Friday, December 25, 2009


The older I get the less like Christmas Christmas feels. Am I too old to feel the magic of Santa and reindeer and giving and...mistletoe? Am I too harried to focus on nativities and sacrifice and the miraculous birth of not just a child, but a power - a force for redemption?

I listened to Christmas music as often as possible. I excitedly wished "Merry Christmas!" to people I met. I looked forward to the time when I would be with my family.
And yet...Christmas came too soon. By the time I realized the need to bask in the glow of yuletide cheer, it was upon us and past us and hadn't quite found its way into me. Per tradition, I hung my collection of homemade and gifted ornaments on our tree of misfit decorations. It doesn't look pretty but it does look like home. I wrapped presents and placed them under the tree. We stayed up late Christmas Eve, a sheet hung over the opening to the family room where my parents were playing at Santa Claus. And this year, as if to prove that we are now too old, my parents woke US up that special morning. We abandoned hope of fitting all 10 of us in my parent's queen size bed - these days it just turns into a violent wrestling match anyway - and gathered in the kitchen instead. No Christmas socks, no lining up from youngest to oldest on the stairs, no stockings hanging over the fireplace. Just a cinnamon roll and an attempt at ceremoniously removing the cotton barrier.

The rest of the day was spent in holiday carefreedom. Playing games, sharing presents, avoiding responsibility. Something I've been doing for the past week and a half. It turns out that when there aren't looming obligations, responsibility is shirked absolutely. I need to order textbooks, apply for scholarships, respond to emails, take a shower, post on my blog... It's as if all of that belongs to a world that isn't mine anymore, a world that exists half a country away. A world I return to on Friday. Somehow two weeks just doesn't seem long enough to have fully recovered from this past semester of school. A semester that almost broke me. But that's in the past now. Now it's Christmastime and I've got to make the most of it.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Feliz Thanksgiving, at least one more time.

Another Thanksgiving spent abroad. Though, thankfully, this trip did not include an 18-hour time warp and supposedly edible sea creatures. Nope, just a bunch of cacti.
This holiday season I headed south to Arizona to visit an old roommate of mine. I got sick just in time to avoid eating a large Thanksgiving meal and make awkward dinner conversation with a couple guests. We played a quick game of Clue - which I lost because I neglected to accuse the Dining Room of killing Mr. Body with the Wrench in the Conservatory. The loss was too much and I spent the rest of the day napping on the couch. Me and a 9-month pregnant woman. Really, what's her excuse?

That night my friend (who is NOT the pregnant woman, just for the record), her husband, and I went to the park, looked at the stars, and finished each other's sentences. It would have been really romantic if I hadn't been alone...with a married couple.

The next day we headed up to the Grand Canyon. It may not be the longest or the deepest or the widest but I can assure you, it's the grandest. Much like Southern Utah it turns out.We also got in a little rock climbing. As you can see, it didn't offer much of a challenge. I basically ran up that sheer cliff usual. did Bryan and Kristin. I'm not sure what that means.Cheers, Thanksgiving! Cheers to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's happened.

I am officially a nerd. Maybe I was before, you know, because school's always been important to me no way can it be denied now.

Against all self-respect I understand this t-shirt:

Next stop:
Conquering the world one realm of knowledge at a time.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Judge for yourselves.

Halloween is always a little bit hard for me. It's tough to find a costume at the last minute that you feel creative in. And every year, I leave it to the last minute.

This year I thought I would go with something practical. In order to test the accuracy of my apparent celebrity look-a-likes I decided to dress up as one of them. I've only got two. One is a character from a horror film...the other from a cartoon. My facial features are really diverse.
Since I couldn't really pull off Clarice Starling without a convincing Hannibal, I dressed up as Jessie from Toy Story instead.
So what do you think? Are the reports accurate? And yes, Buddha is actually a pregnant woman and that is a real human being in the upper right of that photo.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Everything is illuminated in the light of the past.

I went to Washington D.C. recently and was filled with new-found respect and admiration for the founders of this, the United States. For colonists who had the strength to win independence from a king and grant us popular sovereignty and, with it, popular responsibility. For people who, though imperfect, stood up for freedom and human dignity. For men who had respect and admiration for God; who built our nation on ideas of religious principles; who placed religious freedom first in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
The 'separation of church and state' was never about quashing religion - any religion, but avoiding one that was federally mandated - a repeat Church of England.

