Saturday, December 25, 2010


Some highlights of Christmas Day 2010:

I got to sleep in until 7:45 before Ellen, Nathan, and Mom dragged me outa bed.
I got a blanket, a coat, more Subway, and (my favorite) a Lady Gaga calendar.
Christmas Dinner included funeral potatoes, sweet potatoes, bubbly, and cheesecake.
I watched Elf, Star Wars, and Muppet Christmas Carol.
I played the piano, sang some songs, made some music with family members.
I showed my sister more of my apartment.
Lots of food, lots of gifts, lots of sleep.

Sounds like a Christmas well spent.

And I'm so excited for tomorrow cuz I get to wear my new purple Christmas dress! (Pictures will be posted...)

Blessings: Family, gifts, the Birth of the Savior.
Listening to: "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree."
Things going on today: CHRISTMAS.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday Dream: Hansel and Gretl

I had this dream last night (while sleeping on the couch in my grandmother's house) that the story of Hansel and Gretl was actually an allegory for this strange magic that allowed you to move things with your mind. Apparently Hansel represented the emotional and passionate part of the brain while Gretl represented the logical. The moment you unlock the logical, structured part of the brain, you could move things just by focusing on them and the things that make it up. It was a very interesting, very real dream. I remember I was in a courtyard at the Riviera looking for Collin, so overcome with emotion I was moving things without trying. Apparently Emily and Collin's mother died, and I had to go tell him the bad news. But he was a little lest phased by it than I was. Not sure why.

When I woke up, I tried to move a magazine across the table using the Hansel/Gretl technique, but I couldn't do it. I was depressed.

Blessings: My family, the gifts I get for Christmas.
Things Going on Today: It's Christmas Eve!!
Listening To: One EskimO: "Kandi"

