Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ramblings of a... person... studying people...

Sometimes during a “normal” day you find yourself in really amusing moments. Moments that are just good. Usually they are just small, little things, but they put a smile on your face. They also might not be that amusing to other people. But to you they are. Like when I found myself with some fellow missionaries from my mission…
We are all humanities majors (or rather, we all have majors in the humanities), and we were havin’ a laugh (said with british accent) about how with our chosen majors, oftentimes we hear the question, “What are you going to do with that?!” This question makes us feel good. Real good. We decided that our professors all know we face that question (probably because they faced it long before we did…), and so they often will remind us the first day of class (and throughout the courses we take) the ever-important why of studying something in the humanities. Though often they will remind us that in the humanities, it isn’t about the money, it is about much, much more. And actually, I must admit, that as an English teaching major, I don’t usually face the worst of the critics who want to know what the heck we think we are going to do when we “grow up.” I do, however, face the worst of the “not in it for the money” jokes. Not the point.

As our little mission-buddy group, we tried to come up with some clever ways of responding to that favorite question of ours and as we talked, we felt very validated as we all decided we were studying about what it means to be human. Who can say that is unimportant?! Probably people could. But for the sake of this current blogging stuff that is happening, we are going to all just pretend that we really believe that studying the humanities is really important and helps us in life. And some of us (maybe just me) actually believe that. Some of us might just pretend. It’s fine. I’m over it.

But anyway… I was reading for a class and I stumbled upon a really interesting quote that made me think about humans. When I write “humans” like that (like I just did a few words ago..), it makes it seem like I’m distancing myself, but I’m not. I’m human too. Proud of it. And proud to be an American. But that is not the point either. So….this quote I came across made me think about something that I have been thinking about lately. Curious yet? Annoyed? Probably annoyed.

Anyway. The quote: “The reason I am obsessed by young girls is that they are individuals who exist but also do not yet exist. They are afraid, and they’re strong and weak at the same time. They confront life violently. They are weak because they do not know who they are going to become.”

Once you get over the initial shock over somebody admitting they are “obsessed” with little girls… it’s not what it seems! Promise. This particular scholar did some analyses on fairy tales and movies and such that center on little girls as the main characters. Not as creepy as it sounds. Once we get over that, we can focus on the rest, particularly the ending. I really liked how her quote ended. “They are weak because they do not know who they are going to become.”

That weakness isn’t because they don’t know what or when or how or why they are going to become. But they don’t know who they are going to become. As I think about that phrase, I can’t help but hear Mufasa’s voice in my head saying “You have forgotten who you are, and so you have forgotten me…”
In my opinion (in my humble opinion. That expression always makes me chuckle, because usually when people use that, they aren’t actually being humble about it and I remember when I saw this list of ways to abbreviate in texts and there was IMHO and I personally thought they might want to rethink using that particular abbrevs cuz they were quite possibly sending the wrong message)… well, actually, on second thought, I don’t want to state my opinion because in this particular instance, I really only have my own experience as evidence.  So, I guess it would be like stating an opinion of my own life, which hardly seems necessary. What I really want to say is this: In my life, I have often let the “other questions” the whats, hows, whys, and whens be governing factors and driving principles, instead of letting the WHO become that focus. Maybe other people do that too. Maybe just me.

But I feel like this semester I am learning how to finally let the other questions go (as important as they can be at times and as much as they might influence the who), and I’m trying to focus more on that who. I don’t know what I want to be or when I’m going to be it, or even how I’m going to get there. But I do know who I want to be. And because I know that, it seems like less-of-a-big-deal that I don’t know all the answers to the other questions. Right? Of course, right! (Name that play!) Okay, well I might not know all of the details of exactly how to become that who and who that who really is… I might not know all the specifics. But I know the direction I want to go. And besides, I don’t think we are necessarily meant to have all the answers.
Just like Lewis Carroll wrote, “Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.” A puzzle worth completing, no? But we only complete it one piece at a time and we can’t cheat and look at the box (I am still a firm believer in the “no box looking” rule, but lately my mother has gotten all pansy in her puzzling skills and she totally looks at the box. What is up with that?!), though sometimes we start to see patterns and stuff that help us get the right pieces.

So just like the lady who is obsessed with little girls noted, power comes in remembering the who of our life. And just like I have declared in wayyyy toooo mannnnyyyy of my other posts, being an English major really is the best because we get to study what it means to be human. In an aesthetically pleasing way. At least most of the time;) 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

No Radio Star here!

