Wednesday, April 30, 2008


This morning, after snoozing for a half hour (which I planned), praying a bit, then falling directly back to sleep (which I didn't) I had this dream. I was with my sister and was climbing on a roof. The view was lovely even though it was dark and I loved being up so high, but realized too late how high I was, how little space there was to maneuver, and that I wasn't going to be able to get down. I ended my dream straddling a very steep corner trying to figure out where I could drop from and too. When I woke up the brow-furrow which I am certain will be deeply etched into my grown-old face was visible and inflamed. I hate these kinds of dreams. (I feel better after talking to a parent, apologizing to my poor roommate, and taking another nap.)

On a similar note, I've been thinking about being serious. I just graduated college (!) and so have been thinking a lot lately about being an adult. Something I've realized: being an adult (a serious/real person) doesn't mean being serious all the time. I think that people who are not serious people are people who either take everything too lightly or everything too seriously. I'm reading Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (really enjoying it so far) right now and the main character, Milkman, is 31, single, and just ended things with his longtime mistress with a note of gratitude and some cash. He works for his dad and his direction in life is "wherever the party is." He's self-centered, cruel because of it, and he doesn't take anything seriously because he's never made any difference in his world (maybe?)--it's outside himself and so doesn't interest him.

On the other hand are people who take everything seriously. I don't have a character in mind, but the kind of person who's shaken by every wind, who stresses out about everything, maybe me on bad days. This kind of person thinks that they have control over their lives, thus every change of plan shakes their foundation, because if they don't have control over everything, what do they have control over? People who take everything seriously are also not serious people--if all that exists in your world are the things you create, your world is a) very small and b) only tenuously related to reality. There is also a self-centeredness here, if your universe exists only within your control, you are the center of your universe.

So it seems that adults, serious real people, are those who have come to peace with their place in the world. They know what they can and cannot, what they must and shouldn't take control over. And of course this doesn't happen immediately or easily of course, but is a process. (Or is it? I think for some people it's more natural than others...) This reminds me of a talk I heard by a former stake president. He said that conversion will never be true or lasting, it will never have the power to keep you going unless it is based in awe. If you're living the gospel for any other reason you will become exhausted and burn out. Only a relationship with the Savior that takes into account your relationship to him (awe) will get you through.

This is what I think it's about: realizing that we are nothing, but that we're also everything. To relate it back to the seriousness argument, that we have very little control of the world around us but we have control of us...that we are nothing in the universe yet capable of building ourselves into it in a meaningful way.

But this awe isn't something that comes easily to me. So I was wondering: what inspires awe in you? How do you remind yourself of your own nothingness before God and his greatness and longsuffering toward you?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I love this time of year

because after walking into a building on campus (dusting, turning in library books, etc.) after a lovely if slightly overcast stroll in the afternoon that smells like every sweet thing you've ever imagined I overheard a panicked "it's snowing?!?" No, silly passerby, it's not snowing, those are petals of blossoms and they're falling off in the wind.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Moving Truck

After a record-breaker for helping people move this week (really only 2 big ones. Really they weren't that big) I have come to the conclusion that I am good at moving. This has been very reaffirming as you don't often come across those forgotten, tucked-away talents. I am good at organizing things into boxes. I'm good at labeling those boxes. I'm pretty good at organizing boxes, as well as large furniture, into vehicles and sheds and small rooms (a second opinion often helps) in an efficient way. I'm also very strong. Little known fact, but I can lift a bunch.
Yes this is an open invitation, I would love to help you move. I've been tickled to be able to put my skills to good use.
I think this all started with a family that moved a lot. We once moved an only slightly abbreviated household from one place to another in a single day and were set up playing Dr. Mario that evening. My mom is a genius at this stuff. And I'm just mildly OCD. In certain areas of my life, like box packing.
In an (mostly) unrelated field: I'm getting very tan. This pleases me to no end.
Let the summer commence.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


This is what I'm dealing with: I don't know what I want with my life. A pretty familiar tune from a recently graduated single kid. And I know the answer: I want to be happy. And I'm pretty sure there are steps that I can (and should) be taking toward this all but nothing feels good or right right now. I'm to the point that it feels like the best option would be some sort of oblivion--I don't hurt anyone else, they don't hurt me, I can just sit and watch.
But of course this isn't an option. Of all the options I have (and there are, admittedly, plenty) just sitting and waiting it out isn't one.
It comes down to doing what I want but I don't know what that is. What do I want? What will make me happy? How much can I expect of myself and how much should I expect of others and is it a good idea to use the way that others see me to give me a reference point or should I try and find some "real" me and what the hell does that mean?
Can I be happy in Provo? Can I be happy in Provo with a pretty good job and family? Is moving away a better option? Is being in a new place with a really demanding job and working on a masters going to solve any of this? You of course do not know the answer. I'm not looking for the answer. More I'm trying to work through this and it feels sticky and dark and dense. I haven't written for these weeks because what is there to write, all time and energy is being sucked into this vortex of avoiding responsibility and realization. Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!!
Also, heard the beginning of This American Life today and it talked about the end of Schindler's list where Schindler starts looking at objects and saying "why didn't I sell this, I could've saved 10 lives." Like the war had ended and he'd done a lot of good, but realized how much more he could've done. I know that's me. I know I'm wasting time in fruitless pursuits but knowing that makes me that much more hesitant to act--like I'm going to waste that time too. Oh dear I'm in a bad spot. But I guess that it's kind of justified? I mean, I did just graduate from college and break up with a good kid for (possibly) the wrong reasons and it is that time of year-- summer=anxiety in my head which is tragic.

