Saturday, December 15, 2012

Scars/To the New Boyfriend

I really want to post this in more places, but it hits so close to home and I know that people will tell me I shouldn't post this so early after things happened.  But man... It's like this guy took all of my feelings and presented them in a form more perfect than I can imagine.

So real.... It all felt so real.

I think God told me to look up some Slam Poetry today.

Listening to:  Josh Groban Christmas music from the distant downstairs.  Loving home.
Blessings:  Parents.  A's.  New sequin jackets.
Learned:  A little more about the terrible shooting that happened in a Connecticut Elementary School today.  There are some things I wish I could un-learn.
Things going on today:  NOTHING.  I'm gonna veg all day today.  And I'm loving it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

(Happier) New Year

Okay, 2012.  Time to stare you down and just accept the fact that you happened.

This was, by far, the hardest year I've ever had to endure in my 22 years of living.  Just for context, I believe a close second would be the year 2009.  It's not like life gets harder with each progressing year.  A lot of hard things happened this year:

1. I discover I have anxiety and depression.  I still need to be healed.  I've seen psychologists, but then when I start feeling better, I stop and then things get bad again.
2.  I get dumped three times in one year -- and they were hard rejections.  That was probably the hardest part of this year.  Trying to pick up pieces after a two-year-long relationship that had a ton of issues in the first place is something I would never wish on anyone.  I remember crying every night for two weeks straight and feeling so sick I vomited.  Then there were two one-month spells that began great, but crashed and burned for no explainable reasons.  I'm still not over any of it.  I still wonder what the heck is wrong with me.  Heck, I'm still here mourning over ones that got away years ago.  Two of my exes are now happily married.  I very well could have been the bride at one of them.  Don't know what you got 'til it's gone, I guess.  Ugh. Regret.  What a bitter feeling...
3. I lost my three best friends in a matter of days.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't still be standing today if it weren't for them.  But the minute I get back from Cali, they're gone.  Moving.  Leaving me alone.  Suddenly I found myself living on my own at a vulnerable time and that was really tough. Sleeping in a silent apartment with depression for two months was hell.
4. Sometime during that period, I develop an eating disorder.  That's never fun to go through, much less to simply admit.
5.  I have been in school for over a year straight.  That's a little crazy.  Sure, I had some small vacation moments, but really, this whole year has been about buckling down and getting back on track with graduation.  I'm technically "caught up" now, but having a 5-year undergrad still isn't great.  How I managed to get through five semesters straight without stopping is beyond me.  Perhaps it was my refuge.  Just one sight-singing assignment, one lesson plan, one practice hour at a time.  That will get me through the pain...


... with all this grief and hardship and strenuous work, I MUST analyze my successes.  And there are quite a few of them.  I forget sometimes when times are tough how blessed I am -- and how capable I am!  Check out this list:

1.  4.0, baby!  Not joking, it always feels good looking at your report card after a hard semester and seeing A after beautiful A looking back at me.  My shrink says it's a crutch, but at least it's one that will give me good standing for grad school.  Really, I'm just happy that I have mastery over something in my life.
2.  I got to go to California to see my wonderful old roommate get married to the man of her dreams.  To be a part of a wedding party -- to be picked! -- is such an awesome feeling.  I got to help make someone else really happy, and I got to get out of Provo on top of that.  San Diego was beautiful.  I got to wear some of my favorite dresses and there are some awesome pictures of me up on Facebook now.
3.  I also got to make a visit to my dear home in Minnesota at the end of the summer.  That was a much-needed break.  It got me away from my boy troubles and I got to spend a lot of quality time with my family.  Then there was the awesome road trip back to Utah with my mom and sister.
4.  Heck, I got a car this year.  That's awesome right there.
5.  I also moved this year.  Just at the very tail end, a few days ago.  I'm living with my grandparents now.  No rent.  New ward.  Own room.  Awesome company.  I needed to get out of that old apartment so bad.  There were just too many memories attached to that old place.  And having to pay such an exorbitant price every month was burning a hole in my wallet.  Now, I feel free and safe.  This is good.
6.  BYU Singers.  As much as I am not enjoying going these days, I really do think this has been a blessing for me.  Again -- getting picked.  I was selected to be in this amazing choir because I earned it.  That's always a wonderful feeling.  And I have made friends!  My alto friends, some boys, and of course Dr. Staheli.  I don't know what I would do without him.
7.  When it comes to my relationships... In a way, I'm pretty excited about them.  Yeah, they didn't last, but heck, I got them in the first place! It was a great month of May.  And an even great month of November. It's funny:  Every man I've ever really wanted, I've gotten... At least, for a short while.  And I pick'em better every time.  As much as I wish things worked out, it's still nice looking at this guy or that and be able to say to myself, yeah I DID kiss that face.  And it kissed me back.  Makes me feel dang sexy.  If I can get my idea of superman not once but twice in one year, I can do it again!  And next time, I won't be as stupid.  Next time, it will be for keeps.  For good.  Eternity, maybe.
8.  I have not worn the same outfit once all year.  I almost have had enough clothes to wear something different each day.  I also acquired two suits, two wigs, Fame, and Juicy Couture this year for nearly nothing.  My clothing and my matrix have really seen an upgrade this year.
9.  I was in an opera.  That's pretty important.  It led to a pretty worthwhile relationship and a ton of other friendships that I hope last.
10.  I'm actually performing songs now.  I went to an open mic and that led to me performing at small restaurant venues this semester.  I've written a lot, too.  And finished a lot.  I've also helped out some friends of mine in their musical endeavors, which is a good thing.  Music has been such an important release.  I couldn't have survived a lot of my trials without it.
11.  Friends.  That's been the biggest blessing of my life.  The friends I've had.  Especially the friends I didn't know I had.  God puts people in your life for a reason.  I'll never forget the love and support I have felt this year from the people around me.

The most important lesson I think I learned this year is this:  I am worth it.  I'm worth the $80 Fame fragrance that I've always wanted.  I'm worth the awesome home teachers I've had.  I'm worth the 20 minutes of stage time I get to perform my originals at a sports bar.  I'm worth the late hours with Nyquil and chicken soup if I'm sick.  I'm worth the spot in BYU's top choir.  I'm worth more than a douchebag who doesn't respect me.  I'm worth more than an apartment that won't fix my swamp cooler.  I'm worth more than 200 calories a day.  I am of infinite worth, and for the longest time I have been selling myself short.  I've been settling for less than I deserve.  This is such an important revelation.  At first, this new discovery led me to believe that I deserved to treat other people badly and to not trust anyone.  It led me to be angry and bitter towards everyone who's treated me with disrespect.  But now, at the end of the year, with a few months of therapy, experience, and just plain time behind me, I think I'm moving back into balance with my life.  I can have high expectations of myself and others without being cold and vindictive towards myself or towards others.  I can take myself seriously... but not too seriously.  I think my New Years Resolution this year will be something along the lines of this:

I resolve to seek true happiness in my life.  And if I don't get it right away, I resolve to be happy anyway.  

And with that, I end my post on a joyful note.