You know those moments when you have a significant “first” and it could potentially be a pretty cool thing, but for you it usually just ends up being uncomfortable/embarrassing/awkward/all of the above? Yeah, so had one of those today… in my (just guess which class I’m going to talk about!) fairy tale seminar, we had the opportunity to go and do a little “radio show” together. It was for BYU’s program, the Appleseed. Sounds cool, right? We were going to talk about “defining moments.” And obviously a lot of defining moments of my life, I don’t really feel the necessity nay desire to share with random people on the radio… this made it even more difficult to find the right moment to share. I’m not really good at the serious/sweet/sentimental moments but I’m also not one of those like “funny people” that can share a story about a shoelace and be funny. I had to think hard about what moment was the right mix of clever, slightly inspiring, not too personal, but not too sappy. Finally, the right moment came to mind… a moment that I couldn’t believe I had almost forgotten because it was truly a ridiculous moment of my life. But the part that made it not-so-cool and not-so-great, is that I was the only person who wrote mine down… because apparently I’m that student. The guy at the radio place even was like, “So I can’t help but notice you wrote yours down… why?” I told him it was because I was worried that if I didn’t have some notes I would be too worried about A) reliving my karaoke days with the mic so dangerously close and B)waxing loquacious because I am an English major and we love our words..
And I feel a little guilty right now that I’m using this time to write a blog post… because I have a lot of “actual” writing to do. “Academic” writing or something like that. A lot of times when I have big writing assignments due (like every week), I find myself wanting to engage in various activities like blogging (or sometimes I read things for class because I tell myself they will help “stimulate” my brain… never works…). I always thought these were like “avoidance tactics” but this semester I have actually discovered that some people consider such writing not just avoidance, but as a legitimate writing strategy. All those years of guilt-blogging ended because suddenly, research has justified my blogging. Sometimes in order to write, you gotta clear the mind a little bit, get rid of distractions and sort out those cluttered boxes of the mind. And sometimes blogging just helps me do that. I write this to appease my guilty conscience… but I also believe it is mostly true. Which is slightly more positive than being mostly dead… I have also made some bold moves this week and removed myself from the dark and cold confines of the library and have taken to hunchbacking-it-up (and yes I did just make that a verb) in the nice weather on the top of the JFSB. Also a convenient location if the writing goes horribly… I won’t elaborate on that one, but if you catch the twisted humor, points to you. Perhaps your heart is as black as mine…
Enjoy it or don’t, but this is the moment I shared on the radio!
When I heard we were going to be talking about defining moments, I immediately went to dictionary.com, the fount of all wisdom and knowledge. Yeah, so I’m that kind of a person. You know, the kind that gets assigned some topic and then immediately looks up the definition. I speak for the other people like me in saying that I think we do it in the hopes that something we read about a word or phrase we have long-known will suddenly help our brain come up with lots of different and really awesome things to say. Usually, it does not happen like that, but as I looked up “defining moments” I did actually like what I read and being the type of person that looks things up in the dictionary, I’m also the type to share what I learned, which is the following, a defining moment is “a point in which the essential nature or character of a person is revealed or identified or an occurrence that typifies or determines all related events that follow.” 
I like the part that mentioned these moments often “reveal” who we already are. And as I think about all of that, I find myself remembering this funeral I went to when I was younger. It was the funeral of my mom’s second cousin, or second uncle or something like that. My fake uncle, perhaps. She promised we were related, but I wasn’t so sure, considering our contact with “Uncle ron” had been very minimal. Lack of depth in our relationship, however, did not hinder my mother in begging me to please go with her to this funeral. And as the ever-dutiful daughter, I went. And it is a good thing I did. Because partway through the services, Uncle Ronnie’s friend got up, guitar in hand, and sang a tearful version of “Wind beneath my wings.” In that moment I realized that there are two kinds of people in this world: those that sing “Wind beneath my wings” ά la Bette Midler in tough moments and those that don’t.
Fast forward a few more years and I was a junior in high school. Uncle Ronnie was long gone, and I found myself running for student body president. I was wearing a blue cowboy hat and dressed in as much orange and blue as you could possibly imagine (those were, of course, our school colors) and I was participating in an unusual form of torture called “the elections assembly.” This is a form of humiliation designed by the current student government to publicly haze the potentials for the future student government to see how far they are willing to go to win the election. After participating in a number of really inspirational skits and things, I listened as the current president announced to the entire school that the other candidate for president and I would then be given a few minutes for an impromptu speech. With my cowboy hat and all, I found out quickly that of those two types of people, I was the kind that sang ‘wind beneath my wings” little or no resemblance to Bette Midler in tough situations. I sometimes wonder if the current president has since had such a personal and public rendition of that song…
Just as dictionary.com says, these defining moments are those that “reveal the essential character of a person” and I had just revealed myself as the type of person that First) maybe has no shame and second) will do just about anything, no matter how ridiculous, to help me reach my dreams. Despite my awful singing voice, and that embarrassing display, I won the election and then had many more such opportunities to display my shamelessness. I will always be very closet proud that I helped capes come back that year. Don’t worry, the cape was a spirit cape. I think of this moment and the words of Sinbad, and that would be Sinbad the comedian, not the legendary sailor, “there’s no one defining moment that kills you or makes you.” And I look forward to a lot more shenanigans and absurd moments in my life, with or without a cowboy hat, as I try to dream big and reach for the stars….

