Sunday, December 13, 2015

T. T.

This is Tyler.


He has been a dear, dear friend for four years. It's nice to have him nearby, like the way you know your mom will always love you.

Tyler suggests that you get ice cream when you're feeling overwhelmed. He then drives you there, and pays, and listens while you talk. Oh, the listening. He could listen for years.

He suggests you watch one of his favorite movies. He doesn't get mad at you when you don't like it, but he explains to you why he does like it, in such a kind, reasonable way that it makes you rethink everything.

He's a friend you want to have. #blessed

Friday, December 11, 2015

School's Out.

All you do all semester is think about what you would do with all that time if you weren't in school.

For four months I've dreamt of doing extravagant things, like reading books and making dinner and going on runs.

But today, when I emailed in my paper, all I could see in front of me was a terrifying nothingness.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Helplessness Blues.

Living life is kind of uncomfortable.

Just being inside your body, walking around, standing on your feet, sitting. Smelling bad smells that you can't get away from, scrunching up your face when something annoying happens.

Making yourself sit through boring things, having an anxiety attack and holding your breath, reading long paragraphs, talking to people who talk too loud, or stand too close to you, or say things that are a little bit racist without realizing.

Parking far away, stress dreams, pedestrians that walk slow in front of your car.

Most of all, wondering about everything and thinking all the time and asking questions that you don't know the answers to and never will.

Lately, I've had this wish I keep coming back to: I wish I could mash myself into a tiny corner somewhere, so that my body is smashed into some unsightly shape and all my organs and bones feel the pressure. Because that is what living life feels like, and having to walk around and stand on my feet and sit in a chair and stop for pedestrians as if life isn't excruciating is just unfair.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Nearness of You.

(Written Oct. 2015)

Recently, I started going to counseling. It's so nice. My therapist is like a much older version of me, but with over-exaggerated facial expressions and, you know, all that therapist wisdom.

On Tuesday, she was teaching me about how distorted beliefs can lead us to have emotional reactions that don't match the magnitude of the trigger event. She was going to use an example of someone you love getting in a car accident to contrast.

"Who are you closest to in the world?" she asked.

I knew it was a simple exercise, but it felt like a test. I sat blankly for a moment, paralyzed. A few names crossed my mind, but I second guessed myself. Am I really closer to her than anyone else?

I couldn't pick someone. The truth is, there's nobody in this world that I'm as close to as I'd like to be.

It's only a place to start.

"You seem embarrassed by loneliness,
by being alone.
It's only a place to start."

-From the 1995 Sabrina


Much as I didn't care for this movie when I saw it last night, 
I did care for this line.

Everything starts with being alone,
like the school bus ride
on the first day to kindergarten.

It's not embarrassing,
and, beautifully,
it always turns into something else.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

How I Felt at Church Today: Warm Water

This morning, I read an article that said, When you go to church, try. That's so obvious, but it's usually the obvious things that hit you as being the most true.

So I sat there and tried really hard to think and ponder and it worked wonderfully. 

It felt like my chest was filled with warm water. My heart and my stomach were right there next to each other, sloshing around. Each new beautiful thought I had made the water ripple delicately in my chest, like the quiet noise of lowering yourself into a bath. Like the way the water laps at your ears when you lay back into the pool to float.

The back of my neck felt hot, and I put my hand over my heart. 


How I Felt at Church Today:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Adam-ondi-Ahman.

In June, I went to Kansas City for a training for work. Just me. I was terrified to go, but now, as is so often the case, I look back and pine for it.

I rented a car so I wouldn't just have to spend my long evenings in my hotel room thinking about how lonely I was--a green Toyota Corolla, to remind me of home. 

The first day, I jumped in the car and drove an hour and a half to the middle of nowhere to a field called Adam-ondi-Ahman. It's got historical and religious significance for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I listened to choral music all the way there, as the green fields melted past my windows. The sky was as big and brilliant as any I'd ever seen.

