Monday, September 29, 2008

The longest day

I love James Coburn.

I spent 3 hours on a bus over-crowded with 14-year olds.

Today started a verrry long time ago.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I Heart Sister Beck

I got to go to the general RS meeting with my mom and sister yesterday and it was lovely. a) my mom brought Mini Brie, b) I got to chat with Anne, and Scout afterward, c) President Uchtdorf is dreamy and there was a kind of hilarious general swoon when he got up to speak. But mostly I really like Sister Beck.
She talked about understanding the role and responsibility of Relief Society, its duties and its potential. Her talk was the same kind of hardliner that we've come to expect and which I'm so glad for. Not only because I'm a pleaser/masochist, but because I really believe that the [women in the] church have so much and so widereaching a potential for good. We forget this. We hide behind insecurities and mundane responsibility. I tend to think of Relief Society as something to keep us busy or something else to check off a list, but it was put in place by the Lord, by revelation to contribute in a major way to building the kingdom. When we minimalize its place in the church we minimalize the sacrafices and contributions of the women who work to make it great, as well as our role in the church.
I've felt agitiation here as well: that RS is all centerpieces and fluffy nothingness...but there's more there and, as I thought Sister Beck reasserted, can be even more.
It comes back to this theory I hold, one I've developed in response to feeling out of place or underappreciated or pigeonholed or ignored in the hierarchy: if leaders are really earnest about the "motherhood is the most important thing you can do" deal, if they mean what they say and if we can believe that, than their pushing women toward the home isn't marginalization or subjugation (or reverse sexism or whatever) but really is honor and trust and responsibility. Do we believe them? Do we think they're trying to pull the wool over our eyes?

Sister Beck visited Armenia while I was serving there. She talked about pioneers, about how all those who go before are pioneers. We were stuffed in a too-warm (and lovely) meeting house in Yerevan and I was worried about a couple of my investigators (and the fact that I'd ended up sitting right next to an elder--my companion had wandered off somewhere). I was impressed then, when she was on the YW presidency with her straight-forward articulation and tenacity. She appealed to me as down to earth and real.

After her address at conference last year, I got caught up in the controversy. My great friends had much to say about "that Beck woman" and I know there was a big to-do generally. But to me it seems like the same people who argued against Sister Beck's hard-line approach are the ones who dislike two-facedness in the church, who resist the programs that seem to them extra-curricular, that they also argue for a more earnest, personally challenging approach to gospel living. It seems to me like this is what Sister Beck is proposing: she reminds us what the leaders of the church have said and challenges us to live it fully.

Lately I've been a little frustrated in my spiritual circles (I haven't jumped into my ward and have just begun institute). I want to pep-talk. I want to shake them and say: wake up! This is the most important/crazy/interesting stuff we know about or will ever know about!! Why are we speaking in cliches? Why are we so bored? Why aren't we sharing? I know I tend toward extremes and I think that's why I like Sister Beck. Don't beat, don't soften, encourage certainly, but let's wake up everyone and do this thing. There's much to be done.

Monday, September 22, 2008


So, now that I have an supply closet to use at my discretion, a lifelong desire has been fulfilled, ok a couple, but one in particular: I have all the post-its I could ever ask for.
Thanks to this free-flow of stickies, my method of organization reflects perfectly my method of thought, which is this: think a thing. Sort of forget about it. In one flurried action pull everything pertinent out and hand them all over.
For instance: I never remember quotes intentionally. I tried memorizing on my mission (and after) and it was hardly ever successful. BUT when I'm in the midst of a conversation, pop, I have the quote and it's sometimes paraphrased a little, and sometimes I don't remember who said it, but usually it works great.
Also, my room never stays clean. I do one thorough cleaning once a week, which is desperately needed, because for the rest of my week (or period of panic, depending) I toss clothes and pillows everywhere.
My desk at school is covered almost entirely with notes to myself. You missed a test? I owe her money? 5th period has to stay in at break? Everything is written on teal-blue notes scattered around my room.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Birth of Guilt

Two things:
1. I think I'm slow on the uptake here, but am realizing more and more how little I know about the history of the Jews. Even Holocaust-era stuff. I know things happened and that they were bad and I've read Night and other books and I've seen the movies, but I'm still not sure what happened and when. I feel like that part of history has been so present for so much of my life that I haven't taken any time to make sense of it. But more specifically before that. Even very early Hebrew history I'm not super comfortable with.
The reason why I want to remedy this: someone (Randy?) pointed out that we talk about the lack of American culture. But really, we're entrenched in the Judeo-Christian tradition. We try and deny it and reject it (leave the homeland behind), but we can't deny it. What a shame that I'm fuzzy about a big chunk of the history of the culture that is or defined or gave birth to my own. Weird that I'm claiming my Jewish roots?