Listening to:  My man Pitbull.  "Don't Stop the Party"
Blessings:  No school.  No work.  Trips to Minnesota.
Learned:  Alexander McQueen's 2004 and 2005 lines aren't nearly as dramatic and awesome as his earlier stuff.  However, his Fall 2005 season was based on the 1960's, particularly the iconic Marilyn Monroe.  That's become one of my favorite seasons.
Things Going On Today:  I go to a performance at Muse tonight.  Move all my stuff over.  Maybe stop at work for a short time.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Concerning Readership...

Part of me wonders if it's a good idea to let people know this blog exists, because it's something I've had for a really REALLY long time and it's got lots of... well, interesting material in it. These days I only post when a certain stroke of genius philosophy comes on, but that often involves personal stories and stuff that maybe people don't need to know.  

But here's the thing... I keep diaries.  Hard-core.  Not just my personal journal... I have books -- literally BOOKS -- full of song lyrics, journals for spiritual stuff, random notebooks with scribbles and ideas and such... why post a blog?

Well a blog can be read by others.  It's main purpose is to PUBLISH ideas.  And who better to read my ideas -- at least ones I find worth sharing -- with friends?  

So yeah, I'm an interesting person with interesting thoughts.  But as I think I said in my last post, there's much more to me than this.  I'm learning in my multi-cultural education class right now that you can NEVER completely understand another person.  When I'm dead, you can read my written journals and then you'll get a better picture.  

Learned:  How to tie a four-plait braid.
Listening to:  Nothing, but I have fracking "Cosi Fan Tutte" running through my head.  Again.  And again.
Blessings:  Gentlemen, bobby pins, and face masks.
Things Going On Today:  Dr. Staheli says "Lady Gaga" during class.  We actually get out of rehearsal before 11 o'clock.  And I fall asleep in chorale... again... much to the dismay of my sister.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Great Dishonesty -- And a Great Experiment

So... I found out today that someone I know personally reads this and gets concerned when I write certain things about my life that seem... well, depressing.  It's now making me VERY self-conscious about what I post here.  I always thought this was a place I could go to get feelings out quickly.  I keep a VERY detailed handwritten account of my life in journals, but sometimes writing is too slow and a stroke of emotion/genius/whatever would pass me by if I tried to write it out by hand.  So I type it out here.  And I don't usually go back and edit anything or make it sound nice or understandable.  I just WRITE.  I really haven't expected too many people to actually READ this... or at least take it super seriously.

There's a lot more to me than what you see on this blog.  Trust me.

So, just to clear the air.  Yes, I was depressed.  Yes, people should have been concerned.  And they were.  My Bishop wondered if I was anorexic.  My home teachers wondered if I was suicidal.  I wasn't either of those things, but I think part of me wanted people to think I was.  But that, in itself, should concern people.  It concerns me very much.

It's kind of funny.  I'm a complete sucker for attention.  It doesn't matter if it's good or not, I just want attention.  Sometimes I lie just so I can get people to notice me.  Back when I was in Junior High, I would scrape needles along my wrists just enough so that they looked like scars you get from slitting your wrists. I never actually slit my wrists.  Never.  But I made people think that I did.  I'd show my "scars" to everyone at school and eventually some good friends of mine told the school counselor and I was brought in to her office to "talk."  She kept telling me that I was loved and there were other ways to release the stresses in your life besides self-mutilation, but that all went in one ear and out the other because I knew that already.
I remember telling my mom that I cut.  She read through my lie like a book, so she didn't really care.  She just told me not to do it again and that was it.  I was so disappointed with her response, I grounded myself for the next three weekends.  I'm not joking.

It's sad.  I don't think I've changed that much since Junior High.  I still identify people as either "the popular kids" or the "unpopular kids" and I base my social interactions on those trite judgments.  I wear the same goofy fishnets and bustiers-over-t-shirts that I wore in eighth grade.  I still freak out like a twelve-year-old when I don't get my way.  And I still lie.  All the time.  I'm always constantly lying!  Trying to look more confident, more intelligent, more hard-core, more deviant, more jaded, more shy, more righteous, more sincere than I actually am.  Maybe that's the only reason why I listen to Lady Gaga and wear four-inch heels and write music.  I'm trying to portray this image of me as an "artist" when all I am is a fake.  Poser.  Sell-out.  Lie.  

But you know what?  I think the world is full of lies.  People lie all the time.  It's why girls wear make-up and shave their legs...  Gosh, why do we shave our legs anyway?  We all know that hair grows down there!  No one is fooling anybody!  Why be ashamed of something so natural, so unimportant?  Why are we ashamed to admit that we have issues?  Why do men insist on acting like "tough guys" when inside they have these things called feelings that are perfectly normal and justified?  Once, while I was waiting for a Bishop's interview, I read in a Psychology Journal that men are twice more likely to commit suicide then women, and one of the hypotheses for why that happens is that men refuse to accept help from anyone. They want people to think they're okay, they're in control.  They lie!!! Why do they do that?  Why do we, as a society, feel like we need to hide who we are all the time?

I feel like a total hypocrite when I say this, but it really bugs me when I see people on the internet complaining about how no one likes them, but they insist on spending every waking minute of their lives doing freaky, anti-social things like obsessing over teenage heartthrobs and writing violent poetry about their ex's girlfriends.  Again, I will acknowledge the fact that I am a total hypocrite, but I know I'm not as bad as some of the girls I know online.  Tumblr is a fascinating place.  These teenage girls publish post after post of these Instagram-created pictures of little slips of paper that they tore out of their Moleskine notebooks with sloppy handwritten song lyrics from some "obscure" band written on them.  Every Valentine's Day, they sit on their laptops and share their sob stories about how nobody likes them and how they're forever alone.  They post charts, comparing themselves to "other girls" who love makeup and boys and plastic and they claim that they're soooooo different from other people and that's why they can't get the guy or be popular.  They collect pictures of pretty Hipster things and fancy toys and expensive fashion that they can't afford. They talk about how no one understands them and they die their hair funny colors and take goofy pouty pictures of themselves because that's the only way they can think of to "express themselves." They follow celebrities as if doing that will connect them somehow. They live -- obsess over -- this LIE.  They're NOT different from anyone else.  Their story is the same as HUNDREDS OF OTHERS.  It's MY story.  It's my roommates' story.  Believe it or not, you're not the only one who sits by herself in her room on Valentine's day.  Just because you post artsy crap on your Tumblr account doesn't mean you're an artist.  And instead of griping over how no one likes you, or pretending like you know the Jonas Brothers SO WELL because you've posted every possible picture of them that you can find, why not go out INTO THE REAL WORLD and make friends with REAL people?  STOP LIVING YOUR INTERNET LIE!  STOP TRYING TO BE SOMETHING YOU'RE NOT!  BE A REAL PERSON.

And Taylor Swift?  STOP.  Just stop!  Stop writing about how you can't get the boy.  You're the prettiest girl on the planet.  Every man wants you.  Stop complaining.  There are girls out here in the REAL, NON-CELEBRITY world who have never had a date in their lives.  Girls who've been abused by their boyfriends. Girls who would give ANYTHING just to hear someone say "I love you" to them. You are spoiled.  There's no way you can understand how it feels to be ugly.  And now that I think about it, stop writing songs about how guys are calling you telling you "I still love you," and you're all like, "This is SO EXHAUSTING having guys call me and tell me they love me all the time!"  LADY...  DO YOU HONESTLY EXPECT ME TO FEEL SORRY FOR YOU?  You're complaining about how everyone wants you!  Stop it!!  Just get married already so I don't have to listen to your crap.

Okay, this post has DEFINITELY gone off the track I expected it to go.  The point is...  We all lie.  I lie a lot.  I've lied so much, I'm not even sure what the truth is anymore.  Lady Gaga says that she lies on purpose, over and over again, because the idea is that you lie until it becomes true.  Now, I'm not sure if I agree with that entirely. I believe there are some truths that will never change, no matter how much time you spend in denial.  But I do feel like I've created my own reality -- my own identity -- by lying to myself.  I don't want to lie anymore.  I want to be the REAL me, but I have absolutely no idea what that is!!  How do I even start finding it?

Experimentation, I guess, which is why I have been spending the last few weeks being incredibly cold towards humanity in general.  I've been taking crap from people for so long, I'd like to see what happens when I stop taking that crap and just throw it right back.  I may scare some people away, but maybe I'll feel happier with this more stalwart, tenacious, resilient me.  The "I don't care" me. I don't know how long it's gonna last, but I'd like to see if I gain confidence by acting apathetic. It's like Nicki Minaj says, "If you can't handle my worst, you ain't getting my best."

But of course, deep down, I'm sure that's also a lie.  I DO care.  A lot.  But perhaps I just need to dull my senses to that care a little bit so I can find a balance between caring and not caring.  I mean, I'm sure I'll survive even if I end up not getting a date for a whole year or never getting to know my roommates.  Maybe if I just survive enough, I'll grow more comfortable with it and disappointing people would become more easy to take.

I just need a complete re-do.  Extreme Makeover:  Soul Addition.  Maybe I can have a butterfly room.

This has gone on long enough.

So I have issues.  Sue me.  And if what I say on this blog depresses you that much, stop reading it.  I would almost like it better if no one read it, if that is the case.

Things going on Today:  Stake leadership training.  I got no homework done this weekend.
Blessings:  Friends, of course.  But also... enemies.
Listening to:  "Marilyn Monroe" by Nicki Minaj -- One of the greatest songs of all time, and one I relate to immensely at the present moment.
Learned: (through experience)  It's better to communicate with people than to just bottle up feelings and never let them out.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A sad story.

It's really sad when you see people you knew make stupid mistakes.  It's jarring to see my old classmates framed in mug-shot fashion in a news article like this.  It's also jarring that they're possibly going to spend some years in prison.

I knew Justin better than Zach.  He played the saxophone in the band that met at the same high school he broke into.  Wow.

Listening to:  The entire "North" album by Matchbox Twenty.  Streaming on itunes!
Things going on today:  First Tuesday of the semester.  Singers auditions.
Blessings:  No class.  Computer labs at work.
Learned:  The various facets of the human voice.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A profound statement about what makes an "American"

In 1937 the anthropologist Ralph Linton published an article entitled "One-Hundred Percent American."  "There can be no question about the average American's Americanism or his desire to preserve his precious heritage at all costs," wrote Linton.  "Nevertheless, some insidious foreign ideas have already wormed their way into his civilization without his realizing what was going on."  These "insidious ideas" -- derived from the cultures of Asia, the Near East, Europe, Africa, and native America -- include pajamas, the toilet, soap, the toothbrush, the chair, shoes, the mirror, coffee, fermented and distilled drinks, the cigar, and even the newspaper.  On the train to work, Linton's "average American" reads the news of the day, imprinted in characters invented by the ancient Semites by a process invented in Germany on a material invented in China.  as he scans the latest editorial pointing out the dire results to our institutions of accepting foreign ideas, he thanks a Hebrew God in an Indo-European language that he is 100 percent (decimal system invented by the Greeks) american (from Americus Vespucci, Italian geographer).

--Larry Starr, Christopher Waterman
American Popular Music Second Edition 2007

Listening to:  Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors"
Learned:  The Japanese have a tradition where they make art out of food.  This technique is called Bento.  Google it.  It's like amped-up school lunch!
Blessings:  Cool roommates.  A sister.  A bank.
Things going on today:  Bought a wig.  Paid for Gas.  Didn't find a Charles Schwab bank.

Heart Of Darkness: A quick, yet confusing read.

If you didn't get my hint, that was a photo still from the movie Apocalypse Now.  I had to watch that movie back in my senior year, and while there are parts I wish I could forget, I remember enough of that movie to be able to compare it to the book upon which it is based:  Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

The book and the movie are not very similar.  Even the very settings in which they are placed are strikingly different.  Heart of Darkness is set in Imperialist-era Africa, while Apocalypse Now takes place in Vietnam during America's controversial involvement there back in the 70's.  The character Marlow remains the ultimate perspective for both stories, but Apocalypse Now seemed like a more life-altering and disillusioning experience than what Marlow saw in the novel.  Heart of Darkness was rather dry.  Most of it was talking and observing simple natural phenomenon as Marlow travels to meet the man named Kurtz, who is present in both stories.  There were some parts where I wondered exactly who was speaking at one time.  Very few characters are brought into the limelight enough for me to recognize them as they perform various plot tasks. Perhaps this was what Conrad's intention, but it was difficult for me to follow the different personalities and to gauge their importance in the entire plot.

Simply put, this book probably was made cooler by the movie.  This doesn't make my favorites list, but maybe if I read it again, it would make more sense.

Listening to:  Big Bang Theory
Blessings:  Blankets, Saturdays.
Learned:  That there is more than one day to fix an 80's speaker system.
Things Going On Today:  Work.  Tried to try out for Staheli's choir, but he never opened his door.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Next Literary Adventure...

My next read:

Here's a hint.  Hopefully someone understands this reference.

Listening to:  Officer Jenny, "I saw the sky collapse."
Things going on today:  Olympics.  Missionaries over for breakfast.
Learned:  A little about the Relay races at the Olympics.
Blessings:  Mirrors.  Matching dress sizes.  Grandmas.

Portrait of a Lady

Finished Henry James' Portrait of a Lady this week.  Not my favorite book ever, but it had its good points.  I guess the best part about the book is the independent women.  Isabel Archer Osmond, while not the best example because she does end up marrying a misogynistic scum-bag, is a fiery character with lots of great ideas for herself and her future.  I may be wrong, but I think most women during that day and age were not given many opportunities to express their opinions or do what they wanted to do, so in a way this lifestyle is pretty revolutionary for its time.  Isabel wouldn't just marry the first rich guy to cross her path.  She sort of rejects three guys before she settles down.  But, UNfortunately, she is still sort of used and abused by society and ends up getting pushed into an "arranged" marriage after all. And in this marriage, she is stripped of a lot of her agency as a woman. So, like I said, she's not the best example.
But there are others.  Look at Herietta Stackpole, for example.  She not only gets married until the end of the book, but she's a business woman!  She writes!  How often do you see one of THOSE in nineteenth-century novels.  A woman of letters!  In the book, lots of people don't have a lot of respect for her.  She's intimidating and modern.  But I appreciate her spunk and her willingness to just do what she wants and serve those she loves.
My favorite character in the book is Ralph Touchett.  He's the most loyal, sweet, and wise person in the book.  The one who's always there, always willing to forgive, even if you make the stupid choice.  I'm glad Isabel learns to really appreciate him in the end.
 Something I learned from this book that I want to take with me into my own relationships:  First impressions can be very deceiving.  When you are dating someone, try to get to know the ENTIRE person before you decide to settle down with them.  Isabel thought she knew her husband Gilbert really well, but it turns out that he was not only a sour, somewhat emotionally abusive codger, but he was in some pretty big scandals in his younger years.  No wife ever wants to find out what Isabel finds out about Gilbert.  So watch out!  Demand honesty in a relationship.  Settle for nothing less than someone who loves you entirely.  Someone who will put you first and respect your opinions, not wish you didn't have any.  Sure, people make mistakes and they deserve a second chance, but keeping it a secret is not the way you go about deserving that second chance.  I never liked Gilbert Osmond from the start.  But more and more he is reminding me of some people I've seen in my life that I invested too much in.  They always end up disappointing you, but it's hard to leave them once you've started.  The very end of this book reflects that truth.

Listening to:  Officer Jenny's Album, "Grape Crayons."  It's super indie.
Things Going On Today:  Ran errands with dad.  Grocery shopping with mom.  It's good to be home.
Blessings:  Home.  Cars.  Coupons.
Learned:  How to change the oil in a car.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

MY favorite Disney Songs

Okay... So one of my fellow bloggers put up his "Top" 30 Animated Disney Movie Songs, and I thought I'd create my rebuttal.  I love almost all the Disney songs, but I'm a Johnson, you see, and Johnsons rank EVERYTHING.
Proceed with caution.  A lot of these songs have meaning to ME.  I know "Hakuna Matata" and "Bare Necessities" are Disney classics, but they don't speak to ME as a musician, woman, Disney lover, etc. So here we are, MY favorite Disney songs, regardless of what anyone says, and why they are my favorite:

#30:  "Work Song" from Cinderella

Cinderella is a classic.  One song needs to make the list.  My favorite part of Cinderella is of course the mice, so this song makes the board as my 30th favorite song.  It's catchy, no?
"We can do it, we can do it!
We can help our Cinderelly!
We can make her dress so pretty!
There's nothing to it really!"

#29:  "Bella Notte" from Lady and The Tramp

This is one of those romantic classics that's used and re-used again and again.  I've seen so many re-hashings of this famous "Spaghetti Pooch Smooch," I think it's worth being dubbed an iconic moment in Disney history, with an iconic song to match.
"Side by side with your loved one
You'll find enchantment here.
The night will weave its magic spell,
When the one you love is near."

#28:  "Cruella De Vil" from 101 Dalmatians

The only song in the movie, and it is a jazzy, groovy classic!  Never to be forgotten as the best villain song in Disney history, "Cruella De Vil" is also a compositional masterpiece.  I've learned a lot about blues notes and chromatic harmonies....  Here ya go.  Perfect exhibition of such techniques.  Not your normal four-chord pop Disney tune.
"This vampire bat, this inhuman beast!
She ought to be locked up, and never released!"

#27: "One Jump Ahead" from Aladdin

I love the rhythmic and melodic complexity of this song, first of all.  It's very different from other Disney songs -- unpredictable and helter-skelter, just like the scenes and characters it's portraying.  What a great way to meet Aladdin!  But my favorite part of this song is the reprise.  If there is one theme that many of these songs I've chosen have in common, it's the idea of being misunderstood and different from other people.  Aladdin is a social outcast.  As are Hercules, Tarzan, Ariel, Mulan, and other Disney heroes.  If we ever feel alone or left out or misunderstood, we can look to Disney and take heart in the fact that all of these heroes rose above their lot, and they didn't ever have to change who they were on the inside.  That's the ultimate lesson:  Never change the person you are.  Be yourself.
"'Riffraff,' 'street rat,' I don't buy that.
If only they'd look closer!
Would they see a poor boy?
No, sirree!
They'll find out there's so much more to me."

#26:  "Zero to Hero" from Hercules

I love it when Disney takes a musical genre and exploits it to its fullest within one movie.  In Hercules, the writers have (ironically) combined Greek myth with Gospel soul.  And this is the crown gem of that style.  There is so much pizzazz in this song!  It's unforgettably catchy and it alludes to time passing without boring us all.  The muses are played by some amazing singers, as well.
"He was a nothing,
(Zero, zero!)
No he's a honcho!
(Hero, hero!)
He hit the heights at breakneck speed!
From zero to hero!
Now he's a hero!
Herc is a hero!"

#25: "Belle" from Beauty and the Beast

Because Beauty and the Beast is such a critically-acclaimed and well-loved movie, I feel it only right to include several of its songs on the list.  This song is one of the better character introductions in Disney history.  The cool thing is if you put this and the song "Gaston" side by side, you can not only get a good idea about who these two people are, but how society feels about them.  This movie can be a great reminder that we need to watch our judgments of people who are different from us.  They may be the ones who save us and bring us to a better understanding.
"Now it's no wonder that her name means 'beauty,'
Her looks have got no parallel.
But behind that fair facade, I'm afraid she's rather odd.
Very different from the rest of us.
She's nothing like the rest of us!
Yes, different from the rest of us is Belle!"

#24: "Your Mother And Mine" from Peter Pan

This song makes me think about my mother, and that thought makes me very happy.  I love it when Disney reminds us about the importance of families.
"What makes mothers all that they are?
Might as well ask what makes a star!"

#23:  "With a Smile and a Song" from Snow White

No one likes Snow White and it's kind of sad.  This is the first one!  The ultimate classic Disney animated movie!  And while the voice of Snow White, played by Adriana Caselotti, is very different from what our standard of beautiful voices is, I think this song is so happy and true to our life and times! Snow White has a GREAT attitude! Check out these lyrics:
"There's no use in grumbling
When raindrops come tumbling!
Remember, you're the one
Who can fill the world with sunshine!"

#22: "Heaven's Light/Hellfire" from Hunchback of Notre Dame

Hunchback of Notre Dame is my favorite Disney movie, so of course I include a plethora of them on this list. These two songs go together.  They are beautifully linked by a gorgeous modern adaptation of Gregorian Chant.  I love "Hellfire" quite a bit.  It's powerful and... spooky.  One of Disney's few legitimately spooky songs.  But I'd like to focus more on the awesomeness that is "Heaven's Light."  It's a beautiful, beautiful love song.  Have you ever met someone who understands you better than anyone else, and it's like that person becomes a miracle in your life?  That's what this song is about.  Poor Quasi finally found someone who understands him.  It's such a beautiful story.  
"Then suddenly, an angel has smiled at me
And kissed my cheek without a trace of fright.
I never thought I'd know that warm and loving glow
Though I might wish with all my might.
No face as hideous as my face.
Was ever meant for heaven's light."

#21: "You'll Be In My Heart" from Tarzan

As you look at this list, you'll quickly realize that I love mom songs.  Like this one!  One of the sweetest stories about identity, belonging, and unconditional love.  I've tried not to include too many songs that are sung by celebrity artists during the credits, but this is an exception.  Phil Collins is awesome and you can hear love as he sings it.  

#20:  "Gaston" from Beauty and the Beast

This song is so much fun, I can't ignore it on my list.  It's the kind of song that people will sing along to as they watch the movie, even when no one's around to hear them.  The rhyming is clever, and of course Lefou's character is hilarious.
"When I was a lad, I ate four dozen eggs
Every morning to help me get large.
And now that I'm grown, I eat five dozen eggs,
So I'm roughly the size of a barge!"

#19:  "Just Around the Riverbend" from Pocahontas

I include a lot of Pocahontas songs on this list, because I think each one is crafted to fit the movie so well!  This one I post because it really brings out the amazing talent of Ms. Judy Kuhn, who plays Pocahontas in this movie.  It also teaches us about freedom, decisions, and duty.  What a great song!
"I feel it there beyond those trees,
Or right behind these waterfalls.
Can I ignore the sound of distant drumming
For a handsome sturdy husband
Who builds handsome, sturdy walls,
And never dreams that something might be coming
Just around the riverbend?"

#18:  "Arabian Nights" from Aladdin

What a great way to open a movie!!  I love how they've used the "Arabian" harmonics to set the scene.  I can almost feel my mouth dry up as I listen to it.
"Oh, I come from a land, from a faraway place
Where the caravan camels roam.
Where it's flat and immense
And the heat is intense,
It's barbaric!  But hey, it's home!"

#17:  "Little April Shower" from Bambi

I include this song because of its amazing musical painting.  It actually sounds like a rainstorm!!  A placid beginning, a roaring middle, and a hopeful, peaceful end.  Amazing!!!
"Drip, drip, drop, little April shower,
Beating a tune as you fall to the ground."

#16:  "Very Good Advice" from Alice in Wonderland

An underappreciated song from Disney Culture if I've ever seen one.  Just listen to these lyrics.  They're so profound, yet so simple!  I'm reminded so much of myself when I read them!
"'Be patient' is very good advice,
But the waiting makes me curious...
And I'd love the change,
Should something strange begin."

#15:  "I Won't Say I'm in Love" from Hercules

There are some songs I include on this list because they are well-loved by others.  Others I include because I, personally, love them.  This is one of the latter.  When I was a kid, I wanted to be Meg.  I'd watch this VHS every day and I'd rewind this part over and over and over again, dancing with the muses and singing with Greece's favorite heroine.  It's such a cute premise, too.  Even the most proud women can fall for the hot guy.  :)
"I thought my heart had learned its lesson.
It feels so good when you start out.
My head is screaming, 'Get a grip, girl!
Unless you're dying to cry your heart out.'"

#14: "Savages" from Pocahontas

Again, a Pocahontas song.  This movie changed my life.  This was my first experience with intolerance and hate between different cultures.  I think Disney introduces these controversial topics so well for children to understand.  And the music behind it...  wow.  Alan Menkin and Stephen Schwartz are geniuses.
"They're different from us,
Which means they can't be trusted.
We must sound the drums of war!"

#13:  "Steady as the Beating Drum" from Pocahontas

As Disney grew, they're musical messages became more mature and profound.  The songs began to not only pass time and be entertaining, but to send profound messages and play very significant roles in the film. This culminated in the later '90s with movies like Pocahontas, Hercules, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Mulan.  The purpose of this song is to introduce the Native American lifestyle to the audience, and it does so very respectfully. Compare this to, say, "What makes the Red Man Red" from Peter Pan, and you can see the maturity that I'm talking about.  So I put this song on the list because of its incredible, colorful, musical homage to native cultures.  
"Seasons go and seasons come,
Steady as the beating drum.
Plum to seed to bud to blum,
Steady as the beating drum."

#12: "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast

This song is oh, so iconic.  There are just so many facets to it, I can hardly begin to explain its richness.  I love how it pays homage to variety shows that we don't see as much any more.  I was in this musical, and this was the best part of the whole show.  
"While the candlelight's still glowing, 
Let us help you!  We'll keep going
Course by course, one by one,
'Til you shout, 'Enough! I'm done!'
Then we'll sing you off to sleep as you digest.
Tonight, you'll prop your feet up,
But for now, let's eat up.
Be our guest!"

#11: "Bells of Notre Dame" from Hunchback of Notre Dame

Can you tell yet that I LOVE this movie?  All of the songs are so fantastic!  This is by far the best exposition of any Disney movie.  It tells this awesome back story about pride and love and judgment.  And then we've got the music at the end which is so triumphant... So epic.  Love love love.
"Morning in Paris!  The city awakes
To the bells of Notre Dame.
The fisherman fishes, the bakerman bakes,
To the bells of Notre Dame.
To the bells as loud as the thunder,
To the bells as soft as a psalm.
And some say the soul of the city's the toll of the bells...
The bells of Notre Dame!"

#10:  "Beauty and the Beast" from Beauty and the Beast

This song is the Academy Award-winning song of one of the greatest movies of all time.  SO CLASSIC.  And of course Angela Landsbury KILLS on this song.
"Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme,
Beauty and the Beast!"

#9:  "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan

Everyone loves this song.  Why?  Well it's powerful, funny, and... well... manly.  And it's got Donny Osmond!  That's kick-butt awesome!  I can't not include it on my list.
"Tranquil as a forest, But a fire within.
Once you find your center, you are sure to win."

#8: "Mine, Mine, Mine" from Pocahontas

I love this song.  The wordplay, the music, the thematic juxtapositions... Only one of the greatest songs ever written.  Go Alan and Stephen.  This is awesome.
"This land we behold!
This beauty untold!
A man can be bold!
It all can be SOLD!"

#7: "Baby of Mine" from Dumbo

Dumbo is one of Disney's LEAST appreciated movies.  This scene, depicting the love of a mother for her child, is so sad.  Motherhood...  Such a beautiful thing.
"You are so precious to me, cute as can be, baby of mine."

#6:  "Go the Distance" from Hercules

This song is so great.  It's triumphant.  It's inspiring.  It's about discovery and finding who you are.  Ain't that what we're all doing here?
"I have often dreamed of a far-off place
Where a great warm welcome will be waiting for me.
Where the crowds will cheer when they see my face,
And a voice keeps saying this is where I'm meant to be."

#5: "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio

A classic, first off.  But also a beautiful, comforting message.  Stars are a big theme in Disney culture.  We've got the second star to the right from Peter Pan, the image of Hercules painted in the stars...  Here, the star is a symbol of hope -- a desire that burns in the darkness.  It's wonderful.  And the melody is so complex.
"When your heart is in your dreams,
No request is too extreme.
When you wish upon a star,
Your dreams come true."

#4:  "Love is a Song" from Bambi

Just a beautiful simple song, applicable to so many parts of our lives.  Love is the most powerful and beautiful emotion of the human experience.  
"Hope may die, but love's beautiful music comes each day, like the dawn."

#3:  "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas

Music can be a powerful tool to send a message to the world.  Here, Disney presents us with an Anthem of Understanding.  Let's remember the beauty of nature and the significant things we can learn from people who may be different than us. 
"You think the only people who are people
Are people who look and think like you.
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger,
You'll learn things you never knew you never knew."

#2: "Out There" from The Hunchback of Notre Dame

This song is epic.  I had a lot of trouble not making this number one.  Tom Hulce's voice is spectacular, and I get chills EVERY TIME I hear this song.  I feel for Quasi's character so much.  He's lonely and lost, but he has a clear dream and an understanding about how precious life is.
"Out there among the millers and the weavers and their wives!
Through the roofs and gables I can see them.
Every day they shout and scold and go about their lives.
Heedless of the gift it is to be them.
If I was in their skin, I'd treasure every instant!"

#1:  "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid

This song is allegedly the first one I've ever sung. Ever. I have ALWAYS loved this movie and I always will. That aside, this song takes the #1 spot because it's so iconic and singable, as well as well-written.
What this song and song #2 have in common is this theme of wishing to be somewhere you're not.  Both Quasi Moto and Ariel wish to have their dreams come true.  I think we all have dreams and wishes, and sometimes achieving those dreams can be challenging.  But Disney tells us that the best things in life are worth fighting for.  You cannot succeed if you don't try.
"I don't know when,
I don't know how,
But I know something's starting right now.
Watch and you'll see!
Someday I'll be
Part of your world."

Listening to:  "Kiss the Girl" from Little Mermaid.  Also a great song!
Learned:  There's cycling during the Summer Olympics!  It's on at like 4 in the morning.
Blessings:  Not that much homework.  Plane tickets home.
Things Going On Today: Go out to eat... on a Sunday!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Youth... Wasted on the Young.

I don't care what ANYBODY says about it.  I don't CARE if your parents didn't get married until their early 30's.  I don't CARE if you're 25 and have never had a boyfriend.  I don't CARE if you didn't graduate until you were well into your 20's.  I don't care if you served as a Sister Missionary three years ago.  I don't give a crap if you're fracking 50 and living alone with only a cat and a turtle for company.

I. Feel. Old.  Too old.

Too old to get a Ph.D.  Too old to get married.  Too old to record an EP.  Too old to begin a life.

If I sit still for too long, I can almost feel my uterus shriveling into a raisin.  Just when I decided that having a lot of kids might be fun...

I'm almost afraid to brush my hair because I feel like every time I do, more hair falls out.

I'm having knee problems.  KNEE PROBLEMS.  I'm falling apart!

And in the meantime, there are 18-year-olds... 18-YEAR-OLDS... Getting married.  Owning homes and having sex and making babies and wearing white dresses and getting joint bank accounts.  I'm almost positive I've wanted it more than any of them did.  It's not fair.

Of course I blame others for the fact that life has passed me by.  And of course I have kicked myself plenty for letting life pass me by.  But in the end, it doesn't make a difference.  My 22nd birthday fast approaches, and I have nothing of worth to show for it.

Back when I started High School, I imagined that in five years, I would be active, happy, married, educated...  Now, here I sit.  No boyfriend.  No degree.  Heck, I don't even have a credit card yet!  It's like my life froze at age 19 but my body is still growing, regardless.

I'm sure most of these words are written out of depression.  I discovered a couple weeks ago that yes, I was depressed.  I feel jaded.  Nothing that used to make me happy makes me happy anymore.  And asking for help and support only makes me feel worse.

This is turning into a diary entry.  That's not what I wanted.  I just wanted to let everyone know that I am reaching my mid-life crisis at age 22.  I'd better get a move on and buy a motorcycle like my dad.  That way, even though I had no panache or excitement in my life, I'll at least die in style.

If I'm not going to get a motorcycle, I'd at least should put some money into that Smart Car fund.  No need to think about buying a minivan anymore.

Some things I can do if I never get married:

Write a hecka songs about it.
Write a book... about Lady Gaga.
Scrapbook everything.
Buy all the clothes.
Put up pictures on my bedroom wall that I would never want a husband to see.
Get 8 PhDs.
Grow flowers and sing to them.
Shower in stilettos EVERY DAY.
Never clean.
Sing at the top of my lungs at midnight.
Own a ferret.
Have a personal gym.
Work part-time.
Learn to yodel.
Flirt with strangers online.
Learn to pole dance....  And keep it a secret.
Knit something.
Bedazzle everything.
Watch chick-flicks all the time.
Serve the poor.
Paint furniture.
Teach music lessons to kids in my basement.
Read all the books.

Okay I feel better.

Things Going On Today:  Pioneer Day.  No internet at my house.
Blessings:  Grandparents.  Facebook on my phone.
Learned:  All about the "Jesus Lizard" -- or the Green Basilisk Lizard.  These are the lizards who can run on water by quickly creating pockets of air just under the surface of the water through the use of their semi-webbed feet.
Listening to:  PBS.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Thank you, Hyperbole and a Half

Things Going on Today:  Nothing.
Blessings: Ummmmm....
Listening to:  30 Rock...  all day.
Learned:  About variance among 12-tone rows...

Sunday, June 10, 2012


...that there may be a direct correlative relationship between my relationship status and the amount of time I spend looking up fashion shows on YouTube...

... And this means you'll probably be seeing about 17 hours worth of fashion-related posts in the coming weeks... 

Listening To: Courtney's alarm go off over and over again.
Things Going On Today:  First Sunday single.  Return and Report.  
Blessings:  Seven Peaks, trips to California at opportune times.
Learned:  What "yolo" means.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Marriage vs. Cohabitation: A lesson on Faith

I like talking about relationships a lot, and I'm sorry.  It's just such an important part of my little Mormon life.

This is gonna be a deep post.  It touches on a concept I've struggled with for a very long time.

I knew a boy back in high school that I really, REALLY admired. We became good friends, but we didn't always see eye to eye on things.  One day, we were talking about sex before marriage. He said something that would fascinate me for years:

"I don't think I really know if I love someone until I see her naked."

Yes.  That was what he said.  He went on to explain his feelings a bit more, and what I got out of it was that you really need to know an entire person in order to really love them.  You can really like a person a lot, but if there's no physical attraction, you really can't have the ideal romantic relationship.

This statement irks me on so many levels, but it also has left me with a lot of confusion and it made me really think about what I believed in regards to marriage, relationships, and sex.

 To set the record straight, I think it is wrong -- nay, downright sinful -- to participate in physical intimacy outside the bonds of matrimony.  God has told us not to do it, and if you do do it, there will be consequences.  Some of them you can get out of with repentance, but some you can't.  If that belief offends anyone, I'm sorry.  But I care about what God wants more than what anyone here on earth wants.

I do not apologize for this belief in the slightest, but I know that there are reasons why people break this commandment.  For one thing, it's super hard.  I know. Staying chaste is one of the biggest challenges people can face. I'm not ignorant of the fact that those feelings and desires to engage in such activity exist.  God meant for them to exist.   It's not like murder or stealing because it really can be a good thing in the right circumstances.  Good Mormons have sex.  You're supposed to have it when you're married.  It strengthens the relationship, makes you feel good, allows you to have the joy of children...  So many good things!  And as an added problem, Satan knows the stakes are high, so he's really upped his ante in making the sin look irresistible.  Remaining a virgin until you are married is a big sacrifice when the rest of the world is pressuring you and looks down on you for it.  I'm not ashamed to say that I have had to make some serious, difficult sacrifices to keep myself chaste.

It is hard, but it is so possible, and it is so worth it.

Within the past couple of decades, society has come to accept this idea that couples can live together and engage in sexual activity without making the commitment to marriage.  Some couples manage to co-inhabit for years.  Sometimes they eventually do get married, sometimes they don't.  Sometimes they stick together til they die, sometimes they don't.  From what I've gathered, people who adopt this lifestyle have sort of the same attitude that my good friend from high school had.  "I really don't know if I want to marry them yet.  Maybe we should live together for some time and see how we feel in a year or two.  Let's 'test the waters' and figure out if we are sexually compatible.  I'm not ready to commit for good, but can't I at least enjoy the complete extent of our relationship while I do have feelings for this person?"

Now, I'm a logical person. When I heard Mr. High School Buddy explain this mindset to me, I thought it seemed pretty logical.  Marriage is a super important decision.  And, at least in the world I grew up in, marriage was for eternal keepsies.  You don't go back on marriage.  Once you marry someone, you're with them.  Divorce isn't an option, except in rare circumstances.  Before I make this HUGE decision, I'd like to do my homework and really get to know the person I'm planning on marrying.  If I don't, I could end up with someone I'm not really happy with, and then my life will be miserable.  I don't want my life to be miserable!  Maybe the test for physical compatibility isn't as far-fetched as my leaders make it sound.  Yeah, you shouldn't be having sex all over the place with just anyone. But what if you really do have legitimate feelings for someone, and you're at least willing to commit to them for a time, but you're still not sure if you're ready for forever?  Marriage seems like an awfully big risk if you don't even know if you will really love that person, inside and out, with and without their clothes on.

But of course, I can't deny that the revelation speaks otherwise.  Physical intimacy is meant for a man and a woman who are united under holy matrimony -- whether it be in the temple or otherwise.  You need to be married before you can have sex with a person.  It's super important that you do so.  I had a testimony of this fact, but I didn't quite know why it was that important.  And that little hole in the logic really got to me.  How can I really have a testimony of the Law of Chastity if I don't have any idea why it's important?  I suppose God tells us to do things without telling us why all the time, but this one seemed too big of a deal to go without any real reasoning behind it.  I prayed for answers, and I sort of lived on that prayer for years, vacillating between feelings of doubt and anxiety and feelings of hope that God would indeed answer my prayer someday.

Last week, at Institute, we talked a little about the Law of Chastity in a class called "Preparing for an Eternal Marriage."  There was a discussion about some of the customs that are accepted by worldly standards, but not God's standards.  Someone brought up the notion of non-marital co-habitation and I started having that battle with myself again...

But then it came to me:  Faith.  Faith is the answer to everything.

I think you can have faith in God, but you can also have faith in a marriage, because marriage is of God.  Maybe faith in marriage comes from having faith in God.  Either way, faith is the answer.  As we read in the scriptures, faith is the knowledge or hope of things not seen.  Faith can mean an expectation of something that will happen later in the future, or it can be the belief of something that currently exists but that is just not seen.  Faith is the opposite of fear.

I think people who choose to put off marriage while still enjoying its benefits are not acting out of faith, but out of fear.  They aren't willing to make the ultimate commitment because they fear that they will be making a mistake if they do.  I don't think God's plan is designed for people to fear.  We need to have faith.  We need to remember that God will always be with us in our marriages.  If you have faith, you have a hope that a relationship will work, even if there are unknowns.  If you have faith, you don't have any need to fear the future.  If you have faith in God, you know he will help you, even if things get rough down the road.  If you have faith in your marriage, you maintain a belief that it can work, even if you and your spouse aren't completely compatible in every way.  I believe, then, that marriage is the ultimate act of faith.  Marriage is committing to your belief that the marriage will work.  It's like saying, "I don't know what the future brings, but I believe that this can last forever.  And I'm going to give up my single life completely to co-exist with someone completely.  In sickness and in health, for better or for worse, for time and all eternity.

I'll keep using that "test the waters" analogy.  There is no need to test the waters if you have faith that the waters will be just fine.  More often than not, they will be.  People who get married usually have their relationships last longer than those who simply live together.  But what if the water isn't fine?  What if, three months later, you realize that the water's a little more frigid than you're comfortable with.  Maybe it's the sex, maybe it's just his nagging personality, or maybe you just feel like you've settled and you could have had better.  No matter what the issue is, there is a way to make the relationship work.  If you include God in your relationship through faith, God will give you a way for your relationship to work.  Maybe he'll heat up the water, or maybe he'll just help you change your attitude about it.  No matter what the issue, things get easier when you have faith that God will help you.

Now that I've learned this, I have a very different attitude toward that statement that my friend made long ago.  Not only do I believe it isn't true, I also find it to be rather insulting.  I can now imagine how I would feel if someone said that about me.  If a guy can't know he loves me without seeing me naked first, that means he has no faith in me and no faith in our relationship.  It means that the physical aspects of a relationship are the only things to him that matter in a marriage.  That's just stupid and shallow.  Marriage is much more than just the physical.  Yes, it's important, but once again, if you approach your marriage with the right attitude and with the right amount of faith, you can be happy with anyone in every aspect.  I don't think my friend will ever truly love someone if he approaches his relationships with that attitude.

So... bottom line.  There's no need to not get married yet if you have faith.  Faith is the answer to everything.  Faith is the way you can keep the Law of Chastity until the day you die.  With God, all things are possible, and all marriages are possible.

Listening to:  Candlelight Carol by BYU Women's Chorus
Things going on today:  A fireside, lots of homework.
Blessings:  Periods only come once a month, not once a week.
Learned:  Laughter can actually provide lots of ease from menstrual cramps.

A Lesson My Parents Probably Don't Know They Taught Me

Alright... Opposites.  I have seen tons of couples out there.  Some are made up of pretty similar people.  Others, it's like they're from different planets.  My own mom and dad are pretty opposite.  Mom is bubbly and social and very giving of herself.  Dad is quiet, reserved, and careful.  When mom is upset, she cries and blames herself.  When dad's upset, he yells and puts the blame on other people.  Mom likes to watch movies and go to plays and read books.  Dad does NONE of those things. He has no hobbies.  Hobbies are expensive.  Mom likes to treat herself to restaurants and new clothes.  Dad never likes to spend money, even if he's spending it on something completely worthwhile.  They even LOOK different.  Mom is tan and blonde and HAWT.  Dad is tall and dignified and would look good only according to eighteenth century nobility standards.  

My darling Parents.
I think a lot of their differing personality traits stem from very different pasts.  My mom, Wendy, grew up in a very active church family in Provo stinking Utah.  Provo was a college town, an established urban metropolis.  My Grandpa Gardner, even though he has Alzheimer's, still manages to find the energy to tell my Grandma Gardner how wonderful she is.  Every day.  Mom had two older sisters and three younger brothers.  Grandma G was a pianist and taught mom the importance of music and performing arts.  Grandpa was a very smart and successful man.  He worked at the University of Utah, served on the State Legislature, and worked with experiments that led to today's modern development in rocket science and computers.  The Gardner family could afford comforts for their large family, like the newest computer modems (with punch cards!), a nice grand piano, and a big house.  Mom was surrounded by members of the church, got tons of dates all growing up, and got a chance to study abroad in Europe during her short secondary education.  I'm not going to say my mom's life was easy, but as you'll see shortly, her lifestyle was very different from my father's. 

My Father, Erik, grew up in Burnsville, Minnesota, one of very few members of the church in a much smaller school in a sprouting country-turning-suburb.  Dad came from a part-member family and had an older brother and two much younger sisters.  The Johnsons were a poorer family.  Grandpa Harlan worked in a small business, and for a while had to work two jobs to keep his family living in the same home they began in.   Grandma D. also worked really hard, kind of putting together a DIY home out of what they already had.  Dad learned quickly that he, himself, would have to put in a lot of effort in order to be successful.  He ended up getting a Master's Degree and joining the family business. Grandpa Harlan is Catholic.  Grandma Doro grew up in the church, but she herself was from a part-member family and took sort of an apathetic approach to governing her children's spiritual lives.  Dad and his older brother Ty sort of had to find testimonies on their own, and weren't given any support by their peers or parents. Grandma Doro and Grandpa Harlan are like the opposite of my Gardner Grandparents.  In my dad's teenage years, they ended up getting a divorce, and it was in no way pleasant for anyone. Even when it happens later on in a person's youth, the experience of divorce is one that can alter your life forever.

So, when two completely different worlds combine, there are bound to be some adjustments you have to make.  My Dad was a little put off by how outgoing and "Mormon" my mother is.  To this day, Dad still teases her about how she bursts into impromptu song and dance at the most unnecessary of moments. 

A big thing my Dad had to learn is that my mom is a Words Person.  She expects to be TOLD -- not just SHOWN -- how much she is loved.  Remember, Grandpa Gardner was a words guy.  He tells everyone how much he loves my Grandma and how proud he is of his kids.  Dad isn't much of a words guy.  Grandpa Harlan wasn't a words guy.  Harlan showed his love by going out and working as a school janitor for a second evening job to provide for his family.  I'm sure Grandpa loved his kids, even with the divorce and everything, but he just wasn't the mushy-"I-love-you"-type.  So Dad learned not to rely on that kind of communication.  When he met my mom, he had to CONSCIOUSLY RESOLVE to tell her he loved her every day, because he found out very quickly that it was something she was used to.  And it wasn't just words.  Mom likes gifts.  She likes getting jewelry, flowers, fancy restaurant dates, and vacations to all places tropical.  I'm positive that my father thinks those things are a complete waste of money, but because he loves her, he uses his precious, hard-earned money to her stuff like that all the time. (My favorite gift: A trip for her to see Daughtry in concert last summer.  The card said, "Dear Wendy, please find someone else to go to this concert with you. Love Erik.") 

In my own childhood, I remember often thinking that my father didn't love me.  He didn't ever give me a lot of praise or verbal affirmation, and he often had trouble communicating his feelings to me in a "loving" way when he was disappointed with me.  He also wasn't home as much as I probably would have liked.  BUT, now that I'm older, I can see all of the things my Dad HAS done for me because he loves me.  He's worked hard, sacrificed a lot of time and money, and he's stepped quite a bit out of his comfort zone to give me the praise and verbal affection that I so greatly desire.  I've learned from my Dad that we need to be aware of ALL of the things our family does for us, even if they aren't what we find obvious.

I'm sure mom feels it too.  Sometimes I would come home and the house would be a mess.  I remember seeing my mother, almost in tears, hurrying to try and get dinner made while at the same time trying to tidy up the kitchen.  "Please help clean up!" she would say.  "I don't want your Dad to come home from work tonight to such a messy house!"  You see, while my Mom is a words person, she is NOT as much of a service person.  She must make a CONSCIOUS EFFORT to do things for my Dad that he would appreciate. Things like cleaning the house, making dinner, and not spending too much money when she goes to Target Some of those things are outside her comfort zone, but she does them anyway because she loves her husband. 

I'm a lot like my mother.  I like words and gifts and quality time.  I always thought that I would want to only date guys who would satisfy those needs.  Guys who would express their feelings verbally all the time, guys who would be as emotionally charged as I am and express their passions the same way I do.  Some of the men I've dated have showered me with praise, given me wonderful gifts, and have invested a great deal of time on me.  But others, including my current boyfriend, don't speak those love languages as well.  My boyfriend is wonderful.  He's so humble and patient and accepting of me.  He reminds me a lot of my Dad.  He, too, is quiet, reserved, and careful.  There are days when I get frustrated at him because he doesn't express his feelings for me in those specific ways that I particularly appreciate.  But then I remember the things he DOES do.  He puts off homework for me all the time.  He asks for my advice.  He listens to me.  He buys me Slurpees. And he, like my father, has done a lot of stepping out of his comfort zone.  He's holds my hand in public.  He  tells me what's on his mind.  And he's learning about my needs and he's changing for them.  No doubt, we'll have a few periods in our relationship where we will disagree and we'll have to explain each other's expectations, but we've already been through enough for me to feel like this, too, shall pass.  

I've always liked this picture.  Check out that girl's socks. 

I think about my parents' relationship a lot, now that I'm dating myself.  I know not every couple is going to be exactly the same, but I do feel like my parents have taught me correct principles of patience, understanding, and sacrifice.  Despite what the fairy tales say, love ain't a picnic.  There is a ton of work involved.  They say opposites attract, and it's true some couples seem like opposites.  But really, if you think about it, there's always going to be something "opposite" about the person you are dating.  No one is exactly like you.  No one is exactly like your spouse, either.  And that's okay.  In fact, it's probably very helpful.  If you both have exactly the same "love language" and expectations, you aren't really learning anything new about each other.  What if my boyfriend and I were both only service people, who never really expressed affection verbally, or even expected the other to do it.  One day, if I get married and have a child, that child will have his own personality and agency.  Maybe HE'LL need verbal attention.  If anything, my differences from my boyfriend teach me how to show love in a variety of ways.  That's valuable.  

I have a theory:  Love is a willingness to put one's needs and desires first.  Love of yourself is a willingness to put your wants, as well as your needs, in the foreground, while love of others requires you to forsake some of those wants and maybe even rethink and adjust your needs.  A healthy relationship involves love of yourself as well as love of your partner.  Your partner must also love you as well as him/herself.  Ideal love is a balance of these four different states of feeling between two people.  When looking for a spouse, it is important to consider if you both can even come close to maintaining that balance with each other.  My parents have it down to an art, and they set a high standard for me to pursue.  I have faith that I can do it. 

Listening to:  My dear Women's Chorus singing a version of "True Colors."
Things going on today:  Break the Fast, doing ALL the homework.
Blessings:  ...........................................tampons.......................................... (forgive me.)
Learned:  Captain Kirk was on the original series of Star Trek.  Picard was on the Next Generation Series.  I can feel myself getting nerdier by the minute.