Monday, May 25, 2015

Moab

Of the past three weekends, I've spent two in Moab, which is probably why my new car now has over 2,000 miles on it. 

The first time we came down, we did so because Sam and I went skydiving. When we were in Hawaii, I decided I wanted to go skydiving. A few days later, Lorin jokingly sent me a groupon with an awesome deal, but then I actually bought it and I think it was less funny to him then. So Sam and I went skydiving. It was a little place down in Moab and we both got sick in the little, bumpy airplane up. The actual skydiving part was way fun and not even scary. Sam threw up in the air because of airplane motion sickness. Other than that, though, it was excellent.



Also, while we were in Moab we climbed to delicate arch, because that's like an obligatory thing to do in Moab. Judy could barely keep up with Sam and I, but she's 73, so that's probably okay. (After all, we get into the parks for free with her sweet golden age national park pass). We had to hurry her along, because it was threatening to rain. We made it to the car and 2 minutes later the rain started. It was a great little hike.



We were down this week with the whole family. It's been a great weekend. We went on a beautiful hike in Canyonlands. Shayna has become my mini-me and we have a good time together.


Lorin couldn't hike because his back is so bad (don't worry, he's getting surgery tomorrow and hopefully that'll make it better) so he brought his Polaris RZR down to go off-roading. He insisted that I drove a loop called Fins N Things. It was only somewhat horrifying. I've discovered I very much do not like off-roading. I have like an intense physiological reaction to the stress it puts on me. I'll stick to driving my Sub, thank you very much.

video

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

evening in the library

I walked into the library with the big was transferring the wrong decision? hanging heavy. In class, one professor hated on unions and another made fun of Bruce Jenner. It was like she had literally never encountered transgender before. Last week a third spent an hour criticizing evolution. So I have my moments here at BYU. But I also had my English professor invite the entire class over to his house to get to know each other and eat home made cookies. I like the people in my classes. I have balance in my life. I've been here 3 weeks and haven't had to stay up past midnight once doing homework. I've gotten class high grades on every paper I've written so. I go to yoga a couple times a week. I feel good on campus. I feel more like a human being than a student. In many ways it is good.

Is that kinda like saying well, he's a racist but otherwise he's a great person? I don't know. Maybe. But be the change you wish to see in the world has never been so literal or real to me. It's a good place, and maybe in my little Hannah Pugh way I can make it better.

We spent an entire english class talking about Derrida, who I read at Swat, but really didn't understand until this class. I feel like what Derrida is essentially arguing is that people see the whole world and want to organize it so they put big red circles around arbitrary groups and put a word on it. Then that word becomes the way we see the world. It creates an illusion of definition. So this is feminine and this is conservative and this is smart and this is marriage. And then there is this conflict, because those big red circles have the illusion of being absolute but they are not. So when I use a word to describe myself, it creates this assumption that I fit in a circle. And I belong in the circle, but I don't. It's not so absolute. I hate the assumption created that I belong in the circle because of the language I use. Perhaps language has finally betrayed me.

Speaking of language betraying me, I spent 40 minutes trying to come up with one single word. I emailed 3 of my Waterford English teachers. Do you know how impossible it is to find a word you don't know on the internet? I knew that the word I was looking for started with an e and referred to a poem or section of a book from which the title is taken, for example the poem "Native Guard" is this to Trethewey's collection Native Guard. I finally impossibly found it on the internet by scanning through vast lists of literary terms. Eponymous. It actually doesn't mean quite what I thought it does, but is very close. Most of all I was just vastly relieved to find the word.

I've been doing research on Vietnam for a paper on The Things They Carried. And my research that started with literary critics, led me to the Vietnam war memorial page, where I spent way too long trying to find Tim O'Brien's friends' names on the wall (I found a few, based on nonfiction pieces O'Brien has written). It also led me on a long tangent on agent orange and it's birth defects. It's both grotesque and horrifically intriguing. So if you don't want to sleep tonight, google Vietnamese children agent orange birth defects. There are still orphanages full of kids suffering from it, which is awful.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Dinosaur Bones

I am now a BYU student and this is my life.

I wish the church hadn't waged a wore on leggings. It may be worse than the war on drugs.

Things are actually going really well. I am so happy to be back in English classes again. I love English classes. I am just an English major at heart. I haven't written anything academic in two years, and I'm already writing a lot. I forgot how rewarding and maddening and wonderful writing papers is. I love it. 

I think writing a paper is like someone giving you a small piece of land and a paintbrush and saying, "We know there's some sort of fossil here. Find it." At first you dig rapidly and eagerly with your hands through the grass, sand, and snow that might be the top layer. The prospect of finding a dinosaur is both exhilarating and overwhelming. Eventually, a few pieces of bones surface. Is that a tooth or a toe? You keep digging, ever growing more wary in this blind act of discovery. The most important thing is to keep going, because even if you don't find anything, at least now you know where not to dig, which is worth much more than it sounds like. You can try to systematically search the depths of this piece of earth, but in reality it is simply a confusing and messy process. You may think you have an idea of what you're searching for - triceratops were always your favorite dinosaur after all - but the more you dig the more meddled everything becomes until the dirt seems to have permanently entered your nose and brain and teeth. That's when it's time for your lunch break. 

You come back from lunch no longer hungry, but not eager to get back to the chaotic digging, which is when you notice all the disarrayed bones you dug up in your earlier fury. You squat down to examine them. That certainly looks like a shoulder. And a hind leg. Yes, this is definitely a dinosaur. You venture to guess it's actually a Brontosaurus, but people aren't even sure they ever existed anyway. So you keep going, looking for the characteristic Brontosaurus pieces. You dig again because damn there's actually a dinosaur here! Your boss comes by to look at what you've done and commends you for  what you've found but informs you that what you have on your hands is unquestionably a T. rex. This terrifies you because it nullifies all the work you did on that Brontosaurus you were building, but it is also thrilling because it's a bloody T. rex. You know there really is no dinosaur superior to the T. rex. You pull out that paintbrush you'd all but forgotten about and go to work meticulously cleaning and looking for missing vertebrae and claws. 

Later in the day, your boss comes by to congratulate you on the excellent dinosaur you have built and to give you another paintbrush and square of land. You start to protest that you aren't done with you T. rex yet - what about her eyelashes and fingernails? I can find those! - but then realize that you'll probably never be done with her. It might take working the rest of your life to make these 85 million years old bones shine like they just came out of your toddler's plastic toy kit. And then it hits you: you could stay here with your paintbrush and dinosaur and swatch of land for the rest of your life and you'd never have the perfect, complete dinosaur you envisioned when you started the project, because the earth did not fossilize all of her bones and even if she had your only tools are your hands and a paintbrush. So you give your dinosaur a nice name, preferably one that includes a colon like Moral Motherhood: Women’s Entrance into the Public Sphere and Achievement of Suffrage Through Embracing the Gender Ideals of the Cult of True Womanhood or Complaints Against Christians: Red Jacket’s Resistance of the Vanishing Indian Narrative Through the Othering of White Christianity and you walk away, having learned once again that Valery was probably right when he told us "a poem is never finished, only abandoned," but knowing deep within you'll never stop looking for the whole dinosaur in your little square of earth. That's why you like the digging, anyway.


And that's how we procrastinate writing a paper by writing about writing a paper, ladies and gents.