On the upside, I keep getting pretty clear signals from Heavenly Father that He's around and that he loves and trusts me. This helps and doesn't help.
Also, I got a job with Orem City doing park duty--cleaning and mowing and weeding. This is actually fantastic because I didn't have to sell my soul to the summer sales industry (which I'll post about later and which makes me really really nervous). I'm planning on getting very tan an blonde and listening to lots of books on tape and podcasts (I'll finally catch up with my 20 unlistened-to This American Lifes) and good music.

And this is the way I'm living lately: swinging frantically from anxious (bursting inexplicably into tears and crap, ech) to hopeful to sad to happy to napping in the sun which I looove. And the answers are always the same...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Where are the hordes when you need them?

So this is me sitting on my front porch thankful for wireless internet and really disappointed that there aren't more kids around. There are a thousand kids in my cul-de-sac. We have tricycles strewn about every flat surface (I had to get out of my car to remove one from my driveway yesterday which put me into crotchety old woman mood in no time flat), we even have one of those "slow, children at play" signs, newly installed. The reason both for my front-porch wirelessing and my rumination on the lack of children is this: I'm locked out of my house. I spent half-an-hour breaking into my back bathroom window (removing the screen) and piling up a makeshift stepstool (a bucket turned into a bucket and a cooler and a bucket (thanks for the cooler Sarah) turned into a bucket and my big black garbage can) only to realize that I am not as tiny nor as sqashable as I'd hoped. Wasn't there a time where if you could get your head through a tight spot you could fit the rest of yourself? When did that stop being true?
So addendum to the plan: get one of the neighborhood ninos to help. I'd lower them into my bathroom, have them run to the front door and unlock it and voila! Problem solved!
Truth be told I do realize the ridiculousness of the plan (though the garbage can is still in place and the back window is still cracked, just in case) and some of the ninos did emerge finally and could I really ask their parents to let me lower them into my bathroom? (The answer of course is no and that that's just silly.)

Friday, April 11, 2008


So there's this odd phenomenon that's haunted me this past couple of years. Let me give some background information on me: I'm kind of a snob. Not a huge one, but when it comes to certain things I have very definite preferences. So music for instance. I listen to stuff that gets radio play but I don't listen to all of it. And I resent listening to much of it. I had a discussion with one of my friends who is a huge Matchbox 20 fan that almost came to fisticuffs. How can you argue that Matchbox 20 is one of the best bands of the decade? They're the vanilla pudding of music: easy to listen to and soulless. Matchbox 20, Third Eye Blind (still hardly decipherable), and more recently The Fray--average white bands. Catchy, but not to be sought after.
The phenomenon is this: I find myself in a position to listen to these songs (usually driving to work listening to the radio) and they become perfect for my life.
Last summer I'd broken up with a boy who I really liked and admired and as I was mulling over this state of affairs while driving to look for jobs, The Fray's song, the "sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same" one, comes on the radio and perfectly reflects my feelings. Damn. Also, the "in over my head" (is this one also by The Fray?) became the unfortunate anthem of the summer before this. Today I was again thinking about a recent breakup and Pat Monaghan's song (I don't remember the lyrics even--a break-up song suffice it to say) came on and I realized that it was to be the anthem of this break-up and consequent period of transition.
Ick. I'm not sure what this says about my subconscious...or maybe it says something about the soulless impersonality of pop. But I don't like it, no not a bit.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Not going to lie, Psalms always kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. They seemed always simplistic and form-less (not an expert on Hebrew poetry obviously) and shallow. BUT, following the example of my President Dr. Kearl, I've been working on reading the Psalms as temple texts and OH! All kinds of cool things have come out of it. Understanding the Psalms, understanding some purposes behind temple worship. Very cool stuff.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


But the story! The story is the thing that connects all of these innumerable selves together!

Derrida and Nephi walk into a bar...

So it's final paper time, and you know what that means: Derrida (also: using my blog to procrastinate). If you'll indulge me I have a thought on perjury, oaths, and grace that seems very cool.

