Thursday, September 30, 2010

what it feels like

I feel like I'm being smooshed between malignant forces: from the inside, my stomach is turning turning--diet coke and sunflower seeds for lunch. The press is lurching and liquid and smashes unexpected and I think of it carefully as if my thoughts were careful hands and the pressure had spikes.
On the outside, bricks. Rough and square and heavier and heavier. Piled flat both on my shoulders and my lower back, even though I'm sitting up. My jaw resists opening, even, and my neck bending.
I can't I can't I can't.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The solution:

I've come to dread reading/writing this blog. It's soo draggy and terrible. ("If I didn't know you," Annie said last night "I would think you were very dark and sad." Too true.) So I'm moving here. I may occasionally come back to Winterberry because, let's be honest, there's something super therapeutic about venting online, but hopefully those dark and sad posts will be few and far between. If I were you I would unsubscribe right now and save yourself the drama.

Thanks for following, it's been a party.



Saturday, June 5, 2010

True Story

I think I'm going to take a break from blogging.




The part of this post that's about me: I convinced myself last week that I wanted to take up audio editing, and that it was as good a time as any...not like I was having a hard time finding time to sleep, not like I was complaining about how busy I was to anyone who'd listen. I checked out a voice-recorder from the library and recruited my family to put together an audio birthday card for Melissa. My little sister. Whose birthday is today! After collecting anecdotes and well wishes and "I love Melissa because...," I realized that it wasn't latent interest or good will toward my sister that drove me to this project, but a very complicated and subtle mind trying to avoid the business at hand and so I ditched the project. To all of you who helped: thanks. And sorry. To Melissa:

The part of this post that's about Melissa:

Melissa was born during an episode of Heart to Heart in a delivery room that overlooked Biscayne Bay. She spent her babyhood running around blonde and naked and nearly drowning. All day every day. In Kindergarten she would only wear the color purple. In first grade she insisted on wearing her Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Halloween costume/pajamas constantly. I'm not sure if Connie was able to get them off her when she went to school. She was the athletic one: swam like a fish (you know, out of necessity), an early Varsity soccer and softball player.

Melissa is softspoken and unselfish and funny. She loves animals (she and Jill just found and adopted a tiny baby kitten which they named Guy Oliver and feed from a bottle) and kids and art. I haven't seen her sit still for years: she's always sketching or carving, and she keeps getting better and better (I, a dabbler, was taken by surprise by this: "You mean, if you spend hours and hours on a thing, you turn master?") She did, she's so great.

And this thing I've realized: Melissa is the baby of a family stocked gills-high in strong personalities. She might be the most stubborn/determined of us all, for all her quiet solitary ways. Melissa knows what's important to her and she does it and keeps doing it. And so she's an amazing friend. And an impressive artist. And a better-than-natural athlete. And an incredible person.

Anyway. Happy Birthday Melis!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mercy Killing

Today I killed a mouse. I noticed him in the shed at one of my parks (breathing heavily, still, tiny and adorable and nearly perfect, caught only, I saw later on, by the toes on his right foot). I stalled. I questioned my logic (maybe he doesn't feel enough to merit a mercy killing? Why does this bother me so much? What would Tom Guthrie do?). I texted a friend who tried to make me feel better by comparing me, I think, to God. I filled up a bucket of water then went to my other park to grab the garbage picker-upper the better to maneuver with then moved the dewy-eyed beast into a shovel and into the water where I learned mice can swim. Just not for long dragging a trap with them and with a foot all broke to pieces.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Coming to terms

In my head I know that when fellows spout off random (well known) facts in a tone that suggests that they're experts on the subject ("People nowadays use whitewash to paint furniture, then rub it off with a rag or sandpaper to make it look old." Really? Are you referring to a decade-old trend which I may have more access to than you on account of my fulfilling societally imposed gender norms, love loving HGTV, and actually having distressed furniture...) they don't mean harm. They're not, probably, trying to imply that I'm uninformed or unintelligent. They are, probably, trying to be friendly and make conversation. In every nerve and cell and bone, however, I want to punch them in the nose and run the other way.

On the other hand: those of you to whom I've pretended to be expert (and there are a lot of you), gross, and to whom I've condescended (there's no other way to write this! I love apologizing for being a myopic, unfounded, elitist using whom.) I'm so sorry. Thanks for not punching me in the nose? Blech.

Monday, May 24, 2010


The best part about not being paid for a day of manual labor is the sitting in layers of my favorite clothes (thermals+sweaters) on the floor by my space heater drinking an enormous mug of chai+vanilla soy milk reading Clint Eastwood film synopses and getting my brain/life in order. And great convo over a lunch that includes lime juice. And that the sun is shining shining.

As of, it is official: I'm running my first marathon in September (Logan) or October (somewhere else?). And to celebrate defending my thesis (or something) I will run this.


And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach. Isaiah 4:1

I don't love dating at BYU. The old college try notwithstanding.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The why

I went to Fiddler on the Roof with my family a couple of months ago. It wasn't, like, the most amazing production of anything I'd ever seen (though it was Hale Center Theatre and good, and also my family is so great) but it didn't really matter. I felt myself misting up at the opening number ("The papas! Tradition!") and by "Is this the little girl I carried" and "Do you love me?" I was wasted, weeping openly.

Last night, too, I went to a show. The opening band (Lost in the Trees) opened, I think with this number and it was cooperative musical magic at its best. The french horn/xylophone/accordion player looked like there was nothing she'd rather be doing in the entire world and she kept making eyes at the lead guy--you know, signalling to each other.

That first chord was, and I'm going to overuse this word: magic. I felt all the tension in my brain and back rushing out of me, and I sat back and enjoyed enjoyed myself, let myself be taken up. And band number two (Plants and Animals) was much more raucous--but I danced because I wanted to dance and sort of let go.

And art. I keep trying to undermine the value of this stuff, dedicate myself to more practical matters etc. or convince myself that I don't like shows (loud! hot! mean!) or...whatever. But I need to stop that. The dynamic of people making music and people listening to music, participating together is important and beautiful. For everyone, but for me and my poor worn soul.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I am avoiding things. I am sitting in my dirty work clothes avoiding showering thereby avoiding leaving the house for job #2 thereby avoiding the rush to Dr. Cronin's house for class thereby avoiding my study date which I'll spend avoiding thinking about a thesis that I'm sort of not avoiding since I've sort of started to think about it which is uncharacteristic but, alas, mostly faking.

I am avoiding making an appointment to get my windshield replaced. Thereby avoiding the calling around I should be doing to price check (apparently Techni-Glass price matches so a little calling around could help) thereby avoiding getting my Safety/emissions done, thereby avoiding paying my registration fees. I still have a week to get this done.

I am avoiding doing some apologizing and some pulling of my head out of my nether-orifices and so avoiding some people I love (hi there) and so spending a lot of time by myself trying not to feel like a terrible person. (Ben and Jerry's. Diet Coke. Napping/wishing I could be napping.)

