Wednesday, December 30, 2009
While Japanese men playing Christmas carols on broccoli does pretty good justice to the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to take a moment for a more spiritual Christmas post, belated though it may be. So here it is. I am so grateful for the birth of Christ, and for the testimonies of those around me, who help to strengthen me when my faith grows weak.
I found this short composition buried in a pile of long-forgotten fiction today. I had scribbled it on three sheets of scratch paper in between calls, while working for Harry and David’s as an 18-year-old recent high school graduate. The writing isn’t the greatest, since I decided to forgo editing in favor of timeliness, and the story may strike some as trite…the kind of cheesy thing that’s perpetuated via e-mail this time of year. This experience is straight up “Forgotten Carols.” But there’s a reason for the cliché. Every now and then, you can scratch away the pretense and find something genuine. I was reluctant to post this for all its seeming Hallmark-y-ness, but a promise is a promise. Sorry it took me so long to tell your story, John.
“Christmas is Not a Tree”
I’m not sure why it’s so important for me to write this down. The promise I made did not apply to anyone but the corporate big-wigs. But I get the feeling that when I said “I promise,” I meant a great deal more than I realized.
It was precisely one week before Christmas, and I was trucking my way through the usual workday. Being a customer service grunt for a gift/gardening company call center, this meant a great deal of apologizing, empathizing, refunding, and replacing. But somewhere in the midst of all that, came someone, or something, to remind me of something that had been slipping into the back of my thoughts.
His name was John Beaty. It would appear to the rest of the world that he called about a dead Christmas tree, a missing replacement, and the wrong bromelaide shipped to his home. But that was not why he called. That is not why he called me.
He lived with his parents, who were both in their 80’s. His father had Alzheimer’s and his mother could not walk. He himself was severely physically disabled. He told me a story about how several years ago, he had begun gardening as a way to cope with his disabilities. His front yard became an Eden. Roses became a way for him to deal with the pain he suffered. But it was now December, and although John’s roses were well-known, his abilities did not extend to Christmas trees. He could neither raise one nor buy one from a lot nor cut one down himself. So they ordered one from the company I worked for. But it didn’t even make it to December tenth. Come Christmas, they would have no Christmas tree. Up to this point, I was touched, and terribly sorry. But then John said something to make me realize that this call was meant for me.
“Now I was very disappointed,” John said in a slow and steady voice. “But I know that the tree isn’t all there is to Christmas. For some people, it’s a Christmas tree, and that’s Christmas, but that’s not the important thing. The important thing is that we have a Savior…that we remember Jesus Christ, our Lord, and know that He lives, and make it a nice birthday for Him.”
And there I sat, in one little cubicle of the hundreds in that room, with tears in my eyes. I could hardly steady my voice enough to agree. I wanted to do something for him, something more than just giving him his money back. I asked him if there was anything I could do. He simply said, “Just let them know. I just wanted someone to hear my story. I’m not angry, because I have faith and know that a tree is not Christmas. So just please tell them. And please don’t just say you will; really do it. I want others to know.”
He could have been talking about his poor customer service experience, or his faith in God. But I knew which story mattered most...which story I would tell them.
“I promise,” I said. He thanked me, asked for my name and told me he would pray for me and my family. He apologized for being long-winded and thanked me for listening. He blessed me and we said good-bye.
And there it is. Simple, perhaps silly, maybe even ridiculous. To this hour, I cannot explain how a phone call from a man named John affected me so deeply. Or why I desperately need others to know. But I promised. John blessed me in a way nobody and nothing else earthly could. I suppose I want John to bless others. He can’t spend Christmas calling customer service agents to remind them of the true meaning of Christmas. But he has a story, a testimony, an understanding. Perhaps by sharing the faith I heard in his words, others can remember that Christmas is not a tree. Christmas is a Savior.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
"My heart to you is given, oh do give yours to me. We'll lock them up together, and throw away the key."
And I think they'll just keep getting better. =)
Happy Anniversary, Wonderboy. I send you tens of billions of affectionate kisses, miles apart though we may be.
Miss Bright Eyes
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Really, though. I mean, look at him.
*sigh* What a ridiculously wonderful man. He's the best boyfriend in the history of the world, and our love is probably one of the greatest in history.
Romeo and Juliet? Antony and Cleopatra? Lancelot and Guinevere?
Grammar school flings. Ain't got nothing compared to Liz and Jacob.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Monday afternoon, St. Anthony Community Care.
Hello pain-free mouth.
*Sigh* My fear of the dentist has just multiplied exponentially, researching this procedure.
Monday, December 07, 2009
I am so stoked about next semester's production of Macbeth. Look at this cast list!
Witches: LizAnne Whittaker, Nancy Chaffin, Julie Moore
Extra witches/gentlewomen/servants: Carrie Chapman, Macy Hammond, Karlan Hansen
Lady Macbeth: Meredith Bellows
Lady Macduff: Kristi Oakes
Siward/Fighter: Sam Hansen
Duncan/Fighter: Daniel Johnson
Malcolm: Seth Nehring
Donalbain/Young Siward: Thomas Brower
Macbeth: Davey Aintablian
Seyton/Murderer/Servant: Caleb Crockett
Murderer: Jacob Ludlow
MacDonwald/Murderer: Daniel Radford
Porter: Jacob Chapman
Banquo: Jordan Tait
Fleance: Michael Saunders
Macduff: Adam Pingel
Lennox: Michael Allen
Ross: Gabe White
Angus: Joe Bidwell
Captain/Messenger: Jeffrey Farnsworth
There are a few smaller parts that are being figured out still (played by smaller chorus parts), but I'm already sold. The show is being set in 11th century Scotland, and it opens February 17th. I'm so thrilled to be a WITCH, and to work with so many talented people! I love the rehearsal process with Roger (he's directing), and Davey pointed out that because so many of us know each other so well, it will just be a big group of friends getting together every night to do what they love.
I know I just finished a show, and I'm exhausted, but this cast list gave me a second wind, and I can hardly wait for our first meeting tonight...
