Monday, April 30, 2012


Yesterday I decided to clean all the water bottles and thermoses out of my room. They're scattered about - some of them with water that's gone stale from sitting too long - and I figured they could use a good cleaning. So I started collecting. 13 bottles later...

So I made a space in the kitchen for all my water bottles.

I have too much stuff. I get overwhelmed by all the stuff I have. It's going to be a real battle deciding which stuff comes to college with me. I want to throw away all the stuff I have and buy all new stuff.
Someday I will understand what live simply means. Someday.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Quote Sunday

Lorin got ditched home alone on Friday night, and I felt badly about that. So last night we went on an outing. We went to dinner and went to see Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at the Broadway theater. It was a kinda lovely and darling film. It was fun to see with Lorin just because he loved it so much. Since he got released he's gone fly fishing four times. His fishing makes me happy. My earliest memories of Lorin are of him sitting on the stairs next to his teeny tiny fishing closet (seriously, think Harry's cupboard under the stairs tiny) sorting his flies and setting up his rods and getting ready for a trip. Someday, I'm going to become a really fine fisherman. Probably when I'm a starving writer trying to find dinner.
Anyway, the movie naturally reminded me of A River Runs Through It. One of my very very very favorite quotes in the whole world comes from there.
"Help is giving part of yourself to somebody who comes to accept it willing and needs it badly."
I guess I love this because I believe it. I'm getting to that point where I want to write a billion horribly indulgent sentimental thank you notes to the people scattered around my life - and there are many - who have gone way beyond their duty and  far out of their way to help me. And when I think about the ways various people have changed my life that quote keeps coming back to me. It just feels true. I've been shaped into the person I'm on my way to becoming by those bits of self that I've been give.
But how do you say thank you for that?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I am going to burn the young women's manual.

And I won't even feel badly about it.
I've been brooding on this for days. 
Our last lesson was about patriarchal leadership in the home. Rarely do lessons get this offensive. It all started with this propaganda quiz:

What Do You Know about the Patriarchal Order?
Choose the correct answer or answers to each of the following: 

1. The patriarchal order is:
a. A recommend to get your patriarchal blessing.
b. An order for obtaining goods from the bishops’ storehouse.
c. The Lord’s divine system of government.

2. The most important organization in the Church is:
a. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
b. The First Presidency.
c. The family.

3. The presiding authority in your family is:
a. The President of the Church.
b. The bishop.
c. Your father (or your mother, if there is no father in your home).

4. As presiding authority in the family, some of the father’s responsibilities are to:
a. Preside and direct the affairs of his home and family in righteousness.
b. Provide for the physical and spiritual needs of his family.
c. Seek the Lord for personal revelation concerning his family.

5. Some of the mother’s responsibilities are to:
a. Bear and nurture children.
b. Help provide for the physical and spiritual needs of her family.
c. Be a companion, a counselor, and a friend to her husband.

6. According to the Lord’s plan, who is responsible for loving and teaching the children?
a. The father only.
b. The mother only.
c. Both parents.

7. In the Lord’s plan:
a. There is full equality between man and woman.
b. The man is more important because he holds the priesthood.
c. The Lord loves his daughters as much as he loves his sons.

8. Although each father presides in his family, in order to preside as the patriarchal head of a family, he must:
a. Have a college education.
b. Have a good job.
c. Have the Melchizedek Priesthood.

9. The father has the role of patriarch because:
a. He is more worthy and better qualified.
b. It is his divine role.
c. It is a matter of law and order.

1) C
2) C
3) C
4) A B C
5) A B C
6) A B
7) A C
8) C
9) B C


Here's why I take such issue with this:
In the same breath the church says "In the home the presiding authority is always vested in the father, and in all home affairs and family matters there is no other authority paramount” but it's not because we - the men who run the church - want it that way. It's because that's the way God wanted it. Really, men and women are equal.
And personally, I think that's bullshit.
The other huge issue I have with this whole "paramount authority" thing is that I don't see how this isn't demeaning to marriage, but the idea of a homosexual couple getting married is. Really? I mean really?

I'm going to host a manual bonfire.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Some days are sad days.

Some days are just sad days. You know those days? When it feels like the world is out to get you. When you wake up and there's a split moment of peace and then you feel something sink inside. When the teeniest not-even-sad things make you want to burst into tears and you haven't the slightest idea why.
On sad days, I end up saying "today it's hard to be me. Take me to Starbucks." And that usually flies, because everyone has the occasional sad day. Sometimes I run away, but that doesn't solve any problems. I don't think that there are real antidotes to sad days. But dark chocolate makes them better. And maybe baking cupcakes.
Sad days make me think of something my dean (she's also one of my favorite people, but officially my dean) told me a few months ago: if you treat everyone you meet like they're going through a serious life crisis, 60% of the time you'll be right. The funny thing is, since she told me that, that's proved true time and time again. 
Sad days are not life crises. Not in the least. But sometimes really excellent people improve sad days even more than dark chocolate.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Romney does Shakespeare

This is honestly the funniest things I've ever seen. I can't say anything today that will be better than this. So here are the highlights:

This one is my favorite, because Waterford Theater is doing Shrew right now. The best was that after it got posted on Facebook, my friends proceeded to quote other sexist Shrew lines. Oh Mitt. Oh Shakespeare.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SL Valley

I'm out of commentary for blog. So here's a mimic we did in my Middle Eastern Literature class. The prompt was to describe the history of the Salt Lake Valley in a time-lapse esque manner.
Prompts are good for days when I'm out of opinions.
I'm really obsessed with the word salt.

