Saturday, November 28, 2009

From my iPod (and the dark, cobwebby recesses of my brain) to your ears...

Lately I've been listening to my iPod on shuffle. It's interesting which of the 3843 songs I've got on there will pop up and--out of nowhere--bring a memory screaming back to my mind. Most of them are fond, some of them tinged with pain, but all of them make me remember times that were influenced by one menial song.

Duncan Sheik - Barely Breathing

In the 8th grade, our science teacher gave us an assignment to pick any song and write about one of the science topics we had learned about that year. It was supposed to be a fun, easy project that would get us 14-year-olds out of our shells and doing something that wasn't studying a book. Of course, I made the entire assignment too difficult...this song was brand new on the radio, and I sat there with my hand poised over the RECORD button, just waiting for the radio station to play my request I had called in--we didn't have iTunes or YouTube back in the day, so it was me and a trusty cassette tape. After waiting for about three hours, I finally got the song recorded. My older sister, Sarah, agreed to help be the vocals for my project (hello, embarrassing for me to do it myself...), and we set to sussing it all out. At about two o'clock in the morning, our brains had become mush, but our product was gold. If I recall, there was a goofy part at the end of our recording that had something to do with Sean Connery (?). To this day, whenever I hear this song on the radio, I giggle a little to myself, recalling how silly we got and how great it was to have an older sister to help me see it through to the rollicking end. I think I got the same number of points for that tape as the people who wrote their songs to easy tunes and took about fifteen minutes to do the assignment, as opposed to the several hours I invested into mine. And you can see how all of my effort paid off eventually, right...?

Love Is Spoken Here (Primary Song)

I don't know why the title of this video says it's "A Child's Prayer"...

As an 11-year-old, I was asked to participate in a Primary children's choir that sang for LDS General Conference. We practiced every Sunday evening for a couple months with Sister Watkins, and this song was one of my favorites that we performed. One of the things I remember about the way she taught us was that she had a tennis ball she had sliced open. She would squeeze it, and its 'mouth' would open and sing rOund vOwels. I hated being patronized like a silly little child, but thinking about it now, she was onto something. I thought we sounded great. It was the one General Conference that President Howard W. Hunter was the prophet. As we were sitting in the tabernacle, waiting to start, he walked in and waved to the side of the choir where I was. A prophet, waving at us! I even remember what I was wearing that was a white dress with little blue flowers on it, and a fabric rose as sort of a brooch. And I had to sit next to the most annoying kid in our ward; that I remember distinctly. This particular song is one of the first ones (for me, at least) I sang the harmony (listen to the end) on, and I loved singing the 'different' part.

The Righteous Brothers - You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling

This song is one of the tunes twinged with sadness...but now that I think of it, it is a little humorous how this story happened. Quick background: at the age of 17, I thought I had found my soulmate. I waited for him while he went on his mission, and then when he returned, and I was on the verge of turning 20, I was positive we would settle down and live life happily ever after. Three weeks after he got back, we went to a park and had an awkward chat about how he wanted to focus on dating another girl who had written him on his mission. I was beyond devastated. Three years I had invested into this person who wouldn't return my affections. On the way home from the park, we were listening to the radio...I don't even know which station (let's face it, I was in a stupor), and this song came on. He couldn't have just left well enough alone and said, "Oh hey, this song is kind of fitting for the night." My heart just sank even further at his cheekiness. I have since moved on and realized it definitely wasn't meant to be with him and me. So I can still listen to this song with a grimace-laced half-smile. It was a ridiculous thing for him to say, but kind of funny in hindsight.

John Denver - Grandma's Feather Bed

As a family, we used to make weekly trips to go visit one set of grandparents or the other. Usually things got pretty rowdy with seven children in the car, so I think my dad tried to get us focused on a singular goal by teaching us this song. We loved singing it because we thought it was a hilarious concept. For years, I didn't know that it was John Denver who sang it, but it makes sense considering my dad is a huge fan. I bet even today you could get us all to sing along to this ditty if you got us all started. When I was really young, I always wondered if my grandma kept the feather bed out in the garage or something because she didn't want us jumping on it. And I would get confused at a bed being nine feet high; it just didn't seem quite plausible...

Mary Poppins - A Spoonful of Sugar

Mary Poppins remains today one of my favorite movies, and it's in part due to this next memory... When I was about 6, my sister and I shared a bedroom. And we were messy little children, so you can imagine all of the toys and clothing that ended up strewn about the floor. One day, my mom told us that we weren't allowed to leave the room until it was cleaned up. Obviously no small child wants to feel restricted by chores, so we decided to put our movie knowledge to the test. We gathered everything into a huge heap and began snapping our fingers at it. To our dismay and disappointment, nothing budged. Not a single toy jumped back into its rightful place, and we were slightly devastated. All of our faith in films was shattered, and we were left with a mountain of crap that we now had to clean up by our own non-magical devices.

