Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Making a sweater for my new pocketknife

My dad is a Renaissance man. Lately, his thing has been designing and hand-crafting pocketknives. They're really cool, and I've always loved pocketknives, so I told him to make me one. Since I'm his favorite biological daughter.


The coolest thing about the design is that it's really easy to open with one hand. Plus it has a safety lock at the top, so you can't accidentally slice your finger off.


The only problem is that it doesn't have any way to attach it to my key chain...


...so I crocheted an adorable little case. Hooray!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Blog backup

Hey Blogger friends. It's time for you to be responsible and learn how to backup your blog. (Assuming that you lack that skill.) It's easy and will only take you a few minutes, so just do it.

1. Login to your Blogger dashboard.
2. Click Settings.
3. Click Other.
4. Click Export blog.
5. Find the XML version of your blog on your computer (if you have a PC, go to My Computer and check  Downloads), and put it somewhere you'll remember. It doesn't hurt to put it in a few places. I put mine in My Documents and in Dropbox.
6. You're awesome.

To back up your blog template, go to Template and then click Backup (Backup will be in the upper right-hand corner of the screen) and repeat step 5. Step 6 is just a statement of fact.

You can visit this link for more in-depth instructions.




Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Guest writers: myself at age 10, 14, and 15

I've been keeping a journal faithfully since I was eight. (I know: totes adorbs.) I'm currently on notebook #17 or something. I'm too lazy to count.

My journal serves many purposes for me. I use it for cathartic purposes when I'm struggling. I release negative emotions and look at them on the page, which can be helpful in identifying why I'm feeling a certain way. I also like to reflect on experiences and try to capture the spiritual and intellectual growth I notice in myself. And sometimes I write just because I want to put words together in a way that sound nice to me.

I try to avoid the "captain's log" type of journal, where I list the day's events and nothing else. I know that in the future when I reread my journals, I won't really care what happened on a given day. I'll care about the internal struggles I had been grappling with and how I dealt with them. I'll want to revisit the prose I crafted that communicated how my life "felt" at different times. Mostly though, I think I'll value the honesty in my words and in the emotions expressed on the pages.

For funsies I pulled out a couple of journals to see what I wrote on February 12th during various years of my life. I wanted to start with the earliest age I could find, but it's not actually today's date; it's about a month off. But it's so hilarious I had to include it.
Age ten: [Flowers are taped to page] These very flowers were from my Nana's backyard. They are to remind me of sweet, fresh, spring, and of my home that I soon find.
First of all: BAHAHAH. This made me die laughing. It's just so... I don't even know what to call it. You can tell that I read a lot is what it is. To provide a bit of context, we had been visiting my grandma in Utah while house-hunting. We were about to move because my dad was hired as a doctor in good ole Cache Valley. I don't remember feeling nervous about finding a house, but I do remember feeling sad about leaving my friends behind.
Age fourteen: Church choir started up again today. There were 4 altos, 2 sopranos, 2 tenors ([I name two cute boys]), and then one bass. But we'll get more people. 
[Cute boy] and the other boys did their song today in sacrament today. I felt the Spirit as they sang. I couldn't really tell which voice belonged to him though--my brother said he was the one singing in the highest voice, but I'm not sure. I'm hope [my brother] will join the Church choir. I doubt it, though. 
Anyway, we did the song practice for the small group of girls (I'm the pianist--have I not mentioned that before?). At one point (we were in the Primary room) [same cute boy] walked in and looked at me. I think I smiled at him, but I can't remembered [sic] if he smiled back or not. 
Our class presidency got set apart today--finally. It was very good, and I feel a special sort of love for everyone.
Various choir adventures and various boys? Yeah, that basically describes my high school experience. I love that I had to throw in the detail that he looked at me omg omg omg. But I don't remember trying to convince my brother to get into music back then. I guess it paid off, because now he's a magical beast bursting with musical talent. Six months until he's home. Ladies.