Thursday, December 03, 2009
To counteract the sorrowful effects of this, I post here a collection of things that have made me giggle during the last few days.
The first is that last night was a kind of odd night for "Pioneer Song"...we seemed to hit a "2nd night slump." But there were some endearing memorable moments, most notably when Julia kept combining different verses of songs. During our duet, she sang the wrong verse and I stuck with the right one, so it sounded something like this:
A Yankee, a Yankee! A man who's not a Yankee
Will there'll be make trouble in you ashamed store,
pain and bring you suffering sorrows galore unnamed
You'll It's a regret it fact as you can long as you live.
She also combined the verses "Far Away in the west I'll go searching" and "Far away in the west I'll find it" and ended up singing:
Far away in the west I'll firching!
The second funny is this picture. I came home from the show last night to find Annie asleep on her bed, with her mouth hanging open, looking like this. She woke up right when I took the picture. But it's still a gem.
The third funny is from the campus hub of comedy itself. We did an exercise in Comic Frenzy the other day in which we each wrote down an adjective, a noun, a pronoun, an adverb, and a verb on separate slips of paper. Then we mixed them all up, divided into two teams, drew words, and made poetry. I think they're pretty brilliant, don't you?
Collective Stanza Poetry
by Dallas, Josh, Macy, Katie, and Brandt
My short notebook dances carefully.
Stop it quickly icky kidnapper.
Painfully, they snog on the explosive LDS basketball court.
Simply, she kicked pulchritudinous atomic bombs.
Sensational bullets fly sappily at everyone.
by Gabe, Thomas, Richard, Jacob, and Liz
We are super-awesome.
We are a dark shoe-strap.
Skip it ridiculously quickly,
that repulsive spiked punchbowl.
A slinky cop ran turgidly.
The car seductively lectures him.
A slimy-ly obese shoe.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
"Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better." --Andre Gide
How do we discern pornography from literature/art?
Okay, first of all. A common conception of "right and wrong" looks like this:
GOOD ---------- BAD
When perhaps a more accurate way of thinking is like this:
BAD ---------- GOOD ---------- BAD
(That's why the path is called the "straight and narrow," not the "straight and all the way over to one side" path.)
This model suggests that it's possible to attempt to stay soooo far away from the bad that we end up sinning in the sense of losing focus. Which I believe is very possible, and perhaps even common. Sometimes we set a standard and then stay as far away from it as possible, when we're supposed to stay as CLOSE to it. E.G. "If abstaining from R-rated movies is bad, then abstaining from PG-13 movies is even better. Or better yet, I'll only watch PG. Or no, how about G? Or even none at all!?" No. I stand convinced that the Lord would have us seek and understand truth in all of the forms He's made it available to us in. The author included this fantastic quote from Brigham Young: "I intend to know the whole of it, both good and bad. Shall I practise evil? No; neither have I told you to practise it, but to learn by the light of truth every principle there is in existence in the world...Though I mean to learn all that is in heaven, earth, and hell [,do] I need to commit iniquity to do it? No. If I were to go into the bowels of hell to find out what is there, that does not make it necessary that I should committ one evil, or blaspheme in any way the name of my maker."
That right there is some awesome principle. THAT CAN BE VERY EASILY USED TO JUSTIFY SIN. But Brigham Young explicitly tells us not to. So how can you tell? When it comes to literature, how can you tell whether you/the author is "going into the bowels of hell to see what's there" or "blaspheming the name of your/their Maker"? How can you tell the difference between an evil book and a good book that has evil in it? We know that everyone's maturity level/standards are different, but there must be SOME kind of line. No one could get away with reading Playboy "only academically" in the sight of the Lord. So what's the line?
As a class, we came up with a short list of characteristics that distinguish pornography from literature/art. (I would argue pretty strongly that this list can also help us distinguish "good" literature from "bad" literature. Or art in general.) Check it out:
- inspires negative actions towards self and others
- characters are not individuals, but rather perfected "stick figures" with parts and sensations only
- does not attempt to reveal truth or explore the human condition (purpose is strictly arousal)
- inspires positive actions towards self and others
- characters are individuals, with flaws and conflicts and strengths
- attempts to understand the human experience by exploring some truth (purpose)
I feel pretty comfortable with these definitions.
It's a futile exercise to attempt to categorize EVERYTHING into only these two boxes. A 13-year-old boy cannot look at a statue of Venus in the same objective way that a middle-aged woman can. (Catered to gender roles more than I'm comfortable with there, but you get the idea.) But on the other hand, a middle-aged woman may be aroused by the David, which was not it's purpose. And if you were to show a Playboy magazine to some aboriginal tribe in the middle of nowhere, they may react not with arousal or excitement, but with confusion or laughter or disinterest. And we in America react similarly to what other cultures find attractive. My point is that it doesn't have to be arousing to be pornography and it doesn't have to be pornography to be arousing.
So then we're back to the relative question. Can a book that is pornographic to one person be art to another? Yes? But here's why, according to Jorgensen and Brother Allen and most of my American Lit class and myself. THE EVIL OF A WORK OF ART LIES LESS IN WHAT IT IS AND MORE IN HOW WE CHOOSE TO READ IT. Maybe there's a spectrum. For every work and every individual, perhaps we can gauge using a more fluid concept. Like this:
INHERENT HARM [---------\--------] HARM I MAKE IT CAUSE
And certain things I would put unquestioningly on one side of the spectrum. Playboy magazine goes on the "Inherent Harm" side of the line. But there are other things that are different for everyone.
We can choose to read "Lady Chatterly's Lover" pornographically. Many do. Or we can choose not to. And when we find ourselves having difficulty making that choice, we know it, and we'd best put the book down/change the channel/avert our eyes. And I believe that the most people are strong enough to gauge that. And if you're not yet, don't chance it.
We shouldn't eliminate all of the literature or art in the whole world that could be viewed pornographically. Because let's face it, there are some weird people out there for whom nothing is safe. But I'm all for freedom of speech and here's why.
Brother Allen: "If we are going to explore the human experience, and the human experience is a mess, then literature MUST be dangerous."