I am, still and always, avoiding poetry, which has just about taken the hint and left town.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Two Questions: balance

1. Do you think that conflict/contrast/opposition is a part of God? On the one hand of course obviously not, right, God=unity. On the other hand, a sort of fundamental part of our understanding of our purpose here is that there's opposition in all things, right? Good exists only where evil exists? And God exists but so does evil in some form. And they're co-existent. The more I learn/think about patriarchy, though, and the problems that spring from opposition the more I wonder whether opposition is the driving potentially creative force I thought it was. Or if it's just the way our Judeo-Christian heritage teaches us to see conflict and, ultimately, God.

2. When we first met, did you think I hated you?


Monday, May 10, 2010

I work outside

because it gives me time and quiet to think about things. After a while it would drive me crazy, but for the month, after my first year of grad school, it dulls the jaded edge of things, adds some clarity.

And some things I've been thinking about:

1. I think I'm girlier than I like to admit. I like pink and baking cookies and feeling pretty. Don't hold your breath--I think it's going to take me a minute to figure out how to disinter the princess I buried alive 20 years ago, how to make her a part of me in a way that I'm comfortable with--but maybe things will change some?

This is hard to admit. Because I care a lot about what people think. And on the one hand I've cultivated this intellectual dismissal of tradition and patriarchy and emotion to some extent, and on the other a careful pragmatism that doesn't allow for frivolity or openness of emotion. And that's the other wall I've put up: a measured stoicism, to distance and protect me from any roving betrayal or offense. But. But. I keep falling short of all of these expectations I have for myself and that I imagine everyone has for me. I feel like a fraud all the time and feel like it's better to be hated thank loved for what I'm not (I certainly did)?

And my realization today: I think I tend, naturally, toward the flighty and silly. But I have a life that's done much to stamp that out of me, or, and this I guess is the idea I want to explore, to mold that into something that I can feel really good about and respect. Again, I'm not sure how this is all going to go down, or if I'll change my actions, really, or just my motives, but. It's something.

2. I'm a hopeless, hopeless romantic. I feel like everyone knows this about me but me. But how hard is it to look at my life right now and let myself hope? That those dreams and expectations I've held so near could possibly possibly resemble, in any way, my actual life? And it might turn out that all of those hopes are dashed and crushed or drastically altered or whatever, but it might be dishonest to pretend I don't hold them, that they don't motivate all the things I do.

3. I want to do things. To help people. To travel. In big and important ways (or at least influential ways....or something). This is one of those deeply held desires that I'm not sure how to get done. Another that I've sort of buried.

So. There is my soul for you. Toodles.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day

My life was a pretty normal one: divorce+working mom, and that means that I, by necessity, spent more time relying on and being formed by women who weren't my mom. This was wonderful. Looking back at the women and men who stepped in and stepped up I feel sooo lucky and watched after and blessed. I want to thank those part-time, emergency, and adoptive moms a little, as well as Connie of course, for being themselves. For helping me be who I am. Happy happy mother's day!

Mom #1: Connie. An old pic w/grandkids: her favorite people.
My mom-for-real. The thing about Connie is this: she finds beauty everywhere. Where she doesn't find beauty, she makes beauty. She is a talker-to-strangers, a rescuer of strays, a laugher. Our dining room table, when I was a teenager, was staffed with siblings and in-laws and distant relatives, with friends far from home, with people Connie met on the street or at work. And the table was never that big. Connie works hard. She gardens. She taught me to love good (and beautiful) food and nice clothes and just to love too. And lately she's teaching me scary and important things about repentance and forgiveness. From her I inherited a lot of my neuroses, but also my empathy, my hand-talking, my love of feeding people.

Mom #2 (a tie): Rachel.
Rachel is my oldest sister and she, over the years, has gone above and beyond in looking out for me. Rachel is the most responsible person that I know. She gets the stuff done she says she will, but manages to balance her drive with a remarkable sense of compassion and balance. She does everything she does with taste and flair; she loves modern art and architecture, she loves doing things well. The thing that Rachel taught me though, and continues to teach me is that my life is in my own hands. Through her decisions and perseverance and with her lovely family, Rachel has made herself (is still making herself) into the person she wants to be. If only because she hates being bossed around even more than I do, Rachel has taken her fate and personality into her own hands, has come out a kind and responsible and hilarious and lovely person.

Mom #2 (a tie): Anne.
My other older sister. Anne's a kind of remarkable example, too, of becoming the person she wants to be, and she inspires me all the time to become a better girl. She's a ridiculously hard worker, and as creative and competent as anyone I know. (The things she makes! Her beautiful house!) She's devoted to her family and friends and would do anything for anyone of them. She forgives. She sees the best in people. She encourages me to be temperate and kind and the very best me. She is unfailingly thoughtful and generous and just kind of a hard act to follow/the best older sister ever.

Mom #3: Diane.Diane with her real family, also some of my favorite people.
My foods teacher. My FCCLA advisor (I was the state president of FCCLA, nee FHA, did you know?). Cluff's was the place everyone that mattered to me in high school congregated. It was kind of like that neighborhood house where everyone ate cookies after school, except it was at school. And Cluff fed us and yelled at us when we were dumb and laughed with/at us. I visit now and wonder, sort of, at how she knew me better than I knew me back then and at how she had the capacity to mother all the dozens of us she did.

Mom #4: Becca. Becca was a savior-mom. I babysat for her kids (like Anne did before me and Melissa after) and she her house was always home. Because that was her priority: Becca put, always, her family first and made her friends her family. I went and sat and played cards and ate cupcakes the size of my skull and read and was safe and loved and home.

Mom #5: Becky. I've been writing this for years. Because Becky died suddenly when I was just out of high school and she was such an important person in my life and I've never been able to articulate why precisely. The first time we met I was barefoot and nearly feral and she told me she liked my hand-me-down overalls. And yes I was wearing overalls (and my hair was messy and I had a kool-aid mustache) and no I wasn't living in the backwoods. Becky saw in me (and all the frantic broken souls she collected) our talents and she spoke them. And made them true. Becky told me I was a good writer. And complemented me for liking exotic food (spicy tomato couscous!?! Yes please.) And gave me diet coke and played Ella Fitzgerald and showed me what it could mean to be a smart, confident, loving mother. Amazing, miraculous woman.

Mom#6: Janice was my stepmom only for a couple of years. Once when I was living with them she insisted that I come up out of my room, where I was hiding and reading, and sit in the living room, where my dad was hiding and reading, and have a conversation with each other. It didn't last long, by her iconoclastic attitudes toward my dad shape, still, the way I see him. And I'm indebted to her always for Thievery Corporation, Yo La Tengo, and tofu.

And to the rest of you: amazing. Thanks and happy Mother's Day!


(also, I totally pillaged all of these pics: let me know if you want me to take them down? :))

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


The moment when I knew that Alea and I were going to be friends (or that he wasn't faking, or whatever) was when he called to report on a glitter sighting: "I was at Joann's. There was a lot of glitter. I thought of you."

