Friday, April 29, 2011

Happily ever after.

"I have never been this sleep-deprived in my life." Such has been my refrain the past few days. Apparently, watching TV show marathons on Netflix isn't as okay during the regular semester as it is during finals week. I keep staying up late to watch Robin Hood, and then I have to get up early to do my homework because it doesn't get done at night (because I'm watching Robin Hood).

Which means that I've been averaging three to four hours of sleep a night, plus that five-hour nap I got on Wednesday.

So when I read that the broadcast of the royal wedding started at 2 AM, I figured, why not? What's one more night in a series of poor REM cycle choices?

I actually got up later than I wanted to. I came to around 2:45, freaked out for a few seconds, sprinted to the TV, and settled down to watch before Kate passed Buckingham Palace on her way to Westminster Abbey.

There seem to be two reactions to the nuptials among my circle of acquaintance: giddy excitement and scornful anti-apathy. A lot of people are asking the question, "Who cares?" Well, they can't be entirely apathetic, can they, or they wouldn't be taking the time to argue about why we shouldn't care.

For me, I don't particularly have a reason why I should care. It's more like, why not? Part of me is an Anglophile, and it's a part I'm rather fond of. England is part of my heritage (along with most of Western Europe and a few Native American tribes). Even more than that, though, I left a piece of my heart in London when I breezed through a few summers ago. I definitely enjoyed catching glimpses of places I've been during the broadcast.

The world always bands together for great tragedy. Why can't we all share in a few moments of happiness, too?

Plus, I'm a sucker for pomp, pageantry, and ceremony, just like I'm a sucker for classy vests, French food, my brown sugar songs, broad shoulders, unkempt lawns, and bubbles.

My favorite moments were the shared glances and whispered comments between William and Kate. I also rather enjoyed anything having to do with Prince Harry (he's my favorite).

A quick list:

1. While Kate was walking down the aisle, Harry looked back then made a comment to Will with a roguish grin.

2. Anytime Will and Kate glanced at each other during the ceremony. They looked like co-conspirators.

3. Alternately watching Pippa Middleton and Prince Harry with the little kids of the wedding party.

4. The two kisses on the balcony at Buckingham Palace.

There was a lot of hype building up towards the first kiss. So much so that when it came, it was so quick that I felt it was kind of anticlimactic. But then they replayed it, and the way Will and Kate looked at each other made my heart melt (this is a common problem). That look, as they say, said it all.

I don't care what has happened in the past or what will happen in the future for the royal couple. I know that in that moment, at least, they were in love.

The world still loves fairy tales. I think it's okay to care about that.

Speaking of, while the cameras were panning over the crowd while everyone was waiting for the couple to come out onto the balcony, I saw someone holding a poster that said, "Kate, you're beautiful and your prince is charming." It made me smile.

Oh, I also loved seeing the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh together. I adore cute old couples.

Listening to: "Touch Me" by The Doors
Reading: Falcondance by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Death by English paper.

Sometimes I feel like I'm entirely too confident in my own scholarly abilities. To illustrate, I'm going to tell a little story.

Saturday I went to the zoo. I tried to help with prep work for Linger Longer, my ward's monthly after-church snack, but technical difficulties ensued. I probably took I nap. I know I eventually wound up on Netflix watching Robin Hood.

Sunday I showed up to church early to continue the prep work for Linger Longer. I did my danged-est to stay awake in church, and I was even fairly successful. Easter lunch with my family was at noon. Around two I declared my resolution to go home and take a nap. When I finally made it home, I watched eleven straight episodes of Robin Hood, which for the record looks nothing like a nap.

After staying up late on both Saturday and Sunday and then getting no Sabbath nap, I was having trouble stringing sentences together on Monday. Literally. I was that far zombified. Which made what followed all the more interesting:

12:30 PM - Met with English group to discuss and finalize presentation for Tuesday. Laughed because none of us had started our papers, also due Tuesday.

1:00 PM - Puttered around on Facebook, deviantART, blogger, and Neopets.

2:30 PM - Zonked out.

5:30 PM - Went to Jimbo's Good Times Grill. Ordered the corned beef sandwich.

6:30 PM - Rationalized watching three more episodes of Robin Hood.