When I got there, a big sign pointed me in. The roads turned to gravel, and I worried about the car's tires. I found a woman gardening and asked her where to go, since there wasn't much direction. I mean, there was the most lovely view of a green field that I'd ever seen, but I didn't know if there was something more to be looking for.

She pointed me to the other end of the property, the other lookout point. I got in my car and drove slowly, slowly over that gravel. It felt like it took forever to go a mile and a half.

It must have been 7:30 or 8 at night--the sun was glittery, just starting to promise that it'd soon go down. As I was driving and the choir was swelling, a deer came prancing out into the road in front of me, crossed it gracefully, jumped a low wooden fence, and continued through the tall grass on the other side. I was going so slow that I knew there was no way I would hit it, so I just watched in awe. This gorgeous, godly field was its home, and it hopped fences and went wherever it wanted.

The view was nice. I felt totally invisible in the world, so invisible that only God could find me. I felt like this is where I would go if I were the only woman on earth. But that deer was the most unexpected joy of the story.

Friday, November 6, 2015

No one is to blame.

I sometimes think about how many songs there are in this world. I wonder how it's possible that all notes that exist haven't been put together in all possible combinations already.

And even though there are millions of lyrics out there, I still can't believe it when I find one that perfectly describes how I feel. It's a thrill.

But really, there are probably songs that describe everything I've ever felt. There are already songs out there that that describe how I'll feel in 30 years, but I just don't know it yet.

I found a song that someone wrote 30 years ago about what my life has been like ever since I started dating.

I've dipped my foot in the pool but I couldn't have a swim.
I've been the fastest runner, but I wasn't allowed to win.
I've felt the punishment, even though I couldn't commit the sin.

And no one ever is to blame.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The First Day of Winter.

When daylight savings time ends, you're so taken with that extra hour of sleep that you don't even notice it getting dark early.

The next day, though, is the first day of winter. By the time you leave work, there's very little light to hold onto.

Today, as I drove home from the grocery store, the early dark made me feel so tiny. In one day, the night grew so big that staring into it seemed endless. But there was something comforting about that. Like the darkness and the cold and the artificial heat on my toes and the Christmas music and the whole world were wrapping me up in a long, cozy hug.

I think the humility of winter is the counterpoint to the brazen pride of summer.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Venus.

On Thursday, I woke up with the worst cramps of my life. We went to the hospital and I found out my ovary was bleeding. I went into surgery so they could stop the bleeding and drain the blood and fluid. Now I have two little incisions on my abdomen and it hurts to cough.

My belly is rounder than normal for the time being, and I keep looking at myself in the mirror. I learned a year or so ago that the reason women carry fat in their midsection is for when they have a baby, so the baby will be safe in there. That changed everything for me. 

And now I can understand, to some degree, why Chrisanne said that she felt like the Venus of Willendorf when she was pregnant with her son. And why that might be a nice thing to feel.

Venus of Willendorf, 28,000-25,000 BC

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Really a real person.

I met this girl once, a while ago. She made me feel like I was in middle school again. She was the loud, confident girl and I was the small, quiet girl. She created a one-way conversation in which she reigned supreme. She asked me questions that put me on the spot, and when I squirmed or hesitated, she spoke loudly, drawing others into her web to listen to her speak for herself and for me.

It was an interesting experience, because I was aware in the moment of what was happening. I told myself, "You're not twelve anymore. You can wrestle your turn back." So I made my own bold assertions, pulled out my own wit, met her on her level, and planted my feet respectably in the conversation.

It was just one evening that I really met her, but I felt a lingering bitterness toward her, for what she'd done to me, for how she made me feel. She had a stoner's face. She was full of hot air. Wherever there was a realness to her, it was buried so deep  that I wasn't sure she remembered how to find it.

For a year, I shriveled when I saw her at social events. We joked about her mercilessly. I had a scale: at one end was this girl, at the far end was your typical decent human being.

But then I found a corner of the internet that belonged to her. It surprised me in every way. It was thoughtful, original, and real. There was pain, there was exultation, there was quiet resolve. I consumed it tirelessly.

