a collection of certainly special, uniquely unusual, and equally momentous thoughts: memoirs of me

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Don't judge me for my narcissism

I've never really been into the super formal, printed on off-white paper, with a BYU-I seal on the front, and commencement times and dates on the inside, kind of graduation announcement. Way too grandma-ish for me. But when a neighbor showed me an announcement she had of a friend with a simple thank you message on the front and a cute picture, I was way more into it. So, a couple weeks ago I got the crazy idea to have senior pictures of me done when I was home last weekend. I remembered when my friend Amanda Harrison had her family pictures done and how awesome they turned out so I immediately went to Elisabeth Kate Photography and was already hooked. I had to have her. You can find her website here. Kate was amazing and just so much fun to work with. She did an excellent job! I couldn't be happier with how they turned out.

Confession: I like having nice pictures of myself. Always have. So I'm very pleased to have some cool pictures of myself for the next couple years. Now I just have to figure out which one to send with my graduation thank you card. If you have a favorite let me know!

One more confession: I've always been that person who has their eyes closed in every picture. My eyes are just so dang sensitive to the sun, even on overcast days. I was worried that I would struggle to have my eyes open even for one shot (and it did turn out to be somewhat of a struggle) but Kate was awesome and patient. When my eyes would start to water we'd wait a couple minutes. Through it all we got a lot of good ones, scratch that, a lot of sweet ones.

So sorry for the slightly narcissistic post. I was just too excited not to share with everyone in blogland.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Beautiful Piece of Music

There are certain things in this life that feel sacred to me, things that I experience, listen to, or witness with my own eyes. During these brief moments it seems as if the veil is parting and I'm closer to the heavens. I can feel love more perfectly and simply than before. Seeing a newborn baby for the first time just moments after birth makes me tremble and cry. It is such a miracle. Listening to a mission call being read and the emotion coming from the future miracle-worker that is being called to labor in the vineyard. Walking into the celestial room each and every time. Watching Ballet West perform Swan Lake. Seeing an old man take his old wife's hand and looking into her eyes more in love with her than ever. Seeing a recent convert bear powerful testimony of the Restoration. A perfectly-timed hug on a day you desperately need it. A delicious dinner made with heart and eaten with precision and care around a large dinner table crowded with loved ones on an exquisite summer evening. Hearing a piece of music so perfectly crafted and knowing it was partly written with God's hand. These things are what I thrive for. They are the moments of full joy. They are inexpressible. I found one of those sacred things today. It's a song written by Ennio Morricone entitled Gabriel's Oboe for the movie The Mission and played on the violin by Yo Yo Ma. This song entered my heart and moved me, it touched me in a way I can't express in words. So here you go. I hope you feel something like I did. I hope you think this song is as beautiful as I do. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gO3XDO1hQsE

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Little Bit Stronger

Warning: this post is about the breakup I went through about nine months ago. I know that there are people who read this who have close relationships with the both of us but I promised myself that this blog would be an outlet for the emotions I was feeling inside. As my American Foreign Policy teacher would say, this is “emotional vomit.”

So yes, here’s a little emotional vomit for you.

I told Chris once, back before we were too serious, that if things didn’t work out that I knew I would have the faith to move one. That was back before I thought I was going to marry him, back before I loved him, back before I was envisioning the rest of my eternity with him. But then we did get serious and I knew that I did love him enough to be with him forever. It happened. It was finally my turn. And I was so happy.

Ultimately he didn’t feel the same. There was that fateful day that I still can’t think about without getting sick to my stomach. That singular moment on the bench when we sat down and he didn’t hold my hand. I knew something was wrong and he was going to tell me something I didn’t want to hear. The walk back to my apartment knowing my whole life had changed in one brief conversation. I didn’t see it coming.

