Thursday, January 29, 2009

When it's late.

Dear keAM:

I just wanted to drop a note letting you know how grateful I am. You are amazing! You manage to pull together fantastic lesson plans, put on high-energy lessons, and be comparatively considerate to those around you.

All that hard work lets me do great things with my time: dink around online, hang out with friends, stay up late reading and researching, pointlessly it turns out-oops!- Freud.

Best yet, you manage to get everything done with limited time and resources. And you look great doing it. Thanks for being so productive and lovely!



Thanks for your note. I guess I'm glad that all my hard work lets you live a life of leisure? It would be great if you could get some lesson planning done today.

And can we not start my shift early again? Early morning hours are peaceful, certainly, but any sleeping you could take on helps keep this machine greased...

Have a good afternoon.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009


So I have a thing for kitsch. Religious kitsch mostly (ask me about altares), but I enjoyed a discussion about culinary kitsch (frog-eye salad, anyone?) with my sister, and can take all the dubbed-over sassy 50's housewives you can dish out.
Something else I've been thinking about: graveyard kitsch. I do see the irreverence in discussing this--these are monuments to loved ones that people put a lot of time and thought into. And I do love kitsch in a very self aware and self righteous sort of way. These things notwithstanding.

I first became interested in graveyard kitsch in Armenia. (It's a lot easier to call objects from another culture or time kitsch I think. And it isn't necessarily a pejorative term.) The tragedy, of course, is that the graveyard are huge. The Spitak earthquake took a really staggering toll on the population of Gyumri, where I served, and there are just miles of cemetery outside the city. Also, there are territorial conflicts still festering with Azerbaijan, etc. which particularly earlier in the decade also took many lives. I think that the Armenian interest in photography, as well as a demand in this area lead to gravestones like this:
I had enough taste as a missionary to not take pictures. (If you're reading this and are offended I'm so sorry.)

From closer to home, though, some from my trip to Parowan:(Cute, sort of, right? but still...)
And my favorite:There were a bunch of headstones with childrens' names carved into the back (which I'd never seen before), but I thought this was something else entirely. I think it's particularly interesting considering which superson was in charge, most likely, of commisioning the piece. Glorious.

Conclusion? And help me out here: deep feelings are often an impetus for kitsch. Why is that? (Something about kitsch being shorthand...hmm.)

(Um, this post left me feeling a little guilty/dirty/insensitive. Any validation you can provide that would help me feel otherwise would be greatly appreciated. Great stuff, right? Right?)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


So you know that story about Brazil--how the Pope split the world between the Spanish and the Portuguese (is this really how you spell this?) along some line of latitude and so most of South America is Spanish speaking, but then there's Brazil and their lovely lilting Samba-friendly Portuguese? I keep trying to work this into a poem about territorialism.
The whole idea of territorialism fascinates me, particularly in the context of relationships. You know that last visit where you meet to return books and t-shirts etc? And it's kind of awkward or tearing depending, but you cut the last ties of couplehood and redefine boundaries: this is me and that is you and thank you very much for my autographed Galeano (4 months later). Beyond that there's a kind of unspoken redividing, though.
I think mostly about place: there are certain streets in Provo where I couldn't walk for periods of time. It would be awkward and potentially painful and the streets weren't mine. I had to be very selective about my use of the Writing Center, usually calling a comrade beforehand to make sure the coast was clear. I saw an ex walking home from work and avoided him intentionally because it was his route and I had no right to be there and didn't want to intrude. The whole of BYU campus is kind of closed to me right now because of the relationships I've broken off and the people who are still on campus. It's theirs and not mine. I'd be trespassing.
I'm not sure that everyone is so sensitive to/aware of this as I am. I've had a rash of failed and severed relationships this last couple of years so am either oversensitive or really good at avoiding confrontation, but it's kind of an intuitive thing, an invisible sign: You Are Not Welcome Here.
But it goes beyond place. In high school I had a giant severing fight with the group of girls I ran around with. I think most of our mutual guy friends managed to manuever the break, but there was conflict occasionally. When things among my college friends started getting more complicated, L laid claim to A&D, a sort of comradic pre-nup, and think she's winning the custody battle (though I occasionally assert my visiting rights). My sister warned me about college relationships being complicated, but it's weird to be in the middle of a major redefining of loyalties. Lots of it is just me, but it's still pretty tragic I think. (Maybe something lovely and samba-y will come out of all of this too...)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fingers Crossed Please.