10:00 PM - Did my REL 320 homework.

11:30 PM - Decided to get a few more hours of sleep before starting my paper.

2:00 AM -Decided I could sleep for another 30 minutes.

2:30 AM - Decided that 3 o'clock would be a better time to get up.

3:00 AM - Decided I could sleep for another hour.

4:00 AM - Posted "Operation: Panic is a go" as my Facebook status.

5:00 AM - Decided I would miss my Institute class. Took a shower.

5:30 AM - Ate a bagel and watched Charlie's newest song on YouTube.

6:00 AM - Began writing in earnest.

8:00 AM - Printed.

8:15 AM - Hit the road.

8:45 AM - Power walked to my 9 o'clock class. Made it with two minutes to spare.

This procrastination thing needs to stop.

Listening to: "Taste of India" by Aerosmith
Reading: Snakecharm by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cum nave.

My Latin teacher brokered a deal over our last quiz of the semester this morning. We could take it worksheet-style, open book, open friend, if we agreed to do some English-to-Latin on Monday. Really? Is it Christmas already?

I'm sure that some of the students in my class view English-to-Latin as a daunting task, but I love it! (I had to rework that sentence four times. College is messing with my innate sense of grammar. What is happening to meeeee?) Being able to write in Latin isn't generally seen as terribly important. Latin is mostly learned for the purpose of reading ancient or medieval texts.

But really, if no one had ever practiced writing it, we wouldn't have wonderful things like Latin translations of Harry Potter, now would we? The world would be a lesser place without such.

That, and it's just kind of fun. I mean, once I'm done translating a sentence, I just want to stand up and go, "Whooo, yeah! What now?!" Actually, sometimes I do that when I'm reading Latin after I figure out a particularly tricky sentence. But come on, how much more justified is it when I'm doing it the other way around?

On a completely unrelated note, I stumbled across some pirate-themed music today. I don't know whether to feel nerdy or awesome. Perhaps both? Did you know that there was such a thing as a Scottish, pirate-themed metal band?

This isn't the Scottish pirate metal, but I've been listening to it repeatedly tonight:

It's purtifuls. Say it out loud. Think about it. There ya go...what? No? Oh, okay. Sorry. We're all entitled to make up new words, you know. It's our prerogative as speakers of language.

Listening to: "Down With The Ship" by Naomi King
Reading: Snakecharm by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Thursday, April 21, 2011


These past two days, I've been following my gut. It's been taking me some interesting places. I can feel a shift taking place in my priorities. I've spent a very long time staring straight ahead, moving to where I needed to be as quickly as possible, forgetting to look up or left or right. I think that many of us have a tendency to get stuck in our rituals and to forget that there are things outside, different things to do and see.

I usually go about my day habitually. I don't even think about where I'm walking. My feet take me places before I'm aware I'm going there.

Who wants to live like that?

Not me, apparently. Something within my psyche has shifted. It's not even that I'm aware of my thoughts changing; my impulses are changing. Where once I would've greeted someone and carried on my way as though I were on an urgent mission (even though I usually wasn't), lately my reaction has been to turn and walk with them. 

I'm still anally punctual to my classes, but now I'm not so uptight about my free time.

I have been amply rewarded for this new...what do I call it? Instinct is technically incorrect, but like instinct it feels. If this action were any farther from conscious decision, it would be right up there with breathing. I like it.

I've gotten to spend time with unexpected friends, both old and new. A few people I hadn't seen in a while. One person I'd only spoken to once before.

There's an ephemeral quality to friendships here at college. Some are forged to last, but everyone has such a crazy schedule that it's hard to find time to spend together. Other friendships get you through a semester or two, but dissolve like memory when you no longer have classes together. There are the friends you smile and wave to when you walk past, but you can't remember their names. It's a treat to get to catch up with some of these people.

Another reward for following my feet and walking with these friends is that I find myself on strange sections of campus at unexpected times. It's like a mini-adventure. Suddenly I get to see an old world in a different cast of sunlight.

I love the changes I've been noticing in myself lately. I love how deep they go. They're not superficial. They're bone-deep improvements. I know that they're improvements. Anything that can make me feel this joyful has to be good.