The days and weeks after were some of the darkest of my life. For the first time ever I didn’t want to continue to live. There was a sting I wasn’t sure I could bear. Despair, pain, inflamed red eyes constantly drenched in tears. Pure unhappiness. Those of you who haven’t gone through this will think I’m sensationalizing and being a little over-dramatic. Those who have gone through it will understand me completely. That night my brother gave me one of the sweetest blessings I have ever received. The only line I remember is that I would be blessed with an increased capacity to move on. I think that one line is what got me through.

I agreed with Chris when he suggested that it must be part of God’s plan. I didn’t think that was true. Part of me still doesn’t think that was true. I nodded my head but I didn’t agree with him on the inside.

I had to make goals to smile, to laugh, to make it through a four hour work shift without crying. I was trapped in Rexburg at the end of the semester with roommates leaving for the break and the whole city to remind me of all the things we’d done together. Misery.

Chris came and said goodbye before he moved. I asked him if any of it had been real. I watched him from my kitchen window drive away for the last time. I still wonder if he ever thought about me again. It seemed so easy for him. Did he hurt? Did he have a hard time? Did he cry? Does he ever think of me now? Does he miss the time we had and wish it was different? Did he ever love me?

For the eight months we dated my thoughts had been dominated by a person I loved, admired, and respected. For the months afterward I could only think of him and how I wished it were different.
Days finally turned into weeks and months. I went through all the normal phases of hating him, wanting to kill him, wanting to be just friends, sympathizing with him, and then hating him again.

There came a point when I realized I couldn’t let my memories haunt me anymore. That may have been the first step back to happiness for me. I didn’t want him to be in my head anymore. I made it a point to get him out when he kept trying to get in.

I’m not sure when it was, the day I started forgetting him. The day I didn’t wonder what he was doing or where he was. The day I realized I was happy again, really happy. The day I realized my shattered heart was healing.

Today I was driving home from work and I heard a song on the radio that perfectly describes what I’ve been through. I never like when people post the actual lyrics to a song, instead I’m giving you the link so you can hear the words and know what I mean.

Tonight I realized that we've been apart for as long as we were together. That means I'm supposed to completely over him. Whether or not that's completely true will be revealed in the future.

There are still days of weakness but fortunately they are few and far between. I hope for the future and someone who I can love just as much. I hope that I can open my heart and trust again. Sometimes I hope for another chance with him. I just try to hope either way.

Today…I’m a little bit stronger. I’m stronger than I was yesterday.

I’m happy. I’m finally happy again.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Those who enrich my life

Scott got into my car Tuesday morning and asked me what I was doing on Friday night. He had two tickets to the Alfie Boe concert that night and after realizing there might not be very many cool girls who’d be into that kind of thing and want to attend with him and asked me if I’d like to go.

“I’d love to.”

I’d seen the advertisements around campus which said Worldwide Singing Sensation. Wow, this guy must be good. I mean, with a name like Alfie, you’d have to be good.

The week went on and I got more excited. A few people mentioned that this Mr. Boe character was going to be playing the role of Jean Valjean in London’s Les Miserables starting this June. Well gosh, I absolutely love Les Miserables, in fact, that very play in that very place is on my bucket list of things to do in my life.

Tonight finally came. Scott and I ate a delicious dinner at Gater Jacks and then headed to the Snow. The place was packed. We noticed almost more senior citizens than students. Cool. I’m always up for a night with the geriatric society. The BYU-I Sinfonietta took their places on stage with their beautiful instruments and starting warming up. Within minutes the lights dimmed and the show started. I was not prepared for what I heard next.

The first half of the performance was a combination of Napoleonic songs in a variety of languages. When I first heard his voice I think my heart melted a little bit. It was powerful, it was strong, it was perfectly on. I was entranced. This man had incredible stage presence.

In between numbers he was very pleasant, cracking a couple jokes here and there but nothing over the top, tacky or forced. I enjoyed watching and listening to all the sounds of the orchestra, to the perfect stance of the conductor, to the flawlessly starched tuxedos.

