Sunday, December 30, 2007

there she goes a-wanderlusting again

Claire gave me a wonderful book for Christmas: A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller by Frances Mayes. (If that name sounds familiar, that's probably because she also wrote Under the Tuscan Sun.) By now I am pretty much dying to go to Portugal, and I would just love to go back to Andalucía, this time taking it in at my own leisurely pace and without thirty American students as traveling companions. Only Portugal and Andalucía? you may ask. Well, those are the only two chapters I have read so far. I suspect that, by the end of the book, I will be dreaming also of Scotland and Turkey and Morocco and all the other marvelous places that will just be begging me to visit them once I have glimpsed their beauty and unique vitality in Mayes' descriptions and narratives.

My latest musical obsession is Sigur Rós. Unfortunately, I did not stick with my Icelandic class last semester, so I do not understand their lyrics or song titles. I don't even know how to pronounce their name. Sometimes I like to think of it as "sugar rush", though I know that is not quite right. There is a song of theirs called "Ný Batterí", which I often refer to as "new battery". I hope that that does not offend them. Anyway, I really like their music. You probably know that I like Björk's music a lot, and you may or may not know of my affinity for Emiliana Torrini's. Years ago I enjoyed reading Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, and I have long been fascinated by geothermal phenomena. Basically, what I am trying to say is that I think that I would like Iceland. A lot. Like maybe enough to live there for a while?

Have you seen the indexed blog? If not, then you should. The boiled-down diagrams are clever, witty, understated, and often spot-on. I particularly liked this recent post. I have a passport; the question is, do I have enough of the other two?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

bring it on, jack frost

We are expecting some wintry weather out here in Utah-land. I have been checking the severe weather alerts regularly, in part because I am concerned about the road and atmospheric conditions since I am supposed to fly out on Thursday, and in part because I am mildly obsessed with the weather. Every time I get to the end of the National Weather Service statement, I read "gusty southwest winds" as "gutsy southwest winds". I think that that's just what we need: weather with a bit of spunk. That's right, cold front, you show 'em who's controlling the thermometer around here. Snow clouds, do your thing and don't you let anybody try to stop you!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

notes from sunday school

A few weeks ago I found myself drawing diagrams in my notebook during Sunday school. It was right after Thanksgiving, and the teacher had opened the lesson by inviting a handful of volunteers to share something that they were grateful for. It was a lovely day, and the first thing that came to mind was that I was grateful for sunshine and blue skies. I did not raise my hand to share this, because immediately my mind began following the intricate paths that every once in a while lead it to something fruitful. It went like this: I started thinking about why I am grateful for sunshine and blue skies. First came the obvious: sunshine means light and warmth, which not only allow us to see and keep us from freezing, but also help plants to grow. The sun is the ultimate life preserver, as far as our physical world goes. Blue skies are a little more difficult, since there is nothing inherent in them that keeps us alive. I do, however, find some sort of inarticulable inspiration in their color and depth. Additionally, I am one of those people whose emotions happen to be rather closely tied to atmospheric conditions. Several rainy days or long periods of cloud cover can get me pretty low. This is why I must not move somewhere like Seattle or Ithaca. On the other hand, when I am feeling a little off, sometimes a bright, blue, sunshiny day is enough to put a smile on my face.

Soon I was looking for more specific reasons as to why I find something so simple as a sunny day so wonderful. Where does this joy, that seems to be encapsulated in a sun-brightened, endless blue sky, come from? It occurred to me that, ultimately, it must come from God, since He created the sky and the sun. My mind then journeyed back to Cusco, where I sat in class one morning in June of this year and, when asked something about the difference between traditional Andean polytheism and Judeo-Christian monotheism, I replied that, in a way, I did not find them all that different. Indigenous beliefs in the Andean region hold natural elements like the sun (inti), the moon (quilla), and the mountains (apus) to be gods. In a strict monothestic view, worship of a mountain, for instance, would be considered idolatry. Without going so far as addressing prayers to Mother Earth (Pachamama), however, I believe that we can and ought to recognize the mark of divinity in the mountains, the forests, the stars, in the earth and the sky themselves. When I gaze at the snowcapped Wasatch mountains while I wait at the bus stop, I see God, because those mountains are a product of His creative power. I tried to express this to my teacher, but I had not sufficient time to adequately articulate the thoughts that were forming just then. Although I think that she got the gist of it, I was still unsatisfied with my incomplete explanation.