And then I sat down so that (like I said before) I wouldn’t be tempted to start singing “Wind beneath my wings” in a very dramatic manner… Also, just a sidenote for those who didn’t know me in high school, I feel it only fair to clarify that I really did wear a cape, but it was TOTALLY COOL. If you don’t believe me, I have pictures to prove it. Though I probably shouldn’t admit that either… 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tis the Season... for LOVE POETRY!!!

Darcy: I thought that poetry was the food of love.
Elizabeth: Of a fine stout love, it may. But if it is only a vague inclination I’m convinced one poor sonnet will kill it stone dead.

Not untrue. And perfect set-up for a great zing on Elizabeth's part. Or a "zing-back," if you will (if you don't know what I'm talking about, you should probs go watch Pride&Prej). I don’t think I have ever had this exact experience as described by Elizabeth, what with the “vague inclination” and the guy writing lousy poetry. But one time there was this guy who would write little “sweet nothings” on tennis balls and put them in my backpack because he knew I played tennis… I figure that is similar to the whole “bad poetry” thing… it had the same negative outcome, but like I said.. he didn’t even have “vague inclination” going for him… 
So anyway, back to the Darcy and Elizabeth dialogue... this week I encountered some really awesome “love poetry” in one of my classes and it was too good to not share. I was chuckling wholeheartedly, even guffawing, at these. And I will also include some that were actually just sweet. Or, at least, I thought they were sweet. I would also just like to say that the professor that wrote/shared these poems is probably one of the best people to ever walk the face of this earth. I am a huge fan and I am also grateful that he is letting me share some of his work.  He likes to write poetry for a genre called “Bad” where you write awful poems that are awful because they shamelessly abuse the normal poetic rules and styles etc. As opposed to “bad” poetry where you are just trying to be good and fail miserably. Both can be entertaining. He is also very good at writing clerihews. And lots of other things. Just for the record. 

(and if you slowly get bored with the poems, at least just skip down to the bottom, cuz my favorite poem is at the end! and since i know you guys all care about my favorite poem....) 

The first one is a special genre called “Zombie Haiku”

When you gave me your
heart, valentine, you should have
known I was hungry

Tell me that isn’t some quality valentines poetry?!!!

Now, this next one is more akin to the “tennis-balls-in-backpack” scenario:

       Fifth grade.
       School lunch.
I was PB&J on whole
You were Twinkies and Velveeta
When I wasn’t looking you stole my heart with
All I wanted to do was
But you filched my love without even a
Turned out you, you were a pernicious
Just like cellophane on a blustery day.

For all the guys of the world…

A married man who begs his friend,
A bachelor, to wed and end
    His lonesome, sorry state,
Is like a bather in the sea,
Goose-pimpled, blue from neck to knee,
     Who cries, “The water’s great!”

Just some lovin' goodness here…

How can the heart be an organ?
It’s got no keyboard.
No foot pedals.
No music stand.
It can’t play a hymn or a jazzy tune.
But, my dear, my heart has rhythm,
and it beats for you.

I’ll admit, this one is a little sketch, but I thought it was just sketch enough to be entertaining. And it is Stephen Crane. It remind me of Miss Havisham in a way, and she has long been a hero of mine… “BROKEN!” (Name that classic Dickens novel!!)

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.

I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter –bitter,” he answered;
“But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.”

And on that note… I figure it is probably about time for some “nice” poems, eh?

I thought this was really sweet.

Knowing that a thousand years
are but a day in God’s reckoning,
can you blame me, Love,
for selfishly hoping to go first?
That way, I’ll endure only
not years,
without you.


Or how about this classic from Emily Dickinson.

Heart, We Will Forget Him
Heart, we will forget him,
You and I, tonight!
You must forget the warmth he gave,
I will forget the light.

When you have done pray tell me,
Then I, my thoughts will dim.
Haste! ‘lest while you’re lagging
I may remember him!

This last one has long been a favorite. I’m not usually a big fan of metaphysical poetry, but John Donne wrote this for his wife, Anne. If I remember correctly, he was travelling and would be away for some time…. and he uses a drafting compass as a comparison for their love.

Like this…   

(okay, I know it looks long.. but it is worth it!! promise!!!) 

AS virtuous men pass mildly away,
   And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
    “Now his breath goes,” and some say,

So let us melt, and make no
      No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
“Twere profanation of our joys
      To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th’earth brings harms and fears;
    Men reckon what it did, and meant
But trepidation of the spheres,
     Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers’ love
    ----Whose soul is sense----cannot admit
Of absence, ‘cause it doth
     The thing which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
     That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
      Care less, eyes, lips and hands to

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
       Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
       Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two
      As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show
     To move, but doth, if th’ other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
    Yet, when the other far doth
It leans, and hearkens after it,
      And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
      Like th’ other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle
      And makes me end where I begun.