Age fifteen: There are a lot of types of screams people can have:
  • high-pitched shriek that quickly turns to laughter. That happens a lot at lunch, when someone startles you, or something similar happens.
  • loud, piercing scream of rage, when you're angry.
  • the hyperventilating sort of "Oh-oh-oh-oh!" that occurs with 'fangirls.' Another thing similar is the 'girl scream'--where girls are happy or something, and they just let out a high screech of excitement. Trust me--I've done it.
  • There's a short, "Aiii!" sort when a spider is suddenly found on your leg and you hurridly brush it off. This is a good 'shriek.'
  • There a [sic] "WWOOOOAAAUUH!" that occurs especially on roller coasters. That's what my roller coaster scream sounds like, anyway.
  • Also, there's the heart-stopping, blood-curdling, scream-as-loud-and-high-as-you-can, top-of-your-lungs type of scream, that happens when an evil murderer is advancing on you with a long knife, or you're riding Tower of Terror and you were suddenly thrust into your first drop.
  • There's also an "AAAAGH!" That's mostly used by men, when they're suddenly frightened. 
That's all I can think of for screams.

1. Oh my gosh. I wrote pretty much the same thing a couple of years ago on my other blog. My older younger self sorta plagiarized my younger younger self. Can we make up a word for that? 2. What kind of fifteen-year-old sits down and thinks, 'Today, we will be writing about the various types of screams in the ole journal. Let us begin.' (Only the royal "we" will do.) 3. I haven't changed at all, ever. 4. I kind of love who I am.

I used to be nervous about what people in the future would think when they read my journals, but it doesn't seem like a big deal anymore. I'm just writing about real life, and after all, I'm just some girl, you know? Of course there will be embarrassing, weird, silly posts. For me, the charm of the "awkwardness" is that what I've written is still so me it makes me laugh.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

surface

We went on a date yesterday, partly to make someone else cook for us, and partly to distract me from the difficulty of transitioning antidepressants. Again. There's a dangerous vulnerability in allowing too much time for thinking in between meds. There's a fine line between my thoughts and the depressed thoughts. My thoughts are the ones that know it'll be okay, that I'm fine, I'm fine, it just takes a little while to adjust to these things. But the depressed thoughts tell me it's not the medicine; it's you, you're the problem. I have to defend myself, so I seek out the most upbeat, silly things I can. I'm glad that there are shows like Futurama that are ridiculous, witty, and hilarious the entire way through. I'm protected. I'm safe.

On the way to pick up some food, we listened to Greg Laswell, an artist we hadn't heard for a while, since we hadn't updated our iPod for so long. While listening, I had this strange moment where the whole world lit up with energy and color. I simultaneously felt like I had never heard music before, yet remembered exactly how his music used to make me feel. I remembered the weak brown of his guitar mixed with a blur of color in Take Everything; the lush dark blues and purples sweeping softly through Take A Bow with the twinkling pinpricks of white. But the fullness of the music caught me off guard, as if I had been half-mindedly listening to it play, muffled, from an adjacent room, and a door had suddenly been opened.

Sometimes I have these moments that pull me above the surface and I remember. Like the unexpected parting of dark clouds in a storm, letting the warm light stream through. A sun shower. It's still raining; the ground is still wet. But I stare up at the sky in wonder as the raindrops hit my cheeks, and I feel like I've never seen anything so amazing or beautiful. Rain and sun at the same time.

Moments when I surface, moments when I remember and see and feel with sharpness and clarity, they are what gently pull me toward the future. A future of filling my house with the sound of my voice in song. A future of walking outside in the sunshine and seeing the colors and smiling, because I feel my body and spirit in harmony, neither my thoughts nor my body imprisoning me. A future of feeling like myself with all the energy of my soul, from my head to my toes.

A future of breaking free of the surface and staying.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A 100 Hour Board nostalgia sandwich

So this little critter showed up the other day. I was expecting it to, but I still had a case of the "Ah, the good ole days," anyway, thinking about the spectacular people I met and the strange adventures I had. Maybe this is lame, but who cares: pretty sure the Board is one of the best things I got involved in at BYU. If it weren't for that, I would've gone crazy with the BYU-ness of BYU. You know what I mean.