Months later, in a Sunday school classroom in Provo, it somehow became clear how I might illustrate what I had been trying to say: why immanence makes sense to me. So this is what I drew in my notebook:

As I was thinking more on this topic, this Book of Mormon scripture was recalled to my mind:
But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator. (Alma 30:44, emphasis added)
I remember teaching this section in gospel doctrine class during the summer after my freshman year at BYU, and while preparing for the lesson I had scribbled in my notes "organic chemistry denotes that there is a God." Which reminds me of a time earlier this year when that same notebook where I drew those diagrams you see above, was witness to some musings of mine about organic chemistry and syntax trees. Maybe another day I'll post that one.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


I was first introduced to Billy Collins (his poetry, not the man himself) by Claire about two and a half years ago. We would read aloud from Sailing Alone Around the Room and I remember being captivated by the way that he could form such vivid images with his words. "Forgetfulness", ironically, is the poem that seems to stick with me more than any other. It might have been the first one that I ever heard, but I cannot remember for sure. While forming my amazon wish list so that Santa won't have to guess which world music albums and poetry books I would like, I searched Wikipedia for a list of all of Billy Collins' published collections. In the "external links" section I found this. Amazing. Brilliant. And, as you might have guessed from this post's title, Inspiring.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


The other day in class, my teacher asked us what we were planning on doing after finishing our degrees: go on for a PhD, teach in public schools, etc. I said that I was going to open a chocolate shop. My teacher responded with an interested and not discouraging "really?" to which I replied, "maybe." And then my classmate exclaimed, "You should! Because I like chocolate." What more reason do I need?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

win-win situations

Two recent discoveries making life a little better:

Vanessa, and a few days later my mom, sent me a link to, and I think that it's just wonderful. Okay, so I like words. Maybe not everybody would find a vocabulary quiz so enjoyable. But the ingenious part about is that, every time you answer correctly, new, surprisingly unobtrusive, ads show up at the bottom of the screen. These ads generate enough cents to pay for ten grains of rice to people who need it, through the United Nations World Food Program. Ten grains may not seem like a lot, but if you're like me and therefore easily addicted to games like this one, ten plus ten plus ten... can add up pretty fast. It's a great temporary distraction, or serious procrastination tool, depending on how you use it. And it's refreshing, amid all the junk, to see that people have found a new way to use the internet for good.

On campus the other day, thirsty and just generally tired, I bought a Powerade, thinking that it might alleviate both of those symptoms. I rarely purchase energy drinks and I was unacquainted with the flavor that I chose that day. I am none the better for having become acquainted with it. It was really gross. I kept drinking it only because I convinced myself that it was good for me, but I never quite finished it. The next day, I reached for something different. It's called vitamin water. Half expecting to dislike this one, too, I was very pleasantly surprised. It is not loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, which, since its cost is inferior to that of sugar (unfortunately, its taste is inferior, too) is used in most sweet beverages. Nor are you left with that artificial-sweetener aftertaste. The people who make this stuff show us that just a little of the good stuff, meaning pure sugar, goes a long way. That means it tastes yummy without having tons of calories. And it's full of vitamins that you need and, if you're like me, you're probably not getting enough of. I'm sold, anyway. The first variety I tried, and perhaps still my favorite, was the dragonfruit-flavored "power-c", with vitamin c (duh) and taurine. I was a little taken aback by the second sentence of that wikipedia article on taurine, but it didn't kill me. And it didn't taste like bile, or at least not what I imagine bile would taste like. Blech, I'm going to stop imagining that now. The raspberry-apple flavored "defense" is pretty good, too, but I really like fruit-punch flavored "revive" and açaí-blueberry-pomegranate "xxx" (which stands for triple antioxidants), and "formula 50" tastes exactly like that grape-flavored gum you sometimes get at Japanese restaurants. Oh, and the descriptions on the bottles are clever and entertaining. Maybe I could get a job doing something quirky like that. Anyway, here's to something that really is good and good for you! Now, if only it weren't so expensive...

