Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Living Mansions

“The best way to know God is to love many things.”
         – Vincent Van Gogh

I used to be very careful about where I set my attachments. Careful when choosing the mark, and exact with the aim. Loving is not one, predatory movement, though. Loving is a heap of heres and theres. Love sits us on a bathroom floor and makes us think about it, when we should be in bed. Love puppets us to our feet on gray mornings, and moves our arms and legs to gloomy coastlines – because the only thing to think about is a person we love, when we look at the massive, heaving sea.


I miss being home, it’s so comforting and I want that,
but then I don’t at the same time

I thought, for a long time, that love was something adhesive. I was scared of it sticking me to one house, or school, or person. But love is not going to corner us like that; when we give it a place to stay, we find more spaces for it. We are thousands of vacant rooms for love. We are halls, and tubs, and countertops for love. Without it full-of-go and bustling inside us, we rot.

2014 is coming to a close soon, and I love so many things. I love things more and I love them better than I used to, and I’m not trapped. I have felt the freedom of loving many things and I have made a home of myself.  


 “Waltz of the Flowers,” from a 2013 performance of the New York City Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Photograph by Henry Leutwyler for vanityfair

"If nothing saves us from death, may love at least save us from life."
    Pablo Neruda

Monday, December 8, 2014

To Look and to See

To smooth along over suits and skirts
to make my way with a gaze
scuttle bumping side-stepping, with eyes
across peopled receptions

Skimming the lower fete circles on couches
search-lighting seas of legs-on-laps
trying to catch it, the shimmer
the gleam of you

Amid tinkling tinsel and cider glass
across silver-gold holiday merrymaking
now there's you and there's me, always
fashioning faces

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Million Miles Away

November has not been kind to some of the people I consider most dear. Well, November was sort of an ass to me last year, so I'm going to do a little Q&A (with my current self and my year-ago self), in the hopes of comforting anyone else in the throws of November blues. My year-ago self will be asking the questions: 

     Q: “Is there something wrong with me?”

     A: No. Nothing is wrong with you. I know you haven't showered in a few days, so let's start there. Take a shower. Wash your hair really well and then sit in a towel, on your bed, for as long as you need. You might sit for 2 minutes, or 2 hours  both are ok because you're in good company when you're all alone. Hang out with yourself, and take notes. You are going to see what you're made of; you're made of the same stuff that Plath, and Hughes, and Collins are made of. Get to know them too, go ask them what to do, and see what the feelings you're feeling look like written out. See that you can be all crying, and Doc Martins, and head-in-books or under-covers, and only in black, and too many trips to In'n'Out, and friends with your sister and your sister only for a few months. You'll catch fire again.

     Q: “How come no one ever stays?”

     A: I don't know. I still can't tell you why some people stay and some people don't. But look, that question is broken anyway, because a few people do stay. I know that he didn't, but think about who did and who will always. He didn't stay because he couldn't stay. There are only a few people who are cut out for you; there are only a few people that were cut out with the scissors sharp, and the table perfectly level; only a few people that you will be able to stick in that book you always carry. Remember, if they don't stay, it's because they weren't supposed to. If their feet shake or their hands quiver or their voice falters at loving you, let them go. Someone particular will stay, and they will be so good at loving you.

     Q: “Will someone ever want me the way I want them?”

     A: No. Nobody will ever want you in the precise way that you want them, but someone will want you. They will want you in a way that you can never understand. I know you think that they're a million miles away. I know. They're not that far though, they live on the very same planet as you. They will want you precisely and exactly how you are meant to be wanted. They will want you for freckles you never even noticed and notes you couldn't hit before. You will want them in that different and exact way too. You'll be in a dark room and you'll make sense to each other. Okay?

Waiting is hard. A year feels like a very long time today. A year feels like forever when it's 3 in the afternoon and you've got homework and all you want to do is sleep. A year feels like forever when it's 3 in the morning and you are so alone – more alone than anyone, because everyone else is asleep and how can it be possible that anyone has ever felt this way or ever cried this much? A year is not that long. A year is just a fourth of high school, and just half of a mission, and only a very tiny and almost unmentionable blink of your whole heap of life. It is just a little wait. 
So, listen to The Moon Song, and smile. Wait for that look, and smile.