The numbers from the second half came from his newest album of show tunes. He performed songs from Willy Wonka, My Fair Lady, and Carousel- all movies I grew up watching, all songs dear to my heart. The last number was of course the most spectacular, Bring Him Home from Les Miserables. It almost brought me to tears. His voice was penetrating. He was truly praying to the God above. I had goose bumps all over that lasted for minutes. I didn’t want it to end. I dreaded the moment when his voice would cease.

Applause erupted from the audience. We were on our feet clapping with all our might. I was grateful to be there. I was grateful for his talent. I was grateful for such a fulfilling experience.

Tonight represented something I’ve felt for a long time. Throughout the last six years that I’ve been a student at this school I’ve been able to attend dozens of school sponsored performances and concerts. I have never been disappointed by a single one. On the contrary, I have walked away feeling uplifted, beyond satisfied, and grateful. Grateful for the incredible talents of others. Grateful that some people have been given such incredible gifts and are willing to share them with others.

Sometimes it amazes me how good people are at things. I’ve always felt like I’ve been ordinary at everything and not extraordinary at anything ….so I’m grateful for people that have excelled at something so much. They have enriched my life.

So here’s to you talented people. Thank you for blessing my life. Thanks to all the performers I’ve seen throughout the years – the Guitars Unplugged bands, Nashville Tribute, David Archuleta, the people who’ve played in Grand Pianos Live, John Schmidt, BYU Men’s Choir, the different operas, Ryan Shupe, all the actors in the various plays I’ve seen, and now Alfie Boe. Three cheers to you my friends.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

always a good time in Las Vegas

There are certain things in life that make me feel like a grown up. Buying stamps for the first time was a big deal for me, choosing my first rump roast from the grocery was as well. Leaving on a mission, accepting a calling with a lot of responsibility, and paying tuition bills have always made me feel like such an adult.

Randomly buying a ticket and flying to Las Vegas to spend a weekend with one of my best friends is definitely one of those things. I love adventures, always have and always will, but usually those adventures include very detailed and well thought out plans and someone else to go with me. I have never have been a super spontaneous person. I don’t try to be anymore and I don’t apologize for not being so.

This was the first time that I actually ventured out completely and totally alone…and it felt good, really good. It let me know I can do fun and exciting things by myself. I felt empowered and alive. Amazing how one small weekend trips to Vegas can do that for me.

I’m not really a give-you-every-chronological-detail-of-the-trip kind of person. Blogging about some of the thoughts that passed through my head while in Vegas sounds a bit more interesting, doesn’t it?

Leaving Rexburg and going to Vegas is quite the change. I’ve been to Vegas enough times so that the lights, casinos and the strip aren’t novelties any more, but I’m still amazed at the busyness of everyone and everything. I arrived Friday night to the hustle and bustle of a thriving weekend, and what’s more, BYU was playing the next day which meant tons of Mormons in blue and white shirts. Comforting in an odd sort of way. Sometimes it amazes me how everyone’s going somewhere. So many pedestrians, so many hotel rooms, so many parking garages. Thousands of people everywhere. What in the world are all these people doing here? Where are they going? Where did they come from? I absolutely love people-watching. I could do it for hours. One of the things I think about is everyone’s story. I see weirdly dressed people and I wonder what their story is. How did they come to be like that? What’s made them who they are. I would love to know. I told my dad once that I can’t wait for the next life and the eternal time without limits. I want to talk to everyone and learn about the life they lived. People fascinate me. It’s amazing how everyone’s got a plan and they’re heading toward it. Everyone is going from somewhere to someplace else.

I feel the same way about gambling as I feel about those really intense Meth: Not Even Once commercials airing on TV right now. I never want to gamble once. I think it’s ridiculous, absolutely stupid, completely time wasting and money consuming. I’m not into doing it even once just to say I’ve done it. I’d rather be able to say at the end of my life that I never pulled the handle to a slot machine or laid down cards at a poker table. I’d rather not. No thank you. I’d rather spend my money on something else rather than helping an industry whose addicts have damaged brains similar to those addicted to pornography. So don’t think I’m stupid. Gambling is stupid.