The triumph of the discovery was that of finding a real person, not a caricature or a character. I could see her heart--I could almost touch it. If I could, I would have hugged it.

To this girl: I am sorry. It's so amazing that everyone is really a real person when you actually look.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Consuming each other.

This weekend, for whatever reason, I downloaded Tinder again. Because, as I've said before, it's just fun--to look at the people out there and how they portray themselves, to imagine whether you would like them if you met.

But then, I started to feel myself turning to Tinder to distract myself from pain and disappointment--an escape into others' lives.

Within a few hours, I had a lunch date set for the next day. A Tinder date. A thing that I never thought would happen to me. I couldn't sleep that night. When we met up, my hands were shaking.  

But it was fine. I got a little worried that we wouldn't last an hour when he said he mostly talked about tv. But he was interested in things and he made some funny jokes. I expressed my array of strong and sometimes strange opinions that come up during date talk: I think action movies are boring. I like movies where people talk to each other. Not big on tv either. I don't like meeting new people. But he was fine with it all. It was fine. Truly.

After a sparse afternoon and evening's worth of witty text banter, I couldn't anymore. He was a stranger, and I didn't want to spend my emotional energy coming up with quips and wondering whether his jokes were meant sincerely or not. There was no raison d'ĂȘtre there with us. And so I said, Sorry, this isn't for me. You're nice. Bye.

Okay, now listen. I know this isn't a big deal. I know I didn't break anyone's heart. But I've been uneasy about it for two days now.

I'm just disturbed by how we consume one another. We see so many people in a day that we'll never talk to, and so they never have the chance to become fully human to us. They don't impact us. We just look at them. We just consume them.


Endless swiping on Tinder is endless consumption--reducing a person to 5 pictures and 2 sentences and ingesting them. And then, if you make the horrible error of going on a date with one of those people, it's just a slightly more sophisticated level of consumption. We traded facts about ourselves; we traded our date talk soundbites. 

But without an infrastructure underneath, a framework for a relationship, an unspoken promise that we will continue to care about one another after this conversation, all we did was allow ourselves to be consumed. It's even worse in a dating context than when you normally meet strangers, because it rests on each person's individual admission, I'm physically or otherwise attracted to you. Maybe I would date you someday. Maybe I would kiss you someday. And to admit that but then only consume that person is an uneasy hypocrisy.

I can't help but think about this guy. It's easy to never think about him again, but this isn't a tv show, where side characters get hired just for an episode or two and then disappear. He's living his own life somewhere, and the soundbites he gave me are woven into an unbelievably complex and rich person that I will never comprehend. Because when you meet someone new, you have to create a space to care about them; otherwise, you're just consuming them.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Not Forgetting.

I was ten years old on September 11, 2001. After a confusing morning of students being pulled out of school one by one by their parents, we went home early. The bus driver told us that a plane had crashed into a building, and I felt my little child heart relieved. See it's just a misunderstanding, I remember thinking. That's nothing to be worried about.

Sometime later in the day, of course, I realized I was wrong. I remember my mom encouraging me to go on a walk around the neighborhood with my friend Sarah. It was safe, after all, since all flights had been stopped. I remember looking up at the sky, thinking that if I saw a plane up there, that would be bad, bad news.

I remember the long wait for my dad to come home from work, and my incredulity that he hadn't left early. We ate a tense dinner. In my memory, we're all sitting up straighter than normal.

What a day. The events of a morning wrapped millions of people in a shared sense of fear. The pit of every stomach was filled with that awful knowledge that something horrible had happened that we were powerless to fix. A living hell.

I hate September 11 every year now. I hate the empty rhetoric of "Never Forget." I was ten then, but I'm twenty-four now. No one old enough to remember that hell will forget it. It's just a fact.

So what is it that we aren't forgetting? No one says exactly. I think they mean that we're not supposed to forget that people lost their lives. We're not supposed to forget the heroes. We're not supposed to forget how we banded together.

But what I hear is We won't forget what you did. We'll never forgive you. We won't forget that you spat on America--that America endured something it doesn't deserve. I hear vengeful message.

