Sunday, August 29, 2010

First days

When I was younger, the last couple of weeks of summer always had a certain feel of anticipation and excited anxiousness to them. It always started about two or three weeks before school started, when we'd go to the school to get registered and figure out where my classroom was. The week before school started, we spent our time getting all our school supplies--pens, pencils, folders, paper, notebooks, post-it notes, and the occasional box of crayons or markers. Some kids took trips to Target or K-Mart to find these gems, but we usually perused my mother's home office first, then went on an office supplies rampage throughout the whole house.

Then the last couple of days before school, the last few days of summer, I always played desperately. I always had one last adventure in the sprinklers and our backyard stream with my little brother. I always read my last six or seven library books, furiously trying to finish them before the new year started. I always spent several hours on our trampoline in our backyard, alternating between jumping or flipping and laying down to look at the flowers and impeccable Idahoan sunsets while listening to  backyard crickets chirping away. I always wandered a little farther in the fields next to my house, climbed a little higher in Grandpa's mulberry tree, and waited a little longer before coming inside for the day.

Tomorrow is another first day of school. And sadly, though I'm thrilled to start my new classes and work and volunteering and stuff this semester, it doesn't feel nearly as special as it did back then. Maybe I need to go back to elementary school. But...the prospect of cracking open my brand new books, opening brand new notebooks, using brand new pens as I take furious notes on brand new material is much too exciting.

Hello, school. See you in the morning.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


It's amazing how much stuff you can accumulate. This lovely lady, who has been my roommate for two years now, moved out of my apartment yesterday to go home to Alabama before she leaves on a mission.
(By the way, I'm pretty glum about her leaving. I've never been at college and not lived with her. I've never not had her around, and I'm not quite sure that I'm going to be very happy about this new development. But I'm happy she's going on a mission--she'll be awesome. She'll take the world by storm. In Spanish.)

Anyway, she had a lot of stuff. And my new roommate, this lovely lady,
brought all of her stuff here today. And she has less stuff that the other lovely roommate (which makes sense, because Kate had lived here for two years. More time to accumulate.) but she still has a fair amount of stuff. (By the way, isn't Jen--today's roommate--hot? I took this picture and I'm so proud of it. She'll probably shoot me for posting it. :) Better, she's just as awesome as she is beautiful. I know, hard to believe it's possible, right? Having Kate leave would be a lot harder if I didn't like Jen so much. Thank goodness for awesome friends.)

But back to what I was saying. Seeing the moving in and out of their stuffs made me think about my own. And how much of it I have. My sister always says that if everything has a place, you can keep things clean. But if you don't have a place for everything, that's when it gets easier to be messy and disorganized.

And it's true. After a few months of living someplace, stuff sneakily materializes in your room, and you decide that it would be a good idea to reorganize everything and switch to the other side of the room before the new roommate comes. Not to mention the fact that it will give you an excuse to go through everything--moving seven times in the past year just isn't enough for you and you might as well move again, even if it is just four and a half feet to the left. And then suddenly you find yourself on a Saturday evening with your belongings strewn all over both sides of your shared room, trying to figure out where on earth all of this stuff came from, and whether or not you actually need it all.

But then you find all those things you were always, always looking for: NINE (yes, nine) partial pads of Post-it notes, sixteen pens and pencils that decided to resurface from the abyss of the desk drawer and behind the bed, four quarters that will enable you to do laundry once again, a pair of shoes you could never find, your virtually brand-new packet of Sharpies, because they disappeared shortly after you bought them, and of course, an assignment that you thought you lost and had to redo...a week and a half after the semester is over.

But in the process of making all these discoveries, you feel sort of like a conquistadora--exploring new vistas, determined to conquer the unfriendly, treacherous wild, and when at last all is completed, you want to proclaim to all the world that you have claimed and conquered, trounced and triumphed, and that the STUFF is roped, lassoed, and hog-tied. Or something. (Conquistadoras love mixing metaphors with cowboys too.)

And you know, your room ends up looking something like a blend of this

and this. Minus the vase of white tulips and the acoustic guitar.

So I'm feeling pretty good about myself. You can call me Brunilda the conquistadora.

Now if I can just keep it this way.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I'm no Rubenstein, but...

*Note: the following is nothing more than word vomit. So if you're expecting good writing, maintain those expectations at your own risk. 
Thank you,
The Management

On Friday, I accompanied my friend Julene, who I met in London, as she sang a vocal solo at BYU's College of Humanities graduation exercises. It was cool to be asked to do that, and it got me thinking about some things that have been on my mind for a couple of weeks now, and still am not quite sure how to verbalize. But I'll try.

All through high school, I did music the way jocks do sports--all the time. I was that nerdy girl who often wouldn't go out with her friends unless she'd practiced piano for a couple of hours first. I was really cool... And I'd play/sing/whatever in every circumstance that I could, because I loved it so much. I'd even get excited when I'd get asked to play hymns for the congregation at church meetings. Then I went to college and decided not to major in music after all, like everyone expected me to. And no one there knew me or my penchant for pianos and violins and employed vocal chords, like at home. So, since I wasn't a music major and since everyone and their dog at BYU plays thirty-seven and a half musical instruments or sings like like a rockstar (a good one, I mean) or has been in 49 musicals since they were fifteen, those music talents I had in high school weren't quite as unique or needed as before. And since everyone could do it, what's the big deal?