It's a thing.

Which might be why I'm in love with this.

Or maybe just because it's awesome. Thanks to Amanda for the link. And to everyone who's already seen this on Facebook. Or Gmail. Or whatever. For your patience.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On Fun

I'm belaboring this. How can I tell? Because having fun is the opposite of sitting in your mom's living room writing about fun. And the opposite of spending all day thinking about what it means to have fun. And spending a good chunk of the evening at the mall trying to think fun. Are those pink+leopard+sequin gladiator sandals fun? Are blisters and accenting my terrible ankles also fun? Do those two things cancel each other out probably?

I, as you may know/be able to tell am not a particularly fun person. (Not asking for validation here. Thanks though. :) ) I've been coming to terms with this for the last couple of years. I'm occasionally funny, occasionally spontaneous (which is the only real way to be spontaneous, right? People who are constantly spontaneous lose something of spontaneity? Anyway), occasionally adventurous, but I'm not the girl people call up when they're looking for a good time (read that how you may).

Today I was talking with a prof about my thesis--informally, waiting for the elevator. He said: Have fun. Have fun have fun have fun. Doing my thesis and this summer and, I think I can extrapolate, just generally. And of course I got all flustered (because that's what serious people do when someone they respect tells them they should be doing something they're not, even if that something is having fun) and set my mind to it.

And then I was on campus and hit with this heavy visceral wave of boredom. I watched five people leave the library wearing khakis and pastel tops. Boring. I bought a book (The Postcolonial Reader. I wish it were more fun.) I said 0 clever things during my class (several smart things, none of them clever).

Attempts at having fun today: Graham Canyon+sugar cone (delicious, but fun?), following a toddler through Zurcher's party supply store. This, actually, was very fun. (Ball! Purple! Yellow!) Dinner with Annie and Simon was fun.

Then I bought mom sandals (Born. Strappy. I am SO boring.) And nothing flairy or fun else. And now I'm here thinking about fun. And what that means. And what it's not. What is fun? What do I think is fun?

Which ties into another thing I've been thinking about which is that my life is now. I keep thinking that at some point my life will start when, in fact, my life is now. I just contributed to NPR because my life is now, and I will probably never be fabulously wealthy. I'm pretending to try and eat right because I'm not going to wake up one day grown up and responsible and healthy. I'm trying to enjoy the things I do (rushing around Utah Valley trying to redecorate my new place) because the things I do are my life. And I'm terrible at this.

Anyway. I'm going to stop writing now because I am soo bored I can hardly keep my eyes open. And if you've stuck with my this long I applaud your endurance. (10 points if you comment with the Joe vs the Volcano quote I'm thinking of. 100,000,000 points if you can find someone to sponsor a makeover complete with steamer trunks and an exotic destination.)

Love, ke.

Dear Moms: (and other fruit snack afficionados)

Go out and buy these:

They are healthy! And delicious! And there are like 25 pieces (tiny, but delicious) per bag instead of 8--so they last forever! And they don't have gluten. And they're made with 66% fruit ingredients.

I got mine at Target. A 24-pack for $4, which I thought was a great deal.

Thanks for the heads-up Annie. :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dear Baby Church:

Right now your dad is picking you and your mom up from the hospital (I'm at your house keeping Scout company while she sleeps). You are a little less than a day old and we're not sure what your name is yet (this seems uncharacteristic of your parents--they are nothing if not planners--but Scout didn't have a name till she left the hospital either. So.)

This is a little bit of your story from my point of view.

Your mom told us you were on your way for Omi's birthday. This is your mom's thing (really great birthday presents) and she's great at it. We were sooo excited. Omi screamed and squealed and all of us were glowy and happy. That night when I was praying I said thanks for you particularly: I was so grateful for you and happy for your parents: we'd all been praying for you to come. Scout wanted a little sibling and your mom and dad wanted another baby and you were a long time coming. For months and months I was happy and excited everytime I thought of you and as I watched you growing.

So. About a week ago we started watching in earnest. Omi and Granpa Dave got stuck in Italy (a volcano erupted! And no flights were going through!) and since I was the only one in Provo, I started keeping my phone on vibrate and running out of Sacrament Meeting when your mom called (I sort of loved this). Omi and Dave got home finally and miraculously and we all started pestering your mom non-stop: how are you feeling? How's the baby? What did the doctor say? Thirteen times a day. She was patient with us all even though she was getting tired and uncomfortable (she's not one to lounge around: the day before you were born she was at my place moving furniture. I told her she should be careful. She said "what's going to happen? I have the baby today instead of tomorrow?" This is the kind of woman your mother is).

The week you were born was beautiful. That Sunday was sunny and warm and all of the blossoms were out. I was so glad for Spring to finally be here I could hardly stand it. Your mom went into the hospital at 4:00 and at 10:30 you were born. Your dad told me the doctor was surprised you were only 8 lbs (+13 oz) because you looked so much bigger, and he said that you were very mellow even from the beginning.

I got to come and see you this morning and all of your grandparents came: you were so fat! And so friendly! And we cooed and pinched your toes and told you you looked like your Grandpa Forsey, which is absolutely true. And your mom and dad were so proud and Scout wanted to hold you the entire time she was there (she might have gotten more presents than you did today). And some other people visited and I'm sure everyone fell in love with you on sight (site?). Ask your mom.

And so you were born.

Some things you should know:

1. Your parents are some of the best people I know. They are hard-working and thoughtful and loving. Your dad is one of the nicest men alive, and so patient and funny and soft-spoken. Your mom has an enormous heart and is always thinking of other people and she does everything she sets her mind to.
2. You are a miracle. We're, all of us (parents and cousins and aunts and uncles and granparents and friends--because your parents are loved by a lot of people), so glad to have you and so excited to get to know you.
3. You're probably going to be a fantastic athlete. No pressure, but the earlier you come to grips with this the better. :)

Anyway. You're adorable. We love you. Go team!

Love, your Auntie ke.

Friday, April 23, 2010

On food.

I am writing this right now instead of sleeping. Because I'm a genius.

But I've been thinking a lot about food lately. I've been running again. And trying to be more conscientious. And trying to lose some of the "I'M TOO BUSY TO EAT REAL THINGS!" weight. Powdered donuts. Is all I'm saying.

And a lot of food philosophies are kind of conflicting. I have a friend (hi Cherise) who's doing like 17 calories a day, but eats diet butter. I have other friends who only eat real things, but lots of cream, which is real. I have a mom who I love and respect but who did every crazy food thing ever written.

I want to get to the bottom of what I think about food. So, here goes:

What I Eat:

Rule #1. I believe in fruits and vegetables. I try to eat them for every meal. For snacks. I'd like to get as much variety as possible (not just the apple-baby carrot 1-2 punch that got me through college). I think that vegetables are free: no matter what I'm counting, I can eat as many of them as I want.