   And let's just end with this little treasure... 

Love is patient 
Love is kind... 
Love, is slowly losing your mind! 

Happy Valentine's DAY!!! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


So… usually when I blog I tend to steer away from controversial topics, or note-worthy topics, so as to, obviously, avoid controversy.  For whatever reason I just don’t have that burning desire to get into debates and stuff. Unless you want to diss Shakespeare. Bring it. Just kidding. It is much more fun to relate unimportant, hopefully entertaining moments from my life that end with some sort of “moral” or “learning experience.” Whatever you want to call it. But I am actually going to talk (or, rather, write) about something a little bit more “important” today. At least it is important to me. Now with that preface, I will say that I am not writing this with the hopes of sparking controversy -I was trying to explain that my opinions are my own and I don’t expect anybody to agree with them and if anything, I hope the topic will just allow for some personal reflection/introspection. I know it helped me do a little bit of that! I also admit that I will be making some generalizations and doing some stereotyping, and I am aware of that. I know that the things talked about are not “the law” and are not the absolute truth. There are exceptions to everything discussed and I am aware. NO JUDGMENT HERE!!! SAFE ZONE. You have been warned. And you should only proceed to read if you really want to:) 

I am in a fairytale class (and I LOVE IT and you should NEVER ask me about it because then you will find out WAY more about the topic than you EVER wanted to know even though it isn’t even POSSIBLE to know more about fairytales than you would want to know because fairytales are great. Actually, you can ask me about the class and I promise I will just say something trite like “I love it” but then you should avoid asking ANY FOLLOW-UP questions because then I will take that as an invitation to blabber. On and on and on. And on. And yeah, I know, who even KNEW there was such a thing as a FAIRTYALE CLASS. I’m over it. NOT. I’LL NEVER BE OVER IT. I love it like I loved Shakespeare class and WE EVEN GET TO READ SHAKESPEARE IN THE CLASS. #dreamsdocometrue#happilyeverafter#dontneedafairygodmotherhere). And in this fairytale class, obviously there are a lot of stories that we read with the perfect “happily ever after.” Known to us ‘talers’ as an “HEA.” Yeah, we are that cool, don’t even worry about it.

But, in reading these tales one thing becomes pretty clear: EVERYBODY is just looking for that HEA. Not all HEA’s are the same, but everyone wants one. And there is no shame in that, because it is an HEA after-all. Who wouldn’t want an HEA? In fairytale land, everybody does. Now let us define, shall we, the stereotypical HEA. AND STEREOTYPES ARE STEREOTYPES FOR A REASON. No shame in stereotypes. Unless they are really shameful ones. But I digress… (anybody get that reference? Not from a movie but a famous Russian writer... rhymes with Schmostoyevsky.) Anyway, the typical fairytale HEA includes boy and girl that overcome various difficulties (like the fact that they don’t even know each other) and hardships (like the fact that they don’t even know each other) and trials (dragons, long-term narcolepsy, crazy family drama) and end up participating in the m-word. (And no, we are not speaking of mutiny. Or a mangonel. Or mascalephidrosis. Or even mammon. Though those are all unfortunate “m” words). I’m talking about mawage. Mawage is what brings us here together today. And wuv, trew wuv. (name that movie, though it is wayyy tooooo easy.) 
As I write this, I can’t help but feel that some people are thinking, “she is wrong, I legitimately don’t want to get married. No HEA for me. No thank you.” And that may be true. But I would also suggest that you are the exception, and not the rule. Because if you weren’t the rule then I wouldn’t hear so many guys/girls walking around campus lamenting their love lives, or lack thereof. If people didn’t care, why would they get so frustrated that “so and so” didn’t call or “can’t make up their mind” etc etc. They would maybe never say, “I am frustrated with my love life because I want to get married and this relationship isn’t helping me out much.” But in their hearts that is the reality. There are a plethora of frustrations. That I do know. But it’s only frustrating because we want that HEA.  AND THAT IS OKAY TO WANT.
Sometimes you are a missionary and you live in black and white. You know marriage is a good thing that you do NOT have to worry about. Then sometimes you aren’t a missionary anymore and you remember that marriage is a good thing, but everybody around you (or most the people), have all these different opinions. Except actual married people. Actual married people want it for everybody else. But the rest of the people like to pretend, or have forgotten temporarily, that they want that HEA too. Marriage has become like this super uncool “goal” that nobody wants, except for the few people who actually own up to wanting it who end up getting scorned for their honesty.