There are so many countries where people endure things they don't deserve every day. Right now there's a Syrian refugee crisis. And lots of countries are opening their arms to them and right now we're not one of them.

After September 11, several European countries held National Days of Mourning. Tens of thousands of people brought cards and funeral wreaths to the US Embassy in China. The president of South Africa halted all broadcasts for the rest of the day. A village in Kenya gave 14 cows to help out America.

I didn't know any of that until I read it on Wikipedia just now. All I know is how hurt we are, how we continue to insist that we're hurt year after year. I'm not saying we weren't hurt. That hell was real for all of us. I can't imagine how bad some people had it. All I know is that if the tables are turned, and it was another country that got what we got, we wouldn't have stopped the TV for it.

Isn't the point of "never forget" to keep history from repeating itself? I just don't think "never forgetting" is going to keep people from terrorizing us in the future unless we look around at all the people with open arms to support us and start acting like we know they're there.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Feelings are embarrassing.

I've been thinking that emotions are embarrassing.

The other night, I finally finished a paper for school that I'd been procrastinating all summer. When I left the library, the cool night air was exceptional. I drove home with the windows down, listening to "Dancing Queen," smiling at people walking by.

The emotions all ran together for a second, and I felt overwhelmingly good. The song, the night, the relief of finally being done. Even the pang of knowing that if I had procrastinated less, it wouldn't have been nearly so horrible made it sweeter. 

For no explicable reason, my friend Davi popped into my head. My eyes filled with tears. I love her so much! I'm so happy right now! I've never been so happy!


Then my mind said, "I've never been so happy? Did I sincerely just think that sentence?" 

And then I felt embarrassed. And I thought, All really deep sincere feelings of happiness are embarrassing.

And I think maybe all emotions are embarrassing--because you're being vulnerable with yourself, and even that's uncomfortable unless you're used to it. You almost beg yourself to show a little more discretion.

But realizing that you're embarrassing helps. Knowing that normal feelings make you feel embarrassed makes it seem more like embarrassing feelings should make you feel normal.

Like that guy I see every day at work that I'm attracted to for a few seconds, before my mind goes, "Ew." That's going to keep happening and I'm going to keep feeling embarrassed about it.

I'll probably feel embarrassed about writing this some day.

Monday, July 6, 2015

That's how you know.

I seems like everyone my age is always talking about how you know you're really an adult. Probably because it's basically impossible for us to really know.

I think part of it is when you want the Almond Joys more than any other candy in the assortment. It's also when you'd rather have
lemon frozen yogurt with raspberries than chocolate with chocolate chips.

It happens when you do your taxes the very next day after you get your W-2.

Today, it happened because I chose to listen to a podcast while I was running instead of music. A podcast about the economy.

That's how you know.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Four Seasons of 1989.


Fall was Shake It Off.

It was new and it was thrilling. Taylor had been around for a while, but here was a side of her no one had anticipated, a side which, you could feel instinctively, would be better than ever before. You danced in the car, in your room in the morning getting ready--anywhere. 

You stopped on it every time without fail when flipping through the radio stations. It was a bonus when you came in during the chorus and found out you hadn't missed the second verse. Forget the liars and the dirty, dirty cheats of the world; you were getting down to that sick beat.

Winter was Blank Space.

You thought you loved Shake It Off, but Blank Space made you go crazy. It was everything to you. If you weren't listening to it over and over, it was stuck in your head. Everyone had their favorite shots in the video, and you had yours.

You stopped on it every time without fail when flipping through the radio stations. Tired drives home from school were suddenly energized. You were young and restless and took it way too far. It left you breathless, and you couldn't imagine any nasty scar.

Spring was Style.

That's when things went wrong. What happened, Taylor? You didn't like what she was saying or how she was saying it. Suddenly, the rhymes didn't seem all that clever. Most of the time, you pretended like Style had never happened, and you were quite happy.

But the radio gods had it out for you. Somehow, when you were flipping through the radio stations, you always managed to hear it from that tell-tale beginning. You changed the channel immediately. But sometimes you didn't. Because if you ignored part of what you were feeling, truth is you still liked it. When you'd go crashing down, you'd come back every time, after all.

