Classical Crash Course, part three: Mahler? I Hardly Know Her

Mahler spent time in Leipzig, which is where you go if you’re a cool musician, like Bach or Handel. This is the Alte Borse, a concert hall in Leipzig. 

I want to start this blog with an apology to all 4 of you who are reading this so far. On Wednesday, I promised I’d be bringing you Rachmaninoff, but I made a mistake. I thought the piece that I was thinking of was by our pal Rach, but it’s not.

So instead of reading more about our friendly neighborhood Russian composers who were sad all the time, we’re going to talk about an Austrian composer who was sad, but only part-time. We’re also finally moving out of the extra-ness of the romantic movement into the slightly less extra-ness of modernism. When you think of modernism, think “innovation.” Modernists took all the big ideas from romanticism but added a twist – a twist in that they didn’t give an eff. About anything.

Enter Mahler. Mahler was the frontrunner of modernism, having arrived on the classical scene when romanticism was dying out. Unfortunately, although Mahler was a giant of his age, he wasn’t fully respected as a musician and composer until after his death. Since he was a Jew, Nazi Germany was not a fan of his work, so most performances of his music were banned. (At one point in his life, Mahler actually converted to Catholicism so he wouldn’t get overly criticized by the anti-Semitic press.

Mahler has a lot of well-known works. While his best-known is probably Mahler 8, the piece I’ve chosen is a movement from Mahler 5. The piece that I’ve chosen out of this symphony is speculated to be one of the most performed of his works.


If Adagietto were a truly “romantic” piece, it would be breaking a lot of rules. While romantic pieces, like Tchaikovsky’s “None But the Lonely Heart,” are sumptuous and sweeping, Adagietto is…sexy. Although the piece is written in a minor key and sounds somewhat melancholy, it’s actually a celebration of love. In fact, some scholars believe that Adagietto represents a love letter Mahler had written to his wife, Alma (Alma Mahler. Am I the only one who thinks that’s funny?) Here’s the text of that letter, translated from German:

(Also, if your man doesn’t write you love letters, DROP HIM.)

And if you listen closely, you can hear the music reflect these simple words. The repitition of the theme (introduced at the very beginning of the piece by the string section), the dearth of musical “sighs” (like the ones I talked about in Tchaikovsky), accompanied by some dissonant chords during the climax of the movement, which may represent his “lament.”

Before Mahler met Alma, he had quite the reputation with the ladies. Alma knew this, and wasn’t too keen on meeting him. But when she did, sparks flew and they were quickly married (she was already preggers, btw.) Their married life was not easy. Like most artists, Mahler was tempermental, and Alma was prone to be flirtatious. In 1907, their young daughter died of scarlet fever, and that same year Mahler was diagnosed with a heart defect, which ended up killing him in 1911.

Although there was difficulty in their marriage (as there is in any marriage), there’s no doubt that Mahler had a passionate love for his wife – how else could you write a piece as sweeping as Adagietto?

So boys, take a number from Mahler. Write her a love song.

a. w.


Classical Crash Course, part two: None But the Lonely Heart

What a sad, sad little man. 

If you try to google how many songs about broken hearts exist, you won’t find an answer easily. Believe me, I tried as I was researching my next victim for Classical Music Crash Course. That probably means there’s an infinite amount, and they’ve been written since the beginning of time.

There are some questions Google can’t answer, like why he broke up with you, or why she left you at the altar, or why she decided she didn’t want to settle down in Russia with you but decided to continue her career as an opera singer.

And that tactful segue brings me to the man of the hour, Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky – you can call him Peter. There’s absolutely no doubt you’ve heard some of Tchaikovsky’s music in your life, whether you realize it or not (The Nutcracker? Hello?) He’s considered a great amongst classical composers, and for good reason. While he wasn’t groomed to become a composer (he was actually educated to enter the civil service), he eventually was able to train at the prestigious Saint Petersburg Conservatory in Russia.

And Peter was sad. Sad people often write the best music, if we’re honest (hi, Adele.) His mother died when he was very young, and that started a long life punctuated by bouts of deep depression. Scholars also note that Tchaikovsky may have been homosexual, and the suppression of his sexuality played into his tendency toward solitude.