 Think about the girls you know (or think you know) that admittedly WANT TO GET MARRIED. What are the stereotypes surrounding these girls? Now I am going to make a list, but just remember these aren’t my opinions, but the stereotypes for the category, okay? These are the girls that bake and sew and love kids (they want ten!) and maybe even love giving massages…let’s be real, they are often made fun of and then put into a category where their IQ drops. Just because they are brave enough to admit that they want to get married. And they come in direct contrast to the girls that CLEARLY DON’T  WANT to get married because they don’t cook, they plan on going to graduate school, they sometimes want to be doctors, they like studying.  All of those things CLEARLY suggest that for them career comes first, family after. Who has time for babies when you are going to be the youngest [fill-in-the-blank-awesome-accomplishment]. No man will stand in her way. It may be a man’s world, but she is going to beat them at their own game. And let’s not forget the “other category” of “not homemaker” and “not academic.” Not sure what to call it… but this is the girl that is always up for a party. Why would she have to have one guy when she could have ten?! We mock category one, we are sometimes of afraid of category two, and we don’t ever commit to category three. But do categories two and three want to get married even if they aren’t broadcasting it like category one? Yes. (Again, not the LAW. Just a generalization of my observations). They are just afraid of getting put into category one. Because when you have a lower IQ you don’t get into med school.

Don’t worry, I won’t leave the gentlemen out of the fun. There are those guys that self-proclaimedly WANT to get married. We all know they are creeps. (Again, these are the stereotypes speaking, not me). They bought their ring on their mission and aren’t that picky about who they give it to, just as long as she can bake! Their mission president maybe said something like “be married in the next five months” and they took that as law. They will do what it takes. STEER CLEAR!!! And that, of course, is in direct opposition to the “too busy” guy. “Oh, I’ll get married eventually,” he says. “But right now I just need to focus on…” He is wayyy too coooooll, tooo busy to get married. Wouldn’t even entertain the possibility. Girls think they can change that. Usually they can’t. And let’s not forget the “best friend” who spends so much time with girls we wonder why HE of ALL people doesn’t want to get married….
The point, however, isn’t to discuss all of the various stereotypes of boys and girls and the kinds of “daters” or not they are, but rather to emphasize the fact that people that actually WANT to get married are often put in that “sad category.” They become “Molly Mormon” and “Peter Priesthood.” Just because they are trying to follow the plan. And that is where the missionary black/white comes in. Marriage is a part of God’s plan. For everyone. Period.  And usually such bold statements accompany various opinions and “what if” scenarios, and obviously there are circumstances where marriage doesn’t happen for everyone. And I get that. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an encouraged and critical part of the plan. The purpose of the blog isn’t to discuss people that haven’t gotten married, and extenuating circumstances
Now you are asking what the purpose is and I guess that means I should probably tell you my purpose… and I wish there were an easy way to sum it up. But the line comes to mind, “What e’er thou art, act well thy part.” I believe that one of the “parts” we have been given in this life is to be in a marriage. And part of acting that part well is not being ashamed to recognize the part and striving to start acting the part. And that includes sometimes putting your pride at risk, your heart at risk, even your reputation at risk. Why do we not want to admit that we ACTUALLY WANT TO GET MARRIED?! That is the point of this post, to ponder upon the reasons that wanting to be married is viewed as such a shameful mindset. I would say probably because we don’t want to risk the above things. We would never want people to KNOW that we want to get married and then have them see us remain single. How shameful! Or, we would never want a significant other to tell us that they don’t actually want to get married when we do. Ouch. Or, if we end up being really successful at something and people know we want to get married, it becomes because “we couldn’t get married.” Obviously nobody could ever accomplish anything if they wanted to get married too. And I have been guilty of this mentality too. Pretending that I don’t want to get married because I had “things” I wanted to do. And in my mind the things I wanted to do did not go along with marriage. Or at least that was how it was in my mind. In reality, I always wanted to get married, but I never wanted to be “that girl.” THAT girl that WANTS to get married. Because we all know what THAT means. (see above list)
Consider this for a second. If this blog were written by a guy, a really cool guy even, who admitted, “I want to get married,” what would reactions be? You KNOW girls would all be trying to figure out who it is and then they would be queuing up to be the next potential. But, being a girl who is not particularly cool, and writing this blog, what does that say about me? What conclusions will be drawn? That I’m desperate, perhaps? That my career isn’t promising and I would do anything to avoid the future I have picked out for myself? Or, maybe that I am sick of getting rejected? Maybe I am THAT girl. 
Or MAYBE, when I meet a right guy, I can become THAT girl. Which I think is probably the truth of it. We refuse to wear our hearts on our sleeves until we meet the right person for our HEA. And then once we do, it is okay to be THAT person. You know, the kind that wants to get married. Because you now have another THAT person. But I am going to be a THAT person now. Heart recklessly on my sleeve today. 