I believe in humanity's ability to view art as art. You have a spiritual gauge. You were born with it. Everyone was. I know that not everyone chooses to view things the same way. And I respect whatever decision they choose to make. However, I believe in the right to read just as strongly as I believe in the right to abstain. I won't tell you to read something as long as you don't judge me for reading it. I won't tell my American Lit class to read "Brokeback Mountain" because I know that there are people in the class who would not choose to view the sex scene as revealing something about the characters, but rather as pornography/something offensive. But I believe that the author wrote that scene into the book not to arouse his readers. The details of the scene are important to the story and the development of the conflict and characters and relationship. And that's why I read. There are certain lines you cannot cross without losing your ability to gauge. But I believe that the Lord would have us seek out truth wherever we can feel His light teach it to us.
For some, it is enough to seek truth in heaven. But I myself yearn for all truth, in heaven, earth and hell. While I don't readily connect with those who are satisfied with heaven alone, I recognize that it is enough for them, and that neither my way nor their way is better. I hope that I can continue to live in such a way that my mind and heart are always open to learning. And visiting hell in art is a hell of a lot safer.
Monday, November 30, 2009
While he was at work doing phone surveys the other day, Jacob texted me to tell me of his overwhelming boredom. I told him to compose a story with the following elements:
He found his situation wasn't conducive to short story form, but of those inspiring elements, he did create some beautiful poetry. It was so brilliant, in fact, that I share it here.
A Japanese sock puppet groaned
After cleaning the guns that he owned
His lipstick that day
Tastes of waffle's decay
So bad that no hammers atoned.
I ate a gun
in the Japanese sun
because I thought it a waffle.
It tasted so weird
And the lipstick -- it smeared
As my sock puppet made some falaffle.
Friday, November 27, 2009
So I know I already did a Thanksgiving post, but here's another one.
I would just like to take a moment to announce, yet again, that I am dating one of the greatest men currently living on the planet. Probably one of the greater men who's ever lived on the planet.
And out of the millions of girls he could have dated, I'm daily astounded that he chose me. The odds are astronomical...that the person you adore adores you back. And it seems to happen all the time. I'm still just astonished that it's happened to ME.
Now that's something to be grateful for.
He's the diamond in the rough, the prince in disguise, the William Darcy/Gilbert Blithe/Captain Moroni/Edward Cullen/Stan Claxton every girl dreams of. Except he's better.
And here's just one reason why.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
This year, due to financial tightness and a number of other factors, my roommate/dear friend Annie and I decided to stay here in Rexburg this Thanksgiving. So that my boyfriend/our dear friend Jacob could join us in our own little feast, we had our meal of thanks yesterday evening. We were so proud of our simple, delicious meal (which Annie was mostly responsible for, mad props and kudos and a lot of love to her), and we kept wanting someone to come over and see it. That picture up there doesn't do it justice. It was delicious, and I'm so grateful for the wonderful people in my life!
I've begun a tradition of making a list like this every Thanksgiving, so here are some other things I'm grateful for:
Make-up remover towelettes
an awesome roommate
an awesome boyfriend
family -- my incredible parents, grandparents, and sisters
my ability to walk/dance/run/skip/etc.
the restored Gospel
not having to wear a corset
the History Channel
Netflix Instant Viewing
public transportation (where it exists, not like Rexburg)
interviews on "Inside the Actor's Studio"
having a printer at home
art -- great paintings and sculptures
letters from friends
friends who are wonderful examples of great marriages
my patriarchal blessing
a friend/roommate who makes things like this for Thanksgiving:
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
"I have made this [letter] longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter." --Blaise Pascal
Ten days and twenty-three thousand, five hundred and three words to go.
I really want to read a book right about now...not write one...
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Dearest Amigos en Rexburg [dearest friends in Rexburg],
Como estan? Yo espero muy bien! [How are you guys? Very good, I hope!] Thank you so much for that lovely package full of good letters, fun pictures, and lovely socks from Britain! Annie I love the socks so much! Liz, let’s talk about how I’m so ok with you dating Jacob. Sounds like you’re having a great time. Everyone sounds so busy with school and stuff. How’s the theatre program? Who is the new teacher? I’ve seen Jeff a few more times and I always turn bright red because it’s just so unexpected to see someone who I know and love. ☺ I actually had a dream with Jeff in it and he was singing a song from a musical set in NY. He was singing in a subway station in my area so I started singing along and then everyone on the street joined in and we were singing and dancing with brooms. It was a fun dream hahaha.
For more less than spiritual experiences, 1. I love H&M and I’m an advocate of the “neck sock.” We don’t know the real name of it so my zone just calls them neck socks. It’s a piece of fabric/knitted sweater material and it’s a big loop, [Picture of an oval] just like that. I have 2. One is just a long tube I slip over my head and the other is one I twist and loop again. I really like them.
2. I turn 5 months old in 1 week! It’s just insane how quickly time flies. I’m in my 3rd cycle and still with my trio. I’m not sure if you knew I was training my 2nd transfer cycle, but I did/am. We’re a trio and have a lot of fun.
3. The picture of herbs is mostly for Annie. I thought you’d like it. It’s from a museum Garden I went to.
4. Last week I tried to catch a rat that is in our investigator’s house. Her crazy Dominican Grandma was pouring hot water over everything: walls, TV’s, dressers, radiators, etc. Apparently rats don’t like hot water. We were armed with pots, pans, and a big Atlas. Charlie, a giant 3-year-old with Autism, was armed with a fly swatter. Basically we stood around a door and banged our pots on the floor, or wall, or radiator, or couch to try and scare the rat out. It never came so we had to leave.
5. I dressed up like a Dominican for Halloween! I’ll send a pic next time.
6. My tailor was wearing a shirt that had Rhinestone words in English on it and he asked me what they said. I managed to stumble out “Soy el sueno de la calle” between giggles. Yeah, it said “I’m the dream of the street.” It was funny because he just shrugged and said, “Ok, I just didn’t want to wear anything too weird.” Oh I love Dominicans.
WARNING: SPIRITUAL PART APPROACHING.