If this makes no sense, that's what I get for trying to write and watch Avatar at the same time.

Listening to: Avatar
Reading: Snakecharm by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The kick.

I take naps. I'm a nap-taker. It's actually kind of a hobby.

There are a few downsides to this. The first is that my naps tend to be time-consuming. I try to set alarms to limit how long I'm out, but either I end up setting them back repeatedly, or I just sleep right through them, waking up two hours later than I intended wondering what happened.

Another con is that I emerge from these monstrous naps incredibly groggy and with a weird taste in my mouth.

Today I woke up from my nap to my phone ringing. This isn't uncommon. Of course, I can't figure out why I can always sense my phone vibrating from a call (it's perpetually on soundless vibrate), but I can't hear my alarm blaring for 20 minutes. I guess it's just one of those things. Maybe a phone call is the signal to my subconscious to give me the kick (Inception, anyone?), whereas my alarm is only, you know, an alarm. Psh! Who pays attention to those?

I tend to be rather snappish during these post-nap phone calls. I don't mean to be. I'm just not yet processing input like I should be.

Unfortunately for my dad, he tends to be the one making these post-nap phone calls. Fortunately for my dad, I was able to figure out what was going on today when he called me, and I responded to his inquiries with enthusiasm.

I think my biggest clue today was the phrase "New York Steamer". A New York Steamer is a special sandwich made at Firehouse Subs. It's positively scrumptious! It's all corned beef and pastrami and provolone and saucy goodness. It's like biting into a steaming mass of pure, undiluted Delicious. And my dad brought some home for dinner.

See, this is why I could never be a vegetarian.

Listening to: "Believe" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Reading: Snakecharm by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tally ho!

I feel like blogging is slowing infiltrating my life. Ever since I discovered the Stats page, which shows pageviews and information about where my blog traffic is coming from, I've been spasmatically checking it even more frequently than I refresh the Facebook homepage. Sorry, Facebook. What a sad commentary on my habits.

I don't want to say that it is a sad commentary on my life because, really, my life is quite good. My complaints are minor and inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

As a blogger, I was tapering off there for a few months before that challenge. Now I feel like I have a duty to mankind to sally forth. I've lost count of the number of friends who have told me that they love reading my blog. (Here's a shout out just for you.) There's something intensely gratifying about entertaining and possibly even inspiring other people.

As I'm writing some of these posts, I just keep thinking, This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever penned. I should just stop now. No one is going to like this.

It's a relief to hear that someone is amused by my random tangents.

One friend even got me thinking about writing in general, and now, with her encouragement, I'm working on a new story written in blog form. It's a modernization of The Princess and the Pea. That's all you get to know for now. I'm worried that the more I talk about it, the less I'll work on it. I'm hoping, though, that the style will encourage me to stick with it. A blog post doesn't take terribly long to write (most of the time), so maybe the gradual style of the story will keep my focus.

For those who had to endure the few weeks I spent raving about National Novel Writing Month last November (a challenge I did not complete), I have not abandoned my story about Peter Priesthood. I'm too darn pleased with my own cleverness over that one to give it up. It's just on vacation while I go over here and try to get inside Pea's head.

Sometimes I wonder whether I'm really as clever as I think I am.

This blog needs more pictures.

Listening to: "The Mob Song" from Beauty and the Beast
Reading: Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes


As I like to tell people, I'm convinced that my ward would implode if we had fewer than two special musical numbers a week. Three seems to be the standard.

I'm going to gloss right over the part where I sang a vocal solo today (though my friends, who were accompanying me on viola and piano, were positively magnificent) and rave for a while about the other two numbers today.

First there was a bell choir. I wasn't entirely aware that such a thing existed before today. Apparently, I was only living half a life. It was stupendous! It was enchanting and ethereal. I'll admit, I spent a few moments fantasizing about an entirely bell-based fantasy movie soundtrack. Some of the chords they hit gave me goosebumps.

The second musical number was a vocal piece by an impressive tenor. That man was belting it! It kind of made me want to start attending the opera, though his music didn't precisely have an operatic quality to it. I suppose the best way to describe his vocal stylings would be "confident". As a side note, this is, oddly, the second time today that opera has come up.