Christmas Traditions

Because I'm around so many different people nowadays, I'm learning a lot of new ways to celebrate the season of giving. So I thought I'd just record -- for posterity's sake -- a few Christmas traditions I've had in my house while growing up.
  • Mom always makes (or buys, if the season is particularly busy) pajamas for the kids. She also gets us Christmas dresses that we all wear the Sunday before Christmas.
  • Christmas Eve, we read the Christmas story from the Bible. I also like reading the Christmas story as told in 3 Nephi, when the Nephites saw the star in the sky as a sign of the Savior's birth.
  • The following movies are watched annually in December: Irving Berlin's White Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. This year, we're adding the movie Scrooge to the list.
  • For most of my childhood, Christmas has been spent in Provo, Utah. We've broken that tradition a few times, like when Grandma and Grandpa were on a mission, or the last Christmas spent in Grandma Doro's house, or when I came home for the holidays last year. But most of the time, it's in Provo. Christmas Day is the day when all the extended family comes to Grandma's house and eats a big meal.
  • Santa does not wrap our gifts. He lays them out on the couches, all in neat displays for each child. I think this saves him a lot of wrapping expenses and it keeps Christmas from being too wasteful.
  • Santa also puts candy canes up on the Christmas tree.
  • Pomegranites have always been my favorite Christmas food. We also get chocolate-covered cherries, oranges in our stockings -- both of fruit and Terry's chocolate varieties --, a toothbrush, underwear, and a DVD of some sort. That DVD is usually watched sometime on Christmas Day.
  • Christmas Day is not a day of custom for our family. Just a day of food preparation and chillaxing on the couch, enjoying the day off. Usually I end up wearing either my pajamas all day or the new clothes I just got from Santa.
  • When opening presents from each other, we always go oldest to youngest.
  • One of the benefits of having divorced grandparents on one side means that we have two Christmas Celebrations in Minnesota. One with Grandpa Harlan and our Jordan Johnson cousins, and one just with the immediate family and Grandma Doro. I missed both of those celebrations this year, but I still get the presents tomorrow on Christmas Day.
  • Mom only likes real Christmas trees. She also likes her country hearth-and-home ornaments with a twinge of rustic farm feel to them. This means checkered bows, wooden nativity ornaments, and no tinsel. A very nice-looking glass star is put on the top of the tree.
  • Mom is a crafty type, and she's made about six different advent calendars that are spread throughout the house. My favorite one was always the tree with beads that you pulled from one side to the other as each day passed. She's also recently made one that consists of 25 nativity pieces that you put up one by one in a manger scene. The last one is always the Christ Child.
  • Mom has a very distinct Christmas decorating pattern. The living room has all the nativities, as well as the Christmas tree. The family room is chock-full of Santas, and the front entryway has the snowmen. She hangs up Christmas cards that we get from others on these cool ribbon holders she made a few years back. We put garlands up the staircase banister, sometimes with ribbons, sometimes with beads, sometimes with both. Lights outside the house have always been white in the past, but recently she's let color sneak in around the doorway. Candle lights are put in each window.
  • My step-grandma Mary always invites us kids over to make candy houses at her place. In the past, they've always been these cardboard houses that we then decorate. Our friend Blaire has always come with us.
  • We always visit the Macy's/Dayton's/Marshall Field's Christmas display in downtown Minneapolis. Each year they dedicate an entire floor of their complex to creating a magical storybook world you walk through. I remember seeing the Twelve Days of Christmas, a Christmas Carol, the Nutcracker, the Grinch, Mary Poppins, Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan, Harry Potter... I could go on.
  • Up until our eighteenth birthdays, Grandma Doro gives her grandchildren two-dollar bills. One for every year they have lived.
  • Grandma Gardner always gives us these special metal ornaments with our names etched onto them.
  • If it snows, which it usually does in MN, we make a snowman with the classic coal eyes, carrot nose, scarf, buttons, the whole shebang. It usually doesn't last very long, though. It either gets knocked down by other neighborhood kids or falls apart because Minnesota weather is bipolar and it gets super warm super fast at random intervals during the holiday season. (The cold sets in for good somewhere in January.)
  • Music we listen to during Christmas season: Manheim Steamroller, Kurt Bestor, Bing Crosby, and this one CD from Recksburg College that my mom just won't get rid of with all of these super country-sounding Chrirstmas ditties on it.
  • Dad and I are considered the Grinches of the house because we are never awake as early as the rest of the family on Christmas morning. It has become an unwritten rule that the two younger siblings as well as my mother need to pry us out of bed to get our rears downstairs.
  • We always take this picture of us on the staircase (or on the couch in the family room, if we're in Utah) right before we go in to see our Christmas booty. I always look terrible, with bedhead and no makeup and this dazed, just-got-forced-out-of-bed expression on my face. Mom also uses the video camera on us as we go in and see the boons for the first time.
  • We try to go carolling every year. I remember last year, Dad got ticketed for running a stop sign. To top it off, he didn't have his driver's license with him, either. Still a good service experience, though.
  • Every year our Ward puts on a Christmas party. The biggest thing I can remember about those is the live nativity scene that is put on by the couple with the youngest baby in the ward. There's also usually a live santa as well.
  • Seminary, we have a white elephant gift exchange or a Secret Santa.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ten Albums that Define My Life

I love the self-expression that a person can achieve through music, which is why I really don't hate any one specific musical genre. Country, rap, jazz, classical, pop... it's all trying to do the same thing. Send a message. Whether it be a person's sadness over a lost dog, a lost lover, or a lost religion, a song can really evoke what mere words cannot. And I can find something worthwhile in any piece of music created. I'm not that picky.

HOWEVER... I am perfetly aware that not all songs are created equal. I definitely show my share of favoritism in regards to music. If you take a look at my iPod or my Grooveshark account, you will definitely see a few patterns. I, personally, am more prone to the pop/rock/easy listening styles. There's stuff I grew up with -- Hanson, the Beach Boys, certain Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals -- that holds a special place in my heart. I particularly like my symphonic metal and female-fronted rock groups. I always crave Rob Thomas, Barenaked Ladies, and of course the Gaga. I like classical music, but I'd much rather listen to classical music from the 1800s than that minimalist stuff of the twentieth century. I like country, but I prefer female country voices to male. I like jazz, but vocal rather than instrumental. You'll also notice that I'm not a very deep music-lover. I like what's on the radio, the singles, the popular bands. I am in no way "indie" or "fringe."

