Friday, September 25, 2009

Just Because

Here are some doodles that I drew during English class on Tuesday.

This is after a boy who sits across the room from me. He is actually a pretty good-looking fellow. But whatever. I like to look at a face for reference and then getting loosey goosey with the features.

Her eye-to-lip distance is off the charts! Ah, big noses. How I love you.

On Wednesday, I was waiting for a ride on a bench at the MTC when a cheeky little german Elder, bound for Hungary, came over and looked at my notebook. He pointed at my favorite (the animal in the bottom left) and said, "This one is my favorite. What is it? Is it a reindeer? Maybe a girl reindeer??"

This drawing came out while I was looking at the cover of My Name is Asher Lev that was sitting on my desk.

Some fellow.

Then I drew these at around 1AM last night.

Lastly, I drew this guy during a work meeting today.

And since it always seems to come back to the MTC job, I will share the following:
A buddy of mine at the MTC wrote me a funny rap...

Annie the cashier
She is in the zone
Ringing up products like a telephone

The bookstore gets crazy
There are lots of highs and lows
Especially when your job is selling candy to the gordos (haha)

Making the most of any cards that are dealt her
And her fave thing to say is,
Cash or card, Elder?

The "gordos" bit is referencing a time when he and his companion were practicing bearing their testimonies in Spanish and his comp started his by first talking about how there was so much cheap candy in the store and I was making them all fatties by selling it to them. The rap-writing elder was busting up and I asked afterward why I thought I heard the word "gordos" in his testimony! Good times in the good ol' MTC.

The day before he left, I gave him a final encouraging note that included a rap of my own. To conclude, I will "recite" it for you:

I know a certain hombre
Wears his name by his tie
Elder BLEEP is his nombre
And he's a pretty swell guy

He's been learning his Spanish
He's been studying verse
He's a teaching machine
That doesn't go in reverse

He's keeping it fresh
Ain't ever gonna go stale
Cause he's serving as a mish
In Ft. Lauderdale!!

(It is very satisfying to put a BLEEP in a rap I've written, even if it's for the sake of confidentiality and no actual profanity is involved.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wanna See An Envelope?

Well, I have sent out quite a few letters since my last post, but today it finally occurred that: I remembered to scan it before sending it, I had time to do so before the mail came today (I'm too fidgety about mail to wait till tomorrow) and I had access to a scanner (albeit just a weenie little Wilkinson Center one). So here is an example of a more or less typical letter envelope, sent out to my dear friend Tamarra. I didn't have her address, so at this point I had just written what I knew of it. That works out well anyway because I'm not sure how keen anyone is on having the address of their place of residence blogged for all the world (or at least my very limited scope of visitors) to see. So all that this is missing is her address and the red pen spiky blob I drew around it. Anyway. Hooray for delicious, delightsome correspondence! I have to make sure not to post this before she gets it!

Also, today an Elder in the MTC Bookstore accidentally told me that I'm his favorite cash register. I told him I'm just glad I'm
somebody's favorite cash register.

That is all.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Silly and Significant Presence of Correspondence in the Life of Me.

I love mail. I love correspondence of all varieties, actually. One could say, even, that I derive a probably absurd amount of joy from written or drawn communication of any kind. This includes anonymous or not-anonymous instances of the following: letters (especially with doodles all over the envelope), packages (these are better when smothered in doodles too), friendly notes, personal poems, stupid drawings, cryptic threats, and Polaroid messages.

As I mentioned in a previous post, receipt-paper message distribution is a key factor at work to keep me from going comatose. I also occasionally plant little folded bits of paper around the store that say WATCH YOUR BACK and other such threats.

Another of my favorite things to do at my job is to take mental note (heh heh, punny) of missionaries who look like they could use a pick-me-up and leave little notes in their mailboxes. One time an Elder found out on the day before he was supposed to leave that he was being delayed for another six weeks or something, and he was pretty devastated. (I think that in the MTC visa problems are up there on the list of worst fears at the back of every missionary's mind). So, I sent him some snacks that aren't available at the MTC Bookstore in a plain white box with nothing but his name and address on it in bright colors, with a note inside that expressed in the same overenthusiastic hues that I hoped he had A GREAT DAY!!! I think he knows it was me, but whatever. The very next day when I saw him again he was significantly more upbeat and like his goofy self. Now I periodically leave a little letter in his box. I don't know if my little notes and such always really impact the Elders that much, but it makes MY day. I am highly invested in the fun of giving them.

In the past few months I have also developed a penchant for Polaroid messages. They usually involve getting a roommate (usually the lovely and ever-helpful Deeds) to take a Polaroid of me doing or holding something, then I write a message on the back and leave it taped to a person's door or something. For example, one time I accidentally walked off with a little toy that belonged to my 10-year-old buddy Ethan, so, naturally, I made a hostage out of it. The next day, this Polaroid

was tucked into his front door along with a note demanding an original Ethan drawing as ransom.

Of course, I also quite enjoy receiving mail. I'm even the designated mail-checker of my apartment, and my day feels uncomfortably incomplete if I don't get the chance to retrieve whatever is in our mailbox (usually a profoundly disappointing wad of junk mail ads or previous tenants' subscriptions).

...I just realized that I have no visuals to provide for you as examples of the mail I'm sending. If I remember, next time I send a letter or package I'll scan it and put it up here; I can never send anything out without at least some ridiculous embellishment.