Monday, November 26, 2007

what i have been doing for the past couple of weeks

adobe creative suite 3 design standard for mac: $219
five-pound bag of equal exchange organic hot chocolate mix: $35
ikea light fixtures and lightbulbs: $70
sofa and loveseat slipcovers: $60
sweatshirt and sweatpants: $15

being distracted from other worries that i tend to hyperbolate by whiling away the hours learning new skills and developing a creative product that i can proudly claim: priceless

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

art in chicago

A couple of weekends ago, I escaped to Chicago to visit my bestest friend in the whole wide world. After a quick plane flight (just a plain ol' flight, nothing extraordinary) and a taxi ride through the ghetto and the barrio, I arrived at the University of Chicago's Mandel Hall just in time to catch the second half of a performance by the Brentano String Quartet. Check out the recordings on their webpage. It's too bad they don't have video, though, because they were very ...animated. Seriously, I thought that the first violinist was going to launch off his chair and leap around the rafters for a while before coming back down to the stage. Really, though, they were quite good. Unfortunately, I missed the first half, which was when they played really weird contemporary stuff. This is unfortunate because I probably would have liked it a lot. Because I'm weird like that. For the same reasons I am more drawn to this than to this. Not that I don't appreciate the latter; I am just less likely to hang it on my wall. Speaking of experimenting with art, check out these, produced by people with way too much time on their hands. Not that I consider them innovative geniuses, but the concept is sort of fun nonetheless. My absolute favorite is the last one on page 10. Anyway, now that we are on the topic, it seems a good time to say that I got to visit the Art Institute of Chicago. There I saw cool stuff like this and this and this. Possibly the most famous painting is the collection is Seurat's A Sunday on the Grande Jatte. I do like a good pointilist work. And check out the Christmas cards they had in the store! Oh, how I love love love art museums.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

excuse me? would you mind repeating that?

On a recent Wednesday evening I was in an orchestra rehearsal when the fire alarm went off. It turned out that the building was not burning down, but of course we had to evacuate anyway. When we got back inside and returned to rehearsal, we found that a handful of people had gathered all their things and used the fire alarm as an excuse to take off early. Referring to one of the bassoonists who had disappeared in such manner, the conductor asked, "What happened? Did he die in the fire?" But it sounded a little bit different to me. I turned, utterly befuddled, to my neighbor and asked, "What did he say? Because I heard 'upgrade to papaya' and I'm sure that can't be right." It wasn't.

Today I was discussing something nonsensical, I'm sure, with Vanessa, and I began a sentence with, "At that rate..." But she heard, "O thyroid...!"

Vanessa's gchat status at one point today read, "in the pit of thesis schmesis", but Claire looked at it quickly and thought that it said "in a pit of feces". Gross.

My status was listed, "is using powerpoint?" but, glanced at by a visitor, changed to "is using powergoat".

Claire's status read, "holy flying kittens!" No, really. I read that one right.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

claire + me + camera phone

Claire also liked taking pictures of me with my phone, and doing weird things in front of my camera phone. Ah, the bizarrity.