The best part of the weekend was spending time with someone I love and someone who has touched my life for good. Courtney and I were roommates for just over three months but I know she was brought into my life for a very important reason. She is the reason I got through last semester intact. She simply understands and can relate to my life and my experiences even though we haven’t gone through similar things. I love her forever and I’m grateful for the few amazing days we got to spend together. Courtney and I can talk and laugh and cry together but we also don’t mind sitting in the car in silence or singing to our favorite country tunes. She’s a beautiful person inside and a gorgeous and stunning person on the outside.

I think the most important thing that went through my head this weekend as I passed thousands of people, as I walked through numerous casinos, and as I observed people from all walks of life was the importance of the Atonement. I saw a lot of things in Vegas I’d rather not see. People tried to hand me porn on every corner. People are walking down the street drunk and acting stupid. All the glitz and glamour are just a fa├žade to a city of sin and ignorance. Don’t think me judgmental but it wears on me after a couple days. I can feel my spirit eroding, my attitude deteriorating, my protective wall crumbling. I know there are good people everywhere, and that’s just as true for Vegas as anywhere. But as I walked the streets and saw the billboards, as I watched the people and diverted my eyes from the immodesty, as I heard the language and listened to the music, I couldn’t help but be thankful for the Savior. He still loves all these people. He loves me. He still loves the people who are doing all those things, the good things and also the bad things. He knows they can change if they choose. He’s the reason they’ll always have that option no matter what they’ve done in their life. The more I see of the world the more I realize the need for a Savior. I’m glad I know of Him. I’m glad I know of His love. I’m glad I know I can change and be forgiven.

So now I’m back. A short weekend later and a lot to think about. I love growing up. I love new experiences. I’m alright coming back to Rexburg and my humble, quiet, simple abode that is my home for just a couple more weeks. I won’t always live in a bubble. I will go off into the world and will have to face more of what I experienced this weekend. I’m alright with that because I know that my personal home can always be a sacred place where the spirit is.

I drove back to Rexburg on Monday. I waited to turn the corner and see the temple. It feels good to be back home.

Just enjoying the Bellagio fountains and watching all the crazy people
Inside the Venetian and no we didn't purposely try to match, it just happened that way.
Waiting for Phantom of the Opera to start

Amazing show!

Brunch at an amazing restaurant called Rachel's Kitchen. Absolutely delicious!

Gorgeous sunset with the Las Vegas temple and strip in the background.

Classic Las Vegas sign picture

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I might be crazy...and I might be moving across the country

I'm not sure when the idea came to me to pick up everything and move across the county, live in a city I've only been to once, do something so on my own that I can't believe I actually have the capacity to do it.

But then again, I did that when I moved here to Rexburg to start college except I'd never once been to the frozen tundra campus of BYU-I.

I was a little uneasy then. I'm a little uneasy now. Luckily, the uneasiness is enshrouded by excitement and enthusiasm.

I graduate in 31 days. I move in 49. I leave Rexburg. I go to Washington DC.

It'll be unlike any other experience up till this point. New places, new people, new living conditions, new way to get around, new stores, new food, new ward.

I love adventures, you have to know that about me, and this will definitely be an adventure. I hope to be stretched and to grow. I hope to learn new skills and meet interesting people. I hope to expand my vision and do some good. I hope to see all I can see and go everywhere I can go. I hope to return a better and more educated person. I hope to serve and to learn.

So I guess this is where my memoirs really begin. A new start.

Memoirs of me and my undertakings.....however crazy they may be.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Holy Experience

Amazing experience tonight. First time. Hope it wasn't the last. Cleaning the temple. A holy experience.