But what’s a good sad story without a broken heart? Remember how I mentioned an opera singer earlier? At around age 30, Tchaikovsky was infatuated with a young soprano named Desiree Artot, and they were engaged to be married at one point…until she put her career before him and broke it off. He later claimed that Desiree was the only woman he ever loved. At the age of 37 he got married to a former student. The marriage lasted two and a half months. Awkward.

All of that to say, Tchaikovsky was sad more often than not (after all, he lived in Russia. Have you seen the kind of weather they have? Also, communism.) So obviously, he wrote a piece with this title:


(Did I mention Tchaikovsky was a romantic composer? Remember how I talked about how romantic composers were very extra?…yeah.)

In 1869, Tchaikovsky wrote a set of six romantic pieces for voice and piano. “None But the Lonely Heart” was the last one to be written. It’s based on a poem by Lev Mei, “The Harpist’s Song” (are harpists sad?) which he got from Johann Goethe, a philosopher dude who wrote about Satan and heartbreak a lot (kind of like me.)

Check out the text, and get the tissues out.

None but the lonely heart
Can know my sadness
Alone and parted
Far from joy and gladness
Heaven’s boundless arch I see
Spread out above me
Oh what a distance drear to one
Who loves me
None but the lonely heart
Can know my sadness
Alone and parted far
From joy and gladness
Alone and parted far
From joy and gladness
My senses fail
A burning fire
Devours me
None but the lonely heart
Can know my sadness.

Well okay then. (Unpopular opinion, but I think this would make a great Metallica cover as well.)

But if you think about it, I think a lot of us have been there…maybe in our more melodramatic moments, but a broken heart feels pretty bad. After all, it’s inspired a lot of heart-wrenching songs across the board – songs that we have pounding through our earbuds when we’re wallowing in self pity (“I Hate Everything About You” has been my personal fave in the past, not gonna lie.)

Broken hearts are as old as time. Even though the video I shared doesn’t feature voice, you can still hear the melancholy. Tchaikovsky’s piece features something called a musical sigh (I think there’s a more technical term, but I forget what it is. I was only a music major for one semester.) You can hear a brief example at 00:12 of the video. It’s almost as if the music takes a brief breath, like someone does when they’re sobbing and need more breath to cry. You can almost imagine the violin player (the impeccable Joshua Bell) stretched across a chaise lounge surrounded by roses or something. Very sad.

Any observations from this piece that caught your attention? Spout off in the comments. I promise not all the pieces I choose will be about sadness or Satan. Next time, we will be looking at another Russian boy – Rachmaninoff!

a. w.

Classical Crash Course, part one: Danse Macabre

Those fibulae, with THAT tibia? Girl, please.

I don’t even remember the first time I went to our local symphony. It wasn’t an odd way for our family to celebrate a special night out. Almost annually, my parents took us to see the Nutcracker. I remember one night my brother and I listened to the music as we fell asleep. We both developed a love for that music early on (my brother was/is obsessed with Star Wars, so he had John Williams playing somewhere in the house more often than not.) Without a doubt, classical music in general is ingrained in my childhood and in my adult life.

Call me a fish in water, but I think classical music is important. And by classical, I mean symphonic and orchestral music in general. Classical is a term most people use as a blanket statement to cover all eras of orchestral music, from Baroque to the Romantic period. The actual “classical” era of music was between 1750 and 1820, but you’re not wrong to use the blanket term. (More on the jargon later.) Classical artists set the stage for themes and motifs that are still used in contemporary music today. They developed the theory and technique that musicians still use. Some might say that this is pigeonholing music in general – only giving credit to classical artists. And I’ll agree – the world has a wealth of music, but I think the music that has influenced us the most in Western culture is what we think of as our “classical” music (Bach and Beethoven and all those guys. It’s a deep and abiding part of our musical tradition, though we’ve been influenced by other cultures of music as well. But that’s not really my area of expertise.)

So instead of shooting off at the mouth about classical music, I’m going to…shoot off at the mouth about classical music. But in a more rhetorical way. Hopefully. But not so rhetorical that it’s pretentious, yeah? Okay. So in the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a series on “classical” pieces that you should know. If anything, you can use the mini tidbits of information to impress your friends. I hope these little write-ups on some truly *classic* (haha) pieces will help you appreciate where we’ve come from as a culture of music.

