Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sometimes you look pretty.

I've never thought I was pretty.
In fact,
I've spent a lot of time
thinking that I looked like

But lately,
as I've walked in the sun,
I've looked at my shadow
and admired the way
my hair falls behind my shoulders.

When I lace my fingers together,
I love feeling the size and shape
of my hands.

And last night,
(I'll be honest)
I spent an hour
looking at pictures of myself,
What if I came at these
thinking that I was pretty?

So I tried it,
and it wasn't too hard.

There are a lot of situations
where you look pretty.

Sometimes you look pretty
because you love your best friends.

Sometimes you look pretty
because you're on the top of a mountain
that you just climbed.

Sometimes you look pretty
because you're admiring a sunset.

Sometimes you look pretty
because you're pretending to be
a Russian spy
at a murder mystery.

Sometimes you look pretty
because you made friends
with a lamb
at a county fair.

Sometimes you look pretty
because you're hugging a tree.

Sometimes you look pretty
because you love your parents.

Sometimes you look pretty
because you're a little bit sunburnt
and you think it's funny
to dress up like a pioneer.

Sometimes you look pretty
because you're having
a stinkin good hair day.

Sometimes you look pretty
because you're playing
at a playground.

Sometimes you look pretty
because you're being crazy.

What I'm trying to say is
sometimes you look pretty.

And that's just true.


Sometimes on a Wednesday
you feel particularly ordinary.

You feel like
you're not especially good
at anything.

You wonder why
people laugh at your jokes.

And why people have missed you
when you haven't seen them
in a few days.

You're not sure,
but you have the feeling
that you probably talk too loud.

You feel a weight
in the air
right around the physical space
that you take up.
Then you realize
that you feel ordinary
because you're scared.
The first day of kindergarten
was the worst day of your life.

Because the minute you smiled at
the girl next to you in line
and said,
"Do you want to be friends?"
you were a goner.

The minute you made a friend
is the same minute
that you made
your five-year-old self
to someone else.

It seemed like a good idea
at the time.

But what if
she decides
that she doesn't want
to be friends anymore?

What if she decides
there's a friend
that she likes better?

you've been in grave danger
since you were five.

So some days
you tell yourself you're ordinary.

That way,
if your friend says,
"I don't want to be
your friend anymore.
You're ordinary," 

you can say,
"I know."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

This century is for the birds.

Today, I talked to my friend Taylor
about his family's mink farm
and how good it is for kids
to spend summers shoveling poop.

And then later we all talked about
dads who make their kids
shoot their own pet dogs
because they killed one of mom's chickens.

And then I found out
that they're going to make
"at least" a trilogy of
Harry Potter spinoff movies
about Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them.

And then I went to the grocery store
and all the foods
were packed with sugar
and fat
and sodium
and they were all expensive
and I couldn't buy anything
because it's all going to kill me
or at least make me go broke.

By the time I got home,
I was almost in tears.

Can't we all live on farms
and grow our own food
and eat it
and learn hard lessons about life and death
and spend time outside for fun
instead of paying $10 each time
a new version
of the same old movie
comes to theaters?

I know I'm overly romantic,
but I don't think I want to live
in this world anymore.

I feel exhausted.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

How I Felt at Church Today: The Dish and the Star.

Sometimes I feel
like my chest
is a concave dish,
curving from shoulder to shoulder.

My heart is an eight-pointed star--
the kind they show in the sky
on the night Jesus was born.

And that star,
my heart,
hovers in the middle
of the dish,
its light hitting
here and there
and reflecting back
there and here,

so that the whole brazen dish
is lit up with sharp golden light.

Light that buzzes and pings softly
as it bounces off
the sunken brass surface.

Its most distinguishing feature
is how it lasts--
on and on,
perpetuating its own glow
and buzz.
For minutes at a time.

It feels good,
but good seems
too simple a word.

It feels so bright
that it is warm.

And it feels so warm
that it's joyous.

And it feels so joyous
that it's sublime.

And it feels so sublime
that it's terrifying.

Terrifying in the way that
awe is terrifying--
reverence mixed with fear.

