Words and Strings


Because I couldn’t help but fall in love with this passage, I thought I’d share it with you:

“So many words get lost. They leave the mouth and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves. On rainy days, you can hear their chorus rushing past:


There was a time when it wasn’t uncommon to use a piece of string to guide words that otherwise might falter on the way to their destinations. Shy people carried a little bunch of string in their pockets, but people considered loudmouths had no less need for it, since those used to being overheard by everyone were often at a loss for how to make themselves heard by someone. The physical distance between two people using a string was often small; sometimes the smaller the distance, the greater the need for the string.

The practice of attaching cups to the ends of string came much later. Some say it is related to the irrepressible urge to press shells to our ears, to hear the still-surviving echo of the world’s first expression. Others say it was started by a man who held the end of a string that was unraveled across the ocean by a girl who left for America. 

When the world grew bigger, and there wasn’t enough string to keep the things people wanted to say from disappearing into the vastness, the telephone was invented. 

Sometimes no length of string is long enough to say the thing that needs to be said. In such cases all the string can do, in whatever its form, is conduct a person’s silence.”

– Nicole Krauss, A History of Love


Guest Post | Pen to Paper.

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Helena of byebyebitters.wordpress.com. An avid reader, snarky writer and devoted note taker, she has a few things to say about putting pen to paper.
Pen to Paper

Recently, the powers that be at my workplace offered to provide each of us with another axillary monitor – bringing the desktop total to three. I said no. As this response was not in keeping with the majority of my coworkers, I’ve had to frequently explain my refusal. My reasoning? The proffered monitor would take up space currently devoted to my Bic pen and legal-size notepad. This space is sacred, mandatory.

I’m a pen-to-paper girl.

Throughout the workday I jot notes to myself, make lists, and scribble bits of information onto the pad of paper that is always by my side. Without this notebook – and this space to take notes – I would be lost.

I’ve always been an avid note-taker. I have a well-worn callous on my right ring finger where the pen rests as I whip across the page. I filled notebooks with schoolwork and journals with teenage angst. I have a basket of stationery and have long been an active pen-pal with anyone willing to receive my letters.

Handwriting was initially a struggle. I held my pen “improperly” and struggled to form cursive letters with the flow and ease of the other students. Mrs. Harrington, my third grade teacher, would hang examples of proper penmanship on the bulletin board for everyone to admire. I longed to have my own work featured, but continued to fall short.

Formal cursive was later abandoned for my own special longhand hybrid. By the time I entered high school, my script had become a point of personal pride. I experimented with letter-formation: dotting my i’s with bubbles and curving the tails of my y’s elaborately. I copied my mother’s capital H’s and my friend’s lowercase e’s until I developed my own, wide font. My notes were now as neat as they were complete. The employment of several different ink and highlighter colors to further accent my notebooks would come later.

For me, there are certain situation that require pen-to-paper to be properly processed. I learn by writing things down. My brain makes connections as ink spreads my new knowledge along the college-ruled lines. I wonder how I would have done had I started at University any later than I had – in a time when laptops would become ubiquitous and spiral-bound notebooks scarce. Would typed notes have the same resonance? Follow the same well-worn kinesthetic channels to my long-term memory? Be as easily recalled? My learning style requires something more tactile than tapping on a keyboard.
With school and most of my frantic, avid note-taking now behind me, I still reach to a pen to document ideas. I storyboard, I doodle, I make maps. I circle, I highlight, I pin to bulletin boards. While, invariably and understandably, these ideas are typed before they are shared with others, they begin life on a humble piece of paper.


Helena Butters lives in Chicago with her fiancé and two cats. She blogs about life, love, and the pursuit of better body image at Bye Bye Bitters.

Library Card! and What I’m Reading Now

Guess what? I am now in possession of my very own library card! I haven’t had one since moving to Illinois [unless you count my college ID, but we’re talking reading for pleasure here, so it doesn’t count.] So technically, this is the first library card I’ve had since I was in high school.
I know, I know. You’re thinking, Bethany “bookish” girl didn’t have a library card? What’s up with that? But the truth is, I’ve had this really bad habit, like all book addicts do, of buying most of the books that I wanted to read. [Tell me I’m not the only one that does this!] And then I realized I was broke. I’m sick of borrowing books or just going through dry spells of not reading, so I am now the proud owner of a library card, and I checked out The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.
Ever read it? Seems like everyone is raving about it right now. I’m 50 pages in [since starting last night!] and I understand why!
So what are you reading? And do you have a library card or do you buy or borrow all of your books?