Our first victim: Danse macabreopus 40, by Camille Saint-Saens (sahn-SOHN)

First of all, what the heck is an “opus?” An opus can mean two things: a composition by a particular composer, arranged by date; or any artistic work by any artist. The latter definition is used more melodramatically (“His painting was his last great opus“) where the former definition is more straightforward – it’s simply a fancy way for composers to put their music in order for posterity’s sake. Think of the first definition when you think of classical pieces.

Who is Camille what’s-his-face? He’s not a hipster, in that you’ve probably heard him before (if you’re listening to Danse right now, it probably sounds familiar.) One of his other famous works is Carnival of the Animals (this movement, “Aquarium,” also probably sounds familiar to you.) Saint-Saens wrote in the Romantic era of music, which is exactly what it sounds like. Everyone was very dramatic all the time. The Romantic era of music coincided with the literary movement Romanticism. In general, everyone was extra about everything – their emotions, their usage of words (have you read a book by Charles Dickens?!), and their music. Saint-Saens was very extra. Think Lady Gaga at the 2016 Superbowl level of extra.

So what’s Romanticism? Like, kissing and stuff? Sort of? Romantic composers went to extreme, in that their music would be very soft one minute and hecka loud the next, as you might notice in Danse. They also used range as it related to the notes they use – you can hear that in the dynamic violin that dominates the Danse piece. Not for the faint of heart. One last characteristic that’s important to this particular piece is the huge as heck orchestrations. You can hear that in the grandiose sound of Danse.

Now that these questions have been semi-adequately answered, let’s look at the piece itself. Make sure you’re listening right now, mkay? 

Danse macabre is what intellects like to call a tone poem. The piece is literally based off a poem written by a French poet named Henri Cazalis. And if you know anything about the word “macabre,” you can guess what the poem is about (generally.) Yep. It translates to “Dance of Death.” The piece that Saint-Saens wrote is literally meant to tell the story of the poem using musical motifs instead of lyric motifs. And guess what – the poem is weird. 

Zig, zig, zig, Death in cadence,
Striking with his heel a tomb,
Death at midnight plays a dance-tune,
Zig, zig, zig, on his violin.

The winter wind blows and the night is dark;
Moans are heard in the linden-trees.
Through the gloom, white skeletons pass,
Running and leaping in their shrouds.

Zig, zig, zig, each one is frisking.
The bones of the dancers are heard to crack-
But hist! of a sudden they quit the round,
They push forward, they fly; the cock has crowed.

If that isn’t a trip, I don’t know what is. (Opioids were a big thing in the 19th Century. Just sayin’.)

But if you really listen to the piece, you’ll really see that it mimics the cadence of the poem itself. At the beginning, the harp plays the same note twelve times – the stroke of midnight. Just listen to the initial tritones of the solo violin. Arresting, right? In music, tritones are considered “the Devil in music” because they sound so ugly and weird (most church music in Medieval times was not allowed to include tritones. Obvs.)

And then the freaky graveyard dance starts, because dead people are into that kind of thing. To make things better, they are literally dancing with Satan, who has an affinity for the violin in both classical music and bearded folk/country bands. If you ever wonder what skeletons sound like when they’re having a ghostly hoe-down, listen to the xylophone – it’s meant to sound like bones rattling around. Yeah. Bones. Thanks, Satan.

After the two main themes of the music get tossed around by different sections of the orchestra (the two main themes are the fluttery notes you hear at the beginning by the flutes and then the grandiose, eerie string theme), the whole orchestra comes in with one last hurrah. It’s the pinnacle of the ghostly dance – but then, the music abruptly stops and you hear one singular instrument: an oboe. The oboe is supposed to represent the rooster crowing, signifying that dawn has come. Satan’s gotta hoof it before the sun comes up, but before he does, he plays one last melancholy line on his fiddle, then all the bones gotta scoot.

So there it is. Danse macabre, the Dance of Death. It’s ironic that I’m starting this series with a piece about death, but I thought the dynamism of this piece would be a good place to jump in.

Give this piece a listen – I’d love to hear your thoughts. Next week, get ready for a whole lotta Russian love with Tchaikovsky!

a. w.