We live between the mountains by the lake that tastes of salt. We, ancient, make homes from the earth. We, ancient, live from the earth: from turquoise and buffalo, from corn and cotton, from rock and wood.

We come for sanctuary. We stop because this is the place; because our feet and our babies turned blue then black then dead cold; because the lake tastes of salt. We stay. We build for ourselves a kingdom.

They say we unite the country. But their train tracks, money, and war: it all comes just as it all goes. Meanwhile, we remain alongside the lake of salt. Our God is here.

We come to leave the buildings. We come for the smells of autumn rain, for red noses in winter, for hot desert days and cold desert nights, for the way she smiles at a freshly-bloomed flower. We come to be healed by the lake of salt.

We thrive.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Tuesdays are good days for poems. I've been working on this for a little while.


lucks and losses
keeps her promises
doesn’t want your prayers
except when –
she’s not as strong
as she would be
she cries
sometimes she’s transparent

what the fuck is virginity anyway?
she always lets him in
the trembling
swarm of bees chasing a deer
leaping bucking shaking
stopping the sting

lightning asks her to listen
one heart that beats
two flesh hands
common as bread and birth
cream and strawberries
 for breakfast
early people knew
to count their ribs

Sunday, April 22, 2012

City of Books

Yesterday I visited the happiest place on earth which, as it turns out, is not Disneyland but Powell's City of Books in Portland.

Taking up a full city block, Powell's is "the largest new and used bookstore in the country". I honestly think it's one of the most magical places I've ever been. I just wandered around, and it was amazing. They have like six copies of every book, because they take new and used. The shelves go up ridiculously high. Naturally, I bought things: A collection of Edna St. Vincent Millay poetry (I told you I needed more), Faulkner's Light In August and a Pico Iyer novel.

Really though, the best part of the whole trip was the Rare Books Room, where I got to touch (wait for it...) first edition Farewell to Arms as well as a signed copy of Slaughterhouse-Five. It was possibly the best moment of my life thus-far.

I really love Portland. Someday I will live here. Maybe when I'm a starving writer, I'll be a starving writer living in Portland working at Powell's. Maybe not. We'll see. (Someday, ask me to tell you my new life plan. It's awesome).

PS. If you still think Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, look at this:

Quote Sunday

I'm at the beach. It's beautiful. Sometimes it rains. I love wearing rainboots and leggings. The wet reminded me of this beautiful and breathtaking poem my theatre teacher posted on his blog. I need more Edna St. Vincent Millay in my life. Enjoy (you'd be crazy not to).

Sonnet XLIII

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that sings in me no more.

Ps. It really is beautiful out here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Humanities Make Me Human

The other day I read this really awesome essay written by someone who was finishing up her MFA in creative writing from the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College (can we just take a moment to note how that is the best name ever for a grad school. I secretly love the word bread. Almost as much as I love the word salt.) Anyway, in the essay, she was talking about why she was getting such an (arguably) useless degree and about defending her choice to peruse a graduate degree in the humanities. She wrote "the humanities made me human" and that statement made me cry.
I think it affected me because it feels so true to me. The humanities awaken my vulnerability and alight my humanity. I'm addicted to that feeling. In English a week or so ago, we were talking about why we read literature that makes us weep why - as my teacher puts it - the best literature makes you curl up on the bathroom floor, hold your stomach and weep. I believe it's because those moments make us human. Being human is the best state to be in. It's stupid and funny, but I really believe that we spend too much time not being human.
Eve Ensler talks about living in her head compared to living in her body. I don't really understand that, but I feel like really great literature pulls me out of my head - or wherever it is I spend most of my life - and pulls me into the human core inside.
Maybe I'm just gushing about literature so much because my English class is English-teacher-less and that makes me sad. Maybe it's because I'm in three English classes right now. Maybe it's because I'm looking to college and the cool English classes I can take there (let's talk about the course titled "women's poetry"). Maybe it's because last night, I read "A Streetcar Named Desire". Maybe it's because I'm scared and I cling to the beauty and truth and comfort I can find inside a good book. I don't know why, but I know that a good book can change the world. And that is enough for today.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Second spring break

You know what's great? Second spring break. Judy and I are up in Portland. We're going to the coast for a few days. I needed a break right about now.

It's funny because I've had a few people tell me "I know this has been a hard and good year for you." and while that's certainly true, it's been the right year for me. Kinda the imperfect, much needed, senior year to try to learn to grow up.

Today we went to the zoo.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Guest Post: Kasandra

First order of business. Guess who's speaking at graduation? This girl! Which is really neat because the grade chooses one person to be the student speaker (since we're too pretetentious for valedictorians) and I got chosen. So I'm thrilled and honored and a teensy bit terrified. All good things to be.