On the wall of his memorial building, Thomas Jefferson is quoted thus: "God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever."

Let's go back to the days when freedom OF religion didn't mean freedom FROM religion; when "an opinion is no more disqualified for being ‘religious’ than for being atheistic, or psychoanalytic, or Marxist, or just plain dumb;" when the people of this nation stood behind the phrase, "In God We Trust." I don't pretend to know much about political justice or the rhetoric of what's termed political justice now, but I will pretend to care. Let's go back.

Let's bring it back.

I highly recommend this talk by Elder Oaks given just 5 days ago: Religious Freedom. Taste it, love it, crave it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Get it while he's hot!

I just wanted to draw your attention to the free song on eMusic today.

I don't know how you could resist: those baby browns, that hairy...everything... Indiana Jones has his whip and a universally understood hatred for snake Nazis. James McMurtry's just got his song.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


If you ask your teacher a question during a test and he tells you how to set up your problem, is it cheating? What if you went up there with the explicit hope that he would do just that?

If you got a long group email from another teacher inviting you--in the midst of other personal updates--to the Red Iguana over Fall Break with other students, graduates, and the secretary of the College of Engineering...would you go? What if he started talking in third person and discussed his horoscope?

If a voice in the bathroom stall next to you politely asked you for an unmentionable (named thus because of mixed-gender readership), and you gave her one, would you wait to emerge until she left the bathroom or would you brave the seemingly inevitable face-to-face encounter?

If, while studying for a test, one of your classmates came up to you and asked if you'd be interested in dinner sometime and after stating, "Oh, wow..." you ran through every excuse in your head including, "I'm dating someone," because you weren't at all interested in dinner sometime but didn't know how to say no; and eventually you just said, "...sure..." because he was just standing there waiting for an answer and thankfully, instead of getting your phone number he handed you his business card...what in the world would you do? It's just, I know someone...who has a friend in this situation so...they'd, uh, like to know.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Island Park -- Land of opportunities.

Island Park, located in Targhee National Forest, Idaho, has become something akin to a fairytale to anyone who's been there - an adventure of mystic proportions. It's spoken of in reverently hushed tones, generally followed by a moment of silent reverie. I first had the opportunity to cross into this mythical ether a couple of winters ago. We rode on sleds behind 4-wheelers, daring to perform dangerous feats of gymnastics, we played football on the frozen lake, had dance parties in the kitchen, and drank hot chocolate 'til we preferred coffee. Truly, it was magical.
I went back for another repeat winter but kept hearing rumors of something grander, something better:


I wanted it. I wanted it bad...and I got it. I got it so good. An accumulated week and a half of blissfully lazy Idaho potato days.

Floating the river, reading to my heart's content, laying in the hammock...
Instead of sleds and 4-wheelers we had a trampoline and an...air burrito. The goal of which is something like this:
Not this:

Most importantly, however, I went water skiing for the first time. Slalom. Exciting stuff. I've never experienced anything that's hurt so good. I just wish someone had told me that I wasn't actually modeling for a 1980's magazine ad for ultra-slim cigarettes (Thanks Garred).Ah, Island Park. You can be sure I'll be back.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The promised tribute to summer.

Summer is officially over. I'm taking 16 credits at school. I have a part-of-the-part-time job. I regularly put in 14 hour days. I take classes where the professor instructs us to "stare at the problem for awhile" in order to figure out the answer -- Calculus III not Magic Eye Books 101. Eat, sleep, repeat. Sometimes I don't even eat...sometimes I don't really sleep.

But today is not about that. No, today is about what once was. Summer.

Those lazy summer days. Hiking, reading, taking short affordable trips, complaining about the heat, going to outdoor concerts, rock climbing, watching Hulu for 6 hours a are some picturesque highlights.

I went to Zion National Park and went canyoneering for the first time at Pine Creek. The water was cold, the rappels were exciting, and Baby Beluga has never been freestyled so well. I already mentioned The Flume outside of Lava Hot Springs. We went there the weekend of the 4th of July. There really is nothing like floating a river while shouting patriotic themes and trying to stand up through mild rapids.