And summer was Bad Blood.

Taylor's chance to turn things around. At first you thought she couldn't. It was, after all, all it had ever been: a lot more stupid rhymes, hidden in a catchy tune. But what a catchy tune. You found yourself saying, "Guys, I like it." Sometimes it seemed clear that she had made it up to you.

It came up on the radio more than ever. Half the time you changed it, half the time you stayed. And when you stayed, you turned it up loud and angry and sang loud and angry. Every time, for certain, you found yourself wishing you could go back--back to Shake It Off, back to Blank Space, even back to Style. Maybe even back to life before 1989. But if you live like that, you live with ghosts.

Friday, June 26, 2015

An Apology to My 11th Grade English Teacher.

I disliked my eleventh-grade English teacher very much.

She was exactly what you'd expect of an English teacher. Her first name was something out of a 19th-century British novel; her last name sounded too French. The only thing I could imagine her doing in her free time was sitting on a patio overlooking some woods, drinking red wine and reading the Classics.

She was always in disbelief of something that I found quite believable. She was always speaking authoritatively about things that I didn't think she understood. She was the type of adult who said things like, "When I was in high school, we didn't have the internet."

I had an attitude that year. I remember fighting her so hard. Little invisible high school me, actually inciting disagreements and tangents in her class, like some goof-off kid.

Once, when we were studying Native American literature, she started talking about the way they viewed the world. How time isn't necessarily linear, how everything is connected, the past and the present all muddled up.

She asked for comments, and a precocious boy near me raised his hand.

"Oh yes, I've felt that way before," he started, imbuing each word with a sense of wonder. "When you're standing in a field, and you just think about the earth under your feet and how long it's been there. And you can picture all the people who've ever stood on that spot where you are, and you can see in your mind's eye what they did there."

"The Apache," photographed by Edward Curtis, c. 1907-1930, Smithsonian Institute

My teacher nodded heartily. I fumed. What kind of pretentious affectation was this? Who would feel that way? The world is where it is now. There is no great wisdom that the wind shares with you when you stand in a field, basking in glow of your own feigned maturity.

But.

Recently, I was driving home from work, and I noticed the trees lining the street.

How long have those been there? How many cars have driven by in their lifetime? Who planted them? What did those people do with their lives? Where did they live? What was here before these trees? 

The truth is, I feel that way all the time. Like the past and the present are all muddled up, like I yearn to see every person who has ever stood on the exact spot where I'm standing. 

Maybe I'm as pretentious as my eleventh grade English teacher now. Or maybe she was right about at least something.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I keep seeing sadness everywhere.

I keep seeing sadness everywhere. 

It's not as horrible as it sounds. It's not a pit of darkness with no light; it's the shade under a tree that keeps you cool when the heat is unbelievable. It doesn't lurk around corners or sneak up on you. It's hidden in plain sight, right alongside happiness.

There is sadness in dark windows on a dark night, in self-conscious giggles, in dirty kitchen floors, in not having any notifications. 

There is calmness and stillness and coolness in an empty library, but there is also sadness. There is pride and love in singing to an audience who doesn't care, but there, of course, is also sadness.

There's something artistic and rich and full about that undertone of sadness. It makes life 3-dimensional. It tugs at your heart, and then you can remember, for at least one more day, that your heart isn't dead.

And, of course, it makes me cry--when I'm driving, when people are talking, when there's no one in the world to hear me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A letter to J. K. Rowling.

I think you're pandering.

What happened was once upon a time, you had a great idea. An idea that ended up becoming an international cult classic. You made a world so magical that almost anyone could tap into it with their whole heart.

But what happened is that you finished your magnum opus. Harry and friends grew up. You rounded things out and tied them off.

But every third day we hear something new. Dumbledore is gay. Harry & Hermione should have ended up together. You're sorry you killed Fred. There's an American school just like Hogwarts and Beauxbatons and Durmstrang.

