she was just 10 years old and she had been a wild pony for the first 9 of her life. her parents’ friends had given them “The Strong-Willed Child” in an effort to tame her enormous personality. one small montessori school couldn’t contain her stallion spirit and had sent her back home. she had tripped her own grandpa with her little foot, been given up on by her violin teacher (“I can’t teach a horse”), and yet still she was a fierce and rebellious little savage who no one knew quite what to do with.
one day, however, she changed. no one can agree on what exactly it was, but suddenly she was no longer a self-willed, untamed wild horse on the outside. she was a tall, awkward, skinny thing with a drawing pencil in her hand and big, long words swirling through her head. she had realized one day that she could read and that she could write.
she began piano lessons, and listened to taylor swift. she wanted so very badly to be able to sing, but she needed a song to sing. and not just anyone else’s song, but her own. so she wrote one, and told her mother that taylor swift had written it. her mother’s eyes were very wide when she found out that it wasn’t taylor swift’s song that her daughter was singing. the little girl never really understood why, and that didn’t stop her from writing more songs in the single-subject notebook that she stole from her godfather. her songs were written next to drawings of princesses and horses, and stories about orphan girls and her newborn twin siblings and Kathy who is trying to convert her parents to Christianity. Kathy was the most beautiful of names.
this little girl with the words swirling through her head and the galloping of horse-hooves still beating in her DNA – she made friends. and she looked with wide wondering eyes at her little playmate’s collection of bracelets and stuffed animals and glittery pens. she didn’t quite understand, but she knew these were things that little girls loved. so she sat patiently and curiously and learned how to decorate letters and cut out pretty shapes in paper.
all she wanted for her birthday was a baby – her own baby. she could adopt someone else’s baby, and she would take sure good care of it, wouldn’t she, mom? since i’m the oldest and i already take care of babies? why can’t i have my own? she didn’t understand why not. perhaps she could have a phone instead then? (“not in a MILLION years, jul!”)
she was 10 years old when her parents were sitting in the living room and she asked them for a blog. she didn’t know exactly what a blog was, but her aunt had one and her parents seemed less scornful of it than they were of facebook.
“no little kids have blogs, mom! i could make a holy blog for little kids!”
to her utter surprise, the answer was yes. the internet… it was all hers now. her dad made an account with his email address and she started her very first blog. she picked the beautiful flower picture out all by herself and used her new most favorite name in the world as her username.
her grandpa religiously commented on her little stories and crafts and coloring pages of the saints. she laughed when “christian mihai” subscribed to her site and wondered how on earth he had found her.
the little girl was much taller now, she was taller than any boy she knew. she had some more friends too, when she moved to the next county over, 19 houses away from her best playmate. she didn’t like her piano lessons anymore but was much more interested in drawing ladies and clothes and gowns in her 5th single-subject notebook. and reading, reading: she devoured any book she could get her hands on. she complained to her dad when she had read every single children’s book in the house. he recommended the obese college textbooks sitting in his office but that only brought impatient pouts from the word-starved little girl. she found the library and slowly chewed on the nancy drew series until she had digested the entire yellow shelf. she refused to read the hardy boys (“their mysteries aren’t dangerous enough, stephen”). sometimes she read books like “pride and prejudice” and “little women” and “the count of monte christo” that she didn’t exactly understand. but she made sure to finish every single page.
when she joined an art class, she prided herself on being the best drawer except for the girl who was almost in highschool. she didn’t count, of course. high-school was some faraway land where almost-adults did a lot of schoolwork and drove cars and played basketball.
she joined the basketball team with her friends and realized that she was capable of doing things with her legs and arms as well as her eyes and hands. she needed the exercise, too, because “all she ever does is stay inside and read, mom.” (you were right, stephen). the little girl was angry at first: “it’s not fair that you have to tell me to stop reading, when most moms have to force their kids to read!” smart intelligent beautiful loving mom was right though. basketball brought more friends into her life, as well as a competitive streak that she didn’t know she had. it surprisingly felt good to win.
