow from one of my bookshelves in the middle of the night, knowing that they’re jars of “fairy dust.” When the morning comes, and these jars no longer glow, maybe there’s something a little magical about the day ahead: a hot shower and body lotion, hot coffee with salt and maple syrup in my favorite mug, a candle burning and a journal entry, a date.

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Do you get it now? It’s in the little things. Do you believe yet?

I want to know: what kind of magic exists in your world?