Now I'm going to gloss right back to my own performance because I want to comment on the phenomenon of me performing in front of a crowd. It's not something I love, but I can do it. I'm quite capable of mentally bracing myself. What I am incapable of controlling is my physical response. I don't know what it is, whether it's adrenaline or something else entirely, but every time I perform I start trembling. Theater, music, public speaking. None are exempt. It's not as pronounced when I'm one among many, as in a choir, but when I have any part to play that singles me out, the trembling revs up into overdrive. Even a single line in a play is enough to do it. Heck, even giving an answer in class is enough to do it to a certain degree. The unfavorable conditions seem to be any wherein all attention is solely on me. This wouldn't truly be an issue if it weren't for my second year at girls camp. Oh, girls camp...

It appears that story time is in order. The scene: girls camp, my second year. Fifty 13-year-old LDS girls are on a two-mile hike with a few chaperones and some older girls when it starts pouring rain. Well, it started drizzling, and then it started pouring. It didn't last very long, so we all decided to carry on with our hike. The problem came when we got stuck between two slopes. We had to choose between trying to go back up a slick, grassy hill or down a rough, muddy one. We all chose the latter. The older girls (known in our part of the world as Big Sisters) went slowly down one of the sides, digging footholds and positioning themselves in such a way as to enable a hiker to be gripping a steadying hand at all times. I was the only second year who chose this method. The others all chose to use the hill as a giant, muddy slip'n'slide instead. I lacked their daring. In retrospect, I should've gone their way. Something about going down that hill messed up my right knee. At the bottom, my knee was kind of spasming like the muscles didn't quite know what to do with themselves. I probably should've asked my parents to get it checked out as soon as I got home, but I was 13. It never occurred to me.

This story has a point, promise! You see, since that day so many years ago, whenever my fight-or-flight trembles kick into high gear, it is my right knee that feels it most pointedly. It starts going haywire. So haywire, in fact, that I was worried it was going to give way while I was singing today. I don't think I've ever had to stand on it while it was acting up that bad. Looking back, I've mostly managed to wind up in a sitting position when it's done that. Huzzah for theater sets! Today was unexpected, to say the least. I was expecting the trembling, but I was not expecting it to that degree. I was mostly hoping the bishopric didn't notice and start worrying about me.

I suppose it's for the best that I've never seriously entertained ideas about being a performer.

Listening to: "Bangarang" by Pogo
Reading: Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wishing well.

I don't mean to turn this into a blog about my feet, but I've just gotta talk about them a teensy bit more because one of life's true pleasures is dipping your feet into a body of water. I don't care if it's an ocean, a pool, or a puddle. There's something enchanting about being only partially submerged. It's like being grounded and weightless at the same time.

Laura and I were sitting by a fountain today. I couldn't resist. I didn't completely stick my feet in, but I did have fun making tiny splashes with my toes.

To make our short visit even more stupendous, we each made a wish and threw in a penny. I love wishes! We all have so many opportunities to make them. Fountains, of course, are the standard classic. Personally, I get 11:11 wishes most frequently, but I feel like they're the worst ones to have to make. Don't get me wrong, any wish is okay by me. But wishes are a big responsibility. You can't just spend them frivolously! They're a chance to look inside yourself and say, "Okay, self. What's the one thing you truly want right now, in this instant?" Sixty seconds isn't much time to figure that out. I love birthday wishes, too. I always feel accomplished when I get all the candles in one go. However, my absolute favorite wishes would have to be eyelashes. I don't know why. Maybe it's because they're so rare. Someone else has to find your eyelash, you know, and offer you the wish. Perhaps that's why I like them: They're gifts.

Whatever kind it is, there's always a hint of magic in the air after you make a wish. The ploop of the coin hitting the water. The last digit abruptly rolling to two. The puff of smoke billowing up from the stubby candles. The dainty eyelash floating off into forever.

It's the universe saying, "As you wish."

Listening to: "Wishery" by Pogo
Reading: Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Today I was hugged by three guys at the same time. When I asked them which one of them it was that smelled so good, they proceeded to sniff each other dramatically in an attempt to find out.

I knew there was a reason I spent so much time at the Institute.