Well, one day (Saturday, the 6th), I contacted this man on the street, I usually don’t stop men but I was determined to contact a lot of people. Anyway, he wouldn’t give me his # or address, so I just gave him a pass-along card with my cell # and forgot about him. Yesterday (the 10th), we get a call and the person asks to speak with me (which is just weird). I ask his name and he says I don’t know him but he wants to meet. I ask when and he says, “Ahora mismo.” [Right now] Well ok then. So we’re a little apprehensive as I’ve been proposed to twice and we’ve received texts from “investigators” asking if we’d like to be their novias [girlfriends]. Well, we meet him and suddenly I remember that he was the man I’d talked to on Saturday! He’d actually called us! That just doesn’t happen! So we go to the church and he tells us he was surprised on Saturday when I spoke with him because my Spanish was great and my accent was “excelente.” (I think I cried a little when he said that.) Because of my Spanish, he decided to call back and now he’s getting baptized on Dec. 5th! It’s so amazing. He was searching and didn’t even know. God works in mysterious ways, my dears. Basically missionary work rocks my socks.
Liz, I’m sorry I forgot about your birthday. I hope it was good and assume it was. ☺ Sometimes I get scared that you all will forget me and realize I’m not necessary. Don’t forget me! I’ve been wondering if I can go back to BYU-I for another Bachelor’s in Spanish, music, and earth science. Do you think they’d let me? I need to go. I love you all so very much. Thanks for your love!
Love, Shanelle Baxter
PS: There’s a trombone player down our street who has to play out his window! It’s so fun to see. ☺
[The following two items were also included with the letter:]
Caption: "Yeah, I put my hair in pin curls."
Monday, November 16, 2009
I am going to rant a little bit in this blog. Nothing big. More like...if there was a verb that meant "to express exasperation," that's what I would use to describe this blog.
It drives me crazy when people say, "So are you guys gonna get married?"
Here's what I always say in my mind:
"First of all, I don't really know if that's the kind of thing you should be asking. I know I'm a bit of a Bohemian, but it's just poor etiquette. Second of all, if we knew we were gonna get married, we'd be engaged. And if we knew we weren't going to get married, we'd break up. But since we're still dating, the answer is I DON'T KNOW, and all of this strikes me as fairly obvious. Our relationship is on its own timetable, one that's only between me, him, and God. How about you guys wait for us to tell you if and when we're getting married, of our own accord."
Here's what I usually reply in actuality:
If it's someone I'm close to, I'll sometimes explain the whole timetable/engaged vs. breaking up thing. I know that people don't mean any harm, and aren't going out of their way to be obnoxious or something. But a lot of the time, I just get annoyed.
To any who have asked me that question, I probably still love you. Okay, if we're friends, I do love you. I just feel like its such a tacky question. To me, it's like asking married couples, "So when are you gonna have kids?" That's between them and God. But since most of the time, it's friends and people who love and care about me asking, I don't know how to say, "That's a tacky question, and it drives me crazy when people ask."
It's like when we sing "The Spirit of God" in regular Church meetings. I have a distinct memory of The First Presidency asking that we only sing that hymn on very special occasions, like temple dedications. But what are you gonna do? Boycott the hymn?
Maybe the next time someone asks me "Are you guys gonna get married?" I'll reply with "I don't know. Are you gonna get married? When and to whom?" If they reply, "I don't know," I'll say, "Me neither. But I'm sure you'll tell me when you know. And I'll tell you when I know."
On a lighter, but related note, this fall's edition of the "BYU-Idaho Bride's Guide" has come out! I think it's pretty much the same every time, they just re-word things a little. I disagree with half of the articles, and don't care about the rest. But it's still fun to look through, if only to give oneself an excuse to be indignant about something that really doesn't matter.
But I was...how shall I say? Shocked? Amused? Astounded? When I came across an article towards the end of the issue on "The Honeymoon." Now, as Mormons, apparently, the honeymoon is but a vacation. Check out the title of the article:
I beg your pardon?
When I saw it, I burst out laughing, and ran around rehearsal, showing everyone the article. All my married cast friends lowered their eyebrows and said something to the effect of "Um, that's not how I would describe a honeymoon."
"Enter as STRANGERS, leave as FRIENDS"?!
First of all, I certainly hope my husband is no stranger. That's problematic in itself. Second of all, I know my experience in the matter is limited, but "friendship" doesn't strike me as necessarily the best signifier for the resulting relationship of a wedding night.
Maybe they meant physical strangers.
"Oh, hello, I've never met this part of you before! And now we're friends."
Or maybe they meant that you were strangers with the hotel staff before your wedding night/honeymoon, but then you're friends with them when you leave.
The implications of which make me more uncomfortable than my original interpretations of the title did.
I guess "Enter as newlyweds, leave as lovers" was somehow too racy. Or something.
The article was decently written. But the photos are not representative of the content of the article, and most decidedly, neither is the title. Not that I expect a Mormon magazine to have any sort of useful or even straightforward insights on the honeymoon. We're Mormons and we don't have sex. Or talk about it.
But that's a rant for another entry.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Sunday, November 08, 2009
(Note: The book pictured above is awesome and I plan on owning it one day. I discovered it while working at Barnes&Noble and used to read chunks of it every single day I worked.)
Today in the middle of teaching a Relief Society lesson, I made a startling discovery. I had brought my copy of a book called "Ishmael," which I had picked up miraculously from a thrift store years earlier, but which I'd never actually opened. I read the book in high school, and just hadn't read the particular copy that I owned. I was using it to read a quote from, and during a portion of my lesson, I had the girls take a few minutes to quietly write something down. I did a little rearranging of everything on the table in front of me, and as I did, I noticed a folded piece of notebook paper in the back of the book. I took it out and only had time to read one or two shocking lines of it before needing to re-focus on Joseph Smith and the restoration of all things. But I read it afterwards and was astounded.
It sounds almost too classic to be real...so many things are clearly established that it sounds contrived. Even if it's fake, it's brilliant. But I'm going to enjoy believing that it's real. This is what it said:
If you are reading this, well you don't know about the baby. It's yours. She's yours, well mine too. She's beautiful and charming. I never thought I would have so much joy in my entire life. Except with you.
