I keep this account as one part mom-reassurance (hi from Wherever, I’m still alive etc.,) several parts public catharsis (if I don’t write, I don’t process) and one final part encouragement (traveling when you’re young and short on cash is possible and worthwhile.)  I thrive in movement. As a mid-20s American, every day I am painfully aware of the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing. Ever. Having no idea what I’m doing when I have a home, a 40-hour a week job, and a consistently available community is terrifying (on a good day.) But deliberately inserting myself into an unpredictable lifestyle, one with national borders and new people and location changes every couple of weeks, this fits my mindset. Mentally, I struggle to change. Accepting the restlessness is much easier.


The Leyden Jar is a collection of stories born out of that restlessness and the motion that follows it. The name comes from a particularly moving passage from Moby Dick: “it seemed as though, by some nameless, interior volition, he would fain have shocked into them the same fiery emotion accumulated within the Leyden jar of his own magnetic life.” If you, like me, aren’t particularly up-to-date on your 18th century science terminology, this will help:

Leyden jar (noun)
1. a device that “stores” static electricity between two electrodes on the inside and outside of a glass jar used to conduct many early experiments in electricity. A famous use of the Leyden jar was Benjamin Franklin’s kite experiment, which gave rise to the phrase “capture lightning in a bottle.”

While I expect my endeavors to end more positively than Ahab’s, it is my hope that my life, and the lives of the people around me, can be described as his was — magnetic.

[Currently: occupying a teeny tiny bedroom in West Harlem.]

9 responses to “About

  1. every time i read your words, i cry.
    i am happy and brimming with life knowing you are going, following, wildly and fully.
    write often. sending all of the love.

  2. every time i read your words i cry.
    thankful for you spirit, gretchen.
    thankful for your wild unknowing. your courage, your zeal, your passion, and your life.
    live brimming, live well.
    sending all my love and all of my prayers.

  3. Gretchen, where can I find commentary? I’d love to hear all about your hiking in Cappadocia. I’ve been there many times and stayed in a rockside hotel in Göreme. Not too far out on the plain is a wonderful old caravansarai, dating from camel caravans plying the Silk Road in ancient times. It’s well preserved, quite worth the trouble to get there. Of course, you have gone into one of the troglodyte towns. AMAZING. When you’re on your way to Pammukale, try to take a route that will let you visit Aphrodisias, an amazing Greek ruin in the middle of nowhere. In my opinion, it’s more beautiful than Ephesus. It’s not dug as much, thus is NOT swamped with tourists. The stadium (at Aphrodisias) alone is worth the visit, and it’s little museum has stunning sculpture and bas relief panels. I’ll see if i can find a route for you.
    Love my country! Give it all my love.

  4. So, I stayed home from work today because today would’ve been my brother’s 26th birthday, and I felt like wallowing. I’ve been meaning to check out your blog, and I figured that a dark, snowy morning off was as good a time as any to do so. As I read this description of your aspirations to be electric and magnetic, I am reminded of his radiance. My own personal goal since his death has been to produce more light, to shine. The concept of possessing an internal Leyden Jar is so very inspirational to me, so thank you for giving me some much-needed electricity this morning. Hope you’re having a wildly rad time in Dubai or Turkey or wherever you find yourself today.

    • Tracy. I don’t know why I never responded to this all the way back in March, but I need you to know now how honored I was/am to read this. It’s so encouraging to know that anything my brain produced could give even an ounce of inspiration to you. Thank you for being bold enough to tell me. All my love to you & Michigan, my woman!

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