Joanne, stop. Please stop. You created six beautiful works of young adult fiction (5th book doesn't count, sorry not sorry), and you need to let them speak for themselves.

For some reason I have always felt like a good work of literature should stand alone. It's not a figure in a painting that needs a background behind it; it's a marble statue in the middle of a room. It's a static representation of what an artist wanted to create at a certain point in time. You might evolve, but you can't change what you made.

And I don't think you should change because of what we think. Harry Potter, as much as we love him, isn't ours. He's yours. And you had Hermione and Ron fall in love, and that's okay. You killed Fred, and that's okay. You never mentioned that Dumbledore is gay or that there are other magic schools, and that's okay.

I think because we love Harry so much, we feel entitled to take part in your creative process. Because you've created a world that we can step into, we think we can come into your space, take the quill out of your hand, and force you to rewrite bits to fill empty spaces in our hearts. We can't do that. It's only yours to do.

So, what I'm trying to say is that you don't have to try so hard. You don't have to give it all away. You just have to get up, get up, get up. You don't have to change a single thing.

Stop making prequels starring Eddie Redmayne. Just go to bed tonight, proud of what you've done.

24 finds me in 24th place.

What does it even mean to be 24 years old?

People who are currently 24 years old: Jennifer Lawrence. Ed Sheeran. Me.

I feel like when you're young, there are ages that you think are going to be perfect. Seventeen. Twenty-four. I'm pretty sure all my Barbies were always 24.

Now that I am 24, it's crazy. Some 24-year-olds are so old that they might as well be 35. You think about 24-year-olds that you knew when you were 20, and wonder why were they my friend?

I personally feel the same as I did when I was 23, except with an added measure of prestige. I'm 24. I have a career now. They send me on business trips to Kansas City. I still can't really rent a car, but still.

Is 24 the perfect age? Maybe not. Not sure.

I just really like this picture.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Because of a boy.

I mean, it's pretty obvious that you shouldn't change for a boy. That's middle school right there. You should be who you are, like, all the time, and people will like you for that.

But what about changing because of a boy? Sometimes when you really like someone, you love what they love.

I like Symphony bars because of a boy. I love running because of a boy. I got Snapchat because of a boy. I like Seinfeld because of a boy. I used to hate Abbott & Costello, but then I gave them another shot. Because of a boy.

And I don't think any of those things are bad. Not one.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Sad People.

Today at the grocery store, I thought, "Look at all these sad people."

There were women with mullets,
overweight people riding those scooters,
middle--aged people wearing uniforms for jobs that only teenagers should do,
people whose faces have seen too much sun,
Mormon girls who scream, "I'm a Mormon girl trying too hard!"
and couples who either looked too in love, or not in love enough.

Then I realized that I was one of the sad-looking people at the grocery store. Because every few aisles, I would just stop and scrunch my face up. Because I haven't gone grocery shopping in weeks, I don't remember how to feed myself, and my life is in shambles.

Maybe the grocery store brings out the worst in us.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

On the Periphery.

I don't think anything frustrates me more than insincerity. I bristle at any word that might be insincere. I take careful steps not to say anything on the internet that might sound insincere.

So it's hard for me to write about things that are touchy. Not because I don't have feelings about them, but because I worry that my feelings will come off as insincere or feigned or bland and broad and safe--all of which would make them unpalatable to me.

A lot of people on the periphery of my life have died recently. The manager of the Costa Vida at UVU. A distant acquaintance's brother. Elder Perry of the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And Beau, the vice president's son, twice the attorney general of my home state.

When people on the periphery of your life die, it is always surprising how much it means to you. That you can feel so changed, knowing that Donny won't ever make your salad at Costa Vida again. It's tender and strange to describe, but it's a real feeling.

When you feel that way, you remember that life must mean something. Otherwise, dying wouldn't mean so much. I believe that Jesus is the Savior, and that's why things have meaning. Because of Jesus, neither life nor death can make life meaningless.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

You caught me in a candid moment.