Really, though, I'm not ashamed of the music I listen to. I think the music I cherish is the music that defines me best, and I shouldn't be ashamed of who I am.

All this is supposed to culminate to something, isn't it? Ah, yes! My top ten albums that define my life. The following is a list of the albums that mean the most to me, personally. I'm not saying they're the first things I want to listen to NOW. In fact, some of these CD's have been overplayed in my life to the point of nausea and now I can hardly stand them. But they each have some degree of importance to me. These are the CDs that epitomize who I am. These are the CDs that I've spent a great deal of time with. They're the kinds of CDs that have gotten me with every song, not just one or two tracks. They're CDs with meaning, with history, with stories behind them. These are the albums that have not just been music to me, but a lifestyle.

1.) Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster.

I should point out as well that this list is not in any particular order, but I supposed I should start out with the one that has impacted my life most recently first. You already know that I am a HUGE Lady Gaga fan. I love her fashion, her panache, her ferocious rebellion against all things normal and conventional. But why The Fame Monster for one of those life-changing CD's? I mean, it's all meaningless pop and dance music about sex and alcohol. Why did I not even choose her debut album, The Fame? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think the answer to these questions lies in how well her music corresponds with her performance, fashion, and panache that exists outside the music. Lady Gaga is a master of making her music and her performances go hand in hand. Take, for example, her incredible performance of "Telephone" and "Dance in the Dark" at the BRITS last year. Or her performance of "Speechless" with Elton John at the Grammys? Her performances during the Monster Ball of "So Happy I Could Die" and "Teeth" are unforgettable as well. What I've learned from this album is that every song, every track, has a meaning for Gaga. She planned every little detail of the album, down to the last sound effect. She's made art out of pop, and that's inspired me to do the same.

2. Rob Thomas: Cradlesong

The reason why this one is on the list is because it's a CD I simply cannot get tired of. There's a song for every mood, every emotion, every situation I could ever be in. If I feel like a relationship isn't going anywhere, I listen to "Snowblind." If I need a pick-me-up in the morning when I'm going to another dreaded day of work, I pop in "Real World '09." If I'm in a reminiscing mood, "Cradlesong's" the one for me. I also am in love with "Fire on the Mountain" and "Give me the Meltdown." Every song on this CD is so catchy and amazing. I don't think it will ever get old for me.

3. My Chemical Romance: The Black Parade

This song was my anthem for sophomore year of High School. It represented the angst, the drama, the disillusionment that I was feeling at the time. I was obsessed with the concept of the album, the dreamy quality of it. "Welcome to the Black Parade" is definitely the best song. But I also totally dig "Famous Last Words," "The Sharpest Lives," "Teenagers," and "Disenchanted." This whole CD just reminds me of my preteen life. The friends I had, the doodles I drew in the margins, the clothes I wore. This album is an important piece of me.

4. Clay Aiken: Measure of a Man

I'll never forget when I got this CD for Easter when I was fifteen. I listened to it over and over again. I also will never forget when I got to see him front row at the Minnesota State Fair that same year. That stirred the obsession that caused an entire half of a wall to be covered with his picture. I don't like Clay as much as I did then, of course. But the CD still is with me. His voice is still great. The songs are still good. The nostalgia when I listen to "No More Sad Songs" or "I Survived You." Man, I love that guy.

5. Evanescence: Fallen. Probably the soundtrack of my entire life. The epitome of who I am. This CD made me love music. It made me play the piano. It made me dress the way I do. Sing the way I do. Ben Moody and Amy Lee have successfully combined my two favorite genres --classical vocals and orchestration with heavy metal -- in a way I have never heard before and have never yet heard since. I love every single song on this album. I can't choose a favorite. This does not happen often. I seriously can't pick one over the other. Even the lesser-known ones. To top it off, there's no swearing, no sex, no nothing. Just raw music. Raw amazingness. I will never forget this CD. This was the first CD I listened to where I liked EVERY SINGLE SONG ON THE ALBUM EQUALLY.  This is huge.  You know how on an album, you really like the first couple of songs, all the singles, and maybe the last song which is a big finale?  Well Ev -- no.  Every song.  Every time.  Even now -- years and years and years later -- I listen to every single song on that album, never skipping.  This was the album that got me into my rock obsession, my gothy clothing style, and my love of piano.  This album changed my life.  Not EEEVEN JOKING.  Amy Lee became a goddess.  Evanescence is a path to musical nirvana.  It's a shame the band died so soon after it was born.  Two CD's later, and they have bored me.