she never stopped drawing or writing though, not for a second. her mind swirled with “what ifs” all day long, as she was staring out the window on the way to church and as the cogs in her head were turning, beginning to plot out a new story for writing class.
she was in eight grade now. she had peeked over the edge into the world of highschool, and had come back dizzy with anticipation and starry-eyed with romantic fantasies. prom dresses and driving cars and new friends and makeup and texting and (the highest hope of all) pierced ears. but that last year of middle school wasn’t as insignificant as she thought it would be. she shocked her teachers with terrible dark endings to her stories and she began to draw realistically and she learned things about her people: how they work. her first blog was a distant memory and besides, her dad had forgot the password to the account. words like “instagram” and “snapchat” were much more thrilling now. all she wanted was an iPod and pierced ears.
high school hit her like an intoxicating whiff of perfume, until the school workload began in earnest. her new laptop helped out immensely (or hindered, maybe) and Pinterest alleviated her dry well of creativity. english teachers didn’t want dramatic thrillers and art teachers seemed to think that she was still in kindergarden. painfully she made a painting in class using bottle caps and pieces of string.
she and her friends struggled to continue their book club and eventually it died a natural death. that didn’t keep her from reading, though. she read the count of monte christo again and suddenly she understood what was happening. she held her breath while Edmond was treading the waters outside the Chateau d’If.
she was always a little bit alone with her family as the oldest child and the oldest cousin. but she had lots of friends now, and saw them enough to keep her busy. she shared books and photos and some of her strange interests such as sports cars with them as she started to develop into someone she couldn’t quite figure out at the time. something big was missing for now, but she didn’t have to wait long to find it.
she never forgot the first time she heard them: in the car on the way home from church. her dad was playing snippets of popular songs, and after jokingly skipping through a couple he found one that he let play until the very end. she liked it, and made note of it in her head.
she remembered when she heard another song of theirs at the beach in a surf shop. she recognized that voice even though she had only heard it once.
“they have another song, mom! i like this one too.” she typed their name into the music app on her mom’s phone, and two old men showed up. she was confused, because they didn’t sound like old men. she wondered which of them sang.
fast forward to the summer before her sophomore year, when in the boredom of the weeks between camps and beach trips she remembered twenty one pilots. by now she had heard some more songs, and had been a little intimidated by the red hair and black paint and heavydirtysoul. but she had been scrolling through her cousin’s TOP pinterest board and something indescribable and magnetic had happened. she listened to all of vessel and her life was changed forever.
her parents probably wanted to murder her as she played vessel through the entire rest of the summer. and then she found blurryface and self-titled and regional at best and no phun intended and best of all, the magical unfolding story of trench. trench day was the most anticipated event of the fall and she stayed up much too late waiting to hear the new songs. she already knew miles of lyrics but she knew that she had room for a couple miles more.
she had quit piano years ago but one day she printed out sheet music for before you start your day and began playing. it was the start of a new epoch in her life. she didn’t know it, of course.
she was drawing again now, and she started reading her most ambitious book so far: war and peace. by the time it was finished, she was a different person. during the months she spent learning about russian wars and russian people, she also began something notable. on February 24, 2019. she went back to wordpress.com after all these years and created something that had been brewing somewhere deep in her mind all this time.
“write something, yeah it might be worthless. paint something, yeah it might be wordless. pointless curses, nonsense verses. you’ll see purpose start to surface – no one else is dealing with your demons, meaning maybe defeating them could be the beginning of your meaning, friend.” ~kitchen sink
she was embarrassed – who had a ‘blog’ these days? her friends had instagram but her (wise) parents had said a gentle but emphatic no. she knew that she didn’t want it, really, anyways. so she made the flood, and brought it with her wherever she went. it was a journal, and an outlet, a place for her art, and a tribute to her favorite people as well as the band that changed her life.
a lot of life happened while she was reading war and peace. she learned a lot about people, about her friends. she learned a lot about who she wanted to be and who she wanted to be with. and one day she was sitting in the sun on a beach by herself and she felt so very discouraged. empty, lonely, angry, hot and frustrated. and she didn’t understand why. so she took her earbuds and turned on self-titled and something happened. she decided to read the Bible. to really read the Bible. and to really pray.
she saw them in person: the two men who had permanently changed her life. she heard tyler’s living, breathing voice and it was something the dreamy eighth grader had never even imagined. and she was so, so very happy.