In this essay I'm reading Derrida makes the argument that perjury is an inherently flawed contract. When we make an oath we, in reality, promise two things: one that we'll stick to the oath and two that we'll keep our promise to keep the oath. "I sincerely promised to tell the truth, or I promised this or that, promised to be faithful to my promise, promised to be faithful to my given word, swore to be faithful, period. and then later, for some reason or other, or for no other reason than the return of my wickedness, my malice, or even my loss of love, or even a transformation of myself, or even the sudden arrival of another person, another obligation, or even forgetfulness or distraction, I had to betray. But this betrayal comes about only in a second moment: when I promised-swore, I was sincere, in good faith, I was not perjuring myself. Not yet" (207).

Another argument he makes is that the people we are in discrete moments of our lives are not the people we are. That is, me now is not the same as me in a week. (Katherine warned against projecting our current selves unto our future selves. We can't imagine the way our future selves will make decisions, more on this in a minute.) Derrida again: "It's as if I was not the same, as if 'I' was not identical at several moments of history, of the story to be recounted or recalled, or even at several instants of the day or night...or even with different persons, with all the other to whom I am tied finally by different commitments, all equally imperious..." (198). I think this argument has some problematic assumptions and implications (the conclusion of this essay, for instance, argues that marriage could never succeed because how can you promise all of your future selves to love all the future selves of another person), but there are a couple of cool ideas that I want to tease out, particularly as they relate to my understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

First I think this moment-by-moment characterization of informs the idea of grace. Amanda reminded me a thing about grace yesterday: God gives and will keep giving. We don't know how he does it, but that is the inscrutable foundation of grace. Every time we ask for repentance He will respond. (The Puritanical leanings of my Mormon conscience are getting their hackles up here: wanting to insert sincerely or to an extent here, but the truth of eternal grace is that: it's eternal.) If we look at ourselves as 1681920000 versions of us strung together by means of sharing a body and some common background, it makes sense (am I trying to make intellectual sense of one of the most marvelous miracles of the universe? kill-joy) that Heavenly Father would extend the same privileges of mercy to each of them. Each time we ask we receive because each time we ask we're a different person.

But, but, we know that that can't be completely true. The I I am right now is built on the I I was a moment ago which was made of its previous I. I, therefore, am accountable for the mistakes that the past I's have made--or am I? Derrida equates this accountability with "a second moment of fall" (208). I'm not sure if he's referring to the fall, but I'm going to continue assuming he is to posit this question: if, through the atonement, we are not held accountable for Adam's transgression, is the power of the fall also to free us from the results of our past selves' actions? To allow us a clean slate from them as well? The fall frees us too from the consequences of other peoples' sins...and if that's true it's not too far a leap to equate a living in harmony with ourselves--applying the atonement in such a way that allows us to forgive our past self, forget
her sin, and move forward, with living in Zion: being of one heart and one mind. Interesting.
This also makes an idea the I've been trying to implement that much more pressing: that we must live in the moment. This is the only I that I have power over, and my doing my best to make this I the best it can be is the least I can do for the billions of other (temporal--which is cool) I's that are to come.

This also highlights the importance of forgiveness. I think that the most detrimental result of holding a grudge is that we don't allow the other person to reinvent herself, which is the whole point. It's terribly difficult, this forgiving and forgetting thing, but is what God does best, right? Letting us be the new I ever moment? There's more here...

And my next argument : Derrida mentions that we are tied to other people (or ourselves, I wasn't sure but it might be moot) through commitments. We make covenants and commit all of our future selves to act according to their precepts. Just as covenants draw us nearer to the Lord (at all times and in all things) and to each other (bear each others burdens) sot they draw us up into a more cohesive self. One of the glaring errors in Derrida's argument, or one of the holes, at least, that he leaves us to fill in is this: these innumerable (for us I think) I's are tied together. How can we argue that I am a different girl completely than I was a moment ago or last year? I am formed from and by my decisions to this point--or am I? Is this the goal? To be born again in Christ so completely and so presently that I actually am a different creature in each moment? Is that what eternity is--a renewing so complete and speedy as to resemble, as a motion picture, constancy? And is the power/importance of agency that it can only be used in the present? It can only drive us forward, we must rely on repentance to take care of the past and faith the future. (There's more here...)

So. That's what I've been chewing on. Thoughts anyone? Holes?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Scholar's Lounge

So I did this grad-school prep thing last year through the English Dept. It's a pretty sweet gig--you and dozen of other motivated go-getters gather and strategize about how to get into good programs and talk about what makes a program good and there's much inside joking and inferiority feeling until people get accepted all over the place and we all realize the time was worth it.
And we got to hang out with Nick Mason and Matt Wickman about whom many a delightful anecdote has been told/fantasy has been woven (which knot did you tie, Nick?!).
This is a really long set up for a joke that only 5 of you are going to get anyway.
We were looking for a new name last year for this group last year and when Amanda, Lina, and I found this place in Rome we realized that it would perfectly describe the all of us.
And it's a pub (Irish).
And I think that there should be more pictures of Lina (smirking or not) in the public domain. So.