The post tempted me, for a moment, to go back and reread some stuff I wrote, but I thought better of it. It would be like a combination of reading the most cringe-y essays from the 8th grade, journal entries, and crazy hyper texts from high school. I'm just glad I'm a little less cray-cray.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

People are cray: books edition

Within the past week, I've read five novels. I figured that, since I can do anything I want at this point in my life, I may as well catch up on the hundred or so books that I've been meaning to read.

I've been using Goodreads to track my progress, because I like seeing my stats and the tangible evidence that I'm so freakin' awesome at reading. I haven't added any friends because I'm not interested in the social aspect of it; I'm very particular about what I read, and it's very rare that someone recommends something that I actually end up liking. Well dang, I sound arrogant and obnoxious. Sorry about that. The truth of it is that I'm really picky and I don't wanna hurt feelings all over the place by shutting down book suggestions. Occasionally, though, I like to peek at the reviews to see what other people thought of the books I read, and, well...

Holy gosh darn freakin' crap. People are SO WEIRD. I know that Rule Number Whatever of the internet is to never read any comments, but I like to anyway, and they always just baffle me. You would think that adults, reading books intended for adults, would act like adults about it, but apparently that is too difficult.

I want to give examples for the awesome feminist classics I read, because the weird comments there were the weirdest. The other two books were random; one weird fluffy pseudo-fantasy book, and one murder mystery thriller (although that had some interesting comments as well).


I'll start out with The Bell Jar. The book takes place in the early 60s and centers around Esther Greenwood, a college student on a summer internship. Throughout the novel, it describes her internal conflict with societal expectations of women and her personal desires and confusions as to what she wants to do with her life, as well as her continual descent into depression, suicide attempts, and resultant medical treatment. 

Personally, I connected with the book on several levels. The distorted thinking, confusing apathy and sadness, and desperate despair are thoughts and feelings I am well acquainted with. It was strangely comforting to see my own thoughts on the page, expressed by another human being. I also understood Esther's desire not to lose her own identity in the course of experiencing life. She was afraid of committing herself to big choices because it could prevent her from making other choices; her biggest fear was to become a wife and mother and slowly see her personality disappear. I, too, have the fear that I won't be me anymore once I have kids.

Now, onto the crazy. The biggest thing people had against this book was... (can you guess?) it was depressing. Hah! They were all like, "Ugh, it doesn't even make sense for her to be depressed. It bothers me that there wasn't an anti-suicide message in the book. This book was too depressing, and it didn't serve a good purpose for the plot, it was just self-indulgent..." 

Blah blah blah dumb crazy. Okay. People. I understand that if you've never been depressed, you won't completely relate, and that's just fine. But the author is showing you what it's like. She's showing you what it's like to be so depressed that dying doesn't seem so bad. To throw in a "Hey kids! Suicide is bad!" message would undermine the tone of the book, and it would be insulting to depression sufferers. She's not promoting it; she's showing you what it's like to feel that way.


Onto the most controversial book of the three (and, in my opinion, the best); The Color Purple. It's written as a series of letters by the main character, Celie, a young girl who lives in the South. Hmm. I wanted to write a plot summary but I don't think I can write a short one. Instead, I'll mention the main controversial points of the book to provide context for the crazy comments.

Because it's first-person from the perspective of an uneducated young woman, it's not an easy read. It's like reading Huckleberry Finn; you have to get used to Celie's dialect. The book talks about violence, incest, sex, sexual and domestic abuse, racism, homosexuality, and has some swearing. Also, it uses the word f*ck colloquially (I don't recall it used as a swear word), which may be offensive. (?)

And now, for the weird: People complained that the book was too confusing, but not always because of the dialect; they expected the book to spell everything out for them. They forgot about that thing you have to do once you leave high school that people call reading in between the lines. You don't have a teacher who's going to say, "By the way, that line is implying that these characters are falling in love." You have to pay attention and figure that out yourself.