Okay. On to Guest Post. It's a good one.

Kasandra is one of the most darling girls I know. Honestly, she's so sweet birds must help her get dressed in the morning. I've known her since we were in nursery threes together. We really first made friends in second grade, when we were always in line together, because our last names are next to each other in alphabetical order. When I think about things I'll miss about Waterford, people like Kasandra - who I've known and loved for years - are on the top of the list. Kasandra is the girl who taught me what sincerity means. Because even though I tease her for things like crying too much or being baby hungry, she's taught me that I can accept the same things in myself. And I love her for that.

So here's a poem she wrote that I love entirely:

Note: I am a typical BYU student.
White, blonde, straight, Mormon.
Have you begun stereotyping?

Note: I obey the so-called rules I am expected to.
I believe they are only for my own good.
I love the smell of coffee beans.

Note: General Conference is my favorite weekend.
I take notes on every talk from each general authority.
I have seen a few rated R movies.

Note: I believe there is a God.
I pray three times a day.
I’m interested in helping the impoverished throughout the world.

Note: I read my scriptures daily.
I believe their words are true.
I am not voting for Mitt Romney.

Note: I go to seminary before school every day.
I attend all of my meetings throughout the week.
I wear bikinis in the summertime.

Note: I was born in Provo.
I have lived in Utah my whole life.
I absolutely love it here.
I have a desire to travel all around the world.

Note: I plan on getting married, probably earlier than most of you.
It will most likely be in the temple.
I also plan on joining a student gay straight alliance at BYU.

Note: I am very sheltered and probably very naive.
My idea of “getting out of here” is moving twenty minutes down South.
I do in fact make my own opinions when it comes to controversial topics.

Note: I do my best to “choose the right.”
I always wear a ring on this finger.
To me, that means treating others with kindness and respect no matter the circumstance.

Note: I just might serve a mission,
and be a full representative of my church.
I don’t count hell and damn as swear words.

Note: I listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir every morning.
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing is my favorite song.
I’m also a fan of Wu Tang Clan and Tupac.

Note: I can’t wait to have kids.
I am often made fun of for being baby hungry.
I am pro-choice.

Note: I believe what the leaders of my church say.
I don’t believe in laws that tell a group of people they can’t have a right that others have.
I am against Proposition 8.
I am not homophobic.

Note: Living by this gospel makes me happy.
It gives me purpose, hope, a reason for goodness.
I am open-minded to other religions or beliefs.

Note: I’ve been a Mormon my whole life.
I don’t blindly conform what my parents or my bishop tell me to do.
I make my own decisions.
I have had my doubts, and figured this out on my own.

Note: Being a Mormon in Utah is not always easy.
I am quickly judged and stereotyped upon first glance.
I also have to stand up for beliefs I have that may be contrary to others in Young Women’s.

Note: It is not easy when something you believe in so passionately
is judged by its judgemental members.
The gospel I believe in revolves around love, goodness and light,
not hatred, condemnation or guilt.

Note: I am a Mormon in Utah.
I am not ashamed of this, but it is not all that I am.
I am more than what outsiders immediately think of me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cupcakes! I am a domestic goddess part II

So for creative writing, my excellent teacher does this thing where she's like "anyone who submits to the Lit Mag gets a cupcake." And she's that teacher who stays up until 2 AM making cupcakes. So this year I blurted out "hey, I'll help you make cupcakes" and thus committed myself to a domestic role.
Here's a dirty little secret: sometimes I love domestic things. Like almost a lot. Baking. I love baking. So naturally, I was not going to make just any cupcakes, no I would be making excellent cupcakes. So I went to the most domestic woman I know (whom I adore with all my heart and who happens to be one of the four or five "second moms" I'm lucky to have floating around my life) and got a cupcake recipe from her. And boy did she deliver. So today is a new thing for this blog! A recipe/cooking post!

Lemon Cupcakes 



1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

1 teaspoon baking powder (recipe calls for 1 TBL, but in our altitude, the 1 tsp is better)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Grated zest of 2 lemons

3 cups lemon curd (see below)

Frosting = 1 pint whipping cream + 1.5 cups powdered sugar

Berries to top


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange two racks in center of oven.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium speed until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating on medium speed until lightened, 3 to 4 minutes; scrape down sides once or twice. Drizzle in eggs, a little at a time, beating after each addition until batter is no longer slick, about 5 minutes; stop once or twice to scrape down sides.

On low speed, alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, a little of each at a time, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat in vanilla and lemon zest.

Pour ¼ C batter into each cupcake liner. Bake 20 minutes, then rotate the pans in the oven for even browning. Continue baking until golden on top. Cool on wire racks.

Lemon Curd


6 large egg yolks, strained

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup lemon juice

12 tablespoons sugar

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces


Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Whisk to combine. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, making sure to stir sides and bottom of pan. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat. Add butter, one piece at a time, stirring with the wooden spoon until consistency is smooth. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to avoid a skin from forming; wrap tightly. Let cool; refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least one hour.


After the cupcakes are baked and cooled and the curd is cooled, you have to put them together (enter Hannah and her pictures).
They start like this. All bare and naked.

Then you pull one out and use an apple-core or similar device to take out the center.