2. In my class we're talking about the Hebrews historically. How this sternly monotheistic culture was born of a melee of pluralistic polytheism. One of the points I thought was interesting is that in Mesopotamian polytheism the chaos of the pantheon reflected the chaos of the culture. That is, life was unpredictable, the climate was unpredictable, leaders were unpredictable, and so were the gods.
Judaism steered away from this by establishing God as a constant and loving being. Vengeful, yeah, but essentially (in the truest sense of the word) good. Suddenly, the savage unpredictability of the world is thrown into sharp contrast with the creator. This conceptual rift was the impetus for several important developments in Hebrew culture. 1: history was seen not as a random assortment of events, but as a story. You could study history to see the workings of God--when people were good they prospered, and wars and famine happened because of wickedness or inattention to the covenant. 2: the need for a Messiah. Someone to reconcile our experience with God's. Also the need for the coming of a Messiah to bring order to the world. 3. the need for an afterlife--a place where everyone could just sit and rest and be rewarded for good-doing. 4. guilt. I want to think about this more. But it seems very important and very much like it's shaped the person I am...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sometimes I Even Surprise Myself

like today. I just paid for 5 visits with a personal trainer. I found a "One Week Free" card from 24 Hour Fitness while I was at Puddin' on the Rice the other day (don't worry, irony is hardly ever lost on me) and decided to give it a try.
So far I've been every day. Yoga a couple of times and some cardio stuff and yesterday they tried to sell me on a personal trainer (Amy. Cute as a button, married to a skinny boy, which bodes well somehow) and I said yes. Why not? I kind of feel like I've been on the outskirts of gorgeous all my life and figure I might as well dive in [you can supress whatever urges you're feeling to reassure me at this point] and what it boils down to is that teachers always gain weight their first years, right? Where's the time/energy to run?
I'm really excited though. Just to be healthy and doing. Though...

When I was a freshman I got lost in the Richards (PE) building on BYU campus. I felt sooo out of place, all these beautiful long-legged dancers, etc. It's a little like that at the gym, but mostly not.

Workout people are just like any other kind of geek, I think, just prettier. I heart geeks. :)

History of Love

Every book I read is about someone I know. Maybe it's Joseph Campbell's fault: every story is really the same story, but I think the issue is that I'm much too sympathetic a reader. Sympathetic like when I read Goodnight Mr. Tom in sixth grade I ended up staying awake till my mom came home at midnight, insisted sleeping in her bed, and lay awake listening to her breathe and wanting to reach out and touch her arm.

I finished The Shipping News on my way home from Alaska and Nick was everywhere. I wished he would read it because I found answers there to questions I imagined him asking. Annie Proulx said things I needed to say but didn't know.

The Road with Tim waiting.

Which is where this speech by David Foster Wallace comes in. A little. Not entirely. But about literature's ability to pull us out of our own heads. About feeling less "freakish and alone" (Amanda--who's quote is this?) in the thralls of a good book.

I've just finished the History of Love, and while the English major part of me is pulling things apart, the rest of me feels very glad to be alive. What it left me with is longing (in a good way). Connection. And a desire to share this and say "this part reminds me of that piece you wrote but hated" and "I read this under a tree when I should've been grading" and "you were my Alma."

Monday, September 15, 2008

not really a post

Because I probably will be blogging on this and maybe you want a go at it before I dissect it to answer questions I feel half-formed tickling my subconscious. I think there are accidental answers too. I didn't know about (wasn't aware of at least) Wallace till today...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Just in Case

Hello friendly blog readers. I'm looking to move out of my house (in the proactive "I'm trying to get my life together" kind of a way more than the flaky "I didn't think this all the way through and am now regretting it" kind of a way. Thanks to Katherine for the attitude adjustment. Thanks also to President Dr. Kearl: sunk costs are sunk.) and wonder if you guys will keep an eye/ear open for me? No pressure. Thanks!

I don't know why solitude would be a balm for loneliness.

So I've been trying to think more about the atonement lately. I know that thinking about it isn't the most productive way, necessarily, to increase its power in my life, but I don't think it can/will hurt, and I'm much more comfortable on my intellectual feet than anywhere else really.

Today I was reading in Alma 7. I was trying to pick apart verses 11&12, trying to get what it's saying really, what the promises there are. What does it mean, anyway, to loose the bands of death? There are the obvious answers: the atonement lead to the resurrection, and the atonement reconciles us with God (so we overcome physical and spiritual death), but the problem with the atonement to me is its abstract distance. I don't feel like I'm bound by those bands of death necessarily (the burden of sin, which I am familiar with, as well as relief through repentance notwithstanding) at least not every day. What, then, are the bands of death?