"There’s something that feels so good about sharing your life with somebody."
Her (2013) Spike Jonze

Friday, November 7, 2014

Different Names for Different Things

If you know me, you know that I cry a lot. I cry at anything and everything  whether it's blissful crying from feeling a giant dog slobbering on and practically swallowing my hands, or devastated crying from watching that part in Say Anything when Lloyd is hopeless in a phone booth in the rain – I cry. Well, I cried in my New Testament class the other day. I cried while my professor was talking about prayer shawls, but, in a similar but less selfless way (than the Jews who wore them to block out the world and focus on prayer), I hid behind my Macbook Air and cried. It was a silent cry, because I was not looking for the remorse of the recently-engaged-passionately-Pinteresting flower on my left or the this-hymn-is-better-louder Stripling warrior to my right. I cried because I realized that I have been doing something wrong, for a very long time. I have been giving the same names to different things.

In my World Religions class we are learning about Buddhism. The Buddhists say that all suffering comes from desire and craving, and that suffering is inevitable, but it ends as soon as our craving ends. Well, without being conscious of it, I have been craving something for a very long time: names. Now, I'm quite fond of my own name (Elizabeth Caroline Peek, after the benevolent Ms. Bennet herself), and I'm equally fond of the names that get heaped up on me (E, Ellie, Ells, Ells Bells, Smelly, Sister, etc.), but lately I have been unsuccessful at naming things myself. At the risk of sounding too squishy, it must be quickly-noted but noted nonetheless, that I am a deeply feeling person  so there. When I feel a certain way, I feel that way very much and I feel that way for a very long time. So lately I have been feeling a few things, but I have been calling them all two things: "sorry" and "stupid." 

But you know what? There are different names for different things. There is a word for every feeling you are feeling, because the English language will never desert you. Don't be sorry that you're skeptical, because you've "done this before" and it didn't end well last time. You're not stupid for feeling fear or feeling abandoned, because you've felt it before on the bathroom floor with your head in your hands and your matted eyelashes. You don't have to be sorry that you're feeling conflicted or useless, because you know how much is inside of you, and you aren't sure how to show it to someone without them getting frustrated or giving up. You are not stupid when you feel empty, indifferent, doubting, flummoxed, befuddled, unzipped, or out-of-place. Don't apologize when you don't have the words right away  because they will get there, and you are allowed to be glum, wistful, petrified, furious, and hanging-by-a-thread.

Wilhelm Gause, Ball der Stadt Wien (1904)
I’ll try anything once, The Strokes (2006)

So, when I was crying in class the other day, it was a cry reminiscent of the one I do when I see my favorite fireworks in July  the ones that look like a can of golden glitter got tipped over on black table cloth. I was crying because someone gave me a name for what I was feeling that morning, they said "you must have been nervous to tell me that, but I'm so glad you did" and then they said "I get nervous too." Someone told me I was nervous and that they get nervous too, and I cried in my New Testament class, because isn't it nice that our feelings are valid and that those feelings are real and weigh something to everyone? You are not stupid and you do not have to be sorry for feeling. Gautama Buddha said, “you yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” So, give it and then give a proper name to what's happening in you. Just because something's wrong doesn't mean anything's wrong with you.

Monday, November 3, 2014


your neon cherry cheeks get my lips at every stop
because you look so cool in hot colors
and you get my lips when we watch Lost In Translation
because Sofia Coppola knows lovers

and she knows the soft, hazy talk of love and lights, and
that we have to trust the universe, to take careful care of us

(since it gave us sunsets and Sunday afternoons)
so your ears get my 3 AM theories – white and the black
because 365 days bruise and tear at us
but you say you’ll stay and you don’t take is back

you let me read the whole Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
and I know what a peach that is

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ellie’s top 25 favorite things

1. White tulips
2. In’n’Out
3. Victoria’s Secret pajama sets
4. The Strokes
5. Large dogs
6. Roller coasters
7. Northern California
8. Concerts
9. Empty movie theaters
10. Blue Raspberry ICEEs
11. Sitting on the window sill of a moving car
12. Poetry
13. Pine trees
14. Forehead kisses
15. Jeans that fit flawlessly
16. The basements of bookstores
17. Band T’s
18. Fresh uniball pens (.5 or less)
19. Art museums
20. Indian food
21. 80’s movies
22. Hotel swimming pools at night
23. The Office
24. Letters
25. Going somewhere new

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I’m sorry I’m in a few places right now
and paper-thin and see-through
I know you can tell that I’m all drawn out
because I can’t help but hang on, to
two, three, four things at once

but it’s not a secret, darling
so you can hold me up to the furious light
but you’ll find my pattern alarming
still – hold me as long as you like
I’m lonely, just not for you only

I have so much love in me, and I want to give it all away, but I feel like it’s stuck these days.