So for the past couple of years, I have kind of stuck to playing the occasional musical number in church, playing occasional hymns for church meetings when my roommates (who know I play) happen to be in charge, and wishing that I could play piano and violin like I used to. I have had the amazing opportunity for two and a half years to sing in BYU Women's Chorus, an incredibly talented 180-voice choir, which has satiated my music bug a little. But whenever I come home to visit and people I knew before ask me if I'm majoring piano, choral ed, or violin performance, I just shrug and say, "No...I decided to go the English route." And of course, I don't regret my decision not to major in music at all. I LOVE my major--am such an English nerd, but I always felt a little twinge of sadness that I've let my love/abilities for music go so unpracticed for so long. I haven't really tried to keep it up--I've convinced myself, "Oh, it's really hard for non-music majors at BYU to do much with music...there's not much I can do about it..."

What a dumb thought process. Here's why: a week or so ago, I stumbled on this blog post by my good friend Daxson, and it got me thinking a lot. I have all this ideals about how I'd like to be and what I'd like to be good at (music and writing being two of them), but I rarely practice or consume the kinds of music and writing that I want to be good at. Lately I haven't been listening to a lot of music, especially not the kind that I want to be able to play/sing, and I haven't been reading the kind of writing that I would like to do myself. And I've been feeling all uncultured and stuff. Yogurt that is still milk. Or something. And reading that post was like, "DUH! If you want to be good at something, you gotta DO that thing!" Something about practicing, or something. But creating yourself is more than half the battle. A couple weeks ago, I started hijacking my roommate's (fairly decent, fortunately) keyboard and singing/playing in my apartment when few or no people were home. And my goodness, the relief that came just from creating my own music, even if it's what someone else has already written, was beautiful and cathartic in a way that made me never want to stop.

So for the past couple of days, I've been trying to reform. I'm listening to more music, and I'm reading good writing. But more importantly, I'm trying to do those things myself. I hung out with my mama's grand piano for an hour or two tonight, and though he was a little wary of me at first since I hadn't spent real time with him in so long, by the end of our evening, we were making beautiful music together. And really, that's what I miss about music. I don't need to wait for other people to ask me to play/sing. I can do it myself. I don't need an excuse to make music. I'm not very good. I don't have much to offer. But it's what I can do, and it makes me happy, and I want it, and it's a good thing to want, so my goodness, whatever was holding me back in the first place?

"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before...As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you."
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf 

Feels like springtime in that "world within [me]." Time to start blossoming, I think.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Yum, summer.

I am feeling so good right now. I found out today that I get to live with Jen, one of my very best friends from London next year. Like, share a room with her. WAHOO!! 

Tonight was my dance final exam for 180, and I dressed up and felt like I looked cute. Nice feeling sometimes, whether it's true or not. Danced the cha-cha and triple swing and foxtrot in a twirly skirt. 

We had our end-of-the-summer Relief Society activity, which I got to help a lot with, and we had homemade shish kebabs with fresh peppers, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, and marinated chicken. (Oh my gosh, they were so good.) 

I met a whole bunch of awesome new people. I went knocking doors to guys’ apartments in our ward to recruit them to eat our leftover shish kebabs because we made about 100 of them. (Did I mention they were delicious?) 

I went night swimming with a Brazilian girl who lives upstairs and her visiting friend, and she taught me about some of the cultural differences between Brazil and here, and I taught her how to dive. 

I came home and am listening to my “I miss England” playlist and feeling all nostalgic. 

I only have 6 HOURS of Spanish class left. Three days. Oh baby.
I am writing some missionary letters to people that are very important to me. One of them is this lady. (By the way Michele, I like what you did with the blog.)

I will be at home on one week from Friday night. Oh boy. 

I'm sleepy and content and it's summer and I love life. 

P.S. This song has been running through the heads of many in my apartment for the past couple of days. It's apt, given recent events that have been going on here. I also think that the video/song feel very summer ish. Cute. Except for the poor guy at the end.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I think that God must have an awful lot of fun up there in heaven. I mean, tonight, He painted a western sky so golden that even the mountains in the east couldn't resist the glow. Then to shake things up a bit, He threw a couple of stone-gray thunderheads in right above them, so that the golden warmth contrasted with the storm clouds above and left me wondering if we were getting a sunset or a thunderstorm. Turned out to be both. I walked out to the street to a get better look, and almost right before my eyes, He added streaks of gold, pink, and green--unusual color for a sunset.

On top of the apartment complex behind me, some tenants had climbed up on the roof and reveled in His handiwork as well, by shouting at the top of their lungs, "LOOK AT THIS! IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL!!!" I agreed, naturally, though they couldn't hear me murmur assent.

I looked at the sky again, and this time, faces I love came into my head. And you know, God is good, and there is an awful lot of beauty in the world around me. Each mountain is unique, each forest feels different, and the ocean changes from second to second. And yet each human soul has more depth and potential and individuality than each of them. Each soul is a miracle--a masterpiece.

That, my friends, is true artistry.