Inspired By.

flowers from jane flanagan
It’s Friday. [And the peasants rejoiced!] I’m feeling a little wilted, unlike the photo above. This week has been out of sorts with an undecided, in-transition, what’s-going-on, how-do-we-do-this office move at work, a bee infestation in my apartment bedroom window that forced my husband and I to set up camp in the middle of our living room so as not to find ourselves exterminated, and a car that’s on it’s last life and my last nerve. To add to it, my mom is still in the hospital [since Tuesday, August 16] and doctors are still trying to figure out the best way to, well… make it possible for her to be healthy outside of it? It’s hard and painful to explain.
Needless to say, I’m tired. I find life exhausting at the moment. Might explain the dream I had Wednesday night and the lack of personal writing and posting around here recently. My head [and my heart] can’t decide if now is the best time to write [time? what time?] or if I am understandably excused from adding that to my to-do list [if not now, then when?].
My soul is surviving on small increments of rest, grace and joy, wherever I can find them. Tomorrow, a group of my favorite girls and I are going to enjoy a day in Southern Michigan tasting wine at local vineyards, snatching up local produce, and surveying what promises to another beautiful sunset like this one.
I know that this is another week of the last several where I’ve complained about “my lot” in life. I’m well aware that I am blessed, that I am healthy, that I am capable, and that many many many other people in the world are not for a variety of reasons. But on the other hand, this space is not an escape for me. It’s a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings and opinions and experiences freely like I can’t anywhere else. So if you’re feeling a little wilted or trampled, or you have been but are now feeling rejuvenated, feel free to share your thoughts. The company is welcome.
Until then, here are a few delightful posts from around the interwebs:
Mandy wrote an encouraging post for me this week about the importance of traveling and finding a job you’re passionate about. That alone is inspiring, but she emailed me today to tell me: she got the job she mentioned in the post writing for a travel magazine! Congrats, Mandy!
Nothing could ruffle her, and that’s why we loved her.
How do you relate? Paintings versus photographs versus blogs versus life.
I really love this blog. Decadent photos and beautiful words.
Eight secrets writers won’t tell you.
Image found here. The flowers are gorgeous, but of course, I’m loving the bookshelves behind it, too.
And finally, this girl is going to share her snark, wit and good grammar with us next week. I’m excited! She started a new series this week, Fat Tuesday, that I’m already addicted to.
What are your plans for the weekend? I hope it’s a good one, friends.

Last Night’s Dream : Zoo Animals and A Book That Can Tell Me Everything.

There are a lot of things I don’t remember about last night’s dream, but I do remember that I was living in a beautiful apartment in the city with some people I don’t know. I was walking down the street to my apartment, which was full of taxis and pedestrians. One of the men I lived with was walking behind me, as if we were headed home together. We saw a man whiz past us on a bike, and immediately heard a crash once he was behind us. A car had hit him, and I knew instinctively that it had killed him. Not wanting to see the gore of the accident, I ran away.
Next, as I was running into the safety of my apartment to shut the door behind me, I saw a tiger and a black panther, presumably zoo animals on the loose, run at one another and begin to attack each other in the street. I watched for a few moments, and then found myself in my apartment living room, where I could see through the window that there were two giant phoenixes flying through the sky, and a lion pacing on the balcony of my apartment. I was worried that the animals would attack us, but they never did. The apartment separated us from them, but the separation felt fragile, like it could be broken at any moment and the animals would break through the glass to get us.
Then, an old Hispanic woman, also living in my apartment, gave me money to buy books at a bookstore. I could choose anything I wanted, but I couldn’t think of any titles to books I wanted to read, so I looked around the store. A huge book, as long as my arms with thick, brightly covered pages, stood out to me. As I flipped through it I realized it was a reference book that held answers and explanations to all the things that I don’t understand in the world: slang terms, differing cultural traditions, why terminal illnesses have killed so many people in the last century. I bought the book with the money I had and took it home. I remember thinking as I pulled it out to read more later that I wish I had chosen something smaller and simpler. One by one the titles of all the other books I’ve been wanting to read came back to me and I wished I had bought them instead, fictional stories that have a beginning and an end and characters I can relate to, but I didn’t have the energy to return the book to the store.