I’m Tara. I am a returned missionary and saying that makes me feel old.  I like musicals and I was really bummed that they got rid of "showtunes saturday night" while I was on my mission. I have some really great friends. My family is awesome. I am going to be a teacher in the near future, and in the far future I have no idea where I'll end up or what I'll end up doing -and that is okay. The possibilities are endless and they keep life exciting. The sky has always been the limit. Sometimes that has led to some really awful, falling-without-a-parachute-moments. But mostly it has led to some great learning experiences. If I never got married, I would do a lot of really cool things and I would have a lot of great adventures, which is why I am in no rush to get married. Or, I should say, "I don't mind being patient until I find my THAT person." But, I want to get married. And I am willing to admit that. Sometimes, probably like a lot of us, I am worried that it won’t ever happen, or that it will be very far off. And that is okay. Because I like what I am doing, and one day it will probably even be hard for me to give up some of what I am doing now. Those hopes and dreams that get me up in the morning and keep me up late will maybe need to be partially-abandoned one day.  And that is okay. Because someday I want to be Mrs. Not-Pearce. I want my HEA.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Not a writer.

I am so not a writer. Never have been. But I should be. This week I have had a lot of assignments that have made me reflect on why I am doing what I am doing (academically speaking) and all that good stuff and I can tell you now, I am not doing what I’m doing because I am a writer. Au contraire… But anyway… the same professor that has encouraged us to write our “little slices of life” challenged us the other day to think of what one word would define our 2014. As I thought about that, a few words came to mind. If we could choose two words, or even four, I would have gone with “no fear, no shame” (shout-out to kswag and our new life goals). But one word is a horse of a different color! I thought of things like “balance” and “perspective” and such. But one word kept coming to mind: WRITER. It is almost like my “inner-self” is trying to encourage me to get over my writing fears… so I am going to try.
I am not a writer. But maybe in 2014 I can become one. Why does it matter? I don’t know why. But it feels important –it feels like it is an opportunity to conquer an old fear. And by old fear, I really mean daily weight that oppresses my soul. Maybe I actually do know why I need to work on this whole “permanent writer’s block” thing…
It all started in sixth grade….

Nothing like a medieval banquet to encourage students to do some extra homework! You know elementary kids do get excited about such things… Our teacher was going to be having a fancy banquet for us, with only one small catch. Our position at the banquet was dependent upon how many points we earned and we earned these points by doing things like reading and writing papers and doing art projects. I was determined to be part of the “nobility” and since I knew I didn’t stand a chance with the art projects, I dedicated hours to writing extra papers. Papers about Joan of Arc and Eleanor of Aquitaine and Charlemagne –among many others. I remember taking one of these papers to my mom one day to look at. I thought my paper was brilliant, but she explained to me that it just didn’t really make any sense. None of my papers really did. Ever. Sometimes I think my ideas were just too big for the skills I had to work with, and that was a losing combination. I was not a writer.
I loved reading, but I just couldn’t hack it in the writing world. I wasn’t actually that great at communicating my thoughts in general. When I called friends to see if they could play my mom would write out little scripts for me because I would get nervous. Things like “Hey (insert friend name). Can you play? My house or yours?” If they didn’t answer I couldn’t emotionally handle leaving a voicemail. I always hung up. Don’t get me wrong- I was probably always quite the chatterbox, but certain types of communication just really didn’t go well for me….
And that is where Barbara comes in….. (and Anne Shirley and Cyrano and Sir Percy and all my other friends who kept giving me a reason to try. When you love the worlds of the stories you read, you can’t get away from writing! Unfortunately.) Streisand, that is. Barbara singing, “Funny. Did you hear that? Funny. Yeah, the guy said ‘Honey, you’re a funny girl.’ That’s me.” Followed up with the belting of, “Don’t tell me not to live, just sit and putter. Life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of butter. Don’t bring around a cloud to rain on my parade… I simply gotta march, my heart’s a drummer. No, nobody, no nobody, is ever gonna rain on my parade.” (watch here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aO3Gb5mkwTc)

Barbara reminded me that nobody could rain on my parade. Not even me. I might not have been a writer, but I loved the field of literature. Was I going to let my lack of writing skills get in my way? I think not! I would just maybe need to work on it a little bit more. So I did. I kept at it, even tried out for the school paper. I think writing for the school paper was the first time I started to feel more confident in my writing. I had fun doing that kind of writing and it gave me some good practice.
One might say that after the writing I did in high school, I was feeling a little bit better about the progress I had made… until my first English class at BYU.  I probably sat and stared at my computer for hours to even get started on that first paper I had to write. I was terrified. I didn’t want to get a bad grade, but I hadn’t the faintest what to write about. And don’t get me started on my history class. I got my first paper in that class back with a very dismal letter-representation of my efforts and skill.
Fast forward to spring of 2011. I am about to go on my study abroad to London. I had dreamed of this moment pretty much my entire life. Walking the halls of John Keat’s home, seeing the sights that inspired so many of my favorite authors, experiencing the wonder of Shakespare at the Globe. My mom tells me to start a blog so her and my grandparents and such can see what I am up to. Like the mostly-obedient-daughter that I am, I recruit a friend to help me set the blog up (I can write better than I can deal with computers. Ask anyone. And no, I am not ready to tackle that fear yet.) and my “blog adventures” began. I discovered that I didn’t receive grades for blogging, and that I could get away with whatever style I wanted. I felt better about writing. Until I returned to campus.
All the magic of London fades and I am back to my usual, staring-at-the-walls, writer’s block lifestyle. The classes I have are interesting, especially my Shakespeare class. I feel, once again, like I am in sixth grade and my ideas and desires are bigger than I have the skills to manage. About this time I also get really interested in myths and fairy tales. I scrape my way through the year and then… go on a mission.
My writing? In the form of letters and journal entries. Which is perhaps why I find myself so behind for the semester. I don’t remember how to write like I did before. I didn’t even feel that confident before, but I felt more confident than I feel now! I tell myself it will come back. I hope that it will come back better. I resign myself to the fact that it usually doesn’t happen like that.
Instead, I just remember the one word: Writer. 2014 can be the year that I become a writer (cue the English-class-type-discussion as to “what it really means to be a writer”). Nobody’s going to rain on that parade!

