Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I can trace all my books [2013: Q4]

I did something new this quarter. I included books that I read enough of that I feel like I read it, even if I skipped parts (mostly books by popular authors that I felt obligated to read). I used to not let that be a qualifying factor. I'm guessing that it's a symptom of fiction fatigue? We'll see. The list:

112. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
113. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
114. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
115. The Lost Kingdom by Matthew J. Kirby
116. The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
117. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
118. Shadows by Robin McKinley
119. A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr
120. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
121. Hero by Alethea Kontis
122. Sammy Keyes and the Killer Cruise by Wendelin van Draanen

123. The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
124. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
125. Wisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
126. The Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah M. Eden
127. Bastion by Mercedes Lackey
128. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
129. Namesake by Sue MacLeod
130. Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelly Coriell
131. The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale
132. Scarlet in the Snow by Sophie Masson

133. Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn
134. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
135. Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
136. Joyfully Yours by Amy Lamont
137. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
138. Unexpected Gifts by Elena Aitken
139. Fall for You (Jane Austen Academy) by Cecilia Gray
140. The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan
141. Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac
142. All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry
143. Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable
144. The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
145. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

I'm just glad I ended on a nice round number this year (as round as 5 is, at least). I'll try to figure out some recommendations when I do the year round-up tomorrow. Ugh, I just realized that almost every sentence in this post starts with "I".

Monday, December 30, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 22]

I've had this in my drafts since about the start of MM. I can't exactly remember if I've posted it before.

The premise came from a talk given by one of my friends over the summer. He's from Oklahoma, and the fatal tornado had happened just recently. He decided to ask the question, "Why do we experience sorrow?" He was able to give examples of the effects of sorrow from his own personal experience, and we all realized that sorrow has a very specific effect in our lives.

Sorrow can unify us, mollify us, and strengthen us.
Unless we harden our hearts.
Then it can divide us, embitter us, and weaken us.

Monday, December 23, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 21]

For Christmas this year I'm giving all of you the gift of understanding the hymn "Silent Night."

As you probably know, the hymn was originally written in German by Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr. The English translation is not exactly reflective of the German (I checked this site to discover that one of the lines in German is "blessed boy in curly hair" which I think is pretty darling but not very doctrinal).

I really like the English words, but the way they pair with the melody is often very confusing. Only last week I told my roommate that the line was 'All is bright surrounding the mother and child over there' and not referring to a rotund mom. So my gift to you is a deeper understanding of this beloved Christmas hymn.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright 'round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy infant so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heav'nly hosts sing alleluia
Christ the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light radiant[ly] beams from thy holy face with the dawn of redeeming grace.
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.
 May it bless your life.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

the music, it takes him to another world

Saturday night I went to Vienna Teng's concert.

Since most of you probably don't know, or haven't noticed, she was such a formative musical influence on me that to this day every single blog post I write has a title taken from her lyrics. So the concert was kind of a big deal.

My friend Nathaniel invited me; I was the one that introduced him to her music, and it literally changed his life. We hadn't seen each other in a long time until Saturday, but we had a good time catching up!

The concert started at 9 pm (which is my bedtime) and the final encore ended at about 12:30 am. I can't remember the last time I stayed up that late, but it was worth it. I loved the show so, so much.

I actually loved it more than the last time we went to her concert four years ago, even though I was much less familiar with her new album than I am with the rest of her music.

Here's a picture of us at her last concert: Alex Wong, Nathaniel, me, Kyra, and Vienna
Alex Wong opened and I really enjoyed his songs as well. All his CDs had sold out before the end of the concert else I might have bought one.

Vienna started her portion with "Harbor." I had forgotten how much I love that song. It makes me itch to have a piano (soon!). Then she said that her next piece was secretly about a minivan. I hissed to Nathaniel, "I knew it!"

"Blue Caravan" has become one of my favorite songs over the years.

Since it was an album release tour, she mostly performed songs from her new album, Aims. I've not listened to the new album to the point of memorization (though I had minor familiarity) so listening to it live was a great experience. ("Level Up" is probably my favorite. "Landsailor" is about FedEx trucks, grocery stores, and Google bots, which ... is not clear from the lyrics.)

She also included "Eric's Song" by request, and "Antebellum" (with French horn instead of strings, because Jordan her backup is a great musician). I was really glad she finished up with "Grandmother Song" because I always regretted not shouting out more during her last performance. It is fun to yell "Tell it, sister!"

For encore Vienna shuffled her cue-cards enough to be able to perform "Kansas," probably Vienna's saddest song. She also had Jordan and Alex sing "Spanish Boots with Spanish Leather" and they finished up with Vienna's signature encore piece. (I'll put a video.)

Her music uplifts me and expands the world around me, which I think is the point. And it was such a pleasure to hang out with such fun people for a few hours (they had driven through the night to get there so they were kind of 'punchy').

Now some videos!

Here's a video of me and the rest of the crowd at the concert. It's the only evidence I have that I was there. Besides the CD I bought and had Vienna sign (but that is a secret present for Kyra that I'll be giving her when her flight gets here, hope she doesn't get internet on the plane). If you're looking for me, pause the video at 0:08 and I'm right in the middle of the shot.