There's this place I like to get breakfast on my way to work sometimes. There's like 4 people who work there, and they're there every morning. I like the guy behind the counter. He's pleasant. Sometimes he jokes with the person in front of me in line, but not me, and I feel insecure.

Today I went in and went to the big glass case to look at my pastry options. He was singing along to the radio.

After a few seconds, he saw me and said, from behind the case, "Oh! You caught me in a candid moment."

From my side of the case, I took a little glance at him, mumbled, and finally said, "Yeah... and I'm glad I did."

From his side of the case: "I'm really good at singing, you know."

From my side: Mumble, mumble, "I can see that."

Then, I ordered my food, and he asked me if I wanted my pastries heated up in the microwave. And he doesn't always ask that to everyone. I like to think he just does it for his favorites.

The truth is that there were at least 400 more interesting things to say than what I came up with. For instance,
Him: I'm really good at singing, you know.
Me: You don't have to tell me twice.

Same message, better delivery. Do you see what I'm saying?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Let's Hope Nothing Happens to Us.

There's this cute French movie I've seen called Romantics Anonymous. It's about two extremely anxious chocolate makers who fall in love.

In one scene, the man tells his therapist that his father's motto was "Let's hope nothing happens to us."

The truth is, that little phrase makes sense to my heart. It's not "Let's hope that nothing bad happens to us," but that nothing will happen at all.

I feel that way, because I'm afraid of every new thing that could happen to me. I'm usually excited too, but I'm afraid first. 

My belief that I can't do it and that I'm not good enough is lodged so far down into my gut that I can't even reach it, not with my deepest diving periscope. It crops up like the tagalong friend that no one ever actually invites but who ends up saying something funny by accident, so everyone lets him stay.

And there it bleeds its messy guts all over the pretty life I'm trying to create. How are you supposed to paint your masterpiece when there's an ugly part of yourself bleeding its messy guts all over the corner where you were going to paint a glittering white city like Minas Tirith?

I don't know the answer. Today I heard a lovely song that said, "I don't want to die before I live." Maybe if I repeat nice mottoes to myself instead, I'll believe them.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Riots.

Today, there were riots in Baltimore. Baltimore. So close to home. Where my brother went to college.

When I saw the news on the internet, I couldn't help thinking, How come I didn't know?

Shouldn't there be something in my heart that stirs when people get so sick and tired that they pick up bricks and throw them at each other? When people don't know what to do except kick in windows?

Shouldn't there be something in my heart that stirs when police officers wake up for a normal day of work and end up lying next to each other in hospital beds?

Shouldn't there be something human in my heart that stirs? Some buzz in the air that makes it over the Rockies to where I am? How can there be riots in Baltimore without some analogous change in my day?

I guess our hearts can't be so cosmically tuned in to human suffering, or else we would never do anything but suffer.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Conception.

I had a thought a while before my birthday, when I was driving: When was I conceived?

I calculated slowly and obtusely in my mind. Nine months before the middle of March is... the middle of June.

The middle of June? Right around the summer solstice?

I went home and looked up a pregnancy calendar just to be sure. I typed in March 14 as the due date and clicked the button. And guess what it said.

Conception date: June 21. The usual date of the summer solstice.

I'm going to try to describe to you what this means to me, even though I know it's strange. 

Yes, I was born 3 days early, so I probably wasn't actually conceived on the actual summer solstice. But. The idea of it is so perfect. I feel more like me when I think about it than I ever have before.

On the best day of the year, when the sun shines longer than it does any other day, I was born for the first time.

On a day that promises sunshine and warmth and adventure and joy, came the promise of my life, full of all the same things.

On the day when little girls wear crowns of flowers in their hair, God smiled down at my parents and said, "You're going to have a baby."

Like I was the crowning achievement of an already beautiful, exultant day.

And through a long summer and fall and winter, I grew and had my first education in being a human, there inside my mom. My heart learned to beat, and my lungs practiced breathing fluid in preparation for air.

And then, just before spring, I was born into the world, along with the flowers on the trees.

Can you see how realizing that would make all the difference?


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Stargazing.

