Saturday, December 31, 2016

trace all my books [2016]

In a lot of ways 2016 feels like a wash as far as my own life went--as far as personal, social, or spiritual development. But then I remembered that I kept my resolution about 60% of the time! That's better than it could be. (And it might've even been more. 75%? The world is my oyster.) (My resolution was to make my bed every day, in hopes that once I was there I would kneel down and pray instead of not doing that...which did not happen 60% of the time. But the only real resolution was making my bed, and I did that a lot.)

We'll see if I can keep my 2017 resolution, which is to shower more often. Starting tomorrow!

I mean, I know I am different than I was at the start of the year. Too many things are the same, but there are some good differences I think. And some bad ones. When was the last time I cooked for myself? Not sure.

There's a lot to be disappointed in myself about, but we're looking forward.

Anyway, I decided to make a year-end vlog to roundup all the books I read this year. It's 10 minutes long so you may not find it worth your time (also because I used my phone to record it all, it's rather quiet). But there's a couple fun things in there. In my opinion.

I tried to say Happy New Year but my phone doesn't start collecting sound for a bit. Didn't know that. Anyway here's the rundown of books I thought were worth mentioning this year. Except I didn't even mention Hamilton. Or Harry Potter.

Books featured in this video:
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh
P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson
The Scourge by Jennifer A. Nielsen
A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier
Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis
Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley

Authors featured:
Megan Whalen Turner
Diana Wynne Jones
Tamora Pierce
Terry Pratchett
Georgette Heyer
Jennifer Beckstrand

Here's to a good new year.

Monday, December 19, 2016

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 98]

I've been thinking a lot about Christmas music this year. Unfortunately not thinking enough to be fully prepared to write this blog post, but still thinking about it.

I've been thinking about how my favorite Christmas songs are the ones with some immediacy to them. I like babies, including the baby Jesus, but I don't really get excited about celebrating the birth of a baby so much. I like the ones where we think about what His condescension means for us now, and what it means when He will return.

There are so many wonderful Christmas carols in the world that carry a lot of that meaning for me, but for this post I've decided to stick a little closer to home, to the Christmas hymns I'm most familiar with. Here are my favorite lyrics from each of the 14 Christmas hymns in the LDS hymnbook.

#201: Joy to the World
No more will sin and sorrow grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make the blessings flow far as the curse is found.

#202: Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful
Sing in exultation

#203: Angels We Have Heard on High
And the mountains in reply, echoing their joyous strains

#204: Silent Night
Love's pure light radiant beams from thy holy face with the dawn of redeeming grace.

#205: Once in Royal David's City
And our eyes at last shall see him, through his own redeeming love.

#206: Away in a Manger
Fit us for heaven to live with thee there.

#207: It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
And the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.

#208: O Little Town of Bethlehem
In this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in

#209: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Light and life to all he brings, ris'n with healing in his wings.

#210: With Wondering Awe
The heavenly star its rays afar on every land is throwing, and shall not cease till holy peace in all the world is growing

#211: While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
Goodwill henceforth from heaven to man begin and never cease

#212: Far, Far Away on Judea's Plains
Hasten the time when from every clime, men shall unite in the strains sublime: Glory to God in the Highest. Peace on earth, goodwill to men

#213: The First Noel
surely there is a third verse somewhere that has some meaning. I like this song but the lyrics in the hymnbook are meh (to my standards).

#214: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
The world revolved from night to day

Then let us all with one accord sing praises or something to our Lord. Is a nice Noel lyric. Has some application to today. Or would, if I quoted it correctly.

Anyway. I really appreciate the opportunity Christmas music gives us to think about Christ more. Christ, His life, His sacrifice. What we can give Him, poor as we are, in return for the marvelous gift.

Finally, I can't let the post end without mentioning this special song, Carol of Joy. I mean, talk about immediacy. "Oh fearful world, to you is the song." In the bleak midwinter when we hear carols, listen to the music, understand the lyrics -- our hearts open to the Savior. That's what I love about Christmas music.