I just submitted my application to BYU's graduate program. (English MA.) I'll keep you posted. (Silent celebration dance in my head.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

What glass?

I'm a stress case.

Most of you have, at some point in our relationship, realized this. Most of you have commented on it. The bravest of you have reassured/reproved me, bringing up examples from the past of times that I've stressed irrationally and laughed at myself later. The moral of the story: everything will probably be just fine.

Case-in-point: I offered to get tickets for Sundance for this mini-course I'm teaching. Offered like it was the promised crowning point of the course. Offered with only the vaguest conception of what getting tickets would entail. I waitlisted the very last shorts program of the festival last year with some friends. It was fantastic: rushed and mad and cold and obscene. Fantastic for a handful of college kids out on the town, exactly the opposite for ten 15-17 year old Lindon kids and my job. Anyway. Sometime last week the truth started to sink in: Advance ticketing. Online sales. People were getting tickets and those people weren't me, meanwhile my headmaster and coworkers started getting inquisitive: "Do you have tickets yet? When are you getting them?" And my plan, heading up to Park City the day the box office opened, started seeming less and less viable. If you could just go and buy tickets, why the notoriously hard-to-get reputation? And no chance for mercy, right? Sundance is not interested in selling tickets to groups or to teachers, no in that I could see.
This all accumulated into about an hour last night where I surfed around Sundance's terribly designed website listlessly, the muscles in my neck getting tighter and more tender by the minute. I'd failed. Failed and everyone was going to know and my students would hate me and I'd lose the good graces of my administration and not get into graduate school and doubtless I'd end up old and alone and living with stinky cats my entire life. The only logical possibility.

So I woke up early this morning, printed out a very handy list I found online--Best Bets--put on all black and headed out. (Not early enough, not prepared enough ulcer forming drowsy on the road.) I get to Trolley Square, find the box office, and take a seat. Number 6 in line. We start chatting: I know more about ticketing and films than half the people in line. Someone borrows my list. The man on my right starts telling about the time he waited for tickets for U2's film and they made an appearance. The former school teacher on my right berates herself for the first of many times (hrm). Rachel calls to tell me that Randy can come (I can only buy 4 tickets per screening) so Anne doesn't have to drive from Provo. The man on the right starts snoring. I have a conversation about Devil in the White City with man-in-line #10. Rachel and Randy come, the box office opens, I am the first in my line (6 cashiers), I buy 4 tickets and in 3 minutes I've collected all 12 from R&R. Done. We go to breakfast.

I gave myself ulcers for this? On the way home I get lost a little, am certain I'll be late for class and start berating myself for going to breakfast. I got to school right on time, though the half gallon of fluid I drank with breakfast started weighing real heavily around the point of the mountain. Into class, more dynamic and prepared-feeling than I have been all week.

Right now I'm thinking that someone probably bought tickets for the wrong night and that I'm screwed. This is unlikely.