I hiked up Brighton, Bells Canyon, and Lake Blanche. I bet you can't find me amidst all the wildflowers...or waterfall.
I went to Moab for a ward activity where I hiked Delicate Arch in flip-flops and jumped off a 15-ft. ledge into shallow water.I'm sure you've all heard of Island Park -- the place where all your dreams come true? Well I went twice. Details will be forthcoming. Rest assured that I got my picture with Mickey and rode It's A Small World at least 15 times.

Lastly I polished off the season with a trip back down to Zion to hike The Subway -- a 9 hour hike that turned into 13 hours (please promise me that if you ever go hiking you'll leave your two pairs of scissors, your machete, your poster of edible plants, and your combat boots behind). My friend invited me on her father's photo shoot not a pioneer trek. James Neeley everybody:More pictures of me everybody:So that's it. That's what I did these past 4 months. It may look like quite a bit but when the unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo only takes you 3 weeks to read instead of 5 months, you can be sure that I actually had very little going on.

Monday, September 21, 2009

In the midst of an imbroglio.

So I wrote this awhile ago. I'm posting it now because 1) I haven't yet compiled my photographic tribute to summer and 2) I want to make sure I don't accidentally lose it. I realize that it's difficult to know what to say to someone's overly dramatic post so I forgive you ahead of time for not saying anything. We usually only know how to cry by ourselves. And now, I give you this...

For some reason this night was different. I didn’t exactly decide to drive, to catalog and file my life like neat index cards scribbled with blood. I merely continued going anyplace but home.

And I turned the music up.

I turned it up so loud I thought it could get inside me. That it would press up against me and swallow me whole. That maybe its rhythmic pulsing would replace that of my own heart, its manic celebration giving life to limbs too tired to care. With a feverish thirst, I wanted it to blast away my oppression like a melodic fire hose; each passing note latching onto a thought, unwanted partners in a dance. As if the strength of its sound could tear these demons from their breeding ground and banish them from eating my fleshy insides. I wanted to join in, to shout the words, to shatter the pretense of composure, but a soul so muted does not sing.

In the parking lot of a church, my traveling circus of untamed drums and roaring guitars came to a stop. Bleary and muddled, I sent bottled up hopes and confused queries into the voided dark. Piling up asking in vain attempts to get closer to myself, I doggedly searched remote corners of my heart for hinted feelings. Instead I got numb silence, stillness, nothing from the towering spires. Persistent doldrums of thought fell like the hammer of a metronome on my battle weary mind. Poised on a sloping ledge of wanting, I was prepared to do anything but choose. I’d vacillate. I’d sulk. I’d obsess. I’d wait. I would wait because whatever was right had aggravatingly never been made known. But this time I drove. And I turned the music up.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Almost awesome.

As a last minute invitee I went to an outdoor concert in Park City.

I went on a whim.

I went to see the reputed father of rock and roll, of whom it was said, "Of all the early breakthrough rock & roll artists, none is more important to the development of [this] music." The same man responsible for the original version of The Beatles' "Rock and Roll Music". The man who made the duckwalk famous. A man whose name I hadn't heard until that night...

Nevertheless, I was excited to add my voice to the famous refrain of "Go Johnny, go, go." So, I...went.

I went to see Chuck Berry. In concert. For free.

Immediately I could tell that the night was going to be quite a treat. Imagine your grandfather - your 83 year old black grandfather - dressed in a bright red sequined shirt, complete with gold bolo tie and white navy cap, on stage strumming a vintage Gibson guitar. You'll understand then when we quickly tried to find a good spot on the hill why rabid drunk elitists would politely yell, "Down in front!" So we grudgingly laid our blankets down way way in the back...and then decided we'd rather go stand in the designated "standing area" anyway. Take that, disgruntled hippies. And it was fun. Chuck forgot his words from time to time. I did the twist. He did the duckwalk. And then he called for 12 ladies to join him on stage.
...My wing-woman had gone to the bathroom. I was frozen in entertained anticipation, waiting to see if anyone would actually take him up on it when my new found friends broke my false composure with their hearty encouragement. I bolted. I earnestly ran through the crowd, ducking and weaving, Rachel suddenly at my back...and then I hit a wall. Or something that felt like a wall. It was actually a short, stocky woman - the kind that Carhartt clothing is made for - dressed in a large muted orange sweater. I apologized for running into her and then moved to go around her. All I had to do was duck under the rope and I was at the stage. I was almost there. I found her in front of me again...and again. Somehow she was matching me step for step, I'm pretty sure without actually moving. Time was running short and history was on the line so I left propriety amidst the crowd and pushed rudely past her. I ran towards the stage knocking over someone else's drink just out of principle. I got there just in time to be denied by security.