What Art Isn’t.

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A few years ago, a critic in my hometown was reviewing a local art festival, which has become a huge community event for our city. He was complaining about how he felt the nature of the event had become somewhat plebeian, where art was subjected to the votes of regular people, and those regular people tended to gravitate toward the “fun” pieces instead of the “thought-provoking” ones. For example, one artist placed a loch-ness monster-esque creature in the river that runs thought the city. People were delighted by it, finding it quirky, creative, and eye-catching, and it of course made it into the top ten final pieces of the festival. The critic was lamenting how other pieces were overlooked, such as striking portraits or daring pieces of art that were on display in our museums. Why subject tasteful pieces of art to the insatiable desire of common people, who only want to see what’s big, loud, and colorful?

In a sense, what the critic was saying was, “That’s not art.”

I visited ArtPrize, now entering its eighth year of exhibition in Grand Rapids, this past weekend, taking in all the details not only of the art, but of the culture of my city that I never saw before. After eight years, ArtPrize has grown from a simple exhibition of different pieces of art to a celebration of the Grand Rapids community – food trucks from local businesses lining the streets, people from all over the community spreading their crafts out on the sidewalk with handmade signs boasting cheap prices, buskers galore –

But all I saw was art.

I saw art in people walking down the street, their clothes, their faces telling their stories. The air smelled like art – elephant ears, artisan coffee, pizza by the slice. And the main event, the actual art, was all around me too. The art museum was full to the brim of the quintessential and the quirky – a spaceship made completely out of household materials right alongside modern renderings of Mary Magdelene.

I didn’t walk past one person, one food truck, one painting, and say, nose in the air, “That’s not art.”

We were created by a Creative Being. When He separated the light from the darkness, he saw two huge murals, one illuminated, one in shadow. He then began to paint on those murals. Everything you see was meticulously crafted together by skilled hands.

“There is not one square inch in the whole domain of our human existence,” said Abraham Kuyper, “over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!'”

So to say something isn’t art is heresy. It’s to say that God doesn’t exist. There is no such thing as the absence of art. Leave your definition of art at the door. “Art is a painting.” “Art has to be sophisticated.” “Art is cultural.” “Art is a luxury.” Throw these away. Because everything you see is art. The people you see, the food you eat, the paintings you admire. Art.

I want you to know that my definition of art is one that you might not have heard before. Everything can become a work of art. Everything can be redeemed.

The next time someone tells you that something isn’t art, ask them, “Then what is it?”

Every square inch.

Dreams vs. Goals.

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Hello, internet. It’s been awhile since I’ve checked in on you guys. (It hasn’t been, actually. I check the internet every day to find out more about Kim Kardashian’s baby, obviously. But it’s been awhile since I’ve written.) Life has been busy for me. I recently moved, made adulty decisions like what internet service to use, found a boyfriend (!), and started my last semester of college. I set a goal for myself to post at least once a week, but…life. And also writing is stressful (will write a post about it. Stay tuned.)

Speaking of goals, you probably noticed that word is in the title, so that’s obviously what I’m going to be talking about, right? Well, that’s my goal. (Wink.) After reading through all my childhood journals, I started thinking about how much I have changed. When I was nine, I wanted to be a writer, or a spy, or a cartoonist, or a writer-cartoonist-spy. At thirteen I wanted to write novels and make money off it (ha.) In high school, I wanted to be a teacher one year and an actor the next, until I took a career assessment test and found out I’d make a great funeral planner (no thanks. I’d rather die.) I started college as a music major, then I moved to broadcasting, and I still have a broadcasting major but don’t think I’ll actually use it for broadcasting, but instead go on to get my masters in marketing (big question mark there.)

So here I am as a senior in college, and it’s safe to say my dreams have changed every year of my life. My career dreams, my relationship dreams, my life dreams. They’ve all changed pretty fluidly. In second grade, my biggest dream was to own a gold Honda van and be an ice cream lady. Big. Dreams. At 21, my biggest dream is to be able to take a nap this weekend. That’s only a little bit of an exaggeration.

My “dream,” in general, is to write and create in whatever job I end up in. But I’m not sure if I’d call that a “dream” anymore. The more I’ve thought about what dreams and what they are, the more I’m turned off by the idea of having “hopes and dreams.” I’d rather not live my life in abstracts. Dreams are fickle, and I’d rather not live a life of dreams.