6. Billy Gilman: Dare to Dream

This CD still gets to me. I grew up with Billy Gilman and this was definitely his high point. It was also at a high point in my life. Sixth grade. I had everything going for me. And this was just good "in the mood" music for me at the time. I think back on those times when I tried to close myself off from the world with that giant portable CD player and tracks like "She's Everything You Want," "Some things I Know," and "You Don't You Won't." I wish both Billy and I could have stayed twelve forever.

7. Charlotte Church: Prelude: The Best of Charlotte Church.

Another childhood favorite. Charlotte Church gave me a voice. Going to see her with Mary back when I was eleven was such an inspiration for me. It made me think of the history I could make for myself with my voice. I remember practicing upstairs in my room with the door closed, trying to hit all the same notes, pronounce all those hard italian lyrics, just like Charlotte. Of course, she is in no way the best singer in the world, but she was almost my age at the time, someone I could aspire to be like. I picked her Best of CD because it's a nice conglomerate of all the things I loved about her.

8. Hanson: Middle of Nowhere

I promise this is the last album that takes a trip down Hannah's memory lane. Hanson is the first artist/group of artists I can remember ever really liking. This was truly the first time I ever consciously thought to myself, "Hey, I like this song. I want to hear more." This was back in, say, third grade. Maybe even earlier. I remember borrowing this CD from the library and listening to it over and over again downstairs in what was then the unfinished basement. I'd listen to it with friends, most of the time. But I remember reading through the lyric book, trying to memorize every word but having trouble hearing them with their funny high voices. I bought the CD for good last summer and I still love it. Sure, the lyrics are a little passe, but they were twelve-year-old boys for goodness' sake! That's talent!! I'll never disregard true talent!

9.  Lady Gaga: Born this Way

Yes, I must include another Lady Gaga album in here.  While a lot of these albums I've described have epitomized a certain part of my angsty and dramatic childhood, I must include the album that defines my current life here at college.  I am now a Senior at BYU, and many things have changed.  My opinion of myself has shrunk significantly.  I am definitely a small fish, surrounded by people who are smarter, prettier, and more talented than I am.  Sometimes that has prevented me from getting things that I want.  And when that happens, I sometimes really look down on myself for trying in the first place.  It's sad, but oh so true.  But there is no need to worry about me.  I have some amazing role models in my life, and one of them is this powerful woman named Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta -- Lady Gaga.  Words cannot express the power that woman has -- the ability she has to change the heart of an individual from one of hate and discouragement to one of love and a bright hope for the future.  It's phenomenal.  Born this Way is the album for the rejects, the album for the losers, and -- in my case -- the album for the heartbroken.  Sometimes I wonder if this album wasn't actually written with me -- Hannah -- in mind.  The clash of "Heavy Metal Lover" with "Black Jesus + Amen Fashion" brings out the runway model in me.  The jazzy lull of "You and I" -- oh, I can't describe the feelings I get when I hear that song.  The song "Judas" expresses the confusion you feel when falling in love with someone you shouldn't ever love.  There are the powerful messages of acceptance and diversity in "Born this Way" and "Americano."  But above all, this album is the home of the one song that -- to date -- reigns champion as my favorite song of all time:  "Hair."

10. Nightwish: Once.

The high point of my symphonic metal stage. I needed to include this stage because it was an important shift in my love of music from what others thought I should like and what I thought was good music myself. I especially am caught up in "Ghost Love Score." That is just an incredible song that I wish others appreciated as much as I did. This whole album is like a puzzle that I enjoy taking apart and putting back together in different ways. You gotta love that about nightwish. It's pleasantly confusing.

So there you have it. The top ten albums of my life. I hope it's a pleasant mix of country, rock, alternative, classical... Geez, looking at that list makes me feel like a well-rounded person. I feel fantastic!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

First dates are fun, but second dates are better.
Even when you have a fever when you go.

Last night almost felt like it didn't happen. Not to say that it was a super special night or anything, but I sort of felt like I was just walking through it without thinking too hard. Mark and I had our second date. We went to see some Christmas light show down in Spanish Fork and then went to get hot chocolate. It was a most enjoyable date, indeed, but for the last hour or so I could feel my body sort of wearing down. My throat really hurt, my eyes wouldn't stay in focus, and I was just tired. I tried to hide it and I was able to make it to when he dropped me off on my little doorstep.
Then there was a fridge to clean. Cleaning checks were the next day so I spent an hour and a half or so just cleaning out that fridge. Now I KNEW I was sick. I started shaking and feeling super feverish. So immediately after that fridge was even sort of clean, I went to bed.

I woke up at two in the morning chilled to the bone, even with a billion blankets on top of me. Yes, I had a fever, a blown-up fever. At it was snowing outside... sooner or later I will get a call from my boss saying it was time to go shovel.
Four-thirty came around and I was still awake. I got up to use the bathroom and could hardly walk. My joints were stiff, I was trembling like a fish out of water, and I felt like I was breathing through a plastic bag. I was in no condition to shovel. But my boss hadn't called me yet! Maybe they'll just forget... or maybe it won't snow too hard... maybe? maybe??
No such luck. My boss called me about a half an hour later at five and told me they called in for snow. I had sent him a text at midnight that I was sick, but here I had to tell him that I was even worse. I hate not doing what my boss wants me to do. I feel like I'm on the brink of getting him pissed all the time, but he seemed understanding. "If you're sick, you're sick," he said. Maybe next time I see him I'll tell him exactly how sick I was.
A few minutes later, Rachel called me and asked if I needed a ride. I told her I had a fever and couldn't go shovel. I really hope they take me seriously. I really would go if I could. I just so obviously couldn't! I could hardly walk! How could I shovel three inches of snow for several hours???

Gotta say, the past twenty four hours has been somewhat step-and-step. One foot in front of the other. Sick sick sick.

Listening to: Katherine McPhee "Terrified."
Things going on today: I get to see my friend Katie, go to Tucanos, sick sick sick
Blessings: The Provo Tabernacle burned down. That means they had to move the date of that fateful women's chorus concert to April 1st. You know what that means? LADY GAGA!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Goals for Winter Break:

1. Work every day that I can work.
2. Write 2 songs about Not-So-Elder WaynesWorld
3. Write to all my missionary friends
4. Watch the following movies with my family:
  • White Christmas
  • Muppet Christmas Carol
  • It's a Wonderful Life
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas

5. Clean room. (which should be done before break even starts because we have cleaning checks...)

6. Write essays for Music Audition.

7. Get lots of sleep.

8. Start reading a book.

Last Week of School

Finals are yuck.

But first dates are great!

I have both this week.

Listening to: Danity Kane's "Damaged" -- one of the greatest one-hit wonders ever.
Things going on Today: English Final, English Paper due, roommate gift exchange (tis the season)
Blessings: I only have to work four hours instead of five... or eight... or forever.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Friday Dream: A Brave New World

I had a strange dream last night. I dreamt the city of Brooklyn (don't know why it was Brooklyn) was taken over by some guy who had this really monopolistic, brainwashing form of government that allowed for no rebellion of any kind. If you find out too much about how the government was controlling the minds and lives of the populace, you would be kicked out... or severely punished... or killed. Think Ba Sing Sei for all you Avatar fans out there. Everything in the town was green. Everyone wore green clothes, the buildings were green, and the symbol (swatstika?) of the government was on everything. They had a strict entrance-and-exit policy, and everything was background-checked. Everyone was going on living their lives, completely unaware that there were secret societies controlling their every move from behind closed doors. My friend Aaron S. was there; he found out about what was happening, and the next thing I remember, I saw him right outside the gate, in a cage. They took the cage, dragged it to a cliff, and chucked it over the edge with him still inside it. It was scary. Suddenly I needed to get out of there, and fast. So I found some friends and we escaped (how? I don't remember). But before we knew it we were in this northern exposure-type wilderness. We found this bat.. it was blue, sort of reminded me of Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. He could talk, and he really loved Brooklyn. Hated what this new regime had done to it. So he helped us by flying us away from these government scouts who were tracking us. We made it to this quaint little town on a mountain and there we found Hannah H. She was a spy for the government. We found that out and stole her computer and then trashed her car and threw snow in it. But when we had her computer, we couldn't get the password. We tried everything, but eventually we had to locate a hacker who could open up her files. Then we needed internet access, so we flew all over this tiny town (which somewhat resembled BYU campus...) looking for a WiFi hot spot. When that failed, the bat we were flying found a pink parachute and we sailed away from the mountain town on that.
Then, suddenly, I was in the chamber of the ruler of this new government. Somehow or another, I had gained his trust. He was explaining the benefits of this new government system to me: how everyone would be equal and happy in this Brave New World.... I go up to the next floor, but then his wife comes in. He leans out the window with his wife, but when his wife want him to kiss her, he's too busy looking over his big-shot government notes and she gets angry, throws his head against the side of the brick building, cracks his head open, and then throws him out the window which is like seven or eight stories above ground. I watched this from the floor above.
And that's about when I woke up. What a strange dream. They usually don't have as complex of plot lines as these ones did.

Listening to: Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer"
Blessings: Sleeping in, no snow, one more slice of pumpkin pie
Things Going on Today: two women's chorus christmas peformances. Blegh.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Know I'm Lame

I know I'm lame. I know I haven't blogged in a very long while. But I also know no one follows this blog anyway, so it really doesn't matter.
I suppose I could catch you up on what's happened these past couple of weeks:

1. Lots of volunteering at nursing homes aroung happy valley.
2. Thanksgiving Dinner. I made a pumpkin pie. Two pumpkin pies, actually. There's still a whole half of one in the refrigerator that I'm slowly working my way toward finishing.
3. Elder Waffle... is now just a Waffle. He got sent home on his mission, though he won't tell me why. All I know is that it was both a heartbreaking and a spiritual experience for him. I've been trying to make my own experience with this more spiritual than heartbreaking, but it's hard. He came to visit last Friday and it was quite the interesting visit at that. He's got to swear off girls until he's back in full fellowship with the church, so that means he really can't date me at all until then. And in the meantime I'm wondering if I still want to date him at all. Things are just weird. Weird weird weird. Moving on...
4. Still no word from Sister A. About that night of the Lady Gaga concert. ANSWER ME WOMAN!!!
5. There's this guy in my ward named Mark who basically put an entire letter from Bill Gates to computer hobbyists from the 1970s into a song. Here it is:

Okay, so he's sort of hilarious.

6. SNOW REMOVAL, which is, weird as it sounds, a very satisfying form of torture. I feel like I'm suffering with a purpose, and things always turn out better than I think. On our worst day for snow so far -- Sunday -- it snowed and snowed and snowed and we all were there for like ten hours. BUT... I got to leave early because I had to give a talk in church. Or that day we were up at 2 AM to shovel, we got to go home after only three hours. See? There's a silver lining!
7. I've got ONE MORE PAPER before I'm done with all my big projects/papers for the semester. The only thing I have now to worry about is a test and then it's FINALS. I have four of them: sociology, English, ASL, and Humanites. One of them is take-home, and the rest should be easy. I smell another 4.0... wouldn't that be great!?
8. I had to give a talk about counting blessings last week, so I'm starting a blessings journal. I have to think of ten good things that God has blessed me with each day. It's harder than it looks, but I think it will get easier with time.
9. Ke$ha's got a new CD out... "Cannibal." It's sort of a copycat of "The Fame Monster" but I still like it. My favorite songs are "Crazy Beautiful Life" and "Grow a Pear." :D
10. My parents are coming out here for Christmas! Mucho excited!!!!