Rule #2. I believe in real food. This isn't to say I don't love me some cheetos or Sabor de Soledad chili-lime puffs (these are sold at Crest, and I don't remember what their real name is), but when I have a choice and I want to make that choice I try to choose real. I sort of thing that Cisco ruined America. But I'd rather eat butter than margarine, for instance which brings me to:

Rule #3. I believe in delicious fat. What I want is a sucker that tastes like olive oil or gum so I can just taste olive oil all the time. I love the stuff. Butter will always have a place in my heart. Really fantastic cheese, avocado, almond butter. No matter how serious I get about weight loss, I don't think I'll ever really give up delicious fat. Mmmm.

Rule #4. I believe in social eating. That is to say I try not to eat sugar or meat, but I'm going to try and be less snotty about it. Thanks to everyone who's been so obliging. (Rachel. Connie. Anne. You guys are stars.) I love to delight people with my cooking, and why would I take that from someone?

Rule #5. French women don't get fat. I'm trying to eat better, like, do the process of eating better. Slowing down. Putting my fork down. Savoring the stuff. It makes a huge difference in my attitude and consumption.

Rule #6. I believe in Diet Coke. It's so so bad for me. Maybe one day I'll give it up. But I try so hard to be good. And coke is so good.

Before writing this post it felt like there was something more profound to be gotten at. But. ke

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'd just like to publicly acknowledge...

So you know how I've been complaining about my roommate for the last 8 months (ever since she re-rearranged all the furniture I'd enlisted Anne to help me position precisely)? Particularly since "roommate" became "roommates" when I woke up to a male voice in the next room and he never left? I have been. Complaining. So much.

I'd like to take this opportunity to eat (some of) my words. Yesterday (in the middle of a rainstorm!) I was moving (soo many books!) by myself (by myself!!) and Devon (the bonus roommate) totally jumped in to help. And not grudgingly, and not just a little, and he didn't stop once I'd packed up one carload, or once we'd delivered the books to my new place, nor once I packed up the second carload, nor when--carload 3--I reached the harried "just stuff this in a box somewhere/I'll never buy anything again" stage at 11 or so. He was a rockstar (which his hair suggested the entire time...) and absolutely saved my life.

Anyway. Draw conclusions as you will, I am done with the semester and beeeaattttt.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Do you know what I love?

Spring is here. More gorgeous by far than I ever remember. I picnicked today and walked outside and let my white oxford dry in the sun and was hit left-and-right by the smell of all sorts of blossoms. Soo beautiful.

And I whined so much. The two months between Valentine's day and tax day are hell for me: waiting, watching, whining, my hopes up and my hopes down and me furious and powerless the entire time. Then spring springs and I sit in awe. And May and June are always better and cooler and greener than I remember--spring lasts and lasts and gives way to lovely summer nights.

But for all my angst about spring coming, I love the autumn. I love that one day is warm and the next raining and then next warm again. And I was thinking about that today, about why the gradual unpredictable spring is such a more terrible transition than autumn's slow fading, and I think an answer is that I love endings of things. Spring is technically the end of winter of course, but it's a happy ending, it's an obvious beginning.

I love tragic drawn-out endings. I like kissing boys when I know I'm going to break up with them (sometimes this isn't as sinister as it seems. Sometimes it is) and the conversation you have when you trade your stuff back. I love saying goodbye to co-workers, last phone calls, last car rides, walking away knowing something's broken and it will never be the same... Everything takes on this heft of meaning when when you're doing it or saying it for the last time. Like that poem--have you heard of this?--that consists of the NY Times the morning of September 11, 2001. Even the weather (winds from the east?) seems heavy with intention.

And it's not that it's not hard. I cry and look back with regret and dwell on might-have-beens. It's just that it's the kind of hard I can handle. A friend of mine (speaking of tragic endings) used to like to poke at her bruises, she liked the feeling; I feel like this is the same sort of thing: pain I seek out, pain that's comforting...I know how neurotic this sounds/is.

And so I'll spend May napping and hiking and deliriously happy. And waiting, really, for the fall.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

On Cataclysm

I'm sort of a drama-fiend. I love scandals and secrets and shouting matches on the streets. I try to pretend that I don't, but I do. Everyone does. Drama is the coolest.

Even more than drama, I love large-scale emergencies. When swine flu was threatening pandemic (what a great word!) I would listen to the radio every day with wide eyes, waiting for the case-threshold to be met. What if it scours the world? What if it changes everything?!

On a side note, I think that this is related to my love for despots and mega-giant corporations. Hugo Chavez has his own TV station, did you know? For its anniversary he did a 24-hour Chavez-athon, to celebrate of course.

This all sounds very heartless. Is probably super heartless. But there's something really invigorating about nature taking over, reminding us that though we imagine we're in control, we are not in control at all. I like the theory that the globe is warming not because of carbon emissions, but because it's just warming. It's coming out of the ice age and it's time to warm up [NOTE: I'm not certain at all that's what's happening. I'm just saying the theory appeals to me in this clearly related way.]

This all being said, the volcano business seemed to me kind of brilliant. The earth is totally messing with humanity! Bahaha. We think we're in control and we are not! But today I found out that my mom+step-dad are stuck in Italy indefinitely and got a little sick/nervous for them. I'm glad for them it's Italy, of course, but where will they sleep? They have to get back to work. Are there ocean liners running or something?

Anyway. Pat ending about cataclysm being different when it's yours...the end.

Monday, April 12, 2010

interventionist god (kind of a poem)

I was once driving up Little Cottonwood Canyon with a friend. We were listening to Nick Cave and to this song and the drive and the night and the song and the friend saved my life:

I believe in love. And I know that you do too.

This post is about how I believe in an interventionist god. In a really actual and literal sense. I believe in a god that performs big and small and unnoticed and lifechanging miracles every day and all the time.

I'm writing because this week has been full of tiny miracles--miracles I didn't deserve, miracles I demanded, miracles I didn't know I needed, you know?

And I think too, that God knows if you believe in an interventionist god or not, and I don't know that it matters that much ultimately, it matters mostly that you act according to your experience and belief etc etc.

For me, God is there, getting into my business. Answering questions and helping me solve my problems and reminding me again and again that I know so little and am loved so much.

More, later, perhaps on learning how to forgive God and relearning how to trust him. Or maybe not. Night.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My question is this:

Remember the first time you read Catcher in the Rye and it hit you like a ton of bricks and you cried and cried, and then later went back and found it waaaay less interesting/mind-blowing than it was when you were 16? Or when you recommended On The Road to your friend when you were backpacking in Italy in late college and she was entirely puzzled that the book was such an icon? Or trying to reread Rand while studying English (=appreciation for subtlety. =den of liberals. I devoured her books in h.s.)?