Yesterday night, we left the library at 11:20 to go stargazing. Scott needed to get past the light pollution for his astronomy assignment, so we drove up into the canyon.

We parked in an empty parking lot, pulled on sweatshirts, craned back our necks, and there were the stars. 

We found the Big Dipper, then the little unassuming North Star. I found the Little Dipper for the first time. Then we arced to Arcturus and spiked to Spica. 

Scott told us about Orion hunting the Pleiades, and Cassiopeia and Andromeda and Perseus and Pegasus. Wes asked questions, and I said "Oh!" from time to time. We all danced back and forth to keep our feet warm.

With each moment we stood there, my fears that a crazy ax-carrying man or a hungry mountain lion would come running out of the dark slowly subsided. There was only us. I breathed in peace with each word we spoke in hushed middle-of-the-night mountain tones.

I looked from Wes' face to Scott's, and they were only muddled black shapes. But even so, the black outlines of the way they were standing gave them away, framed against the black trees.

We were three friends who had gone away from where there were lights and where there were sounds. Now we could feel the wind on our faces, because there was nothing to stop it from touching us. I closed my eyes and turned toward it.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Somewhere we live inside.

Today at work, I said to Alyssa, "I'm going to play a song to make you happy."

She said, "Okay," and I suppressed sheepish giggles as I opened Spotify.

Part of me felt bad because I knew that I was about to play her this:


Oh that first sweet riff.

But after a minute or so, I said, "Wait, I'm kind of enjoying this." To protect her privacy, I won't tell you what she said. Let's just say we ended up listening to the whole song.

#seventhgrade #christianrock #painfullyuncool #24findsmein24thplace

Sunday, April 5, 2015

If you reach out.

When I watched this, I felt like I had discovered something that made sense. I felt breath fill my lungs. It seemed easier to get out of bed.

I felt like I was meeting Jesus for the first time.


Tonight, as I drove home, and I felt the strange relief of hot tears on my face, I suddenly felt that Jesus was in the passenger's seat and He wanted to hold my hand.

So I reached out and laid it there on the passenger's seat and held His hand.

That's the thing. That doesn't make any sense. It doesn't make any sense for me to feel that way. But when you feel someone reaching for your hand that you know isn't there, you know He is there.

I want everyone to feel that way.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

At least it was seven, not eleven.

When you do statistics for seven hours straight, sometimes your friends bring you a Slurpee.

When that happens, that is, without a doubt, the best Slurpee you've ever tasted. I don't even need to calculate the confidence interval of that being true.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Finale.

Today, I watched the final episode of Parks & Recreation.

I don't really watch tv, so I've never felt anything like this before. I've never felt the sting of knowing that there's no more--that all I have is all I'll ever have.

Listening to the theme song won't ever mean the same thing. We've been together for years, and now, for the last time, we are all actually moving away.

Of course, the natural thing to do is to try to find a new show to watch. But I don't want to do that. How could I love Parks & Rec as much if I loved another show?

They're my one and only.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Soothing.

Lately, I find myself stopping on the Spanish radio stations.

There's something soothing about listening to people talk without knowing what they're saying.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Vinyl.

Tonight, Alyssa and I listened to records and danced to them.

In a day when you can pull up any song you can dream of on your telephone within 10 seconds of getting the urge to listen to it, the draw of vinyl is almost inevitable.

You can touch them. They're cumbersome. You have to be careful with them. There's movement involved. You can actually see the needle progressing through all the songs. You have to get up and walk over to the record player to flip to the other side. 

And there's this warmth and richness to the imperfection of vinyl--like a beautifully stained wooden table. Like the musical instruments making the sounds are actually inside your heart, and the music is playing from the inside out.

That little scratchy sound that the needle makes when it just touches the record? That one moment is brimming with life, like the rise and fall of empires hang on it.

I could go on.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Smell of Summer.

Today, I got in my car after work, and it smelled like summer.

It took my completely by surprise. Not until that moment had I considered that the inside of a car that had been sitting in the sun all day would have a specific smell, let alone that it was the smell of summer.

But it was obvious and it made my heart laugh.

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