Addy, please come back. I can't do this without you. And Emily needs a father. Even if the lady you ran off with comes, too. It's important.
Addy, remember the dancing? How you'd come in the darkest hours and we'd stop in the fields and dance in the car lights? Underneath all those beautiful stars? I won't ever forget those nights.
Those nights where you held me and I was safe. Those nights when our families disowning us didn't matter. Addy, please come back.
I love you still, always. However, if your lady friend comes with you, I will resist the urge to hold you in my arms and listen to my favorite song, your heartbeat.
I never thought that I would ever cry so much in my entire life, and then when the tears are no more I just lay holding Emily, wishing you could see her bright eyes, your eyes.
I love you Addy, and I forgive you.
With final love and pleading,
Thursday, November 05, 2009
I am madly in love with all of you.
I haven't laughed in far too long, and Tuesday's practice was better medicine than all the prescriptions and IV's and saltines and gatorade combined.
Tuesday, sitting in practice and looking at all of you, I was filled with such gratitude, humility, awe, tenderness, and--dare I say it--love, that I couldn't believe that I was a part of it. Thank you for all you are and all you do.
You all truly are poets, artists, geniuses.
With humble adoration,
I implore you to find 40 minutes, and sit down and watch all of these. This is Act Two of the Comic Frenzy Halloween show at BYU-Idaho. None of this is scripted...it's just the lights, several imaginations, and the people up there with you. These are the people I get to work with, learn from, and be inspired by.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
1) For the house to be completely cleaned and organized.
2) For my appetite to return to normal.
3) To live by myself for the next few days.
4) For classes and work and rehearsal to be put on hold until I can fully commit to them again.
5) To have a car. And a license.
6) For the laundry to do itself.
7) To have a working VCR and DVD player, and an unlimited supply of films that I could watch instantly.
8) To not be so jumpy, as a result of 3 days of heavy medication.
9) For the shower drain to actually DRAIN.
10) To not be so damned irritable.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. And inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." --Groucho Marx
All you bookworms out there! Copy and paste and fill out! It's like those self-indulgent middle school survey things, except with books, which makes it awesome.
Last book I had to temporarily put down halfway through, because the suspense was too much:
The Book of Lost Things (John Connolly)
1984 (George Orwell)
Mostly because of how powerful it is.
Best first chapter:
Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie)
This one was really hard to answer.
Runner up: Harry Potter #6, just because I worked in a warehouse at the time and sneakily read the first few pages about a week before it came out.
Last book to make me cry:
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (Rebecca Wells)
Weird narrative gimmick that I was all, oh, I don't know, but then totally got on board with:
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Jonathan Safran Foer)
The story is told through old notebooks, photographs, flip books, and old type-written documents, in addition to straight up narrative.
Best War Book:
Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.)
I don't like war books. In most cases. For the record.
Best Summer book:
Dandelion Wine (Ray Bradbury)
Runner Up: To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
Best Winter book:
Anne of the Island (L.M. Montgomery)
Best Nuclear Winter book:
The Road (Cormac McCarthy)
Also the only one I've read.
Best Character Name:
Bellatrix Lestrange, Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling)
Runners Up: Syndey Cinnamon, Little Little (M.E. Kerr); Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee); Holden Caulfield, Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
Pulitzer Prize Nominee where I was all, what?:
The Corrections (Jonathan Franzen)
Pulitzer Prize Winner that assured me that the Pulitzer Prize committee was not, in fact, completely asleep on the job:
Beloved (Toni Morrison)
Character I'd most like to be:
Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
Even though he's a man.
Character I'd least like to be:
Bella Swan, Twilight (Stephanie Meyer)
Biggest character crush:
Stan Claxton, The Whistling Toilets (Randy Powell)
The book I could find on my bookshelf in my sleep, the book I can read like braille, the book I'd pack with me in the face of natural disaster:
Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie)
Runners Up: Two Moons in August (Martha Brooks), The Whistling Toilets (Randy Powell)
Monday, October 26, 2009
2. I thought I'd have a lot to blog about when it came to my new job on campus, doing voice-over tutorials and support for Blackboard, but it turns out I really don't. Except my co-workers are very nerdy and fun.
Exhibit A: (overheard on my first day of work) "Okay okay, Jesus uses a Mac, but HEAVENLY FATHER uses a PC!"
Anyway, for those expecting a blog entry about work, I respectfully deny you such an entry.
Love you all.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
You are getting a make-over.
You were one of my favorite parts of "Tartuffe."
Dear Autumn (the season),
I'd like you better if I could get the thoughts of Snow-cones and beach trips out of my mind.
I adore you.
What the effing crap. Why are you half-way over?
Dear Eddie Vedder,
You're one of the coolest people on the earth right now. That I know of.
I need you to have a cute grey pencil skirt.
I don't know what to read next.
Dear powers that be,
I'm pretty happy right now. Thanks for that.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
One day, a month or so ago, Jacob and I were over at our friends' Carrie and Scott's. As Jacob sat on the floor in his jeans and button-up blue shirt, glasses unable to hide gorgeous hazel eyes, playing the electric guitar and singing to himself, Carrie looked at him and said, "Three months ago, if you could have drawn a picture of Liz's Ideal Man, it would have been that, right there." And it's true. There are moments of pure disbelief at times, when I can't believe we're actually together. So I thought I'd tell him, and all of you, about it, although some of these things may sound cryptic.
I'm so thrilled to be dating you. The last two months have been incandescently wonderful. Here are only a few of the reasons why:
1. Reading "Peter Pan" out loud to one another.
2. Pearl Jam concert.
3. Long talks on the couch on the front porch.
4. The elevator in the library.
5. Trips to Broulims and Walmart together.
6. Beautiful movies.
7. The lounge at Birch Plaza.
8. A mutual obsession with pumpkin pie and whipped cream.
9. Stories about wasps' nests.
10. Sweater vests.
11. Opening the car door for me.
12. One eyebrow raised.
13. "Feverstone" shows.
