Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Sermon on the Mount and a Radical Gospel

I've been trying to be better about scripture study, inspired by this article that a friend posted. Yesterdays topic was The Sermon on the Mount which contains some of the most radical doctrines known to man. It's unnatural; truly from God. I encourage you to give it a read. It's tempting to think of scriptural counsel as simple platitudes. But if we were really to live them? Bring those ideas into action in our daily life? It would be revolutionary.

38 ¶Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
 43 ¶Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 

I had a friend who would send me her favorite You Tube clips of spoken word poetry. They were political, and brave, and made me a little self-conscious. How can people be so sincere and unafraid? That was a couple years ago, and I had mostly forgotten about all that stuff till she recently re-emerged on Facebook and began posting about Baltimore. There is a lot to be said, and some people say things really well.

But back to the the original intent of this post. Thinking of my friend, I started looking for some positive words. After my studies, I was inspired to look up some of Janette...ikz work. She's incredible. Check her out:

Hear what she has to say about finding someone. It's great great.

P.S. Weekly poems have been switched to Saturday if you're keeping track of that kind of thing. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Music for your Midweek: The Jam - "A Town Called Malice"

One of my absolute favorite songs of all time.

I was introduced to The Jam through Billy Elliot, and then branched off into other mod stuff when my dad gave me this compilation. Changed my life. And listening to that sort of music earned me some points when I bought The Sound of The Jam at the Virgin Record store. The cashier was majorly impressed. One of the only times I saw a boy star-eyed at my high school self.

Needless to say, The Jam were an essential part of the soundtrack of my adolescence. They will forever ever hold a special place in my heart, even though I am practically a corporate sell-out. This song has been especially prescient as I've been following coverage on Baltimore the past few days. It breaks my heart.

If you want to hear a cute little cover version, check out Absolutely Free here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Review: Stromae shows us a hit

Got to get some organization up in here. I used to review concerts, books, movies, everything till I fell off the face og the earth. Here is an attempt to get back into that.

I'll post this video as a sort of introduction. Here is my favorite Stromae. Have no idea why it's the end of the world and he's in a supermarket. Just enjoy it, adds to his charm:

What a weirdo. I love him. Got to see him in person at The Depot this past September. I promise that every Belgian in Utah was there. It was a riot. Take a look:

Raising a glass to Cesaria Evora

Stromae is a class act performer and blew my mind. From his clothes (which he designs himself), to his choreography, to his beats... it's all en pointe.

Unconventional as ever. Just watch: 

He played at SXSW and was the talk of Austin. I highly recommend you check him out if you ever get the chance. 

*Sorry this videos aren't working... can anyone teach me some tricks???*

Monday, April 27, 2015

Thank you Nepal

The death toll in Nepal keeps rising. 

The news is changing all the time and I can't give a comprehensive summary. I can't tell anyone what to do. I don't know what the country needs, or where people should donate too. I am trying to keep up to date on the news, hoping everyone is alright, and praying for those I haven't heard from yet. The past few days have caused me to reflect on my time in Nepal, and what it meant to me. I once spoke with my friend Jade about sacred spaces. Spaces and experiences served as catalysts for us, and helped us decide what we wanted for our futures. For her, that was Iceland. For me, that space is Nepal.

The edge of the lake in Pokhara

So while I don't really know the best way to help the people of Nepal, I feel like I need to share some of my experience there. All these photos were stolen from my Facebook, hence the fuzzy quality. You can see more of them here and here.

I came to Nepal to serve. But like practically every young upper-middle-class-white-kid with a couple years of college under their belt, I quickly realized that I knew nothing. I knew nothing about who I was, or what was needed from me (if anything), or what I should be trying to do. Nepal was in it's young adulthood, politically, but on the right track. I was still stuck in adolescence.

My first few weeks in Nepal were especially frustrating. I quickly realized that I didn't have the skills or experience that would make a lasting difference for these kids. I wished I was a nurse, or a teacher, or had lots and lots of money. They tried to get me to teach an English class at the local school. I was terrified and unsure. Just 19, and hadn't yet mastered the art of improvisation and false confidence that I used while serving an LDS mission.

But that's all the stuff that was going through my head. These are the kids. And everyone that goes on these trips, talks about "the kids" and how they're just so sweet and happy with anything, even playing with garbage. Which is true. But they were more than that. They were smart and inventive. And they could be mean and petty and cruel like any other kid. And they were some of the first people I learned to love. 

While I was in Ghattagar (a town on the eastern edge of Kathmandu), men with guns came searching for Lama, the head of the orphanage I was staying at. They were members of the rising political party, and Lama owed them money. Tsering brought me into the room, I think to serve as a sort of distraction. I smiled and laughed. They took my picture with their flip phones, posing next to me with their guns. It diffused the tension. 