Listening to: Bones
Reading: Harry Potter y la cámara secreta by J. K. Rowling

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fictional fantasizing.

I feel kind of like Blizzard and their promised Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans game. I've spent weeks advertising my best friend and making people promise to meet her while she was here. Unfortunately, her baby started throwing up this morning, then got feverish, so A caught a flight home this evening to get the wee bairn to her pediatrician. Poor little darling. Of course, now I feel kind of like Blizzard. "Let us promise you this fabulous game. Oh, wait. Just kidding!" I'm still mad at them for World of Warcraft, by the way. I can't deny that the graphics are snazzy and the gameplay is cool. I just hate that it's an MMO and users have to pay a monthly subscription fee. Come on! Just give me a single player RPG and let me go be a hermit. Wha's wrong witchoo?

But I digress. The true tragedy here is that my goddaughter is sick and not that I don't get to show her off to my friends. My priorities aren't as screwy as they seem.

Somehow in the midst of all this, I still managed to laugh my head off today. It all started when Bonster told me that Pocahontas had actually been married to Kocoum, but she was kidnapped by the white folk, which was considered equivalent to divorce or death or something in her tribe. She went on to marry John Rolf and change her name to Rebecca (which spelling makes me sad). We got into this discussion about how Kocoum was way more attractive than John Smith in the Disney movie, and we totally would've picked him. We also agreed that even Thomas, the lanky redhead, was more attractive than John Smith, though I suppose it's hard not to be when you're voiced by Christian Bale. I am of the firm opinion that we should have more Welsh actors in Hollywood. Then I made the comment, "Of course, I'm sure we can all agree that the most attractive animated Disney character is that guy from Mulan." After that we both sort of lost it and got a weird look from the girl across the table, who had somehow managed to miss our entire conversation.

And now, because I got on the subject of World of Warcraft (which I should never do), I can't help but post the following video.

Sometimes I just loop this on my iPod. Is that bad?

Listening to: "(Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar" by The Guild
Reading: Harry Potter y la cámara secreta by J. K. Rowling

Monday, April 11, 2011

Silver linings.

In the midst of a really crappy day, there always seems to be a bit of sunshine. Today there were a few.

First, while I was sitting in Latin this morning, there was a loud pop! and the lights went out. A second later, a similar pop! was heard from the adjoining room. Since we were in a room with healthy windows, our teacher staunchly carried on. It turns out that a good half of the campus lost power because of "a rodent that damaged equipment at a campus substation". I find that incredibly amusing.

Second, I got to take a nap outside on my bench swing.

Third, I really looked at the clouds today. I haven't done that in a very long time. I'd almost forgotten how fantastic they could be. I almost always look at the stars, but I seem to forget the clouds. Maybe this is because it's usually too bright out here to look up, but simple negligence is definitely a factor. Cloud-gazing was soothing. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to nuzzle them or pull them apart and pop them in my mouth like cotton candy.

Fourth, I discovered that a bunch of classic children's books have been translated into Latin. I spent a good twenty minutes adding many of them to my Amazon wishlist. Dr. Seuss seems to be particularly popular among the Latin crowd. Most exciting to me, though, is Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis. Um, yes please! It is my goal to collect copies of the first Harry Potter in every language that I learn. It brings me great joy that Latin is an option. Of course, things might get a bit tricky when I get around to learning Scottish Gaelic and Lakotah, but we'll deal with that later.

Listening to: Castle
Reading: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Happy feet.

I feel kind of negligent for going from blogging almost daily to skipping an entire weekend, especially considering that I spent the entire weekend in question in my dad's recliner watching TV. Granted, my best friend and my 3-month-old goddaughter are visiting. I feel rude that I've spent as much time on my computer as I have. They flew halfway across the country to see me. I should spend time with them instead of rambling on about who knows what inane nonsense, right? Or refreshing Facebook. Spending time with them is way better than refreshing Facebook for hours on end.

As they're out on a cake run, I'm stealing a few minutes to share why my feet are thrilled beyond belief. Behold!