Less weird and more depressing: people obviously got their undies in a bundle about the fact that a book talked about the terrible things that actually happen in our real world (and seemed to completely miss the message and beauty everywhere in the book). This makes me sad. I'm sad that people are more offended at a piece of art imitating (events in) life than the events themselves. The people reading these books aren't children, or teenagers. They're adults, who in theory are mature enough to handle adult themes, and if not, should be adult enough to know when to walk away.

Oh, and people complained that the book made them feel feelings. Ones that made their heart feel funny, their tummy hurt, and their brain itch. They said, well, rape is bad and stuff, but do we have to talk about it in such a negative way? The author should have written about it in a more positive way! Excuse my French, but WHAT THE HELL? Rape is not a happy subject. You will feel uncomfortable talking about it, reading about it, hearing about it. As that one wizard guy said, "Fear of a name only increases fear of a thing itself." Get used to talking about real things.

My favorite comment from a fellow reader was that those who consider themselves Christians should avoid this book, because it's too offensive. Guess I'm not a Christian?


The last one for today is The Red Tent, historical fiction about Dinah from the Old Testament. In essence, the author took a few lines from the Bible and turned it into a 300+ page book; kudos, Ms. Diamant. Dinah was the daughter of Jacob (who had like a jillion sons) and Leah (who supplied a bunch of those sons). The point of the book is to explore what life may have been like for women in the Old Testament, how women passed down their legacies from mother to daughter, and what Dinah's life was like.

I thought it was a lovely read. I'll definitely remember Jacob's family better in the future, and that Simeon and Levi were total scummy jerks. I know that there were liberties taken with the text, obviously, but I enjoyed the fact that women were actually important and in the foreground of the story. I wish more of the Bible were like that. And heck, all of the scriptures.

Anywho, this book naturally drew lots of Judeo-Christian readers, and their complaints were... really weird. First, someone said she would have been able to enjoy the book more if it had been Biblical fiction instead of non-fiction. Uh... did she miss the part where, on the cover of the book, it says A NOVEL? And I'm pretty sure the back of the book says it's historical fiction. And a section on the inside. So... lady, that one is all on you.

Other people whined that the book was chick lit thinly veiled as historical fiction. Okay. No. No no no. Chick lit is fluffy. Light-hearted. It's like eating sugary whipped cream. It goes down all right but after you eat it, you realized you didn't really eat anything at all. Sure, chick lit and women's literature both have women in them. But women's literature has substance. You usually leave it feeling like you learned something. If someone says that a historical fiction novel depicting the trials and triumphs of women during a very dangerous time is chick lit, they need to go back into their cave and spend some time thinking.

Okay. The bestworst comments were about the fact that the book depicted Jacob as a real man, and not a mystical demigod. People were so offended at the idea that Jacob probably had a... are you ready for me to say this?... SEX DRIVE. (How do you guys think he ended up with so many sons?) There's a scene in the book before Jacob gets married where a character (I don't remember which) sees Jacob masturbate in the woods from a distance. It's not graphic, and it's euphemistic, but the readers get what's going on. Some of the comments were like, "HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST THAT A PROPHET OF GOD WOULD DO THE YOU-KNOW-WHAT-BAD-THING?" And I'm like, "So, you're offended at the suggestion of that, but not at the reality of the forced circumcisions and consequent murders? Okay." They also hated the idea that Jacob might ever get angry, or frustrated, or sad, or have any feelings in general.

Of course, people were also offended that there were PG-13 sex scenes where the characters were excited to have sex because they wanted to get it on, not because they were hoping for another awesome sturdy son. They didn't like that Leah was a strong woman who liked sex! They didn't like that the patriarchal system was portrayed in a negative light! They didn't like that the women celebrated their menstrual cycles together instead of shutting up and dealing with it! They didn't like that Joseph was GAY (I am still scratching my head over that comment; I have no idea how they jumped to that conclusion). What I learned from these comments was that if you depict the Old Testament as anything but dry and boring with perfect prophets, you are crossing unseen, holy lines.