Fear of losing
the dish and the star.
And having
a normal chest and heart again.

But even more,
fear that,
if life can be this good,
I am going to have to be
something more
than what I am now.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Your dreams are coming true.

Sometimes I think,
None of my dreams
are coming true.

Then I realized
that I can sing alto.

When I was twelve or thirteen,
Emily Schroeder was 17 or 18.

I remember one time,
we were singing a hymn at church.
I feel like it was
Angels We Have Heard on High.

I listened to Emily
sing the alto line--
no music,
no book.

Just harmonies
out of her own head
with her own voice
like it was nothing.

And I thought,
How can she do that?
I wish I could do that.
The other day,
I was at church,
singing the alto line of a song,
no music,
no book.

And I realized,
I can sing alto.

And from there,
it was a short leap to
My dreams are coming true.
And nothing can stop that.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


When you're a kid,
you go to your friends' houses
to play.

And their parents are there.

Then when you're in high school
and taking the bus home
seems like too much to handle,
you go to your friends' houses
(I'm looking at you, Emma.)
to hang out
and "work on homework."

And their parents are there.

But then you go to college
and then you grow up.

And it's just you
and your friends.

And there's something missing.

Of course,
you're not mature enough to realize
until it's too late
how worthwhile it is
to know the one or two people
that made your friends
who they are.

Who took them to the doctor
Who pushed their stroller
up a steep hill
when they were dead tired.
Who sat on the edge of a bed
and told a story
or sang a song
or said a word or two.
Who made cookies
and went to soccer games.

Whose DNA made them.
Whose home made them.
Whose love made them.
Whose life made them.

All I want to do
is meet all my friends' parents
and say,
"I love your child.
And so I think
you must be
pretty great.
You did a good job.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

My life is an episode of Blue's Clues.

Sometimes I feel like
my life is an episode of Blue's Clues
and I'm Steve.

I have a question--
what should I be when I grow up?
who do I love?

I start out confident
that as I go about
my daily activities,
clues will appear.
Marked by a blue paw print.

And I'll gather them
in my handy dandy notebook
when the time is right,
sit in my Thinking Chair
and puzzle
and ponder
and muddle
for a minute or so.

And then,
with my mental prowess
and reasoning power,
I will hit eureka!
And Blue's Clues
will be solved.


It's not that easy.

Instead of clues appearing
when I least expect it,
I search endlessly for them.

This book I'm reading for class
must be a clue
to what I should be when I grow up.

The way he smiles
must be a clue
to whether I like him or not.

I draw paw prints on everything.
Pretty soon, my handy dandy notebook
is full of drawings.

And instead of one fruitful trip
to the Thinking Chair,
I go there every day.

I languish there,
piecing together my clues.

Why aren't they fitting together?
Do I not have enough?
Have I combined the wrong ones?

At length,
I rip some clues out of my notebook
and decide I was mistaken about them.

But ten minutes later,
I'm taping them back in.

And at the end of the episode,
I look at the camera,
at the silent audience of children
watching behind the television screen
and say,
"I'm sorry.
We couldn't figure out Blue's Clues."

But that's because life really isn't
an episode of Blue's Clues.

There aren't clues.
It's not a riddle
that you can solve.

And no one gets mail that often, either.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The National Parks.

Last year on October 4,
I went to the Rooftop Concert in Provo
to see The Lower Lights.

When we got there,
one of the openers was playing--
The National Parks.

I'm going to go there
and just say it.
You can judge me
for being cliche.

hearing them
changed my life.

They were the soundtrack
of the fall,
and summer
that followed.

My life became a quest
to hear them play
any time I could.

I told
everyone who would listen to me
to listen to them.

Their music
is full.
It's full of something
that your soul can relate to.
Something that feels familiar to it.

I can't tell you
how many times
my heart has beat wildly
while listening to them,
piqued by some sublime knowledge
that life is good
and it has good things
in store for me.

Happy anniversary, National Parks.
You've made me a very happy girl.

Take a listen.
(I especially recommend Bird's Eye,
The Meadow,
Wind & Anchor.
But you really can't go wrong.)