Saturday, June 27, 2009

The King of Pop is dead.

And the people are mourning. I am mourning.

In some ways I am grateful for this collective grief, and the way the world is answering my need to be with others who remember.

I was in my three hour class when The King passed. Facebook statuses first broke the news, then a text from a friend I thought I lost. The way our silence was traversed: "Michael Jackson just died." I could only respond with my own knowledge and my own shock. During break it was all anyone in my class could talk about-- the professor included.

In another state, my brother's friend had a dance off with the girl in the car next to him at a stop light. They were listening to the same Michael Jackson tribute.

Then this morning at Urban I heard the Jackson Five' s "ABC, easy as 123" blast from the sound speakers. I felt immediately sad, but also grateful for this music and this person that influenced, and brought pleasure to so many.

A few minutes later Jessica and I found ourselves at my neighborhood's farmer's market. An attractive hipster/granolla type selling macaroons and other pastries initiated conversation by asking us our favorite Michael Jackson song. Jessica told him that she couldn't think about it, because it made her too sad. He agreed, but said he needed to remember. We talked for some time, and in the course of that simple conversation this stranger became someone with whom we could relate, someone with whom we realized we had something in common. We were bound by our shared recognition that the world has lost someone great.

I wonder if we knew how lucky we were to have MJ while we did, or if it always requires an absence to make such things known, or at least felt.

And while we may find some behavior in his later years troubling, I hope that we can be compassionate in our remembering. I don't think we can understand the things in his life that led him to such a place, or even what we as a culture did to propagate his pain and seeming self destruction. The glass houses in which we place our icons don't always allow for the same chances in learning and growth that we would wish for ourselves.

Ultimately, I am thankful for the conscious act of remembering a life, and right now Michael's life. It suggests someone is worth remembering and that there is value in life and in existence. I think remembering also leads to healing.


Thursday, June 25, 2009


I feel an urgent need to write everything down. To try to grasp the things I am feeling and experiencing. To simultaneously imprint them on my memory and clear my mind of them.

It is true for the things in my life that are beautiful, as well as the things in my life that are hard. This need currently motivates many of my hours.

I am also reading so much and sleeping so little. The two are only loosely connected. I read to remember that I love books, so I may in turn care more about libraries and want to study what I am studying.

I did recently realize that I love when my friends ask me what they should read, which realization gave me comfort that I may be cut out to be a librarian after all.

My friend Jessica is in Boston this day and for the next 6 days. Then 3 days after that I am joining her in Manhattan. For her birthday, and also to hear Conor Oberst play a free 4th of July show.

We spent this evening at the MFA. The first exhibit we looked at was filled with Japanese art. It made me think of Becca.

After filling my last few weeks with as much summer goodness as possible I am already a student again. Just one class. Literature of the Humanities. My professor is from Ireland and I like his voice.

Lately I have been so tired. Tired more than anything else.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Henry and Francesca.

Mine and Lia's new obsession/creations, thanks to the magic of

If you can type, you can make movies.

Take One: Crepes and Waffles

Take Two: A-W-E-S-O-M-E

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Things to do everyday, or nearly everyday.

read good books in good parks
sip fresh lemonade
sit on my roof
leave my house
bike boston
run boston
bedroom dance party

Monday, June 22, 2009

Since Summer

Reading now:

Winter Reads

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The day I learned how to open my window changed my life.

I said this once to my friend Katie in all seriousness, some time back in April, during a particularly hot/humid spell. As hard as I would try, I could not get my window open. I had previously opened it. in late summer and fall time, but it had been months, and nothing was working. I don't even remember what the trick was, when I finally did get it to open again but am happy that I did and that it opens easily now. My life really was made more pleasant by fresh breezes flowing into my room.

Now I have taken to climbing out of said window onto my third story roof. Which may or may not be a good idea, but for right now I am going to say it is a very good idea. The view is pretty. And new england. Mainly of new england trees and new england houses. I like it, and feel better out there. More peaceful and quiet and free. It also makes me like my room more. And my house. That it holds this secret. Even climbing back into my room from this space seems somewhat magical.

And last night Katie and I went on my roof together. Twice even. We just sat and talked and took pictures. The second time, when it was dark out, I had my lap top in tow, and played a song for us. Carole King. Up on the Roof. Katie hadn't heard it before. "At night the stars put on a show for free, up on the roof." I love that line and that song. Thank you roof, and Carole King, and Katie.

Sing me to sleep. Sing me to sleep.

I'm tired and I, I want to go to bed.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My nephew was born today.

Congrats Hyrum, and Pegah, and Henry.

Welcome to the world, little one. I love your dark hair, and you, already.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Derik is in Boston now.

As is Austin. Tonight's dinner conversation included, but was not limited to: The Villa, grandmas (particularly Betty Jo), depression era survivor's averseness to throwing anything away, Tom Bell's averseness to that averseness/his willingness to buy cereal costing $10 (or was it $15?), yoga, fast food/restroom camaraderie between Native Americans, Derik claiming to be a Navajo Rebel, Navajo folklore, which, according to Derik's parents, is all true, hammer pants, bowl cuts, Austin's father tragically denying him his elementary school desire for said bowl cut, pogs, L.A. Lights, and business dinner etiquette. All in all I'd say it was an insightful evening.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I am a child of the west.

The house where I was raised. Notice Hyrum and Joe's basketball hoop: still standing.
The street where I was raised.
The goods:
Olsen/Hunt reunion.

Returning to the place where I am from.

Where I was a baby and a small child. For a funeral, and also for myself-- to redeem my past, my feelings, and my heart.

I was greeted by the news of my aunts death when I got off of the plane in Salt Lake City. My sister preemptively hugged me, then told me that while she hated to be the bearer of bad news, I needed to know. It had happened just hours before. My aunt had been battling brain cancer. In the same breath my sister told me that our granny was in the hospital, from blood clots and other complications from a surgery of which I was unaware.