14. Comic Frenzy rehearsals.
15. Bollywood films.
16. Stargazing in the middle of farm-fields in front of the temple.
17. Trips to Yellowstone, and the Playmill.
18. A shared love of poetry, literature, and theatre.
19. You wearing a "cape."
20. Love of Britain.
21. Sincere, conversational prayers.
22. Your brown sweater.
23. Your gentle, tender hands.
24. Your delicious smell.
25. Your faith and worthiness.
Thank you for making the last two months so wonderful. I raise my glass to you, my love! How I ever got to be this blessed/lucky, I'll never know.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
"Everywhere in nature we are taught the lessons of patience and waiting. We want things a long time before we get them and the fact that we want them a long time makes them all the more precious when they come." --Joseph F. Smith
Thanks, President Smith. That's just what I needed to be reminded of.
(And thanks, Darcy, for re-designing your blog with this quote on it...it was well-timed.)
Monday, October 19, 2009
Slytherin vs. Gryffindor, Porter Park, Fall 2009.
(Thanks to Matt for taking and posting these pics. I couldn't make it to the actual game, but the pics are awesome. Next game, man...I'm there.)
Monday, October 12, 2009
Forget digital cut and paste nonsense. After approximately 3 hours on the computer, attempting to patch together a vintage-horror-movie-poster-inspired advert for Comic Frenzy's Halloween shows, I've come to the conclusion that I prefer working with my hands.
On an unrelated note, I'm pretty sure that by the end of the week, my hair will look like this again:
I can never make it past the in-between stage. I keep trying to before remembering that thick hair is a PAIN when it's long.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
It's such a strange feeling...being both terrified and enamored at the same time. This old man is my hero, even though he scares me a little bit sometimes. Thanks to Shaun for introducing me.
This is the kind of person you'd normally only meet while selling Kirby vacuums door-to-door.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
The last few nights, I've been reading through the contributions to a website called mylifeisaverage.com. They're brilliant. Here are some of my favorites:
Today, I was in the Supermarket. I was pushing my basket around and came across a completely empty isle, so I decided to jump on the back and ride my basket to the other end. Just before I jumped off an old man appeared round the corner, looked at me, winked and without missing a beat jumped on his basket and did the same thing. I hope I'm that cool when I get old.
Today, I woke up without sheets on my bed. My roommate said that in the middle of the night I had woken him up, handed my balled up sheets to him, and told him, "It's the potion of the elves, you know what to do with it." I desperately wish I could remember my dream.
Today, I really didn't want to go to school so I pretended to be sick. I came downstairs to find my mom and my brother home. They were pretending to be sick too. So far we have set up a tent and have been playing rock band for 3 hours.
Today, I just remembered that I had doodled a stickman ninja on the final draft of my essay. When I got it back, I found my teacher had scribbled a pirate stabbing the ninja in the back. I just turned in my next essay. I want to see how she'll beat my robot.
Today, my roommate and I decided to bunk our beds. On the underside of the bed that went on top was duct taped one dollar, a Disney Princess coloring book, a packet of crayons, and a note reading 'So you decided to bunk your beds? Nice choice. Have fun.' I've never been more excited.
Today, I was babysitting some kids and we decided to play hide and seek. I was "it" and when I was looking for them, I found one kid in a room hidden under a blanket with a note that says "this is an invisibility cloak". I pretended I didn't see him.
This morning while brushing my teeth, my electric toothbrush died. I proceeded, while making the noise myself. I don't know if I'm going to replace the batteries.
Today, I was looking up useful phrase in Romanian for a speech about my heritage. It had your basic "Hello" and "My name is..." but the last phrase on the page was how to say "My hovercraft is full of eels." Glad to know that this is considered a useful phrase.
Today, I placed a realistic but fake mouse in our bathroom to scare my roommate. She's not home yet and I've already screamed three times.
Today I was on a double-decker bus in Washington D.C. They were playing a tour guide recording. While leaving one of the memorials the recording said, "Please refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages, smoking, or practicing experimental surgery on the passenger beside you." I am now wondering how many people have tried this.
Today I entered the grocery store, only stepping on the grey tiles. I turned down the cereal aisle and a small child told his mother, "Look mom, He doesn't step on the hot lava either." I high-fived the kid as I walked by. Sadly, I accidentally stepped in the lava. Not wanting to upset the child, I pretended to melt.
Today, I was reading some old papers from when I was little. A question asked "If a genie gave you three wishes, what would they be? You cannot wish for more wishes." My third wish was for another genie. Way to beat the system, past self.
Today, I took a test. My school forces us to write the "Wildcat Pledge" on everything which states, "I have neither given nor recieved unauthorized help on this assignment." I was so fed up with writing it, I wrote, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." When I got my test back it had an A+ and scribbled underneath it said, "Mischief Managed."
Today, I decided to make a scrapbook online, and started using Shutterfly. My book wasn't working right, so I decided to call the help line. One of the options was to hear the instructions in Pirate. I choose that option.
Today, I was driving home from school and passed a construction zone. When I looked over at it, I saw two construction workers link arms and skip merrily across the street. It made my day.
Today, I was pulled over for speeding. I tried flirting with the officer to get him to lower my ticket. If I was a girl, I think this would have worked much better.
Today I was on a long train ride. To kill some time I decided to chat to the guy next to me. I said, "How now hath thy day been?" He turned around, held my hands and answered, "My Lady, 'tis been nothing but canker-blossomed train rides." That was the best response I've ever gotten for that question.
Today, I realized the word bed actually looks like a bed.
A fortnight ago I finally solved my rubiks cube. I waited two weeks to post this so that I could use the word fortnight.
Today I won a million dollars, but I closed out of the pop-up anyway.
Today I realized that for every story on this website about yelling out a Harry Potter spell and having a complete stranger respond, there's probably a ton where no one responded and it became extremely awkward. I learned that in the elevator today.
Today I was driving by the lake and I saw a Jeep full of guys pass me. They were hanging out the windows and the sunroof, paddling with canoe paddles, and singing "Just Around the Riverbend" from Pocahontas. It easily may have been the coolest thing I've seen, ever.