This is sweet Tsering.

Tsering was the one who was really running the show. She loved the children, and would do anything for them. In the years that followed, Lama abandoned the orphanage, and Tsering was left to hold things together. Most of the children were not truly orphans, they were from surrounding villages and came to Kathmandu so that they could get receive an education. Eventually, Tsering ran out of money and she and the children had to leave the orphanage and rely on the generosity of others. It's a familiar story, apparently. I haven't yet heard how they fared through the earthquake.

From Kathmandu, I was moved to Pokhara. I don't even know how to begin to describe Pokhara. It was simply heaven. Beautiful, and green, and clean. Surrounded by green hills, and craggy mountains that I promised myself I would come back and climb. It was on the edge of a huge lake. And there was a sweet peace there that I hadn't felt anywhere else.

Arjun is a smart, effective leader. He runs an orphanage in Pokhara where the children are encouraged to embrace their heritage and keep their customs and beliefs. Many of them were of Tibetan heritage. The mother of the family was 27 when I met her, a year younger than I am now. I can hardly believe it.

Thinking of Nepal makes me heartsick. When an experience is so much, and you can never finish unpacking it.  I hope I get the chance to return again. My first trip to Nepal was fumbling and anxious. I imagined returning to the county, with an apology in tow. Now I'm just hoping for the chance to go back and to bring with me a warm, fearless embrace.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Don't you worry 'bout a thing


I apologize folks. Apparently if you don't write for a year, everything that comes out is a bit heavy. In reality, I am a mostly happy person!

So here's something sweet and cute to prove it. Chance the Rapper is a doll, and this video combines all my favorite things. Remember when I used to post dance stuff all the time? Here's some more of that.

Take me to church indeed.

Let's see.
What other happy news do I have...

Got two swimsuits from J.Crew for $17 each.

Just picked up Paul Blart Mall Cop from the library so that I can be all caught up before I watch the sequel with the fam.

And they now sell single cans of Q soda at Harmon's.

Give me a million, thanks.

I really couldn't ask for more in my life.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Our endless numbered days

I've spent the last couple years living like an alien. Floating outside of things and trying to piece them all together in some sort of meaningful narrative.

It's been hit and miss.

Nighttime views during a summer camping trip in Utah County

I let the past year drift by in state of semi-employment, a flurry of weddings, and dozens of afternoons laying on the floor, "organizing" things. I'm so grateful I was able to take that time (it was sorely needed). But by the time winter rolled around, I was eager to transform my days into something more intentional. I needed to start doing all those things I had promised myself I would do when I finished working in Provo; music practice, scripture study, job searching. All things that would give me direction, and help me feel better. So after mulling over what to give up for Lent, I finally decided.

I would give up sleep.

It was a simple equation. The less time I slept, the more time I would have, the more I could get done. I settled on waking up at 6:30 everyday. Even weekends. That may not seem very early to some of you, but for me it was a struggle, especially when an empty day loomed ahead of me with no substitute teaching jobs or scheduled work. Getting up at 6:30 would give me time to tackle those daily habits I wanted to adopt. There's nothing else to do that early in the morning. So I would have no distractions, no excuses.

Lonely morning views from my apartment

I did... ok. I got a lot done in those early hours, but I still kept my lazy ways. Some days I would pull out my phone and lie in bed for another 1/2 hour or so before getting up (cheating). And other days I would putter around for a bit before going back to bed to take a "nap" at 7:30 (also cheating). The days that I started off the right way, writing my morning pages and studying my scriptures, were markedly different. I was able to take morning trips to the temple without having to plan ahead. I watched Music and the Spoken Word at the Tabernacle on Sunday mornings. And I learned a lot about myself, and how I use the precious resource of time.

There are two views you can take when examining how to spend your days.

1) You become depressed. Days pile up in 24 hour increments full of meaningless moments that you repeat over and over and over.You see how you're not measuring up. And how you let so many things slip pass your notice, hundreds of missed opportunities given up because of laziness or fear, usually a combination of the two. I suggest not undergoing this sort of self-examination if you want to remain unscathed. 
2) You become overjoyed. You see each day as a new opportunity to do something different or create a beautiful moment. You see your potential for good. And how your life has taken unexpected courses that led you to form lasting friendships and taught you invaluable lessons. You've surprised yourself, and you've been better than you thought you could be. You are excited for all the days to come.

I've been feeling a combination of these two views. How do you balance the idea of endless days before us, endless days after? And the finite nature of each individual day? Every task you undertake is both pointless and of eternal consequence.

It's exhausting.

I'm soon to hit my year mark for living downtown.
It's been the longest second of my life.

