In there, his silent words lived and breathed as stories. They could think and seek and grow and give off heat.
~Haruki Murakami The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Over the eucalyptus and behind the moon, the stars like silver pomegranates glimmered before an infinity of darkness. No wonder the angels had picked a place like this to exist.
~Helena Maria Viramontes Under the Feet of Jesus
Today, Make the Welkin Dance turns one!
Unfortunately, Denny’s only gives a free birthday grand slam breakfast to living, breathing human beings with I.D. cards. Sigh…
But at least I have all of you to celebrate with! (And now you have a viable excuse for eating ice cream cake today! Woo-hoo!)
One year of blogging might not sound like much, but I think it’s important to celebrate the little victories in life. When I started this blog a year ago, I didn’t realize how much I would experiment with form, humor, storytelling, and playing off authors I’m currently reading. And I’m excited to continue doing so! Ain’t that great.
For me, the joy of writing is never complete without an audience. My words can only come alive in your mind’s eye (that is, until I write a book and Hollywood knocks on my door). I hope this blog has been a delight to you as much as it has been for me. Thank you for reading and commenting on my posts! It seriously means so much to me! (so don’t stop.)
Today, I’m re-posting my very first blog post. Last year, I spent a lot of time fussing over what to name this blog. I’m glad I’m still a fan of what I chose, and I hope you are too after reading the story behind it.
But first… a little toast…
Here’s to recalling late night adventures in Buenos Aires (I Can Still Hear Them Chanting).
Here’s to thinking deeply and laughing often.
Here’s to making the welkin dance.
For many years, I have been resisting the calling of “blogger.”
Instead, I fled in the opposite direction, until a giant whale (or in most translations, “a great fish”) swallowed me whole. That whale is called “life after college,” from the Greek “the Great Unknown.” Up until this point in my life, I’ve always known what’s next. From the fall of 1999 to the spring of 2016, each year of schooling has been followed unconditionally by yet another year of schooling. Then suddenly, options. People older than me say, “This is a beautiful time of life!” But so far, “terrifying” and “overwhelming” seem like better descriptors than “beautiful.”
In the days following graduation, I had an epiphany–I’m gonna start a blog. (I wish this epiphany had more to do with my career choices, but alas, life isn’t that straightforward.) I thought, “Sure, I’ll join the chorus of millennial voices, singing about their quarter life crises online. I can’t really sing, but who’s listening anyways? I’ll also definitely keep it up for more than 2 months. It’s gonna be great!!”
All I needed was a good name.
Which felt as daunting as choosing a career path or deciding what tattoo to get. I soon discovered I’m awful at coming up with blog names. I was stuck on just “BLOG” for a while before moving on to “My Blog.” These seemed too specific though. So I started playing around with idioms, like “Between a Rock and Reality” or “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two Online.” Those didn’t have the right ring or seemed too political, and if you know me, I’m actually really bad with idioms (the consequences of being a 1.5er).
I was giving up. I thought about just naming it something really obscure and laughing when people tried to assign meaning to it. Well reader, I’m sure you’re pleased to know I only pursued the former, and that I’m not mocking you (we’ll save that for later). Continuing with the name saga, I thought of naming the blog “The Zephyr Song,” except I remembered that’s actually a Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song. That’s when I came across the related word “welkin.”
In case you haven’t already googled it, “welkin” means “the sky; the vault of heaven.” It’s an archaic and chiefly literary term, a solid English word descended from Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-European (none of those loanwords from French or Old Norse, masquerading as English). These are all good points in my book. Because let’s face it, when I’m not talking about something archaic or chiefly literary, it’s probably linguistics related, like whether Indo-Europeans knew how to cartwheel.
However, what really sold me on “welkin” was when I recalled where I had first heard it–Twelfth Night, the play that introduced me to Shakespeare.
In Act 2, Scene 3, there’s this moment when these two drunk guys are just kinda talking and singing in the middle of the night. One of them says to the other, “But shall we make the welkin dance indeed? Shall we rouse the night owl in a catch that will draw three souls out of one weaver? Shall we do that?” Drunk people sometimes really do say beautiful things. Especially when they’re Shakespeare characters. Drunk ramblings or not, nevertheless, I was struck by the imagery evoked in those lines. I liked the idea that our singing could make the sky dance, that our voices alone could shake the heavens. As someone who has always loved words, who double majored in literature and linguistics, the image is fitting. Language is powerful. Strong enough to rattle our world. Regardless of whatever you think about Genesis 1, we can all appreciate the poetic beauty of God’s medium for creating the universe: words. God spoke the world into being. I find that detail significant because the same is true today. Words can create and destroy. Authors and stories inspire new worlds in our mind’s eye. We feel the power of words in our gut when someone’s words lift us up or cut us to the core. I could talk about speech acts here, but neither you nor I want me too, so I won’t. But yeah, I say speech acts are important too.
The idea that we could make the welkin dance just didn’t seem like an impossible feat to me.
It seemed more like a friendly invitation.
An invitation to return to something I love: writing. I say “return” because for the last four years, most of my writing has been answering essay prompts. I missed writing just for fun. Writing about life, books, daydreams, waiting for serendipity, travel misadventures, the plights of curly hair, linguistics in the real world, and all around, simply living up to my high school nickname, “Evelyn the Teller of Tales.”
So yeah maybe I don’t know what next year holds, and I’m behind on figuring out my 15 year plan. And all that scares me and excites me at the same time. But what I do know is, I’d love to see the welkin dance, preferably well and to cumbia.
Originally posted on Make the Welkin Dance on June 22, 2016.
About the picture: No, I don’t work for Panda Express, but I have been known to hold on tightly to my order of sweet fire chicken breast with side of chow mein if you ask for a bite. I feel as though this fortune cookie slip sounds more like a Disney movie mantra rather than an actual fortune. I’m not complaining though. The background is a watercolor greeting card featuring Seattle and Mt. Rainier. I thought it was too pretty to actually give away to someone…