Remove the top.

Spoon the curd into the middle.

Put the top back on.

Frost it, put a fruit-topper on (I like strawberries) and voila! 30 cupcakes later people will be glad they submitted to your creative writing contest. 

Don't anyone ever tell me I'm not a domestic goddess ever again. I'm a domestic goddess to rival Ann Romney. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's warm outside

It's finally warm outside!
By this, what I really mean is that it is not snowing.

This change of weather means:
1. I've worn a dress three weekends in a row.
2. Iced green tea and coffee.
3. Wearing my hair up.
4. Playing outside during lunch.
5. It's time for my hair to go back to blonde blonde blonde.
6. Driving with the windows down.
7. Sunglasses
8. Farmers tan
9. Teachers sometimes opt for class outside.
10. Summer is tempting me.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Prom was fun

Senior prom. It was fun and excellent. The best part was the photo booth.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Quote Sunday

Alright, so my tall blonde best friend finally got the I-am-now-18 tattoo that we all secretly pined for (but only some of us actually get). Anyway, in choosing her tattoo, she decided she definitely wanted something out of a poem (she loves poetry, but I'm surprised she didn't go with Shakespeare). In the end, she put "mad love" on her hip. Which was pretty cool. Mad love comes from the poem "March" by Mary Oliver, today's quote Sunday.

There isn’t anything in this world but mad love. Not in this world. No tame love, calm love, mild love, no so-so love. And, of course, no reasonable love. Also there are a hundred paths through the world that are easier than loving. But, who wants easier? We dream of love, we moon about, thinking of Romeo and Juliet, or Tristan, or the lost queen rushing away over the Irish sea, all doom and splendor. Today, on the beach, an old man was sitting in the sun. I called out to him, and he turned. His face was like an empty pot. I remember his tall, pale wife; she died long ago. I remember his daughter-in-law. When she died, hard, and too young, he wept in the streets. He picked up pieces of wood, and stones, and anything else that was there, and threw them at the sea. Oh, how he loved his wife. Oh, how he loved young Barbara. I stood in front of him, not expecting any answer yet not wanting to pass without some greeting. But his face had gone back to whatever he was dreaming. Something touched me, lightly, like a knife-blade. I felt I was bleeding, though just a little, a hint. Inside I flared hot, then cold. I thought of you. Whom I love, madly.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I broke the car.

So yesterday I'm driving home from rehearsal and what not. Then I hit the car in front of me.
Some fucking dog ran across the street. And the first car stopped fast then the next car stopped faster then I hit the second car. That car was fine. Mine, not so much.

It looks like the hood is popped. The hood is not popped. It's seriously bent.
So at first the lady I hit was quite grumpy (understandably so, I'm not blaming her). Then the cop came and she was like "my license will show that I have a concealed weapon. And it is in the car." And I'm sitting there thinking who the fuck did I hit? But then, as it turned out, she was a totally adorable woman once I started playing what I call "sweet and helpless teenager" card. So that was nice.
So I got a ticket and a broken car. And that sucks.
But perhaps what sucks worse is that today my body hurts. My neck and back and shoulder hurt. Normally, this would just be a minor suck, but tonight is prom, so it's a super extra big suck.
Fucking Friday the 13th.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I've been thinking about graduation (again)

Right now, I’m in a spot where I switch between feeling like I’m serving the last 2 months of a prison sentence and feeling like I’ve been told that in 2 months I have to walk the plank. When I say switch, I mean all the time. It switches so many times during the day, during classes even, I can’t keep track of it. I’m waiting to find some peaceful space between them.

But here’s the thing: I’m not sure there is a peaceful space between them, because I’m not sure graduation can be pinned into “the happy thing” or “the sad thing”. People use words like “bitter-sweet,” but I think that’s bullshit because no one ever likes bittersweet chocolate.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Okay, so I really hate using words like "slut" "whore" "hussie" "ho". I really do. And this sounds dumb, but sometimes I just really need a good insult for my friends. You know. When they do something that deserves a friendly insult, but when "dumbass" and other common derivatives just seem too harsh. Generally speaking, that's when these words come into use. But I've grown kinda sensitive to them, because I really hate what they do to women in society in general. Even though they're not used in the literal sense, I hate that there is the implication that if a woman has sex she should feel guilty or inferior. So that's my dilemma. What kind of friendly insult works?
So, to solve such dilemma, I made up a word: Egore. Technically, my phone made up the term with autocorrect (I still don't understand why it used a made-up word), but it's rather perfect. A friendly insult that my friends understand without implying that female sexuality is not okay. Ta-da!
I think egore should be a more commonly used insult.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It gets better at BYU

I've probably watched this video ten times in the last few days. It's so beautiful and true, and sometimes it's just lovely to see people being honest and vulnerable and reaching out. It made me a little bit proud of the Mormon church, because even though lots of things that get said are horrible there are awesome students like this a BYU and beautiful people worldwide who make room in their hearts and understand that love is not about religion or sexual orientation.
Also, I just want to add that I my favorite part was the little bit about finding peace through helping others, because I really do believe that healing comes from helping other. I believe that with my whole heart. But I'll write about that another day.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We Failed to Climb It