3:06 am, February 23rd, 2020
i’m sitting in my bed, words swirling through my head as the movie playing in my mind slowly and seamlessly merges into the present. an hour ago i had turned off all the lights upstairs and hurried past my drumset into the bedroom where the guitar, ukulele, record player and art supplies were waiting to embrace me at this late hour. tomorrow is february 24th, and i had suddenly realized something. a year has gone by since the churning ocean in my brain overflowed and flooded into the website where so many of my most precious memories lie safe and sound, guarded by the color yellow and punctuated snugly in with song lyrics.
i realize in a flash that this blog is much more than i thought it would be a year ago. much more than i thought it was a second ago.
i realize that the galloping hooves in my DNA never stopped galloping after all these years. i realize that there’s an artist that’s been boiling inside me since the day I giggled out my first alphabet.
i realize that i never realized any of this until now. i suddenly see in this blog the person who i’ve become. i see at once how in the barely-surviving format of a personal website, the most important forces in my life have been united and translated into the words and images that are the building blocks of the internet.
drawing, writing, music, twenty one pilots, God. how my posts have evolved is exactly how the story of my life has evolved. mom, don’t think that i haven’t been beautifully raised in the Faith and know so much about my religion and have always been first and foremost a Christian. but at some point in every existence a person needs to look at their faith straight in the eyes and decide whether it’s worth giving up their life for. maybe that moment came a little later than most for me, but it happened and i’ll never be the same person i was before.
it’s 3:30 am and i realize what this site has done for me. i realize the people it has brought into my life and the art it has inspired and the loves it has fostered. i realize that over the past year it has finally taken hold of the galloping hooves and lead them into their true pasture. it has been the birth of an artist: of a writer and drawer and musician and thinker and Christian.
i can’t even express exactly what it has done for me; perhaps because it’s now a part of me. the flood and i will forever be entwined around the same burning flame. the hooves galloping through my veins will always be echoing in the words and images on this site. they’re galloping along to my sentences just as they gallop through the drumsticks in my hands, and through the strokes of my charcoal pencil, and through my fingers on the fretboard. they were always meant to create, with their every thud against the ground.
it’s almost 4 am and i feel as if i’ve been split apart into small pieces and put back together again. i think of myself a year ago, fragmented and half-lost yet totally unaware of it. i think of the girl who never looked upwards and marveled at the absolute majesty of the sky. the girl who had been given talents by God but had never recognized herself in them. who was aching for soulmates and purpose but didn’t know how to do anything with herself. and i now see God’s hand in my life.
you can find me with my eyes closed, on the floor, listening to an album that most likely shaped me as a person. you can find me at the piano, playing one of the few songs i know with all of my heart and trying to sing along without any voice cracks. you can find me trying to do physics homework but instead drawing something on the back of the page with more concentration than physics will ever get. you can find me staring at the stars – or at the clouds gliding softly through a blue sky – lost in the wonder of God’s artistry. you can find me breathing too fast and reminding myself that i’m ok, i just need to stop thinking about it for a few seconds. you can find me chewing gum as i run down the basketball court or on the sidewalks somewhere near my house, feeling dead and alive at the same time. you can find me banging the drums as hard as i can, completely disregarding my unprotected ears and regretting it afterwards. you can find me hunched over in bed over a guitar or ukulele, hurriedly writing out lines and chords in my single-subject notebook before i forget them. you can find me in bed with my laptop on my stomach, scrolling through pinterest and laughing at history memes. you can find me behind a book that’s at least 50 years old, glued to the page with a force that every reader knows.
or you can find me here. in my dramatic, metaphorical, occasionally cringey, verbose and apologetically authentic flood.
power to the local dreamer ||-//
“Whatever God wants.” – St. Gianna Beretta Molla
“I want to know you, I want to see, I want to say