Smash Mouth - Then the Morning Comes

As a teenager with newly-found freedom (i.e., a drivers license), I wanted what every 16-year-old dreams of: her own car. My parents had a vehicle that my oldest sister had used for a bit but no longer needed (or was a great car shuffle in which I ended up with something to get me to school, work, and back). The only problem was that it had a manual transmission, and I had learned to drive on an automatic. Learning how to drive a clutch was a fantastic event at our house...we got a pre-lesson from our dad that involved plates and talk of gears and shifting and the way the mechanics of it worked (which was actually extremely helpful!). After we had sufficiently learned, we got to go out to the right-of-way next to my parents' house and drive up and down the short gravel path, practicing going from idling to first and then to second gear. Mastery of that meant that we got to drive up and down the long, straight road in front of the house. I had a tape with this song on it, and that was what I used to get psyched up to learn how to drive this crazy car. I would listen to it, rewind, and then listen again. Whenever this song comes on and I get rocking out, I remember the short drives up and down that road, feeling so cool in the little Suzuki Samurai.

Ah, misty watercolor memories...gotta love the trips down memory lane. Do you have songs that *always* remind you of a certain time or place?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I am blessed.

Last year, I wrote a list of 100 things I'm grateful for in celebration of Thanksgiving. It was a tough list to write, but turned out to be a good exercise in counting my blessings and realizing everything awesome I enjoy.

This year, I've seen this video pop up on friend's blogs and Facebook pages--and I love it. It made me cry (not a huge feat, people...). I realize it says "Mormon Messages," but I'm pretty sure gratitude is a universal concept...

My favorite part: "If you're having a hard time, you can always overcome that...there's always positive in the future." Some dude on the street said it...and I couldn't have said it better. There really is always positive in the future! There have been several occasions in my life where I have struggled and muddled through, but what I've always discovered is that things work out. Life is good.

On Saturday afternoon, I was in the car with my sister and her family. My 7-year-old nephew started singing all of the Primary songs about Thanksgiving. cute, and yet, what an example! We sang about being grateful...the "For Health and Strength" round seemed like it lasted a lifetime, but we had a good laugh. Moments like those are the snippets of life that make me realize how many great things fill up mine.

During this Thanksgiving holiday season, I'm grateful for the fundamentals in my life, the big things that make the little differences. I don't often get religious or preachy on my blog, but I want to express my gratitude for my family, my friends, and of course, my Savior, Jesus Christ. I feel extremely blessed.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Grab bag

I've just been thinking about a lot of arbitrary things lately. This blog is dedicated to dumping my brain in publication (loosely, at least).

* Five years ago today was my first kiss. I was 21, and it wasn't that great. Everyone kept telling me: "It's nothing special." And yet, I wanted fireworks; I yearned for it to be perfect. (Who's surprised? The perfectionist wants something PERFECT.) The guy was a weirdo, and he ended up dumping me two days later--in an email. Wow. Since then, I've kissed a few more 'winners' who probably could have used a lesson or two in the art of being romantic. Whatever happened to the art of dropping a girl off at her doorstep and giving her a semi-poignant kiss?

* Last night I had a few people over to enjoy the beauty of Jeopardy on TiVo. There was a friendly wager placed, some minor trash-talking asserted, and then we ventured into Trebek territory. I gave fair warning that I have become a pro at watching and answering, but the group declared that 'the point shall heretofore be awarded to the person who exclaims the correct answer before any other person shall do such.' I did get a run for my money, but after the four episodes were said and done, I declared victory. I shall reap my prize henceforth.

* I'm seriously loving Michael Buble's song, Haven't Met You Yet. Thank you, Rachel. I guess it's the upbeat message about not needing someone and if the right person does come along, it will be pretty great. I'm a sucker for happy endings.

* I have officially declared 2010 the 'Year of the Traveling.' Not like I haven't traveled before, but my passport is feeling a bit neglected. So, for my birthday, I'm going to Ireland, and then next summer, I'm headed to Tokyo. Two places I've dreamed of visiting, now just a few months away! Which brings me to...

* I need to be better at saving my pennies. Seriously, do I need four new outfits every month? Ok, that's exaggerating. But also, I'd rather save a little now and have a few awesome vacations. I ask each of you: if you see me pondering frivolous purchases, just whisper, "Ireland!" or "Tokyo!" in my ear, and that will clinch the decision. In my opinion, traveling is a lot more worthwhile than other things. If I could, I'd have both, but I also have to be realistic.

* And speaking of new outfits...want to hear a great way to expand your wardrobe? Clean out your closet. It's like finding new gems and treasures you forgot even existed! It's fantastic especially right now when sweaters are coming into season and you can remember that you're not tied down to the four shirts you've been wearing for the past three months. I cleaned out my closet this morning, and what I thought would take me three hours only took me 45 minutes. Now I have a lot more empty hangers (I was wondering what happened to them all...oh wait, they were holding clothes I never wore anymore). It's also a little strange the memories that are connected with clothes. I kept thinking, "Oh yeah, I bought this in Chicago!" or "Wore this on that hilarious date!" And into the DI pile you go.

* In the past six weeks, I've lost five lb. Not HUGE progress, but I'll take it. Considering how 'dedicated' I am, this is fantastic. Can I get a shout-out for ten more?