We Failed to Climb It

How to pick a pair of hiking boots:
1.     Match your hiking ambitions. Buy the boots best suited for your terrain, weather, pack load, distance and hiking history. Big expensive boots do not make you a better hiker.
2.     If you put your toe at the end, you want to be able to comfortably fit your finger between your heel and the back of the boot. The boots must not be too long or too short because if your feet hit the end when you’re hiking downhill, your toenails will turn black and fall off.
3.     Bring the socks you intend to hike in to ensure the boots are in fact the right size. Then, try the boot on without a sock. Try to determine if the boot feels too tight or uncomfortable anywhere. This is the best way to avoid blisters later on.
4.     Once you buy the boots, wear them around the house for a day to make sure they're just right. Consider wearing them to the gym.
5.     Most importantly, you must tie the laces very tight.

I tied so many pairs of boots that I wore the skin off my fingers in three places.

«  »

Dear Hannah (my favorite daughter),
I'm glad we found a book to read together. It's fun for me. I like that time together. I miss it when we don't have the chance to read. Have a wonderful day. Do something kind for someone, OK?

«  »

I should have realized I was in over my head when I went to buy hiking boots. I went into the shoe section of REI and blurted at the first salesperson I saw, "I need hiking boots. I have no idea what kind I want, but I need good ones."

"Okay, what kind of hiking are you going to be doing?"


The woman next to her, a customer with Chaco tan lines on her feet and a thick braid hanging down her back, said, "that's a great starting one."

The saleslady pulled boot after boot after boot until I found my golden slippers.

«  »

The babies in my dream are usually girls and are usually white. Once, the baby was French, but the only reason I knew that was that it was wearing a beret.

«  »

In hindsight, if I do end up going to hell, it will be because when I was leaving REI the day I bought my boots, I saw a woman in a wheelchair wearing the same ones, and I scoffed under my breath. Yes, that will be the sin that does me in, because you’re not supposed to laugh at handicapped people.

But what use are hiking boots to a woman in a wheelchair?

«  »

There are two theories regarding the origination of the name Kilimanjaro:
1.     The possible Swahili root of Kilimanjaro is kilima which means hill or little mountain.
2.     The possible Chaga root of Kilimanjaro is the phrase Kile-lema-irho which means we failed to climb it.

Three hours into the climb, I realized  two things:
1.     I side with the Changa root of the name.
2.     When I said I wanted to climb Kilimajaro, what I really meant was that I wanted to have climbed Kilimanjaro.

«  »

Regardless of what Oxford English Dictionary says, beauty is defined in A River Runs Through It. After Norman’s brother dies, Norman says to his father, "If you push me far enough all I really know is that he was a fine fisherman," and their father responds "You know more than that. He was beautiful."

That's the way the word was meant to be used: not orchids, love stories, ocean views. A fine fisherman and a beautiful person

«  »

Our guide’s name was David. David summits Kili on a weekly basis. His favorite item of clothing is his gaiters that one of his climbers gave him after summiting. His English is mediocre, but he’s gentle with his climbers, which is all we could ever really ask for. When he’s not climbing, he plays soccer, and he is an avid supporter of FC Barcelona. Because David has no access to running water and because his livelihood depends on physical activity, he smells horrible. David wears his hair in long dreads that he holds back with a headband.

Almost nonstop the Kilimanjaro guides, David included, tell their tourists “Pole Pole”. Pole Pole – a Swahili term that translates roughly to take it easy or go slowly or you stupid fat American why do I have to drag your ass up the mountain –  is the one and only rule to summiting Kilimanjaro.

You’re looking tired? Pole Pole! Hungry? Pole Pole! Altitude-sick? Pole Pole! Out of shape? Someone passes you on the trail? Pole Pole!  Pole Pole! Cursing National Geographic for making the climb look like so much fun? Pole Pole!

I think the guides realize that we Americans do not like to be told to go slowly. No matter how much we are begging mercy from the mountain, it’s patronizing. But if it’s a phrase in Swahili that they put on T-shirts and a certificate you can pick up at the bottom, well that’s just fine. It’s quaint and acceptable.

«  »

Dear Hannah Banana Grace Rockhopper Pugh,
I am very glad to see you are feeling better. I hate to see you sick. You were certainly happy and cheerful last night (except when you were screaming at Samuel). I noticed that you were being kind and considerate with him a number of times yesterday – good work!
I told Samuel that if anyone gets to tease you about who you like, it is going to be me. Who do you like anyway?

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Before leaving for Kilimanjaro, I went to the travel clinic. The nurse there gave me six shots: Polio, Tetanus, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, and Gardasil. Additionally, she gave me Diamox for altitude sickness and Malarone for Malaria.

As I opened the door to leave, she added “you’ll probably get sick or at least a fever from all those shots, so just sit it out. And the Malarone will give you extremely vivid dreams, but don’t stop taking it unless it progresses to hallucinations. Also the Diamox will make you urinate a lot, so be careful not to get dehydrated, but know that it’s doing it’s job because shedding water will keep your brain from swelling.”

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In one baby dream I prepared a really nice nursery, complete with a Ferris wheel and cotton candy machine, but the baby never made an enterance.