That's right. This señorita is rocking some brand new TOMS. My reasons for investing the not insubstantial dinero in these sweet puppies are the following:

1. I hate shoes. Unfortunately, I live in a climate where both of my solutions to get around wearing them are impractical, uncomfortable, and dangerous. Ideally, I would never have to wear shoes. Since that's not usually practical, especially with health codes and such (though I hear I could get away with it in New Zealand), I generally settle for wearing ballet shoes, which feel like the next best thing to me. Those work just fine in Missouri. Here in Arizona, however, where in the summer the sidewalk climbs to egg-frying temperatures, the thin leather is inadequate to properly combat burns to the bottom of my feet. I asked a friend wearing TOMS whether they were comfortable, and she told me they were just like wearing socks. Could it be true? Shoes that don't feel like shoes yet have a protective rubber sole?

2. I love the idea of TOMS Shoes' One for One charity. For every pair of shoes they sell, they donate a pair to someone who needs them. They travel the world handing out shoes to kids who don't have any so they don't have to walk around barefoot contracting soil-born diseases and collecting cuts. Additionally, many schools in these impoverished areas require shoes as part of the dress code. No shoes means no education, but because of TOMS, these kids are getting a chance at life.

I know I sound like a spokesperson, but hey, why not? One of the reasons I'm a pack rat is because I feel guilty throwing stuff away. I always imagine it rotting in a landfill and ruining the earth. I'm all for life-improving charities.

The bottom line, though, is that my friend was right. These are some dang comfortable shoes. I'm taking it as a very good sign that this initial breaking-in stage feels an awful lot like breaking in a pair of ballet shoes.

Listening to: "Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats
Reading: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Warm, gooey insides.

Thursday evenings are set aside for just me and my dad to spend time together. Today we went to a new eatery that just opened up down the road. It's called Firehouse Subs, and I don't know where they get their meat, but it's amazing. All of their sandwiches are served hot and melty and yuuuuuum. They also have this house specialty cherry limeade that will make your tongue spasm. It's fabulous.

After that, we went to see Beastly. It's a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. This is what I texted to Laura after the movie:

Excuse me while I scoop up my heart in a paper cup. It's gone and melted all over the floor.

It was positively enchanting. It only took five minutes for my insides to get all gooey like straight-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies. Then, in a very un-cookie-like fashion, they stayed molten for the rest of the film. There was lots of excited hand waving a la Wallace & Gromit. Oh, how I love things that make me melt like brown sugar in warm oatmeal! There's even a secret list of songs that make me dissolve like that. Don't ask me for them, gents. Do you think Superman would just walk up and hand you a bucket full of kryptonite?

Listening to: Beastly
Reading: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gold flakes.

Now that the lovely blogging challenge is over, I'm back to coming up with my own stuff to blog about. That isn't so bad. I just have to remember to do it. See, I challenged myself several months ago to find something beautiful and wonderful in every day and stick it up here in witty, elegant prose. Or something. I'm sure I had some terrific reason for making this pledge. Perhaps it had to do with my brother being in Iraq and my mom being in Missouri and neither of them having a better way to hear about my day-to-day life. (I'm notoriously taciturn on the phone.) Maybe, though, it was because everyone has that one friend who's so cheerful and at ease with the world that they inspire us to change, improve, and grow. We want to make them proud. We want to feel like we deserve their friendship, even though they're always the kind of people who don't realize that we don't think we measure up because they don't care how we are. They'll take us as is.

I used to be broody. Actually, back up. There was a time I was severely depressed. That does something to a person's world view, to their persona. It makes them snarky. And broody. It kicks holes in their self-esteem.

On the other hand, I have a friend who sees everything good in the world. Even when life is trying to get him down, he finds a way to step back and laugh at the absurdity of it all. He's not one of those perky, "the world is sunshine and rainbows" people, though. He's just quietly optimistic.

An outlook like that is infectious. He inspired me to really see the world again. Now every day has a modicum of adventure.

When I first started this blog, I treated it like a journal. "Today I did this and this and this." That gets tedious rather quickly. Besides, bullet point narratives aren't what's important anyway. When my posterity looks back at my writing, I want them to see what mattered to me. That's why I decided many months ago to cut out all of the fluff and negativity and just record the magnificent. To me, that means the little things.