PS- Just in case anybody else connected those dots... my blog is actually named after that song as well. Do with that what you will:) 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ten Minutes

In one of my classes, our Professor has asked us to write a little “slice of life” entry here and there and just share some normal, everyday stuff. She told us if we had a blog, we could just do it on our blog. As she said that, I remembered –I have a blog. A blog that has remained rather lifeless for a few months… maybe eighteen or so…
Sometimes you look at your life and wonder how you get to where you are, and you kind of know, but at the same time you just think, “What the heck happened?” You find yourself in a world that used to be really familiar –it was your world. But now it is like another planet, and they aren’t the aliens –you are. You find yourself following routines that used to be “normal,” and as you follow these routines you receive a few flashbacks of the past. These flashbacks force you to recognize that the situation isn’t weird –you are.
“You can do anything for ten minutes,” my mother informed me as we continued our training down the canyon. I am not sure what mile we were on in this particular run- but after all the training and sweating (and hating), I knew the end goal -26.2 miles –and the rest often blended together.  Once you run a marathon and people find out about that, they inevitably ask, “so, are you going to do it again?” An innocent question, but in my head I always think “been there, done that,” while I diplomatically respond, “Well, it was a really great experience, but I am not sure I am willing to dedicate that much time to training again.” Though I am not overanxious to repeat the event, I did learn that very valuable lesson:  You can do anything for ten minutes.
Not only can you do anything for ten minutes, but you can also do it for the ten minutes after that, and after that… You know what they say (and by “they” I really mean the scriptures), diligence wins the prize.
“You can do anything for ten minutes” has been a sort-of mantra, a reminder for me in many moments –through high school drama and the panic of freshman year. Through the stress of grades and finals week, and, most recently, through my mission. As I was biking or walking (sometimes running) through adverse  elements I would just remind myself, “You can do anything for ten minutes.”
I have found that phrase coming often to my mind this first week and a half of school- “Tara, you can do anything for ten minutes.” The encouraging reminder that big goals and projects can be broken down, that most battles are just battles of endurance.  All of that good stuff. And also the reminder that I didn’t always love running –sometimes I was really slow (you can just ask my mom), sometimes I had the flu and still ran 7 miles, sometimes we did a 20-miler in St. George before a family reunion and we ran the same street three times, sometimes I studied chemistry while I ran. But sometimes, I listened to great music. Sometimes running felt good and I wasn't slow. Sometimes I even wanted to keep going. (No specific memories of that last one actually come to mind, but it is possible). And in the end, that stuff doesn't even matter that much, because I RAN A MARATHON. 
As I look at the road I have mapped for the next year or so, I have this tendency to get really overwhelmed. I reach for a bag, but instead grab a book because I'm in the library. And no bag is going to solve these problems! Instead I just remind myself “ten minutes.” Or as Kris Kringle taught the Winter Warlock, “You just put one foot in front of the other…”

So though I am sometimes not really sure how I got myself to this point, or what “this point” really means… I know that “you can do anything for ten minutes.” 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I'm Tara... and I'm a Mormon

(Disclaimer: I started this blog post the last day of finals, but I am just getting around to finishing it up, so just go with it and the fact that I talk about things that happened "today" but they really didn't happen "today." They did happen the "today" of the time, but that is now the "today" of yesterday. Ponder on that for a second and then proceed.)

I had this moment today when I walked out of the library, final paper in hand, last test behind me, light rain coming down, and it hit me that I will not be studying in that library again for the next twenty months. I will not have to duke it out with the dude for my table, I will not have to suffer through the frustration of finals week when people who have never stepped foot in the library decide to start commandeering my table (and really all of the tables in the vicinity, but I could rant for days on this subject, so I am going to stop myself before things get crazy), I will not experience that awkwardness when you realize you might have drooled a little bit when you accidentally fell asleep, I will not have that moment when you get all excited that library hours have been extended and then you realize that you got excited over being able to spend more time at the library. I will not have to write another paper, except maybe for fun, for twenty months.