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The first night on the mountain, I climbed out of my tent at 3 AM, cursing myself for drinking three Nalgenes during a four hour hike in my overzealous insistence that I would not get de-hydrated on the first day, and I was stunned by the stars.

Maybe it was because I was scared of the next days, maybe it was because I was humbled by the mountain I was trying to climb, maybe it was just being so far from home, but those stars moved me. Those stars, which have never been so bright or so personal or so many, moved me.

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I am lucky – but not unique – to know multitudes of beautiful people. I do not think beautiful people are all that uncommon.

One of the beautiful people I know was diagnosed with lung cancer. She was deliberating between chemo and an experimental treatment. Eventually, she chose chemo, because though the experimental treatment would potentially extend her life by a larger margin, it would make her sick and weak for years and "I can't do that because I have to be able to help people."

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Before starting the climb, I wrote inspirational quotes in my journal. As it turned out, the one that meant the most was not the runners’ quotes like Your legs won’t give out, your head will. Keep going or Marvel at what your body can do. The most meaningful quote I had comes from the book of Isaiah. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.

It took three days to get above the clouds. Those three days were a purification process. Each morning I put on my boots and promised myself that I would reach the next campsite before giving up. When I got tired, felt weak, wanted to quit, I counted steps. 50, 100, 250, before I know it, 550. Listening to my boots thud against the ground, the focus was on the hiking instead of getting to the top of each hill.

Walking into the campsite on day three, there was nothing to see but a carpet of clouds below. Until that moment, I had never understood why Mt. Olympus was the dwelling place of the Gods. But walking into that campsite, 13,600 feet above sea level, I understood. The plane that flew us from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro flew at 13,000 feet. Knowing that I had climbed my way above that plane, I truly felt divine. I had entered Zeus’ kingdom. Being above the clouds, the rest of the world seemed so far away – so distant and irrelevant – it was like trying to remember a dream.

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Dear Hannah,
I had a great time with you at Father's day. I really really loved the Valentine's card. I am trying to have fewer meetings so I can be home with you.
I love you, sweetheart,

«  »

While I whined, sulked, complained and whimpered about how hard the climb was, the porters passed me on the trail. They had set up camp and were off smoking weed each day when I got there.

On average, there are three porters per hiker. They earn $25 for a six day trip (plus tips, which may or may not go to them). The loads they carry typically weigh 48.5 pounds plus their own belongings, and they generally carry the bags on their heads. Only 36% get two or more meals per day. Worst of all, none can afford proper mountain gear. Any gear they do have was given to them by the hikers they took up the mountain. As such, it is not uncommon to see a porter wearing Nikes with holes in them and a cotton t-shirt.

I wish I could say that I tuned into this while I climbed the mountain, that I left all my gear with them, but I was far too caught up in myself, in my climb, to notice the porters in any detail. When I processed it all, an overwhelming sense of guilt dropped in. So I am now a member of the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project.

But the worst part is, I still can’t give them my boots. I’ve thought about it a thousand times, but I can’t send in my boots. I’ll donate hundreds of dollars, but not my boots. My boots that I haven’t worn since Kili, my boots that they would use every day, I can’t bear to part with. Those boots alone understand what that journey meant to me and I can’t will myself to send them to a better home.

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The most babies I’ve had in a dream is three. Three is a lot of babies for one girl to handle. Especially when one breathes fire.

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Day five the mountain won.

Day five we reached our last camp site before summiting. We got there at two in the afternoon and had ten hours to rest before starting our “attempt” at the summit at midnight.

I sat in the tent, wrote this in my journal:
I’m terrified, but I think I want to summit. And, as the athletes say, “it’s not a question of can you, but will you.” I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s just pain, it will go away eventually, but I’ll always regret it if I don’t reach the summit. I’ve come 9,000 feet. I’m not going to let the last 4,000 stop me. I think this is going to be more about iron will than anything.

I cried myself to sleep.

«  »

The first time I had a baby dream, the thing just appeared with a sign on it that said I’m your baby.

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At midnight, David woke me up so we could make our “attempt” at the summit.

The first three hours, I held my own against the mountain. But then came The Switchbacks. The Switchbacks take about four hours to climb up. However, those four hours are only 1.5 miles of trail while gaining 2500 feet in altitude. The Switchbacks handed my ass to me. The first six switchbacks were fine. From then on, eight thoughts circled through my head:

1.     I’m not going to make it.
2.     I was a fool to ever think I could climb this mountain.
3.     What was I thinking signing up for this climb?
4.     I’m dying.
5.     We have so far to go.
6.     My thighs burn.
7.     What made me think I could do this?
8.      Fuck this mountain.
Every once in a while, I’d think of my journal. It’s a few hours of pain for a large reward.

A third of the way up The Switchbacks David said Pole Pole and took my pack. I think that’s what got me through. I guess that makes him a Christ-figure. But maybe that’s only true if the Christians paid Jesus to take their sins and then pretended he volunteered.

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Dear Hannah,
Good luck this week. I am excited for you to get your braces. I think I'm excited because you're excited. It makes me smile to see you excited because I love you.

