The Book and the Compass

writing, living, learning, and posing the occasional dumb question

Normalcy Stories (Colorado, 2017)

Normalcy Stories

  1. Colorado, 2017


            It had been on a family camping vacation when I was about fifteen or sixteen. On that particular obnoxiously sunny day we were hiking through this wind-hollowed gorge with a gentle breeze around our faces, making for some waterfall that my parents had been telling me was “just up ahead” for the last hour.

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the Sea God

You’ve been waiting for fifteen minutes.

            The air around you is full of amiable, yet distant chatter: couples meeting, families stopping in the shade to rest, children cavorting around the statue.

            You look up – the figure represented is almost grotesque. Its features are twisted into an unrecognizable, unsettling expression. The figure’s limbs are thrust out at almost impossible angles in a position that could recall the excitement of sudden motion, or incredible pain. It is an old legend brought to life, they said, the old sea god of contradictions. Fickleness and fidelity, love and wrath.

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Book Review #1 – If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler

            Because I suddenly got the compulsion to do this, I’ve decided to broaden my repertoire and start reviewing books that I read. I love reading, I love thinking about what I’m reading, and I particularly love talking to people about the things that I read. Since I’m starting to annoy the people I know in real life, I’m going to start bothering the internet with it.

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digesting poetry

When I was young I used to try and read books of poetry end to end, as if pulled together they created some larger story that I could understand.


Now I read poems as I drink whiskey. Taken one at a time, far apart, with one or two enough to fill your whole chest with warmth and sensation.


Or as a ripe guava—so rich that one alone is enough.

Author’s Notes: None today, you all are spared.

How to Stand on an Edge

It’s really very easy.

What’s hard is looking on either side of you—

            this way or that way?

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the forest

When I was small my grandfather took us walking in the wooods. They were not “woods,” really, but a park. A preserved grove between the two busiest roads in the center of a very sleepy little town. It had its own walking-path map set up in the gravel parking lot.

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He tries to riddle them out. They call him all manner of things because being known & seen is uncomfortable and unfamiliar for them.

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            The stars here hung low and large, and moved at a leisurely pace across the sky. He could barely remember what the stars had looked like where he had begun, but there was the impression of high and bright needle points of light somewhere in the back of his mind (beautiful, and yet impossibly far away). From where he sat now the stars seemed almost tangible, within an arm’s reach.

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work hard, fret a bit

Having been until very recently immersed in the “I’m so busy and stressed out and I can’t handle my life right now” kind of university lifestyle, I realized today that there were a few things that I wanted to say about it. Today I got a sudden second wave of inspiration to try and get some academic work of mine published. I’m really excited that I’m going to start going through this process, but at the same time I’m nervous about doing it.

But I recognized that this stress is kind of a good sign. With the caveat, of course, that too much of it is really bad for one’s mental and physical well-being. But being stressed out is mostly a sign that you really care about doing the best that you can on a project, or being the best you can be when you present your work to a colleague, mentor, or authority figure. It can be serious negative energy, but its also a powerful sign of drive. It’s stressful (and it should be), but right now that’s just a sign that I’m pushing myself forward.

I’m becoming more and more aware that every post that isn’t my own creative work just sounds more and more like me life-coaching myself.

- B&C

(the Tumblr version)


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