For a long time, I had a dream of becoming an actress. I wanted it really badly. I’d sing through entire Broadway albums when my parents weren’t home, I’d stage musical numbers in the shower – I wanted it so bad. Wanted. But I didn’t set up a goal. I just imagined things would eventually fall into place and I’d magically find myself in New York City with a paying acting job.

But take into account how much work it takes to be a full-time professional actress. You have little to no down time. Your entire life revolves around perfecting your craft, keeping your body in immaculate shape, and do everything you can not to get sick – or worse, vocal nodes.

I totally understand that some people have big dreams like these and actively chase them. They work their tails off working, training, and auditioning to finally make it. A lot of times that hard work pays off. But it didn’t take me too long to realize that for me, that dream was just that – a dream, and nothing more.

It was the same with being a full-time writer – little more than lip service. I didn’t have anything to show for that dream. No plan lined up to make that dream a reality. Is it good to dream? Of course it is. I still hope that somehow by some turn of fate I could end up a Hollywood actress or Broadway singer. But those aren’t my goals. 

My goal is to work for something I believe in, in every aspect of my life – at work, at home, with or without a ring on my finger, with or without a child or children, with or without multiple degrees. That goal is definitely reachable, and it’s something I’m willing to work for. The saddest stories are the ones where people’s dreams remain unfulfilled. Attainable goals are easier to fulfill

All of that to say, I think we can do away with “dream” language. Dream job, dream house, dream this and that. Because your dreams are usually fixated on one particular thing: that one partner, that one amazing car, that one specific job. Goals can encompasss every aspect of your life. You can see them play out in real time. Maybe you have a goal to graduate. What can you do to expound on that goal? Start searching for jobs before you get a diploma? Make a plan to travel the world after you graduate? And what about after that? Goals are growable and adaptable. As a freshman, my goal was to graduate in four years. I’m graduating in three and a half. My next goal is to find a career by summer 2018. Who knows where that will go.

Kick the dreaming to the curb. What’s your goal?

“For those who build their life on dreams

it’s prudent to recall

A man with moonlight in his hand

holds nothing there at all.”

“To Each His Dulcinea,” Man of La Mancha

– a. w.

Ceaselessly into the Past: A Look at Journals, Conclusion: A Troubled Heart

Do you remember how it felt to move into college? It almost felt like going away to summer camp. You’re put in this tiny room where you’re going to live for an extended period of time with a complete stranger who kind of weirds you out and are directed around for a week-ish of orientation and mixer games until BOOM. Classes start and you feel like you got hit by a truck.

I did that twice.

Yes, friends. I’ve talked about it a little bit, but not in too much detail. In August of 2014, I moved into Hillsdale College. Five days later, I moved out. I was terrified, alone, homesick, and having existential crisis after existential crisis.

(Audrey, calm down. That’s how everyone feels when they move into college…) Well, I guess I just wasn’t prepared. Was it fear that motivated me? Probably. But would I make the same choice again? You bet your bottom dollar.

I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had since I made that fateful decision. In September of 2014, I moved into Cornerstone University. One day later, I started classes. Three years later, I’m starting my senior year. No regrets.

But freshman Audrey, 18 years old and tossed about on buffeting waves of choices and their consequences, wouldn’t say the same. She spent her first fall semester of college crippled by fear and anxiety (like most freshmen, am I right?) She thought about transferring multiple times. She thought about changing her major (she did. I have a semester’s worth of music classes under my belt, in case you were wondering.) She thought she would be married by the time she graduated (HA. She fell prey to the Christian college mentality.)

And somewhere in there, she started to journal. Ish. So here we go:

Journal #5: No name (I wasn’t that creative anymore. It was just a red composition book from Meijer.) October 2014 – July 2016 (I think. It is rather unclear.) 

The quote at the bottom is from Frankenstein the Musical. Yup. You read that right. There’s a musical. About Frankenstein. And it’s actually pretty legit so don’t judge me. Ok judge me.