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Once, in my baby dream I was at school with my baby. I took it to assembly, where it was marked out of uniform. I served the detention vicariously.

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The Switchbacks are mystical and magical in the dark, because the stars reach forever. It’s so dark, there’s no way to tell how far you’ve come or how far is left. All you can see is headlamps of people making their way ranging from way up at the top to clear down at the bottom.

In my low-oxygen brain, the headlamps were deeply symbolic: a river of souls I got to be part of, a flow of people striving for the same goal, a team urging one another on.

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Margaret Cho says, "I always thought that people told you that you’re beautiful—that this was a title that was bestowed upon you, that it was other people’s responsibility to give you this title. I think that it’s time to take this power into our own hands and to say, “You know what? I’m beautiful. I just am.”

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I sincerely did not believe I would make it up The Switchbacks when I swear to God right out of the blue, we turned a corner and they were finished. I walked for ten more minutes on flat ground before telling David it was break time.

After a while, David said it was time to start up again. We were still two hours from the summit I doubted I would reach, but for some reason I don’t entirely understand, I kept walking.

I walked while those eight thoughts rotated through my head. One boot in front of the other as the sun started to rise and the glacier turned pink in the new morning light. Right boot, left boot along a crater rim 19,000 feet in the air. My boots kept going until we turned a corner and all of a sudden I could see the headlamps of people at the summit.

In that moment, I realized that I would summit Kilimanjaro.

I stopped walking and wept.

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Beauty is something that I understand in those rare moments when I feel stripped bare - when I understand that I am too weak, too childish, too human for anything important – when I am humble, that is when I understand beauty. Beauty is external: can only be really understood by looking outside myself. And then, I sometimes get to recognize it within myself.

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Originally, the name of the Kilimanjaro’s summit, which is 19,341 feet above sea level, was Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spietze, named in 1889 by Hans Meyer, the first European to climb Kili. However, when Tanzania gained independence in 1961, the peak was renamed Uhuru peak. In Swahili, this means Freedom peak.

 «  »

Knowing that I would reach the summit was far better than actually doing it. The last half-hour was the best part of the climb. I bowed my head and walked, letting tears stream down my cheeks. The sun rose, filling the sky with red and orange. I felt freedom and wonder that I could do it, that I would do it. Simultaneously, the mountain made me bow down and allowed me the strength to rise above.

Oh, the beauty.   

Monday, April 9, 2012

Preview for tomorrow

Easter was good around our house. Judy watercolored Easter eggs. They were really quite beautiful. And, instead of an Easter dress, this year I got a lightweight Patagonia down jacket (but mine's blue). Also, yesterday I submitted my poem to Kristof's contest. And I wrote and submitted a very rough essay to this contest yesterday (that will be posted in coming days). I like submitting writing. It makes me feel ligit.

Okay. Now for the post. I know this is super obnoxious to do "preview", but I'm doing it anyway. Tomorrow's post is a braided essay I've been working on for weeks. I'm really quite proud of it, so even though it's super long (at like 8 pages), please please read it. It's even got an ironic title and junk.

It's funny because as I was writing it, I found myself putting a lot of things from here in there. 
I think blogging every day makes me a better writer. And having that record helps me keep track of all the thoughts that scamper around my head.

Here's another preview:

Day Five
Day Three

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Quote Sunday

So I think Beloved is officially tied with East of Eden for the place in my heart for favorite books. I just want to read it over and over and over again. I just love it.
Consequently, today's quote is another one from Beloved:

"how can I say things that are pictures"

See, I'm on a creative writing binge right now. Not necessarily a healthy one. Because around 11 I'm like "maybe I should go to bed now" and then I'm like, "no, I feel stuff inside that wants to come out" and I start writing. And then it hits one or two in the morning and I'm like "oh my God I've got to go to bed I've got school tomorrow." So I stop writing and go to sleep. I haven't been getting enough sleep (consequently, I've been crying more lately), but I've been writing a lot, and I like that.
Anyway, as I've been writing more and more, I've come to get stuck on this idea of putting pictures into words. Because sometimes, I just see things and can't find the words to do it justice at all. It's kinda like Pam Houston's "only write what scares you: either because it's too personal or because you aren't a good enough writer to pull it off." I'm running into the latter with pictures. I can't grasp the right words and wrestle them into the right places to make them match the picture.
But I'm having a great time trying.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Today should be a good day

I think today is going to be a good day.

I've put my Obama 2012 sticker on my car. Lorin still hasn't noticed. I love the little political battles we have. I also love my bright blue sticker. It's pretty.

Today, Kat and I are having best friend time. Best friend time is the best, because best friend time is like journaling, but more fun and with another person. During best friend time, you get to be honest with who you are and say whatever it is that pops into your head. You get to process things through like you would in a journal, but with the added advantage of having someone else to help you. And, best friend time is fun because there's a best friend there too.
Best friend time might be one of the most wonderful things in the world.

I think the world is cleaner today because yesterday was not great, though I did like wearing my rain boots. When springtime comes, I have to cling to remembering that a little rain here and now does things like wash the cars and clean the grass. Deep inside, spring comes and I just want it to hurry itself along so I can have summer.
Yesterday, in creative writing, we read an essay about barbeque. I loved the line "I believe that like sunshine and great sex, no day is bad that has barbecue in it." I think of that today.