Our favorite go-to teen philosophers (Jaden and Willow Smith) put it best in their interview with The New York Times:

WILLOW: I mean, time for me, I can make it go slow or fast, however I please, and that’s how I know it doesn't exist. 
JADEN: It’s proven that how time moves for you depends on where you are in the universe. It’s relative to beings and other places. But on the level of being here on earth, if you are aware in a moment, one second can last a year. And if you are unaware, your whole childhood, your whole life can pass by in six seconds. But it’s also such a thing that you can get lost in. 
WILLOW: Because living.

I returned to "normal" life on Easter morning. Sleeping in was nice, but just mostly left me feeling groggy. I felt ineffective and dumb waking up so late, and losing so much. I too easily sunk back into those bad habits.

But I think I also may have taken things a bit too far. Became a bit too robotic in my thinking about time, and scheduling every moment so that it is busy and full. I'm working on my perspective. I need to let time escape me. And not mourn its passing so much. Time and I are trying to develop a more healthy relationship.

So what I am working towards... 

A conscious unconsciousness? 

That shouldn't be too hard.

Romans 14:5-8

5. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
6. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lords, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
7. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
8. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thursday Verse: "The Unattained" - Elizabeth Oakes-Smith


And is this life? and are we born for this?
     To follow phantoms that elude the grasp.
     Or whatsoe'er secured, within our clasp,
     To withering lie, as if each earth'y kiss
     Were doomed Death's shuddering touch alone to meet.
O Life? hast thou reserved no cup of bliss?
     Must still the UNATTAINED beguile our feet?
The UNATTAINED with yearnings fill the breast,
That rob, for ay, the spirit of its rest?
     Yes, this is Life; and everywhere we meet,
     Not victor crowns, but wailings of defeat;
Yet faint thou not, thou dost apply a test
     That shall incite thee onward, upward still,
     The present can not sate nor e'er thy spirit fill.

- Elizabeth Oakes-Smith                                                   


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Music for your Midweek: Antony and the Johnsons - "Hope There's Someone"

A beautiful and heartbreaking performance of one of my favorite songs.

"I love that quote from Candy Darling, from her diaries, when she says, 'Love is a delicate spirit that loses its essence under scrutiny.' I think sometimes hope is the same way. Do you know what I mean?
You have to be gentle with it."
- Antony Hegarty

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"Down the hill I hoped that I'd find something I could rest my hands on..."

I've taken to walking whenever I get the chance.

I'll take long loops circling through the neighborhood. Or sometimes I'll go to the edge of the Avenues and walk along the Bonneville Shoreline trails. I walk up to my mom's on 13th, or trek out to see our old house on South Temple. But most days, I'll walk up through Memory Grove and City Creek Canyon. I feel very fortunate to live in the middle of a city, with places like this less than a mile away.

I need to log about three miles a day to feel normal. It has become a luxury I can't live without. This last week I was able to borrow my mom's car, and while it was wonderful not to have to bike through the surprise snowstorm on Wednesday, it drastically decreased my time spent outside. I became a different, lazier creature. No more cars for me.

On these walks, I carry my trusty cd player in a drawstring backpack my dad picked up at a Native American conference. That's something you forget about in the age of iPhones. When your music doesn't fit in a pocket, you need some other accessories to help lug it around. The ancient (13+ years old!) discman lets me listen through albums I've checked out from the library, so I don't mind the extra weight and inconvenience too much. So far, I've walked through Joanna Newsom, Belle and Sebastian, Bjork, and Arcade Fire.
I never get tired.

A favorite in my rotation is Beach House's Devotion. So funny how you can re-visit an album years later, and have a completely different experience. I remember being bored when I heard this album the first time, and now I'm just entranced. This track in particular is magic to me:

Every moment is beautiful if you have the right soundtrack.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Master of None

I'm sitting at a desk with practically nothing to do.
And it is glorious.

Almost a year ago I was finishing up my last few weeks as an AmeriCorps VISTA with United Way My initial plan was to give myself a month to settle back into the city, get my bearings, and figure out what the next step would be.

That month has extended to a year.

I moved downtown. Signed up with a temp agency. Sold my car. Went to a million weddings. Half-heartedly searched for jobs. When fall rolled around, I signed on to substitute with several schools. Every once and a while I would pick up the odd job or catering gig to fill things out. So far this year I have worked as an ACT test grading runner, nanny, yogurt factory worker, merchandise counter. parking attendant, caterer/server, tutor, and substitute teacher at 7 different schools. When I did taxes this year, I had 8 W-2s. What can I say? I'm a hustla homie.