Denied by security.
I stood there for awhile in disheartened disbelief staring at what might have been. Then I was ushered away from the small crowd at the front of the stage by some ambitious medic. She poured salt in my wound.

My friend and I walked back to our group. Two dejected wives of Lot. I didn't even get to hear Johnny B. Goode.

Monday, August 17, 2009

In honor of...well, me.

I was once told that optimists blame others for their problems and pessimists blame themselves. Which makes one wonder how optimists ever achieve personal growth and why pessimists don't just shrivel up and die from persistent catatonic despair. I guess the trick is to find a balance between the two. Become a realist. Blame the government.

Ba doom chsh. I'll be here 'til Thursday. Try the veal.

In other news, this is my 100th post!!Who knew it'd come out so thin? Let's celebrate regardless! If I had confetti and fireworks I would make them go off in your living room right now. Since I don't, I'll just use a lot of exclamation marks and hope you have a vivid imagination!!!!! (!!) !

It has been two years to the month since I started burdening mere acquaintances with my publicly secret hopes, dreams, and vindications. Still no denouement. I like to think of this personal periodical as something like an epic novel...though instead of compelling narratives on unjust imprisonment, war (and peace), vengeance, doomed empires, redemption, and the French Revolution...I give you monologues on school, work, family vacations, and embarrassing love conflagrations. I guess I haven't really had any of those...but IF I DID, you can be sure I would write about them.

So in the spirit of achieving something (like unto charity) I hope you'll keep tuning in.

Good night, and good luck.

I mean, thank you and...take...luck.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oh, shake it...

For the remaining 9 days of my summer break I'm going to be learning how to play this cover by Mat Weddle:

I've always wanted to get back in touch with my ghetto-acoustic roots.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A treatise on allergies and the face of unspeakable horror.

I didn't have allergies until I moved to Utah. I swear. Now I wake up every morning drowning in snot. If it doesn't wake me up in the middle of the night instead. Like it did today.

Or maybe it was the appearance of Freddy Krueger in my dream that woke me up. Tough to say, really. I'm getting the willies just thinking about it, and I've never even seen the movies.

Have you ever thought about dying with dignity in the face of unspeakable horror? Nobly facing death. Proving that one can conquer this most banal fear. I thought that idea was going to get me back to sleep...but here I am. Blathering.

Well, in my dream my death was powerful. Silent and accusing. Granted, my dignified death also involved my killer wrapping my hands up in large slices of turkey meat before he handcuffed them together...and, as you might expect, it's difficult to take your death seriously in such circumstances.

Anyway, I'm not sure I could, when it came to an un-deli-fied death. It turns out I'm something of a coward. Back when I swam in shorts and a t-shirt instead of more feminine swim know, like a little brother hopped on a tube and floated far out into Lake Superior. When my mom encouraged me to go after him by telling me I was a good swimmer I think I was probably excited at the idea of such heroism. Because even getting into water that averages 40 degrees constitutes heroism. So I started to wade...and I quickly realized that his life seemed much less valuable than it had from the beach. Goodbye John, I never loved you that much anyway.

So maybe it wasn't that much of an emergency in the first place--we ended up getting a friend to pick him up in his boat--but obviously my first instinct is not that of noble sacrifice.

In the face of unspeakable horror? I think I would just scream a lot...and wander around the house in the my underwear. Just like the movies.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

A/C, I've been missin' you.

Early last summer my air conditioning stopped working.

Early last summer I lost any goodwill I had toward this supposed king of seasons. When people pine after a life of endless summer I'm pretty sure they didn't have this in mind. This is something different. This is inescapable. This is death by heat rash. Improvident living. Just yesterday it was 87 degrees inside my house. IN MY HOUSE! Try to imagine what it's like to blow dry your hair in such conditions. My eminent femininity has suffered for too long. Sleep, that favored friend, weeps for the return of modern convenience. My body has never been hotter.

But today, oh today...things are different. Dry your tears! Put on your clothes! Today this was replaced:
with this:
...and now lethargy is no longer a valid excuse against household chores.