It was too much for me. All of this new information. I was so tired, and couldn't internalize it--couldn't take it in to feel the things that I should feel. And in place of proper feelings I only felt remorse, remorse for crying over a burning building just days before, but not over the death of a relative whom I loved and admired. I felt frustration that my family hadn't told me about my granny's poor condition or antecedant surgery.

And so a few days later I found myself in my parent's van accompanying them the 13 hours to Oregon.

There several things struck me. One is my mother telling me that she feels the pure gospel is taught at funerals. Another is my father actually speaking at the funeral. Still another was my uncle's profound sadness. The way he spoke about my aunt with such tenderness and devotion, how he kept calling her "his gal", and my mother leaning over to me and whispering to me to marry someone who loves me as much as Walt loves Donna. Later my cousin standing and expressing that same wish for herself.

My mom stepped out of the room, and I walked silently to the front until I stood over the open casket. I gazed at this women who had once been so vivacious, with her youthful blonde hair and constant tan, who had loved me, and who I had loved. The cancer had destroyed so much of her body. I felt nauseous and sad and had to turn away. It wasn't her. It was just a shell. When my mom returned she asked me to come with her. I shook my head and told her I couldn't.

My cousins wore her gaudy jewelry. It was fitting somehow. The large gold hoops and bangles.

I found myself surprised how their memories were also my memories, but I should not have been, for they hinged on candy drawer, candy dresser, candy closet, candy room. Then swimming, and swimming, and swimming.

Every other time I looked at my mom that day, and even the next, she had been crying. I would wonder what she was thinking, then, more often then not she wiped the tears away and shared a memory about Donna. But once it was because of a tender story my sister-in-law, Sarah, had just told her about my niece Sienna.

And while there were tears, there was also laughter, and quiet remembrance. Stories and pictures proving that Donna had the best legs in Parma, Idaho, etc.

Then there was Klamath itself. I was amazed by how much I still remembered, and wondered if the memories were only memories of memories. Either way. I knew names. Of people. Places. Streets. A store where I would buy candy and where Hyrum would bribe me when he made me cry, back when my nickname was Cryer Patch Baby. I think it was usually nerds. I went there that day.

When I could finally internalize the fact that my aunt had died I felt that a large part of my childhood had as well, since so many of my memories from that time were centered around her and her house. But in going back, to that city, to that place, part of them were also restored and I felt peace.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My thoughts on the fire, or how the fire made me feel.

Sad. Sad and also stirred. Stirred by this reminder of how fragile everything is. How quickly things can change. Then surprise by how sad I was, how I couldn't get the fire out of my head. I was in New York with one of my best friends, but that was all I could think about. I imagined my ward friends being evacuated to watch the flames engulf the building where we worshiped every week, to see the roof collapse onto the chapel where they had been sitting only 15 minutes before. I wondered how they felt.

The next day there was a special ward family home evening. I got off the bus from New York to Boston and went straight there, despite the fact that I was weary, and hungry, and hadn't eaten since breakfast. Katie came too. Straight from her own travels on the west coast. So neither of us had been present for the fire, but wanted to be with those who had. The family home evening was somewhat reminiscent of a girl's camp testimony meeting in its sentimentality and sensationalism, but was strangely powerful, and extremely meaningful to me.

I listened to my fellow ward members speak about that day or that building--memories they formed there, or testimonies, as well as their personal relationships with God and with each other. I realized that I knew not all, but most of their names. I cared about their sorrow, and the loss they felt. This was important to me, this caring, because while there are many good things to say about the east coast, this transition has been a hard one for me, and this experience suggested that I had a place here, not only in the church (which was a well timed revelation in itself), but in Boston.

Some words shared that evening that left an impression on me:

"How interesting it is that we can have sorrow for a building...what is a temple? What is that building? ... It's the ordinances that make it of value." - a girl I don't know.

"That no one got hurt at all." -Luke Stoddard

"At first I thought it doesn't matter, its just a building. If we keep it or not its going to be okay in the long run... after going to work today and receiving condolences, got to the place that other people started. I'm really sad that we lost this building... I'm sadder today than I was yesterday... I am glad I could help last night. It reminded me of my mission which was hard too but I got through it... the first time I stepped foot in that building.. (how he didn't feel like he had a place as a member. And how he didn't think that he changed but in coming to Boston he saw that there were others like him.)
... I said a prayer a couple of months ago that if I needed to be here He needed to pull me back." -Jared Mooney

"Something good about being misplaced." -Allen Stoddard

"We're going to bloom where we are planted. I love those tulips because they're not where they belong. The Lord gives and the Lord taketh away. He moves people... Things that are strong and so fragile but stayed there (about flowers)." -Evie

"A really profound sense of loss. My spiritual home. My relationships haven't changed. I still have the memories that happened there. I still have the testimony I strengthened in that building." -my roommate Erin

Jared Mooney's words were particularly poignant to me. A few tears escaped my eyes as I listened to him describe some of my own feelings. I was left with a desire to try again. To pray a real prayer and ask for God to help me.

Other words, my own. Ones I quickly tapped out on my ipod when still consumed by this, days and even weeks later, less articulate, but still capturing something:

May 31 10:27 pm
"This gathering place for the saints. It wasn't arson. It wasn't a mob. It was just old. So why does it matter? Why do places or things matter? Because of what's inside. The people. The words spoken. The truths taught. The faith shared. Where I stood at a pulpit and testified of heavenly mother. Where I made a friend because of that testimony. Memories associated with it.

But we still have that. We still have everything that matters.

The building that we love is burned. It is no more except for the brick wall and the steeple. They saved the steeple."