* Family news: my sister and her little family moved to Uzbekistan a few days ago. (That's one of the weirdest sentences...) I'll miss Avery's games, Jameson's surly wit, and Trey's little mischievous smile. I do not envy, however, the Russian-type cold they will experience. Two years isn't that long, though. For instance, Matt has been gone for over four months. It seems like a long time ago that he left, but then again, it doesn't. (Gotta love the time warp...) I sure miss him. Annoying brother or not, he was always darkly hilarious and incredibly intelligent. Plus, I could always bribe him to fix my car or run my errands. (Yes, at the age of 26, I still bribe others to do my bidding.) Also on the family front, Isabelle can say my name. Sure, it's the easiest of all the aunts' names, but I like to think it's because she likes me best. After all, that whole 'belle' thing connects us.

Thank you for tuning into this edition of random musings. That is all for now...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Good idea...Bad idea...

Good idea: Having candy for trick-or-treaters.
Bad idea: Having so much candy that you eat most of it yourself and then don't end up having trick-or-treaters because you live in a secure apartment buildling. I ended up taking what was left (basically anything that wasn't a KitKat or a Reese's) down to my sister's party in Provo. And luckily so...they had run out of loot for the kids who were coming.

Good idea: Buying cute tights and a headband for your "hot secretary/librarian/teacher" costume.
Bad idea: Leaving them at your sister's house the night before you need to dress up.

"Can you see a little Target bag with my stuff? I think I forgot it..."
Sarah: "Uh, I can't see it right now...can you pull over and look for it in your car?"
Me: "Kind of going through construction right now...sorry."
...a little later (and a second phone call)...
Me: "Any luck?"
Sarah: "Oh it is."
Me: "Crap."

Good idea: Making homemade vanilla bean custard for the office party.
Bad idea: Staying up until 2:00am to do so. This followed the debacle that erupted trying to find dry ice (which the Wal-Mart in SLC doesn't sell?!) and getting shooed out of the aisles (Wal-Mart closes at midnight?!?!?) gathering last-minute ingredients for homemade root beer and custard. (By the by...the effort was totally worth it...)

Good idea: Putting on fake nails to complete the look of above-mentioned costume.
Bad idea: Putting on fake nails to complete the look of above-mentioned costume. So many things you cannot do with fake nails!
  1. Type.
  2. Text (or do anything that requires pushing buttons on a cell phone).
  3. Button buttons.
  4. Remove contact lenses from your eyes (youch!).
  5. Put on nylons.
  6. Open jewelry clasps.
  7. Play the piano.

Good idea: Letting your friends fill the pinata for the Halloween party.
Bad idea: Letting your friends have free reign of your kitchen while they do this...bouillon cubes, fruit leather, Crystal Light packets, spice jars (plastic), yeast packets, little pigs-in-a-blanket, carrots...? It was quite interesting when Darth Vader's head got cracked open and all sorts of strangeness spilled forth. The Crystal Light and fruit leather were quite the hit, though.

Good idea: Spending the majority of the day on Saturday eating whatever I wanted, sleeping whenever I wanted (didn't get out of my pajamas until 5:30 at night...), and catching up on my television watching.
Bad idea: Uh...I got nothing for this one. :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fix You

I am not a handy-woman. I can figure most things out, especially if there's a diagram or a how-to video on YouTube. Lately, I've discovered that there are some things that could use fixing around my place. And I don't even know where to begin.

1) My piano. One of the A keys doesn't work, and it's more honky-tonk out-of-tune than ever. I understand that this is a result of the move a few months ago, but I'd like to be able to plunk out a song without hearing the missing note. So I'm putting it out there: does anyone know a piano tuner in SLC that won't charge me up the wazoo to come make my piano sound somewhat decent?

2) The DVD burner I ordered. Ok, this isn't necessarily 'broken,' but I have too many wires going in and out of all of the electronics residing in my entertainment center...and I do not care to mess with a good thing. The plea: does anyone want to make my television viewing and recording easier by getting this thing hooked up? Fair warning--there are a lot of wires and input/outputs happening back could get messy. I could probably make it worth your while...

3) The gas fireplace in my apartment. I moved into this apartment at the end of May. The fireplace was a quaint gadget I looked forward to using in the winter, but I didn't think much about how to work the dang thing. I believe the pilot light has gotten blown out or turned off or something, because when I switch the fireplace on: nada. I grew up with a wood-burning fireplace, so we started fires with newspaper and kindling. Anyone know how to work one of these suckers?

Other things I've busted lately:
- the latch thing that holds the visor in place when it's not in use
- the pouring spigot on my parents' drink cooler
- a spatula I used when I was scraping homemade ice cream from the freezer bowl
- my shin on Rachel's front bumper

But I don't just break things...
- I fixed Rachel's sewing machine on Halloween; just had to be a little rough with it, show it who was boss.
- I got my iPod to work again after I 'shocked' it to death. Who knew that static electricity could do such dire damage? I guess enough finagling got the job done.
- The hem on my skirt came undone, but ten minutes and a little TLC made it wearable again.

And now, a little shout-out to Coldplay and a re-disovered favorite: