For safekeeping


I haven't been much good at blogging the past few months. I suspect it's because I don't trust myself to accurately translate these moments into words. But it is good and grounding for me to return here and write, if only for myself, if only so I can remember this time.

This past week I flew up to Calgary to visit my boyfriend, Jacob. It was only my second time in Canada and I was as fascinated as last time. Mostly, though, I was just happy to be with him. Being in a relationship long distance can be brutal, but somehow it's all worth it when you're together again. On a misty Saturday we took a day trip to Banff and I was overwhelmed with beauty. Come summer, Jacob told me, it'd be even more majestic and I could hardly believe him. On the way back to Calgary that night, I fell asleep in the passenger seat to Neil Young and the shadowy mountains looming above the highway. It was such a simple moment, but I cannot get it out of my mind. I am reminded of a poem by Wendell Berry:
"Again I resume the long
lesson: how small a thing
can be pleasing, how little
in this hard world it takes
to satisfy the mind
and bring it to its rest."
There is much more I could write, but most of it has been tucked into my heart for safekeeping. I think often about striking that balance between tasteful sharing and keeping things sacred. I wonder, what will life be like six months, a year, five years from now? We all know that it was curiosity that killed the cat, so I will be content to wait and see.

The most normal picture we were able to get together, ha!

Jacob so patiently explaining our route

Jacob's Jeep is lifted approximately as high as my waist; it took some practicing to be able to get in the darn thing halfway gracefully, but I prevailed!

Two Jack Lake

Approaching Lake Minnewanka

Work that honors Thy work


Scholars and artists thrown together are often annoyed at the puzzle of where they differ. Both work from knowledge; but I suspect they differ most importantly in the way their knowledge is come by. Scholars get theirs with conscientious thoroughness along projected lines of logic; poets theirs cavalierly and as it happens in and out of books. They stick to nothing deliberately, but let what will stick to them like burrs where they walk in the fields. No acquirement is on assignment, or even self-assignment. Knowledge of the second kind is much more available in the wild free ways of wit and art.  
Robert Frost, The Figure a Poem Makes

This is the fourth time I've sat down and summoned my inner scholar to write a paper, and it's the fourth time my fingers have written words that led me astray. It was somewhere between the second and third attempts, I think, that I realized resistance was futile.
I'm turning into a regular bookworm--not that I wasn't one before, but these days it's in-depth literary analysis all day every day. The works of Faulkner, specifically. I love it though. Strengthening the mind is one of the best things a person can do, I think.
And how grateful I am to have that incredible privilege to, in the words of Mr. Frost, be both an artist and a scholar, to spend my afternoons holed up in snug coffee shops with page after page of texts, to do work that brings me such joy.
It's a comfort, especially for the times when life scares the hell out of me. Which, if I'm being honest, is more often than not. Most of the time it's the good kind of scared: the kind that pushes and refines you. The pain and heartache ahead I'm not blind to; I can see them lying in wait today and tomorrow and on into the rest of my days. And somehow, doing the things that my soul loves, trusting on Grace to sustain me, and holding close boundless Hope, another day passes.
Naturally, Wendell Berry says it best: "Teach me work that honors Thy work..." One of my greatest wishes.

(also, for all the time I've been slacking on keeping up this blog, I've been posting on instagram @carlottacisternas xo)

Between Earth and Heaven


"I know for a while again
the health of self-forgetfulness,
looking out at the sky though
a notch in the valley-side,
the black woods wintry on
the hills, small clouds at sunset
passing across. And I know
that this is one of the thresholds
between Earth and Heaven,
from which even I may step
forth from myself and be free."

Wendell Berry
The older I get, the more I realize how I crave nature. The allure of a shiny bright city still remains, of course, yet I cannot ignore the quiet way solid packed earth and trickling streams and gentle rolling hills twist their way around my soul and ground me. A mountain man (woman) I am not, and, although it has crossed my mind once or twice, I don't think you'll ever have to worry about me disappearing to live in the forest. Still, the great outdoors always beckons...

New Year's in my family is one of the most low-key holidays and I like it that way very much. It has become a tradition to escape to a cabin and live off the grid for a few days. It's a beautiful, grounding way to send off the old year and ring in the new. This year was especially special, reunited safe with four out of my five siblings after a heck of a year. Have I ever mentioned how thankful I am for my weird and wonderful family? Competitiveness and all. See, this year we all split up into teams and competed very (very) fiercely in a breakfast competition. Shrouded in a thick layer of secrecy, each team was assigned a morning. No one was hampered by the limited cabin-provided utensils and each breakfast seemed to be more elaborate than the last, I swear: freshly baked bread and homemade potato pancakes and parfaits and hand-embellished menus. It was impressive. In the end, my sister Mariam and I won the competition by a mere four points and we gloated more than we probably should have. Like I said, we're a little competitive.

Between eating and reading and sleeping, we filled our time with cave exploring and long hikes in the misty rain. If I squinted hard enough I could pretend I was in the Pacific Northwest instead of southeastern Oklahoma. Wendell Berry was right, this is one of the thresholds between Earth and Heaven.



just a note