I started to think about things that the Savior did while in mortality. I've always wondered why most of his miracles (at least the ones we hear about) are healings. I tried to think about other things that I've heard/felt that the atonement can do. Bound up broken hearts, right injustices, and got really excited thinking about its alleviation of shame...and what is shame? The feeling that you've done something and can't tell anyone. A feeling of loneliness.

Which brought me to an entirely new train of thought I've been riding: human inability to connect. I'm not so concerned about it now as I have been, but there's still a gnawing sort of (mild) desperation--I live in my head and no matter how hard I try I can't understand or be understood completely.

And where these come together for me is here: loneliness is a uniquely mortal emotion. When we sin, particularly when we try to hide it, we are alienating ourselves from God. Many (most?) sins are sins of alienation: when we lie, we hide our true selves/deeds from others; when we're unkind, we're alienating people; pride is essentially a sin of distance.

Zion, on the other hand, is a state where all is in common. Where hearts are knit together in unity. We know that God doesn't disclose everything all the time, but if, when we're exalted, we become omnipotent, it seems that secrecy--loneliness--is not going to factor into our lives in the same way.

Which brings this out of the theoretical and back to the personal. When I feel the atonement's power most strongly and reassuringly it feels a lot like the opposite of loneliness. It feels a lot like opening long-shut windows on dank rooms that need cleaning (and sunshine). When we come to Heavenly Father and offer him (the secrets of) our broken hearts, our spirits become contrite.

Guest Post

Feeling kind of famous. A little. :)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Grab Bag (Another, Happier, List)

1. I love the BBC. At midnight 90.1's nighttime jazz transforms magically into BBC's morning news and dissuades me from never listening to the radio again. Specifically why though: BBC reporters don't mess around. There's no dancing around propriety or serving special interests. Last week a reporter was interviewing a Russian diplomat about Georgia and asked straight up: "isn't your policy toward East Acetia (sp?) the exact opposite of what it was when you were dealing with Kosovo?" [the diplomat fumbles: "you got mad at us then for that so we changed it..."] And tonight, an anchor was interviewing the union leader for Boeing. "Boeing didn't give you the 13% pay raise you wanted, but didn't they give you a 11% raise" [The union leader changes the subject to pocket-padding executives.] "Let me read you an email from a guy in San Diego who thinks your demands are ridiculous." I love that they're allowed to pick fights just because their accent covers all traces of animosity or ill will. I wish I could do that.

2. Other People's Lives. Have you seen this film? Will you please? Set in East Germany. Though it takes full advantage of the communist color scheme (if color came in chords, it would be a minor chord, what do you call that visually? I love it. I wish my entire house was paneled in dark wood and I could wear only grey), and is not life-sucking or depressing. Very tense, almost soul-breaking for a minute, but just a very very gorgeous film
Can we talk about Germans? Like the bizarre swing from Goethe and gay Berlin to communism to Rammstein, industrial art, and trains that always run on time? Why is this sounding so familiar? Dear my German contingent: any insights?

3. Black Amethyst. Bath and Body Works won me over again. Not since junior high school have I been so excited about lotion. I love their new flavor: not as overwhelmingly sweet as Rose Sandalwood, which I was a fan of but couldn't commit to, but just as warm. I love it. Also, I met the most beautiful man I have ever seen in Park City's BBW. And by beautiful I mean I was staring at him thinking "you're gorgeous" and then he spoke and only then did I realize he was a man. Gorgeous. Erik. Totally helpful and he barbed his way into my heart. He told me he could tell I was from Provo. Ouch. Insulting people is the best way to fall them in love with you. I recognize that this steals all thunder from my post about Provo. I love the place, insult it and beware my wrath, but that's not a nice thing to say to a girl in Park City. (I like to think it was the light in my eyes...)

4. First X-country meet went very well. My runners are great and will only get better. Sunny fall Saturday morning on BYU's track. Orange slices. Not a bad way to kick off a Saturday.

This doesn't mean that I'm not still thinking about Mexico. But it was a very lovely Saturday.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Subtle Nudge

So some friends are starting a podcast and it promises to be amazing. Check out the promo under the "Check Me Out" portion of my sidebar. Word of Mouth. And stay tuned.

Reasons why moving to Mexico is a good idea: (#1)

1. They want me to teach more Geography. Which supposes that I have background enough to teach Geography at all. Which is not even minutely true.

2. My 5-paragraph essay lecture flopped today. I didn't finish it. I made the kids write. They probably didn't feel succesful which means they'll never forgive me or the 5-paragraph essay which, while not the be all and end all of writing, is a damn fine beginning.