So here we are in October of 2014. It’s chilly and Audrey has found a moment to pour out her thoughts. She’s sitting in the lounge of Pickitt Hall (I remember this part but not much else) and finds time between homework to jot something down:

24 October 2014

It’s been a long time since I’ve journaled. The first time was when I got this thin little journal from my aunt (was it my aunt? I think so. There was a sparkly pen with it. It lit up when you wrote something.) (Good memory, kiddo.) It had this cartoon angel on the front (Remember?) I think I was nine? Ten? (Eight.) …I kind of stopped [journaling] in high school because I couldn’t find any time. I should find those journals and read them (What a great idea! Then share them with the Internet, ok?) I was a weird child (yes.) Er, creative. Both. Whichever one. (Both is good.)

For years people have been telling me “You should journal! It will help you organize your thoughts/reduce stress/help you figure out your life!” Well, maybe, but

1) My thoughts are just as messy on paper as they are in my head; 

2) Journaling feels like an obligation and therefore a stress-producer;

3) My life has never been resolved through writing things down. Maybe that will change. It’s cheaper than therapy, anyway. (Cue laughter.)

So what do people usually journal about?…I think [famous writers] have an innate sense that they’re going to be famous so they make sure everything they write is elegant and extemporaneous. Or they are just innately good writers and therefore get famous. (The rest get blogs.)

So there’s your introduction to 18-year-old Audrey at a turning point in her life. You can tell that from October 25’s entry:

How about I start with this: Who am I? Good question. I don’t think I can answer that. I was just thinking how weird it is that we define ourselves by who we are when who we are is constantly changing. Can one be defined by that which always changes? Maybe that’s the answer. Who are we? Constantly changing things. Who am I? That which is never the same. 

Someone get this girl a blog. She’s hopeless. And she’s feeling the weight of 18, apparently:

I’m learning a lot in college. Not just conventional things like what I’m paying to learn, but other things too…For example, I’ve learned that eighteen may possibly be the most insecure age there is (oh honey it gets worse.) That’s why everyone feels they need to be in a relationship or talk about all the great things they’ve done. They’re starting to feel the pressure of adulthod. I know I am. Seeing people who know exactly what they want to major in make me feel like I should know too. People who are in relationships make me feel like I should be in one (story of your life.)

So here’s what we know about Audrey so far: She’s confused and she wants a boyfriend. Is that what I’m getting here? She’s also paranoid. October 27:

I feel as if there’s never a time during the day when I’m not being scrutinized. There’s never a time when I’m completely alone, without fear of someone walking in or watching or staring at me (that’s called living in a dorm.) Just now someone looked at me, smiling and laughing in my direction. Why? What’s wrong with me? 

On October 28 I wonder if I’m attractive. Who doesn’t? Image is still a difficult thing to handle in college. You can still feel the judgment of high school seeping over (I know I did.)

On November 4, 2014, Audrey fell in love. She would stay that way for two and a half years. She met someone, and in her insecurities, latched onto him, thinking he was her only shot. (You can imagine how that went.) But she’s real excited on November 5. Everything seems to be falling into place.

She talks about Hillsdale on November 10. She’s still having dreams about it, but claims that the doubts are gone (they never go away.)

And then a little introversion –


I went to a dance tonight. I always go out thinking I’ll have a great time, but I always stand to the side and watch awkwardly. This was the first time I went with extroverts who wanted to dance. I just wanted to dress up and look pretty. My outgoing friend pulled my arm all night so I would dance. I said I didn’t like the song. “No one does,” she said. That really hit me. Is everyone as uncomfortable as me?

And on 11/22 –

Sometimes I think of myself as an F Scott Fitzgerald character: a narcissistic, restless, overly-romantic youth…I feel displaced. Restless. Confused. Bored, sometimes. Hopeless other times. Scared. Childish. Recently, lovesick for someone I’ve only known for three weeks and only seen three times. But you know me, making a big deal of little things. (that won’t change any time soon!)

So we find our little heroine troubled. She longs for something that she can’t have, but she still has hope. She’s about to enter one of the most stressful times of her life. Winter of 2015 was not a good one. She had an overload of classes, a lovesick heart, and a mind full of anxiety. I remember a lot of painful, bitter tears being shed during that time. Life just did not seem to be coming together for me.

But looking back, I realize how much all of that taught me, and I couldn’t be prouder of myself for enduring that and becoming the woman I am today. She still has a long way to go, but she’s made leaps and bounds in the right direction.