But I don't have anything to say about it that my cousin Megan hasn't already said. Read her words. Be in awe of her talent and sad that you don't even get complete sentences in my posts all the time.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

halos on evergreens

On this day 10 years ago, at this approximate time, something happened that was a ~~big deal~~

at the time. It was a big deal at the time. It was...oh man. It was such a deal.

I wrote something about it as my autobiographical fragment for my creative writing class in 2008 so it's immortalized for me forever. Here it is.

I hadn’t thought the night could get any more awkward. After virtually inviting myself over to a boys’ apartment to wait out the hours until one of them, Jonathan (whom I was hopelessly infatuated with), opened his mission call, feeling conversation stilt and falter, and watching as the appointed time came and the lobby filled with girls that all knew each other and him a lot more than I knew anyone there, I was seriously reconsidering the wisdom of attending the event.
That was before every single girl (and the few guys that came) gave him a hug in congratulations.I dithered. My infatuation with Jonathan didn’t extend to my being comfortable enough with him to give him a hello when I saw him on campus, let alone a hug. Unfortunately, I waited so long that I was the only one (besides Jonathan’s roommate Robert) still there. 

Finally, there was nothing for it but to approach him.I stuck out my hand. 

“Well . . . obligatory missionary handshake.”

“Uh, yeah, I guess so.” (Is it any wonder I liked him so much?)

We shook hands.

“Good luck,” I added. “Thanks for letting me come.”

“Thank you for sacrificing your sleep.” Because his family lived in Sweden, he waited until 11:00 to open his call so that it would only be 7:00 in the morning when he phoned them—and 11:00 was a lot later than I was usually willing to stay up on a school night.

“Oh, I didn’t want to miss this,” I said casually (I hoped).

We were still shaking hands.

“Well, thanks.”


I was nervous, so of course I started rambling. “Hey, Patricia wants to do something with you guys sometime soon, so I guess we’d better hurry before the semester ends otherwise you’ll be gone, won’t you, and that sort of defeats the purpose. Maybe we’ll go bowling or something?”

“Um, okay.” I had trouble looking him in the eye (and not just because he was very tall); there was some expression there that unsettled me.

“Oh, and that dinner you have with all your friends, make sure that it doesn’t happen over ward choir. You shouldn’t miss ward choir.” Ward choir was my favorite time to see him.

“We’ll do our best.”

He was shaking my middle finger. That was awkward. I took away my hand.

“Thanks again.” I backed toward the door and flashed a farewell smile at Robert, who had watched this whole interchange with little reaction (I found out later that he likely had a crush on me, so I expect he was just hiding his distress). “See you Sunday – or before, if we end up doing something!”

“Bye!” they chorused.

I ran across the lawn to my apartment building, and didn’t sleep a wink that night.

 Oh 2008 me. There are some things I would change about your writing.

Anyway I didn't change any names so if you know these people don't tell them what I said. Like. They know. But we don't have to talk about it. It's well in the past. (And if you're reading, hi! Sorry we haven't talked in a while and there was no good way to ask you about this. surprise?)

A lot has changed in the past 10 years. My life is very little like what I thought it would be back then. And I think I'm glad about that; most of what I've done and what's happened have been blessings in my life, or learning experiences. I didn't know anything when I was 18 years old. I certainly didn't know that this handshake would still probably be the most exciting thing that ever happened to me ever (I mean, I still remember the date when it happened).

The right conclusion isn't coming to me. Do I want to expound more on the flush of first infatuation? (This was after high school AND after my first boyfriend so I don't know why this stuck me so much.) Do I want to say more about how life changes in ten years?

Or do I just wanna say good night?

Good night.

Edit: Good morning! Last night (which was honestly this morning #stoptheweek) I was in bed, falling asleep, and began reflecting on the day. With this and other experiences, I realized that the lesson I'm really taking from this story is that life goes on. When the handshake thing happened I honestly thought I might never get over it. But I did, about 5 years ago (yeah, do that math). I talked to someone yesterday that I honestly thought I'd never get over; but I have. I talked to/thought about some people that I still haven't gotten over and sometimes it feels like I never will -- but life goes on!

That's the conclusion I wanted to draw.

P.S.: the title of this post is the most amazing thing ever.