Today, I was thinking about the expression 'revenge is a dish best served cold'. Then I considered that 'revenge is sweet'. I've come to the conclusion that revenge is ice cream.
Today, my boyfriend asked me what I was thinking. I told him I was considering healthcare plans. In reality, I was wondering what it would be like to be an octopus. It would be awesome.
Today I found my Batman costume from second grade. Without thinking I put on the mask and cape. Then my mom yelled up the stairs for me to get the mail. Forgetting I still had the costume on I went outside for the mail. While outside, I saw my hot neighbor looking out the window at me. Just as I about to walk into my house he came running out with his Robin mask on. I'm in love.
Today, I saw a man carrying a burlap sack over his shoulder with his young son's head sticking out. I was unsure how I felt about it. Then the kid noticed me staring and chirped happily "I'm a potato!"
Today, I got oral surgery. When I got home, I was still woozy from the anesthetic. Somehow, I don't remember writing it, but I wrote a 13-page essay about what life was like as a cabbage. I'm submitting it to an editor.
Today, my boyfriend came dancing into the kitchen singing my name over and over, just as I was preparing to leave for work. He saw me, blushed and said "Oh, you're still here". Made my day.
Today, I realized that I am unemployed, live with my mother, play video games all day in my basement, and I am still a virgin. It's all right, I finish 9th grade next week.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Thursday, October 01, 2009
People keep asking me how Pearl Jam was. And I keep not being able to answer. “It was incredible,” I usually say, or something similar. But the truth is that the whole experience defies words. Pearl Jam live defies description. But I’m gonna try to do it justice. With the help of some pictures. It was a great weekend.
I could go into all the wonderful details of the rest of it…seeing Sarah and Cherie (and Angus), meeting Jacob’s artistic and New Age-y grandparents, the road outside of Malad, Idaho, and the fact that we were almost lost for most of the trip (but asked for directions from nice young married people in an accidental New York accent). But for this entry, I’ll just focus on Pearl Jam.
So here’s the awesome thing about Pearl Jam. Wait. First of all, it should be noted that I knew next to nothing about Pearl Jam before Jacob introduced me. And even if Jacob wasn’t awesome, I’d still think Pearl Jam was awesome. Because they are. And here’s why. I feel like they’ve never pretended to be anything that they’re not. They don’t really work that hard to create a certain image for themselves, or even a specific sound. They just…create. And if some of their music sounds totally different, but still good, then they play it. Eddie’s awesome and unusual voice makes their sound their own. But they sort of defy any particular genre if you look at their work as a whole.
Here’s a little video of Jacob and I right before the concert:
You’re in the E Center, on the floor, in the 36th row, on the inner aisle side of the right section. The guys behind you are swearing about disliking acronyms, but are generally overwhelmed with excitement about Pearl Jam. As a matter of fact, everyone is. You’re in a room with 10,000 people who love Pearl Jam. Everyone is wearing Pearl Jam shirts, and some of these people have grandchildren and some are just starting to shave. There are a lot of open beer cups, and both you and your significant other get a significant amount splashed on you. The ground is slippery beneath your feet, because someone knocked over your water. There are kettle-corn kernels stuck between your teeth, and you're already tired because you spent all of yesterday traveling. But you’re thrilled to see these guys, because you spent today listening to their newest album “Backspacer,” which you went to three different stores to find earlier that morning. Ben Harper and the Relentless Seven have just played a set of awesome songs that you don’t know, but enjoyed nonetheless. The roadies have finished re-adjusting all of the equipment onstage, and all of a sudden, the lights dim, and Eddie, Stone, Jeff, Mike, and Dave walk onstage. And they play these songs:
Of the Girl (Binaural)
*Jacob freaked out that they opened with those two songs. He loves the Binaural album, and couldn’t believe that they played them to start the show.
Hail Hail (No Code)
Severed Hand (Pearl Jam)
The Fixer (Backspacer)
Low Light (Yield)
*Oh, I forgot to mention. I don’t remember exactly when this happened during the show, but at one point towards the beginning, Ed said “We’re gonna pause for a second, because I’ve got a piece of equipment that’s not working here, and I just wanna be able to hear myself.” A roadie came out, and fiddled with something on Ed’s belt, and while he was kneeling there, Eddie said “Can you imagine how much this gentleman gets paid to work this close to my backside?” What a cool guy.
Even Flow (Ten)
Unthought Known (Backspacer)
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town (Vs.)
Got Some (Backspacer)
Given to Fly (Yield)
*Have you ever listened to this song? “Given to Fly”? If you haven’t, go find it and listen to it. Right now.
*Eddie’s introduction: “This next song has the word ‘Satan’ in it.” Cue red lighting.
Satan's Bed (Vitalogy)
Amongst the Waves (Backspacer)
Do the Evolution (Yield)
*As soon as I heard the beginning chords of “Do the Evolution,” I got SOOOO excited…it’s recently become one of my FAVORITE Pearl Jam songs. It’s funny…looking at this setlist, it sure didn’t seem like they played that much. We still wanted sooo much more. So we stood and clapped and cheered and screamed until they came back on.
Bee Girl (Lost Dogs)
*And at this point in the set, one of the coolest things ever happened. Eddie said “Now I’d like to invite someone up on stage with me.” I turned to Jacob and said “Jacob Chapman. Eddie’s gonna say ‘Jacob Chapman, come sing with me.’” But he didn’t. He told us that he received a fan letter from a guy who had seen Pearl Jam in 1992…a very kind letter and that now he would like to invite him to come onstage. A guy and a girl came onstage and Eddie introduced them…he said that this guy owned a restaurant in town, and then said “Well, do you want to say anything to these people? These are your people.” Then he handed the mic over. And instead of trying to explain the next 5 minutes, how about you watch it yourself. =) How cool is that????!!!! What an amazing proposal story! How would you like to say that Eddie Vedder helped you propose to your girlfriend?! Incredible.
