Journaling and Stained Glass Windows

“The simplest questions are the most profound. Where were you born? Where is your home? Where are you going? What are you doing? Think about these once in a while, and watch your answers change….”
-Richard Bach

A couple days ago, I was digging through some old boxes when I came across my middle school burn book. Awkward.

Most of the pages are covered in magazine pictures, surrounded by comments written in bright markers. While at first glance the overfilled composition notebook resembles a “burn book” a la Mean Girls, that’s not actually what it is. The notebook is a friendship journal. Back in 2007, two of my 7th grade friends and I shared a journal. Each day someone different would take it home and write an entry. The entries were typically pictures, quizzes, and stories we cut out from magazines. We used code names (which were pointless because at the end we put pictures of ourselves and labeled who was who) and wrote small comments about our lives. It’s a fine cultural artifact, really. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day the journal ends up in a museum or special collections library, where you will need to use gloves to flip through the pages.

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The Difficulties of Finding a Good Blog Name

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.