Take today, for example. Today my friends taught me how to play gin rummy. A different group of friends had taught me years ago, but it's not something that ever really stuck. After today, I hope to play it many more times in the future. Maybe this time I'll remember the rules.

Today I also learned that there is a disconnect between the way I see myself and the way I am seen by others. This morning in my Institute class, one of my most cheerful friends made a comment about how I always brighten her day because I'm always so happy and have such exciting stories. This was news to me. Aside from making me blush, it got me to thinking.

While I'm happy with who I am, and I'm thrilled with life, I still find that I am jealous of those people who are almost always in a fantastic mood. I realized today that while I'm not depressed anymore, I'm still seeing myself through a lens of depression. The feelings are gone, but the habit remains. I have no reason to be jealous of those happy people; I'm one of them. Somewhere along the way, somewhere between blowing bubbles and skipping around campus barefoot, I joined their ranks.

I'm becoming who I want to be. Because really, in the end, what's the point of life if you just spend it stagnating?

Listening to: Raising Helen
Reading: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Saturday, April 2, 2011

In the name of rock and roll.

As I was scampering around this week telling anyone who would listen that I was going to get to go see Heart on Friday, I generally got one of two reactions. The first was a blank stare. The second was, "They're still touring?" Boy howdy, are they ever!

The concert last night was part of Arizona Bike Week, and it was held out at WestWorld in Scottsdale. Our group consisted of my dad, my uncle, and me (which is grammatically correct). I've only been on a motorcycle twice before (if you don't count using the ones in the garage as chairs), and I've never been above 45 MPH. Yestereve we were out on the highway and everything. It was exciting. I rode on the back of my uncle's La-Z-Boy. Okay, officially it's a 2003 Anniversary Edition Harley Davidson Electra Glide, but seriously, that thing is like a leather recliner with a plane engine and a stereo. It even has armrests.

The parking lot was bikes as far as the eye could see. Literally. It was actually a little overwhelming. While I'm sure it must be smaller than Sturgis, I've never been to the Sturgis bike rally (I did eat at Burger King there once) or any other big gathering of bikers, so this was new for me. I felt so cool riding in there. Bikers really know how to create a sense of community and general bad-to-the-boneness.

It was even cooler leaving than it was pulling in. We didn't leave in packs; we pulled out in droves. I've never been inside one of those columns of motorcycles before, though I've occasionally seen them on the open road. It was most decidedly rad. I can only imagine how all of the lonely looking cars who wound up in the middle of all of us must have felt. The word 'surrounded' comes to mind. Those poor cars, separated from each other by scores of bikes, looked like lost elk that had mistakenly wandered into a wolf convention.

Getting back to the important part of this story, I want you to imagine that little kid on the tricycle from The Incredibles. Can you see his face? His popped gum? Are you envisioning those wide eyes? Good. Now you're beginning to imagine my reaction to seeing my hands-down, absolute most favoritest band ever live in concert: That was totally wicked!

The other band members filed out first, and then Nancy Wilson crossed the stage and donned a gorgeous turquoise guitar. As she struck a few chords I recognized, Ann came out, raised her flute to the microphone, and joined in on the beginning of "Cook With Fire". As she lowered that metal pipe and started to rattle her vocal chords, I couldn't help thinking, Yeah, this is right. This is the only song to start with. I was probably influenced in this by that being the first song on their album Dog and Butterfly. It just feels like a beginning to me.

Throughout the night they played a bunch of my favorites, like "Kick It Out" and "Magic Man" and "Alone" and "What About Love" and "Heartless". The only songs they played that I didn't know were "Desire Walks On" and "Red Velvet Car". The latter is the title song from the album they released last year. That's right, last year. Ann Wilson is 60 years old. Nancy is 57. I hope I'm that hardcore when I'm their age. Nancy was jamming and jumping around like she was 25.

After the first three or four songs, Ann finally spoke to the audience. The first thing she said was something like, "Hey, I guess we should introduce ourselves. We're called Heart." She went on to talk about all of the "beautiful machines" she'd noticed on her way in. "As every good machine knows," she said, "you can't have rock without a little roll." Then they played that mellowest of mellow songs, the serenest of the serene, "Dog and Butterfly" itself. Later, for a different song, she quipped, "You can't roll without a little rock, right?"