I thought that this parting with the library, and all that the library symbolizes, would fill me with deep joy and satisfaction, but I felt nothing. And I tried to attribute this lack of emotion to my utter weariness and exhaustion, but as I got home and realized that my to-do list was now reduced to things like "pack" and "move out," and this time I did feel a little something- I actually felt a little sad. I am taking a little break from this stage of my life, for the time being, and though I have had my little tiffs and moments of frustration with my major and courses (Ok, Ok, maybe they weren't such "little" tiffs...), when it comes down to it, I love being an English major and I love learning and I kind of just really love the whole school scene. And I can actually say that and mean it now that I have written all those blasted papers.

There is a reason that I love the learning and the books and all the nonsense, and I know I have gushed about this before, but it is good for me to remember and to remind myself of why I am doing what I am. Because sometimes I get frustrated or just plain forget in the craziness of due dates and disappointing scores.

In one such instance of frustration, I had spent two or three hours pouring over the lines of a Shakespeare play (The Winter's Tale), trying to decide if Hermione was really dead or just pretending to be dead (mostly dead, if you will). Most scholars treat the play as if she were just hiding, but I just didn't like that and Shakespeare himself left it pretty dang ambiguous. So, after going line by line through the play, I got to the final scene and I was still no closer to knowing for sure, I was about to give up. I felt utterly disgusted that I had just wasted those precious hours over this seemingly insignificant detail. I started asking myself questions like: "Who really cares if she is dead or not?!" and "How in the heck did I think that I would be able to determine what some dude 400 years ago meant when he left it so open for interpretation?!" and "How did I get to this pathetic point in my life where one of my biggest stresses is trying to decide if she is fake dead or real dead?!" and the recurring question of "Why does this even matter?!"

Though the last question was uttered in frustration (uttered in my head, I clarify just in case some of you were worrying about my library etiquette), I treated the question seriously and started thinking about why it DOES actually matter. And I found my answer. It doesn't necessarily matter if she is dead or fake dead, but it does matter that she comes back. It matters that as a reader we see Hermione come back and be reunited with Leontes and that Leontes, who feels the anguish of causing the deaths of his wife and son, is relieved of some of that anguish. It is important that Leontes can be forgiven, despite his mistakes that had very serious consequences, and it is important that we readers can experience the joy of redemption, just as he does. But this redemption doesn't come from anything Leontes did for himself, it was an intervention, a divine intervention.

I might never know what Shakespeare really meant or if Hermione was really dead, but this was still an important moment in the play for me because it reminded me of my own need for a Savior and for the atonement and also of the joy that comes with being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the knowledge that comes with that membership. Leontes made some mistakes, one might say that he felt "godly sorrow" and that he really did repent, and he became a different person. But through all of this, he could not bring his wife back (he also probably did not bring sexy back, but luckily, Justin Timberlake did). He had to "awake his faith" and only then could his wife be restored. Though I try to live my life in such a way that I hopefully will not cause the death of my wife and child, or lead anyone to be eaten by a bear (best Shakespeare stage direction ever: "Exit pursued by bear", end of Act 3), I am grateful for the knowledge that when I do mess up and make mistakes, I can be forgiven of them and that there is hope for the future.

Unlike Lear who laments over Cordelia, "She's gone forever....Thou'lt come no more, Never, never...," through the gospel we know that there is life after death and we can have the J.M Barrie view that instead, "To die would be an awfully big adventure." Or I guess as Albus Dumbledore says, "To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." Now, I am not advocating death here, I am just expressing my gratitude that I know that life doesn't just end at death. Because without that knowledge, we would have the same bleak outlook as Lear and Hermione would be really dead. No chocolate-coated pill from Miracle Max would fix that either.

Instead, I know that I have a Savior who died for us so that we can live again and have forever families. We can think of death like C.S. Lewis depicts it in his last book of the Narnia series. Not to ruin any endings for anyone (so if you don't want the end of the seventh book ruined, stop reading, or don't say I didn't warn you), but in the end when the children die in the railway accident and they are back in the real Narnia and they meet Aslan, they are afraid at being sent away, but Aslan tells them, "The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning" and "this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."

I love being able to study inspired writers who write about eternal truths and principles, and sometimes really depressing, hopeless writers who show me my need for those eternal truths, but I am excited for the opportunity to take a little break from the school scene and share the joys of the gospel, that many of these authors so brilliantly portray, with the people of Italy. Studying literature is important to me because it reminds me of what I believe and why I believe it. And now this sounds a little bit like one of those "I'm a Mormon" videos, so just to finish: I'm Tara. I'm an English teaching major, future missionary to the Italy Milan Mission, and I am a Mormon!