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.