Here's how they performed "Copenhagen" (I liked the one at our show better but I think I'm just biased):

And here is her encore piece. Fun fact: I saw this video a few months ago so I sort of knew what I would be getting, but since it was the last show, Vienna invited Jordan and Alex to join her, so it's not exactly like this, but this is still fabulous:

After the concert I spent the entire time I spoke with her talking about my sister. I didn't even tell her "great show" or anything. But it was a great show.

Maybe I'll catch her again in four years.

Monday, December 16, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 20]

This past week I had the opportunity to attend an activity for, um, "mature" YSA sisters in our stake. (I'm not "mature" enough, but I was helping with a musical number so I got to participate, and I was glad to.)

I'll probably be talking about various aspects of that meeting for the next few weeks, but what I want to talk about today is something that came up while visiting teaching last night. We'd all been at the activity, and my companion had been struck by the story in Matthew 15 that the stake president told:

21 ¶Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
In this story Jesus isn't really very nice. There are lots of interpretations that go into it (and we discussed a few last night and at the meeting), but you have to admit it's not nice to call a woman a dog, even indirectly.

But what we decided is there is a difference between niceness and kindness. Being nice is a good thing; trying not to hurt people's feelings is certainly admirable. But if you are being nice at the expense of being honest at a time when honesty would be kinder in the long run, are you being kind?

We know that God is unfailingly kind. This morning I read in 3 Nephi where the Lord said, "With everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee....my kindness shall not depart from thee." So why does it sometimes seem like He is ignoring us, or letting us suffer much longer than we think is fair?

We need to remember God's kindness. What we go through is for our benefit. When Jesus dismissed the Canaanite woman, it was for her good in some way (perhaps to have her dig down deep for her faith, perhaps to show her humility, perhaps as an example to the disciples of faith and humility). In the same way, our trials should appear as an opportunity to strengthen our faith, show more humility, grow in patience. It's not always very nice, but it is rooted in God's kindness.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

you're made of memories you bury or live by

This morning I woke up (later than usual, but still early enough to make it to work if I hurried) because in my dream I'd started asking everyone where the bathroom was. My brain got the hint.

I thought I might try to go back to sleep (it was still mostly dark) but instead for some reason I remembered something I did in high school and I was so appalled I couldn't sleep anymore.

I was crazy. Ca-RAZY. It's a wonder these high school boys let me be their friend at all (though it is no wonder none of them asked me on dates).

The internet was new; pretty much all I knew how to do was email. I emailed the boys in my friend group regularly (which now I find very forward, but that was how things were back then. We also called their houses every time we wanted to hang out). One boy, who I must have liked at the time, told me that he was blocking my email address. I said or did something that he didn't want to deal with.

I didn't know what blocking was (my .att address didn't have that capability) and henceforth assumed that he wasn't getting my emails at all. Now I am pretty sure they just went to his junk email folder and he could read them anytime. Which is awfully embarrassing...

...Because I kept sending him emails. Like, every day. I can't remember at all the kinds of things I said; I think sometimes it was just little things maybe trying to annoy him, testing to see if I was truly blocked. Sometimes I got a little more real. I am pretty sure I sent him like journal entries of my feelings (not toward him, at least probably not).

But anyway one time like a year later he sent me an email that said "I unblocked you" or something. And I am pretty sure he told me he was able to read my emails? I don't know.

I'm just appalled that I did that. What was I thinking???? Sending personal emails to a boy who clearly didn't want to talk to me under the assumption that he couldn't read them was probably the stupidest thing I did all through high school. And I did a lot of stupid things.

(I'm really glad I didn't remember that whole episode until right now. Unfortunately he probably remembers it better because he was the one getting emails from a crazy girl.)

 One email escapade I do remember being fairly positive in high school was my Daily Harry Potter Quote that I did from January 2005 until I ran out of quotes in April. Looking back I'm convinced that many of them didn't really care (especially when it got more autobiographical than amusing) but my list of recipients did grow.

Here's the quote for April 2, 2005 to illustrate what I mean:
We are not going to mention anything about the fact that it is very late at night, we are only going to commend that Leslie even remembered to send a quote at all.
You know, when you're on your merry way to conference, some people just drive (and walk) slow.
"I suppose you think you're harder to get past than a pack of enchantments!"
Professor McGonagall, I, 269

I think they really are harder to get past than a pack of enchantments.  I dunno, I always liked that line.  Well, have a nice day!  *leslie*
 High-school me was great.

Monday, December 9, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 19]

Last weekend I drove home for the holiday, even though there was no one there. To my surprise, the Christmas lights were on, and as I pulled in I saw the tree lit, adding a warm welcome to the otherwise empty house.

As you may have been able to tell from my last post, I basically just hung out at my house by myself all day. The pleasant feeling I got when I saw the glittering Christmas tree remained, because it felt like I was at home. (I was at home!)

It reminds me of the song, "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need." In the last verse we sing, "There would I find a settled rest, while others go and come. No more a stranger nor a guest, but like a child at home."

I love being at home. I love the idea of feeling that way in the house of the Lord.

Monday, December 2, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 18]

For today, here is one sentence (stanza, perhaps) to ponder:

In word and deed he doth require my will to his, like son to sire, be made to bend, and I, as son, learn conduct from the Holy One.
That is all.