3. My internal swearometer is through the f-ing roof.

4. We have a X-country meet tomorrow. I don't know who's coming. Or if they're coming. Was that my job? To chase kids around and remind them to come to practice? Don't they want to play sports? Run? Isn't that the whole point of extra-curriculars, that I wouldn't have to get after them to participate? Aaaach.

5. We've been talking about Gilgamesh--about how the (nameless, interesting) harlot who seduces Enkidu represents civilization (they loved this one) and how there's a big hairy beast in all of us who just wants to run with the antelope and eat grass. True. On the beach.

6. I went to campus today for a poetry symposium and it was elitist and self-important and lovely. Am I really too practical for academia? Really? My perceived failures in this first couple of months of real life beg to differ. I keep scouring my brain for some super esoteric interest that I'd forgotten about which I could hole myself up in an ivory tower writing about. Hopefully that someone would pay me to write about. (Barring that, it seems like waves on a beach would be really conducive to finding an inner rhythm to write poetry to.)

7. This sucks. I tried the postitive thing and the denial thing and the buying cute stuff thing (how many times can I go the Gap in a 3-month period, really?) and it comes down to this: trying to build a new life in a hometown is gut-wrenchingly hard. They're paying me to work hard and long and a lot. And I'm not a total slacker either. I'm tired and I'm still sick and I can't express how delicious the idea of handing in an on-the-spot resignation, packing my stuff into my car and driving to the ocean sounds. Delicious. Better than this year's peaches.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

2008 is Great

This time last election season I was learning the conditional tense in Armenian and figuring out how to eat as little cafeteria food as possible. That is to say, I missed out on most of the action. This year I've been eating it up.
I hope to write more later but: I think that Palin was a genius. Let the press knock her (and they have), but I thought her speech tonight was spot-on. She held herself beautifully and did precisely what a good VP should: defend the nominee and knock the opposition. I cringed when the cowboy hats appeared toward the end of the thing, but I thought she was glorious. Also, the only possible way that McCain could even have a fighting chance.
So now I'm torn again. Sigh.

On being torn: point for adult me--I own Nyquil! It's in my bottom drawer. I can't tell you how happy I am.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Kid half: Of course you should keep blog hopping and should also check out that summer playlist you found. And go to that pre-Sundance screening on campus tonight. Plan lessons later. Read history books later. You can sleep next weekend.

Adult me:

Adult me (I forgot to take off the duct tape, sorry): You should definitely sleep tonight. You're sick and your kids will see right through you. And you have cross country tomorrow.

Both of me: when the room is spinning it is time to take a nap.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Provo is where I live

I was on campus for a second today and it was lovely and I ran into a friend and spent money at the bookstore (and did not return the half-dozen library books that have been in my car for the last week because the BYU operator is not omniscient which was the very essence of disillusionment and the library was not open) and prepped myself for the onslaught of hate.

Since I was in elementary school I've had to deal with people bagging on my hometown. They call it the bubble, they knock the culture, they make fun of the moms and the dads and the kids and though I'm not going to do this as diplomatically as my much more mature sister, I want to get the message out where I can: if you don't like it leave.

Yeah yeah, you're going to school, yeah yeah, you want to get married just as desperately as the rest of us, yeah we are paying for the roads where you park and supporting the Thai food place when you're gone for the summer, and also my friends, are you really telling me that there aren't people you don't like in California?

Provo's great. It's beautiful and clean and people are nice and I'm tired of you dogging my town.

That's it. :)


I'm decorating my room. The furniture is set how'd I'd like it, I love my duvet covered day bed (fantastic idea, Anne), surfaces are still cluttered a bit with odds and ends I haven't found tupperware or cigar boxes for, but today I'm focused on my walls.
This stage is a big deal for me, and I couldn't have done it before today. That is, it seems a sort of definition: this is who I am right now and how I'm feeling, and granted sticky tack is designed to be removed (though after last month's flower-mosaic fiasco I'm not sure how true that holds), but there's something about sorting through paintings and postcards and family pictures--deciding what to display and what to keep in a box--that puts a fine point on where I am.
It's also a big deal because it's another sign of commitment to my apartment. I find myself constantly watching for the door--trying to find possible exits of out of any commitment I've tangled myself in. (I'm pretty sure if I needed to I could quit my job with 2 weeks notice and if I was doing something cool like moving to South America they might even applaud the effort...) I have been rethinking my decision to move to Orem: I should've waited and moved in with friends, I could move out and find a place with Erika and on and on. But today I took a stand. I put up my postcards. I put up Mrs. Dalloway. I sorted a little and dusted and unpacked. I'm sticking.