So I’ll conclude this short series with a little tidbit of knowledge from our heroine. Where will she go from here? No one knows. She doesn’t journal anymore (she blogs, which might be a mistake, but we’ll see.)


The heart is the harbor of love. If God is the author of love, then the heart must be God’s harbor. But what if the heart is not full of God, full of love – what is it filled with? That is a dangerous, tempestuous harbor, one that no sailor would find refuge. Let your heart be the refuge of the sailor Love, who tosses wearily from wave to wave in hope of a safe haven. Why not calm the waters of your heart and whisper, “Author of Love, you are welcome here. You who calm every storm, calm my troubled waters.”

a. w.

How to Succeed in Crushes Without Really Trying


What’s it like to have a crush in your twenties? It sucks.

I developed a small crush at the beginning of the summer. But you know how “small” crushes go. I mean, there’s a reason it’s called a crush. We were chatting online and I found that our similarities (and our differences) were attracting me to him. I was excited to meet him – y’know how those butterflies can be. But a few weeks after sporadic texting, he dropped the bad news (bad news for me, anyway) – he was into someone else and they were going to start dating.

I felt like any dramatic teenage girl at that moment, completely floored. (I responded with a “that’s ok” but YOU KNOW it wasn’t the truth.) In short, it hurt. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, it just wasn’t meant to happen.

But do crushes go away once that happens? Aw heck no.

I think it’s safe to say we’ve each had a few crushes in our lifetimes. The stupid elementary school ones, the even worse “I’m-gonna-be-alone-forever” high school ones. College ones are tricky. I’ve had a few flash in the pan crushes, but on a small Christian college campus, everyone knows everyone and they can give you the low-down (“oh he’s got issues,” “he’s dating someone” – usually they are cuz it’s a Christian college campus, haha.)

Having a crush utilizes every corner of the spectrum of human emotions – or at least it seems like it when you feel yourself developing one. Elation, joy, hope, despair, rage, Netflix binging, water faucet tears (don’t leave me hanging, here.) It feels like insanity.

Because it is!

I bet that made you feel a lot better about your current crush, didn’t it?

But for real – insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. You develop crushes on a rolling basis and expect a different result, but the end of the road is usually disappointment – unless you have really good luck.

Before I go further, I’ll tell you that it is totally okay to have a crush on someone. In fact it’s pretty normal. We want to feel wanted by someone we want, so it only makes sense.

It’s when it becomes all-consuming that it gets risky. Take it from someone who’s been there multiple times.

In short (short?) having a crush brings out a nasty little monster called idealization. We think that if we could just be with that person, everything would be swell. Girls especially (men, chime in if you do this too) idealize all day long. We picture cute dates, fun pictures, even weddings (yup, weddings.) Because at this stage we don’t have much to go off of about our crush, because chances are we don’t know them all that well. So our brains fill in the blanks (also called the Halo Effect. Pretty tricky stuff.)

The last big crush I had was in high school. I was pretty dead set on marrying the kid, because I was 15 years old and definitely knew what I wanted. Inevitably, it didn’t work out because it simply wasn’t meant to be – a hard concept to accept, but a good discipline to adopt nonetheless. In fact, that ordeal taught me something, and like I’ve said before, if something teaches you a lesson, it wasn’t a waste.

So here I am, still in the process of getting over a hyper-idealized crush. When you’ve made a crush into an idol or ideal in your mind, it’s a hard thing to shake. So don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t just disappear instantly in a puff of smoke. It’s almost a daily struggle. How do I divert my attention off this? What can I do to lessen this idol? I confess I haven’t gone about it in the best or most mature ways – emotions, am I right? But every step is a step in the right direction.

So take a tip from your friendly neighborhood coffee shop blogger – don’t let a crush crush you. You’re too good for that. Take it a step at a time. I look at it this way – you are a person worthy of being loved and cherished, and if you end up not finding that in the object of your desires, then let it be. You don’t have to get bitter or Taylor-Swift-crying-mascara-tears about it.

“When I find myself in times of crushes, Blogger Audrey comes to me, typing words of wisdom, Let it Be.”

– The Beatles, maybe

a. w.