I'm posting this mostly so I can remember, next time tragedy strikes, that everything will probably work out just fine. Dear ke: relax please. You're entirely competent and accomplished. Just a little reminder. Thanks. Love, ke.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


So I fully appreciated the commonality between awesome/awful when describing Twilight (the movie) to a friend the other day. Awful. Awesome. Breathtakingly bad. Anyway, it seemed an apt way to describe my week:

My birthday week was incredible.
S: Visiting with Liann and Skoticus. We made dinner. We chatted. Very lovely.
M: Babysitting Scout ("actually, my dad usually chases me before I go to bed"): she is incredibly charming and talented and adorable. We made cocoa, she fed me soap, we colored and wrote her name and chatted chatted chatted. Awesome.
T: Birthday. Great notes from friends. Dinner with Connie and Dave. I spent some time at OfficeMax. Snowy beautiful birthday. And Deb (roomie) made me birthday cake.
W: Spark with Dai. Didn't love it. It was ok (beet selection was excellent), but the waiter was kind of a jerk and there was waaay too much bacon on the menu. I may try again, but. Also, webcam makes its entry which means more face time with a certain far-away gentleman caller. Amazon comes through!
Th: Lunch with sisters. We did sushi and went shopping. Anyone else's idea of heaven? Fabulous.
F: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly with Nick. Plus a really great convo about vulnerability and agency in relationships. Lovely evening.
S: La Rondine with family. Anna Netrebko is doing Lucia di Lammermoor in about a month. (The Met at Cinemark) Such a good idea. Great convo with Amanda from NY (short). Sushi-making with Dai (bad rice=bad sushi, but more sashimi than I could shake a stick at. Mmmm).

Plus I just got back from Chicago and that great trip plus I get to teach Sunday School and give a talk. Heaven. Awesome.

I don't want to talk about it.
Suffice it to say, school (we're in this weird mini-course period, the Winterim) is not going so hot. People are disappointed. Mistakes have been made. Kind of makes me want to puke a little.

But a great point from Elder Bednar via a good friend: There is no such thing as "being balanced." Everyone is bad at balance. You work on one aspect of your life and other things start slipping. You get to a point with that aspect and move to another, then another, trying to plug leaks as they come. I really like this model and it very much reflects my life. I've been waaay overdoing the professional thing and am taking a little time to work on my emotional life. And it feels soo great and I'm learning so much. This is important too.

So. My life=Twilight. Awesome/ful.


I have the seeds of like 5 posts in my head right now, but am waiting still for them to develop a bit.

For tonight: In my perfect world, when church leaders spoke on the value of education, they would emphasize less marketability and more the inherent value of learning. The way that knowledge begets more knowledge. The way that knowledge, at its humblest best, begets sympathy and grace and the inquisitive open-mindedness that characterizes so many great prophets/leaders.

I know that we're warned of the dangers of being learned (thinking that we're wise), but am I wrong to foster this hope?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Some scattered thoughts on Citizen Kane:

Classic, deserves the praise I think, robed in scandal, love it.

I wonder though. In most of the reviews that I've read they talk about Kane's lust for power and how that, eventually, was his downfall. I'm not sure. Welles' wrote that his idea (apparently unreached) was that Kane would seem a different person through the different lenses we meet him through. I say unreached because the article I read implied as much, in addition to the fact that I agree. I think we did get a pretty similar view on each recitation, though that explains some jumps in logic I noticed the first time around. This is a very complicated way of saying, maybe I just stuck with one of many tellings of Kane's story but it seems to me that his tragic flaw was not a lust for power but a need to be loved. Beyond anything else. With his money came the ability to try and buy or force love (a la the later years at Xanadu) but it seems like all of his bad decisions were made in an effort to simulate or feel or find love.

It seems if he would've been after power he definitely could've found and maintained it. He would've been more savvy about running his paper and about his political campaign. Power is a static goal: get rich (check), get famous (working on it) and stay that way. Kane didn't care about wealth ("I spent a million dollars this year and I'll spend a million dollars next year") or about fame (his exploits with what's-her-name-the-actress prove that I think). Love, on the other hand, is a goal that always moves and changes. Thus Kane's inexplicable behavior: his priorities are skewed because once "being loved" is a priority, you have to do crazy things defined by the people you want to love you. It's totally external so totally arbitrary...

Something to think about at any rate.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Birthday to me.

I both adore and despise attention. Today I'd like to toast to ambivalence. :) And thank my sister for being amazing and lovely and tech savvy.