I went positively wild when Ann said, "This is my sister, Nancy." I gasped, "She's going to sing 'These Dreams'!" Nancy stepped up and talked about the '80s for a minute. She described "this next song" as a love song from that era that they just couldn't seem to quit playing. Then, sure enough, those familiar opening bars came through and Nancy's soulful voice trickled into the microphone like nectar for our ears.

While I did scream wildly the entire night, I stopped singing along after a song or two because it felt like my uvula was being ripped away from my velum, which made me cough at the end of every line. I figured it was best to just let those gorgeous ladies up there on the stage take it away. I've never been able to keep up with Ann's vocals, anyway. Nancy, yes. Ann, no. And Ann rocks just as hard today as she did when they recorded Dreamboat Annie in '76.

I haven't been to that many concerts. I went to a few free ones on campus last year, and there was that weird situation where I somehow wound up at an Alanis Morissette/Matchbox 20 concert at the Sprint Center. This was nothing like that. Everyone there was on their feet, crowding toward the stage, dressed to the nines in their best biker leathers and chains. A lot of men had braided beards. Bikers certainly have their own culture. They rock like it's 1969, or so I imagine. Minus the weed, of course. I hope.

As I was saying, though, I haven't been to that many concerts. I've always heard people talk about how artists "are so much better live", but I've never had any reason either agree or disagree. It's always just sounded to me like something people say. Sure, I liked Barcelona slightly better live than recorded, but I've always assumed that was because I heard them live first, so the recordings sound off to me. I spent most of the concert last night trying to decide if I should use that famous verdict when I told people about it. I kept waffling. Those girls are positively incredible live, but they're equally incredible on their albums. Or so I thought.

What else could they end with but "Barracuda"? For 40 years that opening riff has been iconic. For four decades aspiring guitarists have eagerly memorized it, and for four or five years young folk who don't know anything about the song or the band have been trying to nail it on Guitar Hero. Not to demean it or anything, but it's crap (comparatively). You've never heard that song, that riff, until you've heard it live. Part of that song has to be Nancy standing front and center, leaning back into the frets and jiggling the whammy bar. That song rocks so much harder when you can feel it all the way down through your chest and into your navel. There was a certain quality to the riff that I've never heard before. While it was a very real, audible phenomenon, the only name I can give it is pure, undiluted awesomeness. Then Nancy stepped off to the side and Ann stepped back up to the microphone and did what she does best. Every time they got to the word 'barracuda', they would turn floodlights on over the crowd and we would all scream it. I've never experienced anything like it.

At the end of the song, the stage blacked out and the band trouped off. The only sound was that of the crowd screaming. And screaming. And screaming. A few people started worming their way out of the pavilion, but I didn't want to move. The crowd was exuding so much anticipation that I felt like moving would be like walking away from true love. Some of them even started chanting, "Heart! Heart! Heart!" but it was just a subtle undertone to the general furor. And then something happened that I've only heard of in legend: They did an encore. They did two songs, neither of which were theirs, and only one of which sounded even vaguely familiar. I probably wouldn't recognize the songs again if I heard them on the radio, but I don't care. They were part of the magic of that night and that moment.

I finally walked away in a state of utter disbelief. As I said to my dad about 20 minutes later, after the conversation had shifted back to motorcycles, "Dad, I just saw Heart." I'm sure I spent the entire concert wearing a huge, dopey grin on my face. About every third song, I couldn't help but think to myself, Is this really happening? I can't believe this is happening. This is happening! I still can't believe it happened. It's unreal. How many kids my age love a band from bygone era that they'll never get to see in person because they were born too late? I was amused last night by a guy about my age who was standing next to me, just bobbing his head the whole time with his hands in his pockets. He got excited for the newer songs I'd never heard, while I went outright nuts for stuff from the '70s. He was seeing a contemporary rock group. I was seeing rock legends.

Did that really happen?

My poor, sensitive ears are still kind of ringing, and I woke up this morning with a scratchy voice. I suppose that's proof this wasn't a dream. But it was such a beautiful dream. Unforgettable. Momentous. Epic.

Listening to: Tron
Reading: Persuasion by Jane Austen