Monday, October 1, 2007

why i read steinbeck

My first encounter with John Steinbeck's writing came in eleventh grade English class. In the preceding years, I mostly just read books for school because I was supposed to. There were a few that I enjoyed here and there, and in my high school years I began learning to appreciate various kinds of writing, but no school book had ever captured my attention like The Grapes of Wrath. I instantly became engrossed in the plot and emotionally attached to the characters, and at the same time I was fascinated by the structure of the novel itself and the style of the writing. I had never been so interested in class discussions, and I, shyest of all classroom spectators, even contributed once or twice to the conversation. At the time I had no idea why I liked the book so much, but I guessed that it had something to do with the author. So, in the following years, I made sure that Steinbeck was a prevalent figure in my summer reading. Some of his novels are rather heavy, while others are just plain quirky. The other day I finished reading East of Eden. Some consider this novel to be Steinbeck's masterpiece, and I can't say that I blame them. As I made my way with the characters through the pages of their story, I was repeatedly struck by the author's uncanny ability to portray his characters' humanity. He somehow makes them more real than reality. I don't really understand that either, but the stark, so-called "realist" novels just don't do it for me, so I have to assume that Steinbeck does something different, something higher, yet at the same time more down-to-earth. Maybe transcendent is the descriptor I am looking for. I know, it's really vague, but I am going to leave it for a moment because there is another reason that I like reading Steinbeck. I have always been the kind of reader who hangs on every word. It doesn't matter what I am reading: a news article, a chemistry textbook, ancient scripture, contemporary poetry, or a novel that is just for fun; I relish every syllable. Just try getting me to skim or scan anything. I even analyze cereal box literature if it is sitting in front of me and I have nothing else to do besides eat my cereal. Maybe I should be embarassed by that. My mom once enrolled me in a speed-reading class because she was worried that my leisurely pace would get me into trouble in school. It didn't work. I can't say that my low-velocity reading has caused much trouble, except maybe sleep deprivation. Anyway, my point is that, for better or for worse, I seem to have a heightened sense of writing styles. There are some that I like, some that I hate, some that I find unique or innovative, some that bore me, and then there are just a few that really resonate with whatever it is that my mind and spirit seem to expect to get from reading. Maybe you have guessed that Steinbeck's style falls into the latter category. I still can't quite put my finger on it, but there is something about his writing that to me seems darn near perfect as far as fiction writing goes. I only wish that I could write like him. I like reading Steinbeck because I want to write like him. Or maybe, after all that, I want to write like Steinbeck because I like reading him.

Friday, September 28, 2007

claire + me + camera

I came home from school one day last fall and for some reason or another Claire had her camera out and was playing around with it. Claire has a really nice camera and she takes really nice pictures. She is also very good at bringing out my bizarrities. See for yourself.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

a tribute to g5

My mom ordered some things from and had them sent to me. Well, sort of. As you know, I recently moved. What you probably do not know is that my old address and my new address have a few things in common. They both contain apartment numbers and they are in the same city and state. Also, they both begin with the number 7. Now, I am not quite sure how this happened, but I am guessing that Mom was filling out the form, hit 7, my old address popped up (something to do with cookies, right?) and, well, next thing you know Pai is calling me to tell me that a box addressed to me has shown up at the old apartment. Whoops.

So the other day after class I stopped by G5 to pick up the package. It was weird, walking down the hill from campus, down that oft-cursed staircase and across the street, the same route I took several times a day for nearly three years, toward that funny-pinkish-colored building and up the stairs to an apartment that had become such a standby in my life and now has suddenly become strange.

I have been meaning to post a tribute to G5 ever since I started this blog, and I figure now is as good a time as any to do it. So now, if you will join me on a little jaunt down memory lane...

I would like to begin with breeannisms. This is what we call things that our roommate BreeAnn said, that for some reason or another just stuck, and we still remember them and laugh. There was this one time, for instance, when she picked up an afghan throw, wrapped it around herself, and asked, "Can I wear this as my clothe?" Another day, she announced that she was very hungry. "But that's okay," she said, "because today I'm going to eat a big food!" (I guess she meant a big lunch, or a lot of food, and combined them by accident. Kind of like in Mean Girls when Cady says "grool".)

We had a lot of fun with BreeAnn. For instance, Claire had this big, green exercise ball that we would hold out in front of us as we ran full force into the wall, or each other. This resulted in hysterical laughter, and we tended to do this around two or three in the morning. We were literally bouncing off the walls. I don't think our neighbors liked us much...

Speaking of our neighbors not liking us, this one time they wanted to share our wireless network and we told them no because more people on the network would slow down the connection, and we didn't even know any of these people. I mean, that's why we put security on the network in the first place, to keep people we didn't know from using it. Anyway, they were just appalled that we had refused their request, and the day after last hearing from them, the network "screwyougranary5" appeared in our range. We thought it was funny, and took it as a compliment that they cared that much.

Occasionally, we would vacuum the floor at one or two in the morning. I wonder how our neighbors liked that? Oh, speaking of vacuums... so, it had been just a few days since Claire had moved in, and she was vacuuming the living room floor. I was back in my bedroom when suddenly the lights dimmed for just a split second and immediately after that I heard *poom!* Wondering what had happened, I went out in the hallway and rounded the corner to see a huge dust cloud that filled the entire kitchen and living room. Then through the haze I saw Claire, sitting on the floor in shock next to our exploded vacuum. We ended up out on the front porch laughing for probably an hour straight. I think that might have been the night that we sprinkled the stairs and the porch below with uncooked spaghetti that a former tenant had left, and then BreeAnn thought it would be cool if it rained, because then the spaghetti would cook.

That reminds me of that cup-o-noodles sort of stuff that Nan used to make all the time, often for breakfast. It had some sort of fishy fragrance and it was very pungent. BreeAnn would show up at my bedroom door and complain, wrinkling up her face, "Nan made smelly noodles again!" At one point we had two roommates from Thailand. They knew all the other Thai girls in the area, and from time to time would invite them over. All of them. That was when we wanted to put a sign on our door welcoming visitors to Little Bangkok. We tried to learn some Thai from them, but mostly all we retained were the swear words. They just happened to be short, easy-to-remember words, which were exclaimed loudly, and fairly frequently. They would always be followed by "Don't repeat that!" but it was always too late. In the Little Bangkok days Pai used to make coconut sticky rice with fresh mango. Mmmmm... Claire and I would eat bowl after bowl of it, ignoring Pai's chidings that we were making ourselves sick, because it was oh so tasty!

Which brings me to the cinnamon rolls. Claire has this amazing recipe for cinnamon rolls. These are not just any cinnamon rolls. You make the dough from scratch and each roll takes up an entire pie tin, and once they are cooked and drizzled with icing, you peel off strips of yumminess. Claire has several baked goods recipes, collected from family and friends into a little booklet, and they are notorious for producing industrial-sized yields. And we usually forget all about this until after we have measured out the ingredients and begun mixing and then, whoops, this mixing bowl isn't big enough, hmm, neither is that one, we'd better get two! So it was with the cinnamon rolls. I don't remember exactly how much we made, but it was an all-afternoon affair, and even after half of the ward showed up and ate up a good portion of them, we still had maybe four or five pie-tin-sized cinnamon rolls left. Which we devoured during the next, oh, two days maybe. Beginning at around four o'clock the following morning, since we were still awake, hyped up on all the sugar we had already consumed. That was the night we started writing in a little notebook all the funny things that we said. We like to call them "bizarrities", which I am convinced will make it into the dictionary one of these days. We wanted to put a sign on the door that said "Bizarrities abound". I don't know why we always had these ideas about putting signs on the door and yet we never put one up.

Anyway, the night of the cinnamon rolls was followed in suit by midnight jaunts into the street, where I would frolic around in the drizzle while Claire sat down and came to a realization of the absurdity of it all. There were also countless late nights of paper-writing and such, often accompanied by lemon bars or brownies and of course large quantities of caffeinated beverages. Often I would fall asleep on the couch and Claire would try to wake me up and make me go to bed, sometimes with success, others without. And there was that one time I slept through the night in the windowseat. We got on a late-night Scrabble kick right before we moved out, but if you think that's nerdy, just let me tell you about the Friday evening we spent reading aloud from The Odyssey. Three different translations. I know. That was the life. In case you couldn't tell, I miss it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

i have a national parks calendar

that I got in El Paso this February, and it tells me that the moon will be full tonight.

Maybe that's why I feel like my head might explode.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

the cosmos are trying to tell me something

I am not a little bemused by the melodies and the colors, but judging by the calendar, I think it has something to do with my being past due for a blog entry. Or two, or twenty. I consider yesterday's class discussion of blogs an exclamation point added to weeks of my mind's ignored pleading. Time to start writing again!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

have a seat

I enter the grad student office, a brand new, very large room with plenty of desk space and comfortable chairs, and where do I choose to sit? On the windowsill. One wall of the room is lined with huge recessed windows, twelve of them. I picked the one at the end, in the corner of the room, partially hidden by a filing cabinet. Is anyone surprised?

The one feature of my old apartment that I loved most was the huge picture window in the living room with its long, cushioned windowseat. I spent many a sunny afternoon napping there, and sometimes I sat there with a bowl of cereal as I surveyed the morning school-day traffic below. I could often be found there late at night working on a paper, and not a few times I fell asleep there and would wake up in an hour or so and drag myself to bed. One night, I was just so comfortable there that I fell asleep in the windowseat and did not wake up until well into the morning. Claire had been up all night working on an assignment and left the house early to run an errand on campus. As she was going out the door, she saw me there, asleep and facing the window, which was not covered by its blinds. I guess she considered waking me but just thought it was sort of funny and decided to let me sleep anyway. She told me later that as she was walking to campus she looked up at our window and there I was for the whole world to see, with my face practically pressed up against the glass, my mouth wide open. And when she returned, I had hardly moved a muscle. Do you have any idea how many people walk by that window on their way to school in the morning? Neither do I, but it is a lot. Being on the second floor, we did not normally get people gazing in through our window, but I hope that a good number of them just happened to look up that morning. Because it was sort of funny.

My new apartment was furnished, but I am a little confused. Although we seem to have excess furniture in the areas of clothes dressers and writing desks, the bedrooms are bereft of chairs. maybe they just figured we could sit on the dresser, in the closet, since that is the only place it seems to fit? Oh well, at least I have a windowseat.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

back home in utah

After spending a few days with my family in Merryland, I am back home in Utah. There was a time when calling Utah home was difficult, even unthinkable. Over the years, though, it has become more and more apparent to me that not only do I spend overwhelmingly more days of the year here than there on the other side of the country where I grew up, here also is where the next phase of my life is taking shape. The first eighteen years of my formation, well, they are in Maryland. Remnants of them lay dormant in forgotten drawers in my parents' house; I think that some parts of that history float idly through the school hallways, still trapped in those buildings after all these years. Here, right here, is where the next chapter is being drafted. Here is where I live. Here is where I eat and sleep, here is where I read and write. Here is where I am trying to figure out this big crazy world and how I fit into it.

I do not yet feel at home in my new apartment, but I am hoping that that will change once I get all of my stuff put away and thereby do away with the obstacle course that has invaded all of the potentially usable floor space. Even after I work some Mary Poppins-style magic on my own stuff, the place will still be crowded, since our hopes of having a separate library and a yoga room/guest room were mercilessly dashed when we found out that two other girls had signed contracts in our crappy, er, vintage, apartment. We'll see how it goes.

We did make some strides last night: Vanessa hooked up my dad's retired but perfectly functional DVD player while Chris and I put slipcovers on the (formerly) ugly and torn couches. I would like to point out that "slipcover" is a bit of a misnomer, since they do not exactly slip into place so effortlessly as one might suppose, but I must say that they look rather nice and they brighten the place up a bit. And we got an amazing deal on them (thanks mom!)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

first night in the new place

My contract at the old apartment technically ended on Wednesday, but Claire and I were able to stay there a few extra nights because the new tenants had not yet moved in. But every day that we stayed it felt a little weirder, because all of our stuff was packed and we were living out of suitcases, the place looked empty and felt suddenly strange. As hard as it is to admit it, that place is no longer our home. So we decided to stay at my new apartment tonight.

I am sitting on a chair that sort of feels like it might fall apart, in front of a table that seems to enjoy swaying as well. To my left is the linoleum-floored kitchen with dark wood cabinets and a microwave that is so old it has knobs, including one for setting the temperature. Claire says that the apartment looks and feels very eighties; I think I will call it vintage. Most of my belongings are piled up in the living room, where there is a fireplace that the landlords do not guarantee will work (seriously, that is in my contract), and on the wall opposite where I sit, a sliding glass door that does not really slide but rather prefers to stay put, opens, with some effort, onto a little balcony where we will probably rig up a hammock or two (between the two of us we own five). The view from the balcony, and from all the windows on that side of the apartment, is largely populated by the foliage of three or four cottonwood trees, and if you peer between the leaves you can glimpse the Wasatch mountains, which take on a lovely alpenglow at dusk.

The house I grew up in backs up to a wooded lot, and in the summer it is so thick with green growth that you cannot even see the houses on the next street over, and you almost forget that it is not an unexplored wilderness. I have always felt an affinity for my chlorophyll-bearing neighbors, and I cannot help but feel a bit disappointed by the relative lack of greenness here in Utah. Don't get me wrong, the landscape here truly is awe-inspiring, and whenever I leave I find it difficult to adjust to the absence of the mountains, but all the same, since I moved here I have felt a certain emptiness where for my first eighteen years I had found a panoramic view of green trees just outside my back door. Needless to say, it was not with little joy that I found the trees outside my new apartment. Their presence should make this place feel a little bit like home, even if only one of the four toilets is working properly right now.

So we have a few maintenance issues to have taken care of. But Becky has given us an area rug to break up the ugly dark blue carpet, and Ikea is going to help us with the terribly inadequate lighting in place. And if nobody else moves in, we will get to have a library and a yoga room, both of which can double as guestrooms. There is a lot of furniture that we need to shuffle around, and of course I need to unpack the little mountain of stuff that I so carefully packed just a few days ago. We still need to move in the rest of Vanessa's stuff, and the walls are just screaming for something more visually stimulating than expanses of textured off-white paint. So there is a lot to do to make this place start feeling like a home. I know that it will take some time to get used to it; it will be very different from what I have known and come to take for granted during the past few years. But with some diligence and patience and a lot of faith, I think I will like it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

a new beginning

Well, here it is. In response to my mind’s pressing need for release, in memory of how much I enjoyed writing on my last blog, and encouraged by repeated requests by friends, I hereby inaugurate the new blog.

It seems an appropriate time to begin a new chapter. You see, I am moving. No expat leap, no cross-country haul, just over to the other side of town. But I have lived in the same apartment for nearly three years and, while I feel that it is time for a change and that it will do me good somehow or another, still the thought of leaving is a little hard to bear if not totally bewildering. The first few months after I moved in here appear in my memory as nothing more than a transition period, defined only by what preceded and followed it. The previous semester I had studied abroad in Spain, and when the transition semester ended, Claire moved in. We immediately became inseparable, and suddenly my apartment was not just a place where I ate and slept and kept my stuff. It was where I lived, and it began to feel like home. In many ways, Claire is the best friend I have ever had. And she is moving to Chicago next weekend. While that is hard to face and in a way makes the transition more difficult, it is also one of the reasons I am moving. I had gotten very used to living here and, for the most part, have been very comfortable calling it home. But I know that it just wouldn't feel like home without Claire.

So here's to a new home, both on the earth and in cyberspace. I have been thinking a lot about the idea of home, and I plan to write more about it. But Claire just got home and it is time for a round of Scrabble.