I wonder about the timeliness of books. What I'd like to do is compile a list of time-sensitive classics (not Classics, but, you know, titles with some cultural heft) with the age at which they expire. Do you what I mean? Any ideas? (Nod to the impossibility of absolutes: I know that it's different for different people, or whatever, I'm just looking for input.) (Nod to arguers: I'm sorry if you like/hate these books. I'm not really that interested in discussing their merits. These examples, of course, aren't actually referring to you but are really referring to me.)

You may now proceed. :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Universe Told Me To

That Kerouac quote--

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars--

has been running through my head like water this last couple of months. Then, today, I was looking for this commercial (to talk about in 311)

and ran into this

and figured it was too weird a coincidence not to motivate a post.

I hate this quote is the thing. I found it (loved it!) in my high school reading of Kerouac, copied it into my composition notebook, I found a way to work it into a district meeting on the mish, might (conditional here, not evasive) have had it tattooed at one point in my life, but ultimately it's inspired more grief than anything.

I've spent years nervous about saying Commonplace Things and yawning (this is not a joke) and not living/wanting frantically enough. And so I caffeineate and eschew chitchat and rush in an out of parties never settling in one place long enough to learn anyone's name. And there's a certain rush and thrill, and I think that, when I'm on, people think that I seem interesting and that they'd like to get to know me.

But I do say commonplace things. And I yawn. And most days I'm sort of lonely and wish that my efforts to care about people were less stilted-feeling and unsettled and self-centered. And that's all ok. Normal.


Matins (pg 25)

You want to know how I spend my time?
I walk the front lawn, pretending
to be weeding. You ought to know
I'm never weeding, on my knees, pulling
clumps of clover from the flower beds: in fact
I'm looking for courage, for some evidence
my life will change, though
it takes forever, checking
each clump for the symbolic
leaf, and soon the summer is ending, already
the leaves turning, always the sick trees
going first, the dying turning
brilliant yellow, while a few dark birds perform
their curfew of music. You want to see my hands?
As empty now as at the first note.
Or was the point always
to continue without a sign?

Lousie Gluck

(You should go and buy this book--Wild Iris--and read the entire thing. It's very lovely.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

National Poetry Month! Poetry Month!

I will not post every day, but I thought I'd start today off at least. With Dickinson, if you don't mind:

He fumbles at your Soul
As Players at the Keys -
Before they drop full Music on -
He stuns you by Degrees -

Prepares your brittle nature
For the etherial Blow
By fainter Hammers - further heard -
Then nearer - Then so - slow-

Your Breath - has time to straighten -
Your Brain- to bubble cool -
Deals One - imperial Thunderbolt -
That scalps your naked soul -

When Winds hold Forests in their Paws -
The Universe - is still -

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oh. That patriarchy. Thanks bell.

Friday, March 26, 2010

On Writing. And Anxiety.

Dear Future Kjerstin:

If you're reading this, it means it's the end of some semester and/or you're staring down another paper. I'm going to tell you some stuff which, if you take my word for it, will really help you get through the process. We both know you probably won't take my word for it, because that's how you roll, but, well, here's hoping.

1. You aren't a failure and you aren't bad at this. What will happen, what happens every time, is that you'll start blindly and BS-laced. You hate this, I know, because failure is peeking out from under every stone and around every tree. What, you'll think, if I've lost my talent? What if I'm rusty from disuse? What if I'm not as good as this as I like to imagine? Then page 7 will come and suddenly you'll know what you want to argue and how, all of that research you've been filing away like a squirrel will seem relevant, your thesis will spring from your head fully formed. It won't happen until page 7. I'm sorry, I know you hate that, but that's the way your brain works. And I suspect if you really want to write a good paper (which, to date, I know I haven't done) then you'll have to get to page 7 several times. There's no more efficient way.

2. It will be fun. Your research will include looking up "The Yellow Rose of Texas" on YouTube. You will run into the kind of fascinating trivia that drew you to this field in the first place (in this case, gorgeous, gorgeous poetry)

"Unto Me?" I do not know you—
Where may be your House?

"I am Jesus—Late of Judea—
Now—of Paradise"—

Wagons—have you—to convey me?
This is far from Thence—

"Arms of Mine—sufficient Phaeton—
Trust Omnipotence"—

I am spotted—"I am Pardon"—
I am small—"The Least
Is esteemed in Heaven the Chiefest—
Occupy my House"—

Your mind will work on all sorts of things at once which will help you feel alive and brilliant in that way you love. This is terrifying and sort of impossible seeming, but it comes with brilliant firework-bursts of insight that show you your favorite self.

3. You are in the business of doing, not judging or predicting. Tell the skeptic in your brain (the cawing, harpy one) that you are too busy working to bother with her input just now. Decide and do.

Good luck! I hope you are better at this than I am.

Much love,

Past Kjerstin.

Fashion Query: Neutrals

Does grey go with beige?

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I am a girl who gets things done.
I am a girl who gets things done.
I am a girl who gets things done.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Susan knows
she is a Siren--
and that at a
word from her,
Emily would
forfeit Righteousness--
Please excuse
the grossness
of this Morning--
I was for a
moment disarmed--
This is the
World that opens
and shuts, like
the Eye of the
Wax Doll--

Yes homoeroticism, also gorgeousness. I'm falling falling in love with Emily Dickinson.

Also falling in love:

I love today.

Monday, March 22, 2010

One Art

I get touchy when people tease me about losing stuff. Because they're right, I lose stuff a lot, but a) I don't to it intentionally, obvs, and b) 95 percent of the time it works out; I find both the stuff, and that it wasn't really worth stressing about. Also, I've found I have very little control over when things get lost or not--I'm just as likely to misplace my phone during busy scattered weeks as planner-toting, well-rested ones. I've prayed the "item a is lost, help me find it" prayer so often, in fact, that Heavenly Father and I are on a kind of short-hand, I can differentiate almost instantly if I'm going to find the thing (my planner--it's a vaguely panicked calm) or not (my digital camera and all my mission pictures--deep, failure-laced nausea).

My family panics about me, like, going to Europe by myself, that maybe I'll call from a payphone in a mystery city with nothing but my chapstick and not a clue even where I am. They get worried looks in their eyes when I discuss moving to big cities (remember that time when I left my ipod on the lawn after running? All afternoon?), they swallow their anxiety and let me borrow cash when I ask them offhandedly if they've seen my wallet lying around. I understand all of this: I just picked up my planner (with credit cards and ID) at the BYU Lost and Found, walked away only to realize that I'd forgotten my source list at the lost and found (it was there when I went back). They're good sports, and I try to read their stress as caring, which I think it is.

I've learned to compensate. My class work is all filed in manila folders, so I know at all times where, at least, I've lost papers. I have a couple of piles of things, I don't go that many places, I know where to start looking if I've misplaced something, and when I need to start getting frantic.

So: to the Lost and Found, to those of you willing to put up with/pay for me when my debit card has disappeared, to the good custodians of BYU who keep good track of my belongings, to Elizabeth Bishop who's picking up what I'm putting down: thanks. Couldn't do it without you.

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

-- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Clip-and-Dip Success

The best part of the evening (or a close 2nd or 3rd) was this recommendation:

Love, Emma.

Thanks all for a lovely evening.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When You Are Old

William Butler Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

(Thanks, always, Amanda)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

There will be no other end of the word.

A Song on the End of the World
--Czeslaw Milosz

On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.

On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.

And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels' trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.

Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he's much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
There will be no other end of the world,
There will be no other end of the world.

When we were discussing feminism in 452 (for just a minute) we played a Prisoner's Dilemma kind of game--boys against girls (men? women? we're adults I guess). The kind of thing that if both groups agree, they get 2 points, if both disagree they get one point, but if one agrees and one disagrees the disagreeing one gets 3 points. And there are three rounds. I may have written about this. In our class, we agreed to agree twice, then agreed to disagree (in part I think because I grew up playing games with Jeremy who is the most strategically ruthless person I've ever, you know, played games with so I insisted that we not let the men in the class to convince us to agree only to betray us). Dr. Muhlestein applauded our success, then told us that the groups rarely tie, that usually the women "trust" the men in the last round and get hosed.

The idea he was demonstrating was this idea of the last round. Both groups were kept honest in the first two rounds because they knew there was another round coming and they needed to seem trustworthy to maximize their points, but in the last round anything goes--there's no chance for revenge. I'm trying to remember what the real-world application of this was: something about property rights and women being subjugated. But I've been thinking about this also in my life.

I've been working really hard to come up with a personal justification for working hard (or at all, depending on the day), based not on threats of punishment or banishment, but on some sort of internal motivation. What this means is flipping around a lot of my inherited conceptions of authority and self-worth and God. I've spent most of my life doing stuff (poorly, actually--just well enough to count it done, right?) so I don't get in trouble I think. And that's of course a terrible way to live.

What I've been realizing lately (as my schedule's loosened up, as my academic success is so much more/less/different than grades) is that I'm waiting for the final round, for the inevitable, threatened punishment. But aside from a kind of hellish couple of weeks last December, aside from the awkward meetings with professors in the halls--because we both know that I was trying to pull a fast one--nothing really happened.

I'm in the same boat spiritually too--trying to push boundaries, to see if God really is so vengeful as he pretends to be. But he's not. He's not that interested in punishing me, and it's no skin off his nose if I waste my life waiting for him to smite me. There is no final round.

Or rather: every day is the final round. I'll fail at this and try again (maybe better?) later, but it comes again to presentness. To doing things well because that feels much better than slacking them off. Because there's no reason not to do them well. Because what else should I be doing right now? Not because if I do poorly I'll be punished but because there is no point in doing something than doing it. My life/education/salvation is today. There will be no other end of the world.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I was having a conversation with my friend the other day about love. Her point: there are a lot of emotions we conflate with love, and they change as our relationships deepen or we get older or whatever. The thing that caught my eye/mind though was the tie between love and gratitude.


God. What does is mean to love God? How does God show his love for me? I've been really troubled and perplexed by this lately: uncertain, uncertain, uncertain.

Gratitude: I don't know, I've been working (really hard) to be grateful for what I have. I know that it, like, makes life easier and happier and more hopeful. I'm terrible at this.

And just love in general. I have a group of friends I love and know and talk to regularly, but beyond that what does it mean to care about people? (I've mentioned this: I may be mildly sociopathic. ha ha.)

So. This friend of mine mentioned that she's been just overwhelmed with gratitude for her husband lately, and that that's what love means to her. I related in this: my best of friends are the ones who surprise and delight me with how fabulous/smart/thoughtful/perfect they are. I am constantly reminded how grateful I am for them. The relationships of mine that have died I've smothered with ingratitude: compared the object to others, overlooked strengths, taken the relationship for granted.

There's probably more here to be said. But. For now.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Last year I wrote designed my curriculum loosely around the idea of storytelling, and my classes and I came to some pretty interesting conclusions:
1. We got to just bathe in archetypes. I should probably be over how cool these are, but we talked the "are these stories from one original source or do their similarities illuminate something important about being human" issue to death. To no definite conclusion of course. Self-indulgent and lovely.
2. We talked about stories as culture. I think I came to a greater appreciation of Judaism's reverence for the book...the compilation of the old testament started in earnest after the Babylonian scattering of the ten tribes. Putting together a story was a defense against getting lost. I love this idea.
3. I made them read Aristotle and we discussed catharsis--not only personal, but communal emoting and its importance. Moreover, I started thinking about the point of story. We learn that stories have a beginning, middle, and end, so that in the midst of hard times we can look forward to resolution and closure. We read events in our lives this way and it allows us to find meaning in the chaos. The form gives us hope.

In class lately we've been discussing Whitman. Particularly I want to talk about Whitman's mourning poetry. So Whitman was all for the poet-as-prophet figure. He imagined himself as a seer of sorts, that his job was to interpret events for the rest of us, right, and to create a new American consciousness. What I'm wondering is if that's true or even possible. I guess I'm reevaluating the conclusions I came to about stories, or trying to understand the underlying principles.

I was always taught that Christ taught in parables so everyone could understand the truth he was trying to present on whatever level they were ready for. We all read fairy tales when we were little, too, and maybe took some sort of wisdom from them (did we all learn to be the rescuing prince or passive princess at the knees of the Brothers Grimm? I'm not sure...). And I read "Understanding Comics" last year--it has this interesting insight into non-representational comics, that the fewer details a character's face has, the easier it is to insert ourselves into the story, the more universal it becomes (I'm not sure where McCloud was coming from, I'm sure he has a more authoritative theoretical background somewhere...).

So we take for granted that stories teach, that we insert ourselves into stories...but, I don't know, do they? Can someone else's narrative bring meaning into our own lives? And I suspect it's more complicated than this (I just finished reading Lord of the Rings and I definitely related to the characters and imagined myself in the story, but was I absorbing/reaffirming values? Were the emotions I was feeling anything more than entertainment?), that stories are doing something more/different than explicitly teaching point a or value b. But what?

Have you ever had a discussion with someone which you thought went really poorly: that they didn't agree with you at all, that you made no difference in their thinking, but then they end up doing just what you asked them to? Or, on the flip side, gave someone advice thinking they would do precisely what you suggested and that their lives would change, and they seemed to be amenable to your suggestion, but ended up doing not a thing, not changing at all? I wonder if sometimes adults tell stories (particularly didactic stories, parables and fables and things) thinking they're having some sort of influence when actually kids resist the moral, though enjoy (or not) the story?

I don't know, I guess I've always assumed the power of story, the power of the word, but wonder, finally, how to understand it best.

Whitman might have created a new Lincoln, but might not have. I don't know that I feel a need to tell/hear the story of 9-11 (though, to be fair, I might be sort of a sociopath). I do keep telling people/myself the story of, like, failed relationships, trying to find some meaning there.

And. And, in an effort to come to terms with my early life, I've been asking my mom to tell me the story of my childhood. This is important: my family was never one for storytelling. There are entire years of my childhood shrouded in shame and secrecy. And I think I feel the loss. In Gilmore Girls, Lorelai wakes Rorie every birthday with the story of her birth day. Part of me thinks that it's the responsibility of a parent to give their children a consciousness of their childhood through storytelling: this is who you are. This is your story.

The other part of me wonders, still, about the lasting power of any story. (Something in me is feeling resistant to the idea. Not certain why.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Your opinion please:

So Annie and I are having a little debate I'd like your help settling. We both think that the music of the 90's was pretty awesome. I think we feel this way because that's when we were coming into our own so it's in our marrow. Annie thinks the music was just empirically better (her very thoughtful argument: most of the best music was available on the radio. Then crappy crappy late-90's pop came into play [sorry to those of you who came into your own a couple of years later than me, so said pop abides deep in your heart], good music had to hide in underground enclaves to be dug out by music lovers and so the indie boom of the early oughts which continues sort of today. So 90's music was both great and popular=better. [Not sure I did that justice, but you get the idea.]

What do you guys think: was 90's music empirically more awesome? Was it just us? For to jog your memory:

(A note on the playlist: I know. These are songs I loved mostly. :) )

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wuthering Heights and Werewolves

Heathcliffe was a werewolf.

On the weekend

Remember the time I offered to cook dinner for my ward? And I spent like 16 hours doing it? And it came off smashingly? (At one point there was applause and the chanting of my name which I guess leads me to the conclusion that I don't want to be a caterer, but a celebrity caterer, because who applauds the ordinary caterer?)
The success of the meal was the cream cheese mousse and berry coulis. We used them to dress up Costco brownie bites and cream puffs, and also to snack on all weekend long. (Cream cheese mousse: cream cheese and powdered sugar, whipped, fold in whipped cream. Go. Coulis: a back of berries, some lemon juice, sugar, corn starch. Boil for 1 minute. I blended it at this point and strained it. I was drinking this stuff. Thanks Diane!)
It was soo fun. It kicked me out of the gross depressed malaise I've been wallowing in the last couple of weeks.

Which makes me think: my bossiness and crisis addiction have most certainly ruined parts or elements of my life. But. Is there someway to embrace them? Because, as far as I can tell, they're not going anywhere. Doesn't somebody, somewhere, need someone who's neurotically efficient and loves pressure? Doesn't that sound marketable?

Fun fact: if you've slept too much on Sunday because, like, you lay down for a sec at 4 and then it's8 suddenly, and then you watch "To Catch a Thief" right before you go to bed, you will still sleep restlessly, but it will be Cary Grant who shakes you awake in your dreams, pulling you to urgent champagne parties and dips in the Mediterranean. I.e.: do it. (Also, and this isn't original, can I be Grace Kelly when I grow up?)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Something I'm bad at

is keeping things in perspective. Like for instance right now I'm grumpy and unmotivated and downdowndownering. And I've spent the last couple of weeks certain that this, finally, is who I am. That I've ruined my life forever, that I will never recover, that I will spend the rest of my years failing at insignificant things and lonesome.
I draw these conclusions regardless of the fact that I draw them every year (Dear February: what did I ever do to you?), and every year, when May comes around and I'm dazzled by the brilliance of Utah in spring (it is waaaay greener that I ever remember and unrelentingly beautiful) and am suddenly highly motivated and all kinds of friendly. Regardless of the fact that everyone hates graduate school. That graduate school is, in fact, a hell on earth, the firey gateway to a very lovely (if competitive, I know) profession and no one likes graduate school. Why I thought I'd be different I'm not sure.

My impulse here is to give me a pep talk/kick in the pants: you are better than this! You can do it! Work your way through it! What the hell are you doing!? But I'm not really in the mood and usually anyway that sort of thing is the opposite of motivational. Instead, I'm going to get another donut, dowse my sorrows in Diet Coke, work on getting the couple of things I have to get done today done, and maybe, you know, read another 250 pages of The Lord of the Rings tonight. (I'm thinking I'm going to skip over most of the Frodo bits. Could he be more dramatic? It makes me want to light myself on fire.)

So. An icy fountain drink toast: to SAD. To May. To me.

Friday, February 12, 2010

On hope.

Stuff you are worse at without hope:



(More eloquent.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On poetry. Agency in. Me and.

Do you like how I forgot to finish yesterday's post? I think there was supposed to be another sentence or two in there, and I forgot them.

The complainy part (it's short and there's pay-off): It's getting to the point when my days seems heavy--so much time to fill before I get to go to eat lunch, go to bed, etc. I should be filling days with, you know, putting together annotated bibliographies and charming professors into chairing my thesis. Or something. But instead, they drag. I'm avoiding. I hates it.

The (cryptic) resolve: a poem I wrote--


I knew, when I closed the door,

(we’d just painted it the color of a hershey’s bar

and it stuck a little

and was built heavy anyway)

Turned the deadbolt,

Walked straight into the sun,

That the hummingbird I left in the shed

Wouldn’t last the weekend,

Not even the day, probably—

Panicked and shut up in the dark.

According to Wikipedia,

Hummingbirds are continuously hours away from starving to death,

Which is a thing I kind of knew already

(but the internet puts it better than I could).

This morning, gathering sand

and grass clippings

from the corners with a push broom

I found and swept its body (it dried out like a moth,

To almost nothing)

Into a metal dustpan.

I wasn’t surprised. But was—


Felt like I should mourn

A little.

Before I sifted the lot into the trashbin.

It got caught, was the thing.

Our shed’s facing rolling doors—

The springloaded ones,

With chain-pulleys—

Were open all day:

I was driving the mule in and out,

Loading and unloading trash,

Loading hoses, the leaf blower, the air compressor

(we kept our pavilions clean)

It must’ve flown in and up,

Toward fluorescent lights that weren’t the sun,

Buzzing up near the cinder block ceiling.

I tried shooing with a broom,

Tried bright orange sprinkler flags near the doors

(this works with bigger birds)

Even climbed up the ladder

And interfered till I worried for the poor fellow’s heart.

(My sister once scared baby quail to death with a plastic grocery bag).

But birds are dumb,

And my day was through.

So I put the flags and ladder away,

Left a half-dozen wildflowers on a wheelbarrow

And turned out the lights.

I don't love this poem. Later it will be richer, poetically, and shorter, and the tone will be consistent. But the thing is, the criticism that cut deepest because I know it's true and haven't the slightest idea how to fix it, is that the speaker isn't implicated. S/he isn't an agent in this poem, doesn't act. My classmates wished the speaker would've killed the bird outright or something.

And. I've been thinking about poetry and memory: about memory as a defense mechanism (children often accused of lying develop this, no? A preternatural capacity for detail? As if remembering that my mom was wearing her green silk jumpsuit on the day I tripped on a seam in our marble floor and chipped my tooth would prove that I didn't feed the dog purple crayon...). About poetry as a repository for detail/memory. About poetry, then, being a defense, an alibi. Closed and furtive. Passive.

So. I take "I" out of my poems? I look back toward nature (all of my best poems were nature poems. Some biography poems were also good), focus more on observation of detail?

Plan my day, find a project, do the hard thing?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

things i like

Quiet, the most. I'm in the grad lab right now with no one (mmm, Dave just came back in and is tip-typing, but a minute ago, and otherwise) and I've just gotten to campus and I love the sitting in the quiet. It's the kind of thing that slows me down and calms calms me.

Anthony Bourdain. So, I was watching Anthony Bourdain last night. For a couple of hours. He was in Vancouver (smooth, The Travel Channel) where he met up with three good friends/chefs. They fed him delicious things which he described in detail. They bantered. They barbecued together. Then he went to the Hudson River Valley which is so beautiful. I never knew. My favorite part was when he was sailing up the river (or something) and found a floating hotdog stand/boat and giggled like a little girl. Also the bantering, also the amazing food. He's a lush and a total bastard, which I also kind of love.

When I go to interview for jobs and the interviewer was in classes with me. Was, perhaps, one of my Inscape staff. Had, I remember because it's amazing, a denim jacket with a fabric print of Morrissey safety pinned to the back.

That's all for now. My life needs a soak in bleach and a vacuum and several hours of sorting. I'm keeping disorder/chaos/panic at bay tenuously

Monday, February 8, 2010


I sort of love stereotypes. I know they're kind of mean, but there's something very satisfying about being able to put people into categories. Really putting anything into categories makes me happy.

The English grad lab sits between the Swedish-Italian-French lab and the Asian languages lab. I noticed the other day that I have never left before the latest Asian languages students. And I've left plenty late. On the other hand, I've never seen the Swedish-Italian-French lab's lights on after, say, 7.

Kind of warm and fuzzy, right?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Grateful finally

In all the muss and tumble of this last several months, I have been reminded again and again to be grateful. Because I don't get everything I want all the time. But I get a lot a lot of great stuff.

To wit:

I am consistently surrounded by incredible people. My 10 years at BYU (we'll be celebrating our tin or aluminum anniversary in September--bonfire, anyone?) and beyond (Manna, Jenn and Kristin, sireli hay, I'm looking at you) have been wonderful for collecting really topnotch friends. Really topnotch friends who, out-of-the-blue just-in-the-nick-of-time, reappear with just the words (or handmade prints or pictures of their babies or photocollages or late-night chats) I need. This growing collection is one of my favorite things about getting older.

My family is amazing. Brilliant and funny and hardworking and creative. Unimaginably patient and forgiving and understanding. I'm not sure what I did to get so lucky, but I'm honored to be associated with the lot of them.

I'm learning the value of a good healthy fight. Not so much those cruel ones where you're trying to prove that you're right (if our words were swords we'd be dead) or whatever (though even those I think are something) but of really fighting it out. Caring enough to argue. Being willing to cry in front of someone. I feel like this is the best thing I've ever learned to do.

Heavenly Father is really patient and nice. (On a related note this project is taking off and I wonder sometimes if it might not be/become one of the most important things I'm involved in ever.) This might turn into a bigger post, but I'm coming to see more clearly that waaay more people than look it are questioning big questions of God and are ultimately being disappointed and feeling abandoned. This is hard stuff, any way you look at it and any way you eventually reconcile yourself with it. I like my relationship with God for the most part, I'm so grateful that I get to see him there, but I'm also really grateful for the people in my life who've chosen other paths. I'm grateful for their strength and their perspective.

My students, almost without exception (this semester without exception), are smart and interesting and involved. I haven't read their first papers yet so maybe I've been mislead, but classtime is interesting and they're so nice to each other. My being their teacher notwithstanding I feel so lucky to be a part of this supportive little (tiny. I have 10 students this semester) community.

The world is sort of magic. Spring is coming (it starts in our hearts!). I know there'll be another flurry or two before it's official, I know that March is a terrible awful abstract idea personified, but I smelled mud and grass! Winter will be over! Also: carrot soup. Also: lemon-garlic broccolli. Also: snowshoeing in the canyon.

My body is fabulous. (Don't worry, no more details about my menstrual cycle.) I ran something like 9 miles last week, next week I'll do more. I don't get sick (knock on wood) or tired, much. I am, right now, running on like 3.5 hours of sleep. Which, I think, I'll


Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Temple of a Thousand Doors

Purple light passed in slow waves across the floor and the walls of the room. It was a hexagonal room, rather like the enlarged cell of a honeycomb. Every second wall had a door in it, and on the intervening walls were painted strange pictures representing landscapes and creaturs who seemed to be half plant and half animal. Bastian had entered through one of the doors; the other two, to the right and the left of it, were exactly the same shape, but the left-hand door was black, while the right-hand one was white. Bastian chose the white door.
In the next room the light was yellowish. Here again the walls formed a hexagon. The pictures represented all manner of contrivances that meant nothing to Bastian. Were they tools or weapons? The two doors leading onward to the right and left were the same color, yellow, but the left-hnad one was tall and narrow, while the one on the right was low and wide. Bastian chose the left-hand one.
The next room was hexagonal like the others, but the light was bluish. The pictures on the walls were of intricate ornaments or characters in a strange alphabet. Here the two doors were the same color, but of different material, one of wood, the other of metal. Bastian chose the wooden door.
It is not possible to describe all the doors and rooms through which Bastian passed during his stay in the Temple of a Thousand Doors. There were doors that looked like large keyholes, and others that resembled the entrance to caves, there were golden doors and rusty iron doors, some were padded and some were studded with nails, some were paper-thin, and others as thick as the doors of treasure houses; there was one that looked like a giant's mouth and another that had to be opened like a drawbridge, one that suggested a big ear and one that was made of gingerbread, one that was shaped like an oven door, and one that had to be unbuttoned. The two doors leading out of the room always had something in common--the shape, the material, the size, the color--but there was always some essential difference between the them.
Bastian had passed many times from one hexagonal room to another. Every decision he made led to yet another decision. But after all these decisions he was still in the Temple of a Thousand Doors. As he went on and on, he began to wonder why this should be. His wish had sufficed to lead him into the maze, but apparently it was not definite enough to enable him to find the way out. He had wished for company. But now he realized that by company he had meant no one in particular. This vague wish hadn't helped him at all. Thus far his decisions had been based on mere whim and involved very little thought. In every case he might just as well have taken the other door. At this rate he would never find his way out.
(Just then he was in a room with a greenish light. Three of the six walls had variously shaped clouds painted on them. The door to the left was of mother-if-pearl, the one on the right of ebony. And suddenly he knew who he wished for: Atreyu!)

You probably haven't read The Neverending Story. You probably should. :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dear 27:

Live up to the first party of the year, and I think we'll be all right.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dear 26:

I'm so over you.

Loves, ke.