Jack of all trades, master of none.
I feel you girl

Now that year mark is coming up. I'm feeling weird, but mostly good. I certainly never imagined that 28 would look like this. Every aspect of my current life would be a shock to my younger self. I recognize that I am a lucky, privileged girl, and these risks won't break me if everything falls apart. But for now, I don't mind living paycheck to paycheck too much. Not having health insurance or any savings to speak of is a bit worrisome. I really just don't want to have a job I don't want. Is that crazy? Until I get things figured out, I'm going to keep living the millennial dream, eschewing adult responsibility as long as I can.

I really will get my act together. Later.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thursday Verse: "Small Poems for the Winter Solstice: 4" - Margaret Atwood


Towards my chill house in this sloppy weather,
hands on the cold wheel, hoping there'll be a fire,
slush on the glass, past an accident,
then another. Somewhere there's one more,
mine. In a minuet we just
miss each other, in an accident
we don't. Dance is intentional but
did you miss me or
not, was it too close
to the bone for you, was that
pain, am gone? Nothing's
broken, nevertheless I'm skinless,
the gentlest touch would gut me.
Slowly, slowly, nobody wants a mess.
I float over the black roads, pure ice.

- Margaret Atwood                                                                                  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Music for your Midweek: D'Angelo - "Really Love"

Something to keep you real nice warm on this snowy day...

Aw shoot.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thursday Verse: "True Stories" - Margaret Atwood


Don't ask for the true story;
why do you need it? 
It's not what I set out with
or what I carry. 
What I'm sailing with,
a knife, blue fire, 
luck, a few good words
that still work, and the tide. 
The true story was lost
on the way down to the beach, it's something 
I never had, that black tangle
of branches in a shifting light, 
my blurred footprints
filling with salt 
water, this handful
of tiny bones, this owl's kill; 
a moon, crumpled papers, a coin,
the glint of an old picnic, 
the hollows made by lovers
in sand a hundred 
years ago: no clue. 
The true story lies
among the other stories, 
a mess of colours, like jumbled clothing
thrown off or away, 
like hearts on marble, like syllables, like
butchers' discards. 
The true story is vicious
and multiple and untrue 
after all. Why do you
need it? Don't ever 
ask for the true story.

- Margaret Atwood                                                                                        

Friday, April 3, 2015

April Mix: Fear in a handful of Dust

All my friends agree is practically summer, even though the past few chilly days are trying to convince us otherwise. Winter is still trying to have it's due since we didn't have much of one. April is a half heavy month. If you're into feeling heavy, you can read this poem that the title of this mix comes from. But April is also great because with General Conference, it feels like New Years all over again. Lots of resolutions. So there you go. Something for everyone. And something for you to listen to:

1. Make Someone Happy - Jimmy Durante

2. That Black Bat Licorice - Jack White

3. Can See Can Do - M.I.A.

4. Realla feat. Anderson Paak - TOKiMONSTA

5. Auburn and Ivory - Beach House

6. Apparition - My Brightest Diamond

7. Heart of Chambers (Beach House cover) - Young Man

8. Someone Told Me - Jake Bugg

9. Good Times - Sam Cooke

10. Good Intentions Paving Company - Joanna Newsom

11. Let It Happen - Tame Impala

12. Run Baby Run - Toro Y Moi

13. Mystery Colors - Astronauts, etc.

14. Consolation Prize - Sharon van Etten

15. Sing to the Moon - Laura Mvula with Metropole Orkest

3. Language alert. Sorry, but I think M.I.A. is one of the best.
4. Language alert again. Sorry, but this track is so hot.
9. Favorite harmonies ever.
10. Listened to this album a million times thanks to Julia.
14. Again, thanks to Julia for introducing me to the old Sharon van Etten.
15. Not the actual track, obviously, but still cool to watch. This song is so near and dear to my heart. Especially since there will be a blood moon/lunar Eclipse happening within the next few hours. Spooky time.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thursday Verse: "April Light" - May Swenson


Lined with light
the twigs are stubby arrows.
A gilded trunk writhes
upward from the roots,
from the pit of the black tentacles. 
In the book of spring
a bare-limbed torso
is the first illustration. 
Light teaches the tree
to beget leaves,
to embroider itself all over
with green reality,
until summer becomes
its steady portraits,
and birds bring their lifetime
to the boughs 
Then even the corpse
light copies from below
may shimmer, dreaming it feels
the cheeks blossom.

- May Swenson                                                                              

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Music for your Midweek: All Ezra Koenig all the time

All you guys thought I was a grown-up but 
APRIL FOOLS ON YOU cause I'm forever a kid.

So here's are my favorite funny band being funny.

Be still my 20-year old heart. Ezra Koenig will always have a special place there.

You can watch him being funny again here and here.

And here's some music cause that's what I'm supposed to do on Wednesdays:

And it's all so good for spring!