I didn't know what to expect when I showed up with a couple members of my ward at 9:45 pm. We dressed in awesomely attractive white jumpsuits and the other two girls and I headed to the 2nd floor with our manager. I'm not sure if I've ever vacummed so much in my life. It was a pleasure. My right arm might be sore tomorrow but all that vacumming time gave me plenty of time to think. There is so much to learn even while vacumming.

Of course you never find any sort of dirt while cleaning the temple. That doesn't matter. We clean anyway. The temple is cleaned every day, no matter what. Our lives should be the same. Even if we haven't accumulated any dirt throughout our day (which we always do) there is need for cleaning every night, no matter what.

I thought about what it means to clean the Lord's house. I wanted to make sure I covered every square inch. I didn't want to miss a single spot. This is the Lord's house. He walks the halls. He is found there.

There is no trace left behind that cleaners were even there. Even the very footprints are erased. Everything is made new for the next day. A new start. A refreshing start. A perfect start.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Plans and changes

Last July my life changed drastically. I had a spectacular plan that made perfect sense to me and seemed like the right timing. One night that plan evaporated almost instantaneously. For weeks, and then what turned into months, my life felt like a big question mark. Slowly but surely I developed another plan, a plan I was excited about, a plan that thrilled me, a plan I looked forward to. It was a plan I could accomplish all on my own.

The Lord loves to throw wrenches in plans.

In fact, I'm not sure if I've ever been able to complete a plan because the Lord always changes them, with the exception of my mission which was a plan I got to complete.

Why do I bother making plans when they're always changed then? Why is it so hard for me to let go of my own independence and do what the Lord wants?

Maybe because it takes me so long to actual formulate that beautiful plan that I don't want it ruined. I've thought, pondered, struggled, prayed, and meditated to make the plan in the first place and then to have it changed is frustrating. And it scares me.

I wish I could be like one of those people who has a plan, and a good one at that, but with the simple prompting of the Spirit can leave it all behind to do something else and leap into the dark. I don't mind the dark myself but I sure do like to diligently prepare and know ahead of time when I'm going to walk into it. I think this is only making sense in my head.

So here I am, in the light for now. I have a plan, a really good plan. But what if something happens tomorrow and it changes?

I hope I can leap into the dark full force ahead.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Temple on a Hill

The summer of 2007 I worked at Olive Garden in Idaho Falls and would drive to and from there once and sometimes twice a day. After working 12 hour shifts my feet would be swollen and painful and my mind would be crazily running in circles. I would plop into my car late at night after the restaurant closed and begin the 30 minute drive back home to Rexburg. I learned early on that after a busy night of waiting tables my mind would be reeling as it was still thinking 5 steps ahead to the next task. I created for myself a strict no music policy for those rides home so that my brain could calm down and rest.

That summer I was also preparing to go on a mission. I had made the decision to serve around the same time I began at Olive Garden. Therefore, during that entire summer my thoughts were often dominated by missionary work. I thought about what it would be like, the companions I would serve with, the people waiting for me to teach them the restored gospel. I thought a lot about those precious people. I couldn’t wait to meet them. I thought about the temple. I longed to go there. I was excited for the day I would be able to enter and wanted to do everything in my power to be worthy and clean.

I found that my car rides home became some of the most sacred times of my life. I would be tired but I would think and I would commune. There is a certain point on the highway, just a couple miles out of Rexburg, where the trees part and you can see the temple glowing in the darkness. After months of driving home in the dark I found that I would look for the temple every night. I would come around the bend and I would see that brilliant light tearing through the dark. It represented home. I knew I was home. It symbolized my goal.

The temple on the hill has become such an important part of my life. The day I went through for the first time and entered the celestial room I knew I was home. I understood that I needed to return often.

Three and half years later my goal is the same, return often. Return to the temple of the Lord. Be in His house. Learn from Him there. Feel His peace and safety.

I drove to Rexburg in the dark the other night. I looked for the temple. When I saw it, I knew I was home.