Just Breathe (Backspacer)
Red Mosquito w/ Ben Harper (No Code)
Spin the Black Circle (Vitalogy)
*And they thought they were done. Again. But they weren’t. We kept cheering and yelling and clapping and stomping. So they came out again.
I Believe in Miracles (Ramones cover)
Crazy Mary (Victoria Williams cover)
*Eddie stopped for a moment and pointed out how awesome it was that there were these KIDS in the front row. He pointed out that some of them weren't even BORN the last time Pearl Jam played in Salt Lake. He said they had been real troopers, staying up so late to see the show. He told them to stay in school, but just don't go tomorrow. =) Ed also apologized every time he swore onstage, but it was funny because most of the time it was before the swearing happened. So he'd say "I'm sorry I'm gonna cuss again, but f*****g Stone Gossard on the guitar!" It was awesome.
Yellow Ledbetter (Lost Dogs)
*About half-way through “Alive,” it hit me. I don’t know how to describe “it,” but I’m talking about that moment that something…arrives. When something hits you and you think “Yes. YES. This is it. This is incredible. This is a huge bigger-than-myself something that can only come when a lot of people are all invested in something genuine and creative and wonderful.”
Here’s something to talk about. I’m always wary of “mob mentality.” By “mob mentality,” I don’t necessarily mean a group of people out to harm someone else. I mean any large group of people who get carried away by the “group mind.” There’s a danger in a group mind THAT big…as individuals, we usually have a strong sense of reason and rationality. But as soon as you give in to that group mind, you become ruled by your emotions. And that’s when things get dangerous. So I always try to be aware of the group that I’m a part of and what we’re doing and what we have the potential to do. Around the solo in “Alive,” I felt myself being carried away on this wave of human emotion. And I had to take a moment to evaluate…to make sure that this was something safe to give in to. But all the lights were on, and there was so much...love and harmony in the air, and everyone was…alive, and it was beautiful and big and powerful. So I gave in. And it was wonderful.
Jacob told me a story later about the song “Alive,” and it was awesome, because I sensed all of it before I even knew the story. Eddie Vedder wrote the song about an experience he had when he was young, learning that the man he thought was his father, wasn’t at all. Check out the first verse:
Son, she said, have I got a little story for you
What you thought was your daddy was nothin’ but a...
While you were sittin’ home alone at age thirteen
Your real daddy was dyin,’ sorry you didn’t see him, but I’m glad we talked...
Oh I, oh, I’m still alive
And Eddie said that when he wrote it, the chorus “I’m still alive” was written as a question. The song was this angsty questioning of his existence. It didn't make sense to him that this man he never knew was his father, and that now he was dead, and Eddie was still left alive. He felt that his whole life after that knowledge was burdened by it…that this knowledge that he was still alive and his real father wasn’t was a curse. But the first time they performed it, the audience didn’t interpret the song that way at all. They heard an affirmation of life. And Eddie said that when he saw all those people with their arms in the air, affirming life, singing along, he said that "the curse was lifted.” And because of how fans and listeners interpreted the song, it ceased to be about the pain and the angst and the curse, and became a song about life.
To be a part of that…to have all of the lights in the E Center on all of us, to be a part of 10,000 people who love Pearl Jam, with their arms in the air, singing “I’m still alive” at the top of their lungs, was one of the more powerful and beautiful experiences of my life.
Here’s a video of Jacob and I after the concert:
So there you have it. An absolutely fantastic experience. That’s how Pearl Jam live was. Exhausting and utterly incredible. As Ben Harper said in the beginning of the show: "You know, England's got the Beatles, and The Who, and the Rolling Stones, but you guys have got mother-f*****g PEARL JAM."
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I'm in the process of writing a Pearl Jam blog, but in the meantime, you'll have to settle for this sneak peek, and just read a letter to someone else, if you can do so without throwing up.
I should be doing my homework, but I'm not. I'm blogging about you.
I should also go to theatre council in about 4 minutes, but I'm not. I'm gonna finish blogging about you.
I should be doing a lot of things, but instead I'm going to look forward to seeing you. In around 37 minutes.
I had a fun chat with Carrie today. She re-told me the story of her "date" in Alaska, to refresh it in my mind so that I can tell you. You will probably hear it in about 43 minutes.
In the meantime, I'm glad we're dating.
PS: I really like this picture of us. Even though it's blurry, we both look so happy and tired. Which describes the effect of all of last weekend. And you look really good in that outfit.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
It continues to grow, inexplicably exponentially. Not that my love for Pearl Jam is inexplicable. But the exponential growth.
Anyway, I'm excited for this weekend. Here's why:
Except LIVE, so it'll be more like this:
Oh, and did I mention I get to see this person?
And all of this will be with this guy:
Oh. And it all happens in...FIVE DAYS.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wonderful as these changes are, I'm having more trouble than I had expected, readjusting to the new semester.
I went from 2 weeks of:
- having a 2-story, 7-bedroom house to myself
- not having to do anything but hang out with Jacob, and occasionally (rarely) work
- having 5 roommates, 4 of whom I'd never met, as well as having the downstairs fill up
- having school, auditions, meetings, and bills
At first glance, it seems like it would be a pretty seamless transition. That's what I thought. But I find myself in a place of emotional...wonkiness.
Which would probably be helped by healthier eating and sleeping habits, but I'm a college student, and I haven't seen my best friend since April, and the Thorsons are here, and I like Jacob, and I've been poor for a while.
The most difficult transition is the one into being "social"...being around people, whether I know/love them or not. I haven't really thought about my behavior around more than 3 people at once in weeks. And I'm the kinda girl who needs her space...who needs her alone-time. It will take me a while to again get used to making an effort to get that. The more you get of alone-time, the less you need of people-time, at least in my case. I seem to be spending a few minutes disliking the world of people in general every day, until I get enough introverted time to help me avoid complete misanthropy.
I should be clear that I'm thrilled to be starting a new semester, and especially thrilled that Annie now fills a space in the bed beside me. I love my classes and my boyfriend, and it will be a great semester. I'm just grumpy about everything lately.
I guess it's time to serve my fellow man, follow the awesome examples of those around me, and show some gratitude.