Easter is tomorrow. Easter is one of my favorite words. It just flows right. I also like the word salt. And pyrrhic. Some words are better than others.

You know what makes me lucky? I've got people who will let me talk when I need to. I don't think everyone has those people. But there are people scattered around my life who will put aside time to listen to me and to just have a conversation when that's what I need most in the world. I mean really, I am so lucky to have people that I can find and just say "I need a hug and I need someone to talk to" and they'll take the time I need. I love those people.

I'm going to read a book today. I haven't decided which one. I want to read Streetcar Named Desire and I've got a book of essays written by feminist professors I want to read and I'm reading Jane Hirshfield's "Given Sugar, Given Salt" poetry collection again, and Rachel Maddow's Drift is in my house.
I've got so many books. On one side of my bed is a nightstand. On the other side is two piles of books that stack up higher than my bed. I'm okay with this.

Yes, I think today should be a good day.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Stage Managing

Remember how I'm the theater department mascot?
I graduated!
(not from high school. Still 63 days until that happens)
This means I get to be in charge of making things run / in keeping track of all the "artistic decisions" and junk that the director makes. It also means I get to go to rehearsal every day and sit in the cool light/sound box and operate cues during performances.
But, most importantly, it means I get to hang out with all the cool actors (the daughters, we call them) and watch them do their thing. I love that I get to work with Kat in a play for once.
Also, in a great irony, we're doing "The Taming of the Shrew" commonly known as the really really sexist play that Shakespeare wrote. Not the kind of sexist one. The REALLY sexist one.
I like the job nonetheless.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cartoons answer the questions of life.

Sometimes, only a cartoon can say it. 

It's funny how it's now April fourth and I'm down to two months until graduation. A few developments have occurred as I'm nearing the end:

1) What is uniform if not a rule to break? Who is the dean to say that leggings and a t-shirt aren't uniform? What is wrong with pink shoes?

2) Taking three English classes is the highlight of my year. I just really really love English. I think I would have entirely run out of steam if I wasn't in so many English classes. Science? Meh. Math? Bleh. English? Let's get this discussion going.
Last week I literally spent more time on my one creative writing piece than I did doing homework for my other five classes combined. And it wasn't even necessary time. It was just I-want-to-get-this-as-good-as-I-can time. Sometimes I feel like my essays get graded too easy and I'm like "well how do I get better if you give me an A every time?" Never have I ever felt that way about math.

(SIDENOTE: That is not an invitation to give me bad grades on essays).

3) I really love creative writing and I really love lit mag. I wish I hadn't waited until my senior year to get involved in this, but I think this is going to be something I stick with in college. 
Swarthmore's major that was designed for me is English with a creative writing emphasis. It's a full on English major + 3 creative writing courses. Fuck yes. Also, I think I want to stick with this lit mag thing. I think that being involved in Swarthmore's lit mag would be something I really loved.

4) I found out I get to vote in Pennsylvania. Swing state vote. My vote counts. 
Lorin and I have this deal running where whatever I donate to Obama he donates to Romney and vica versa. I'm running a $465 deficit right now. I find comfort in reminding him that money can't buy him more votes and that MY SWING STATE VOTE COUNTS.

5) Even though I'm itching for graduation, I'm a little bit in love with my senior class, because they're all wonderful human beings. When Brenda got into USC I started crying. And Sydney and Kasandra send me the nicest texts of my life (I'm not exaggerating here, literally the nicest texts I've ever received). And Emma and I do all the same activities. I just can't believe that I only get two months to see these people every single day. It's been 15 years. How do I live my life without them?

6) There's lots of discussions of legacy going on. And I'm like well, I held my own, came to school most of the time, wore the uniform on occasion and wasted a lot of money taking study halls over the years. See, this is where the cartoon above comes in. I'm shouting up at the stars. 

7) Even though I'm supposed to be a grown up, really I still feel like that 3 year old in a jumper down to her ankles who fights over who gets to sit on the teacher's lap and who wants to sit in shapes on the carpet and be read a story.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ways to end the day

1. With a trip to the gym right before closing time

2. With a clean face

3. With a thank you

4. With a good book

5. With a good cry

6. With things left unfinished

7. With an idea for tomorrow

8. With a phone call home

9. With the dog

10. Without knowing what time it is

11. With wet hair

12. With a cup of tea

13. With a poem

14. With a yawn

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Our Pyrrhic Eden

In lieu of a Sound and the Fury paper, I wrote another poem.

Our Pyrrhic Eden

Did you love them Caddy?
-William Faulkner

not the entire –

1000 thread sheets
trips to the wishing well
(pennies in palms
  prayers in pockets)
a Persimmon tree
in lieu of flowers
laid straight in a row

scarf sacrament suitcase bone

through the unlikely

oh free spirit

to take your life
you must destroy it

never your own

fractions of words
scraps of time
souvenirs of muscle

Mary kept all things
in her heart

a black dress
white too
crawl away to build
taste different
salt on skin

love is
because they gave
roots and wings