Whew. This has been a pretty scattered post. So anyway. I LOVE MAIL. There is something so beautiful and wonderful about receiving a personal, tangible manifestation that someone is thinking about you. It's like you're holding a little bit of that person's unique light in your hand. And sending things to others feels to me like casting out fine threads of light...little lifelines along which I hope to be sending a handful of amity to people whom I care about.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Today was an excellent day for facefinding in the clouds. This is something that I dearly love to do! Since I was a kid it has been very natural for me to see extra images in some of the things I look at. I suppose it's brain wiring.

I was thinking about this characteristic on my daily walk to work, and I found myself sucked back to my childhood. I saw in my mind, as if I were standing in the just-for-formal-visits front room of the house I grew up in, the enormously tall tulip tree across the street behind the neighbors' house. Its branches looked like a big head in profile. It reminded me of my mom when her hair was very short. And there were two smaller heads below it on either side.

I spent a lot of time with those three when I had to practice the piano. I sat
so many hours of each week on that little bench in that room, with no one for company but the Steinway grand, music books, my elementary and middle school anxieties, and my imagination. I would stare out and up at them and wonder what it was like for a bird to sit casually on one of their noses so ridiculously high above the ground. The possibility, even, seemed preposterous and wonderful. The wind would make those tree people sway sometimes, and fidget, and thrash around very animatedly, and whisper. Sometimes they were still. Sometimes they were silhouetted and dark, and sometimes they shone, glimmering, in the sunlight. I watched them converse and interact with each other. I couldn't ever make out what they were saying of course, they being on the other side of the window and so far away and up. But even the distance and the glass separating them from me couldn't buffer the feelings and personalities that my imagination drew out from them. They were interesting and special.

I can remember a couple of occasions as a kid trying to draw the faces I saw in the trees and clouds and such. It was very frustrating (because it was impossible). I would get very excited by how remarkably
just like an old lady with shiny beady eyes those branches looked like, and think it was too coincidental and rare a picture to not try to record it with pencil and paper. My attempts never worked even a little bit. I think the reason is this: in every instance, the face I see is a magical thing made of shadows and subtleties and layers of shapes and spots of light--and a transient cognitive connection which my eyes and imagination tripped across--and no scribble onto paper or attempt to delineate and define and shape what I am seeing would ever come close to conveying it. I eventually began to realize that if there are remarkably facelike faces all over the place outside, and that if I look at one long enough I can sometimes see a few more in its place, I should probably stop being so surprised. But I still love it. I really think magic is a core element in all of this. It's a sensation that is so personal, bright, ethereal and strange.

The hills and red rock formations of Utah are especially crowded with faces and figures, to the point where sometimes I can hardly see the landscape as such at all. It's more like a teeming mass of characters jostling each other in order to be noticed by me. It's only sometimes though; only if I really let my brain get into it and too involved to think about or notice much else. I have always enjoyed meeting people and things in the sky and trees and rocks around me. At this point in my life, though, it's so much better because I'm a happier and healthier person, and so also, therefore, are my perceptions and observations. I see things everywhere and think a lot about what I'm looking at, but it's like my environment and I are on warmer terms now, and the sights I see and the thoughts I think have lost so much of their sinister and gloomy tint. Walking outside today, it felt like my eyes and the world were having a lively conversation.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bryce Canyon SuperSamplings!

Some photos taken with my Supersampler camera at Bryce Canyon.

Some trees:

Some rocks:

Some guy:

Cheeky little ground squirrel!

It was fun.

How I Survive The Frozen Desolate Wasteland Tundra of the Northernmost Nether-regions of the MTC Bookstore

My job at the MTC Bookstore is fun. I get to work with other girls that are funny and cool, and interact with a three-and-a-half hour flow of rather goofy and often awkward boys, many of whom are also funny and cool, and who pose no actual social opportunity or challenge to me whatsoever. Plus, having attended high school and some college in Utah, I recognize old acquaintances and friends, not to mention acquaintances and friends from Connecticut, and family members. I enjoy working with these strange betagged individuals who very enthusiastically want to purchase the exact poundage of bulk candy that, with their 40% missionary discount and what currently remains of their $6 weekly Blue Card allotment, they can afford.

Every day at the Bookstore sees its fluctuations in customer flow. Although some days are busier than average and some are slower, each day sees at least some really dead time in the store and at least one or two thronging rushes during my shift. I assume this has to do with the missionaries' class and lunch schedules. During the dead times, extreme boredom and brain damage from lack of stimulation sometimes becomes a real danger. The most dangerous of registers to be working during these hard barren times of stimulatory famine is the North register. There are six registers in the store: two at the South, two at the Service Desk, and two at the North. Usually, however, only five employees work at a time, so you're on your own at the North. When I walk in and see I will be assigned to the North for the week, I resign myself to being neglected and isolated for the next five workdays and mentally start building up a store of potential Self-Preservational Entertainment Tactics (SPET). I just made up the acronym SPET, I admit, but I plan on using it from now on. I like it because it sounds like a cowboy's awesome and grammatically incorrect past-tense version of spit. "That idiot boy jes gone an' spet crost my boots one too many times."

Anyway. Most of the other cashiers resort to reading the Ensign or Book of Mormon, making grocery lists, etc. when they are at the North desk. Or they stare at something somewhere and look catatonic. I do the staring thing sometimes, especially when I'm really tired or a little bit grumpy for some reason. But that behavior is not conducive to a successfully survived day at the North. One major problem with the North is that it has no unique, special reasons for existence assigned to it. The Service desk is the only place where you can order a T shirt, get something laminated, buy a watch, etc. The South desk is the only place you can pick up the pictures you ordered or or the scriptures you had your name embossed onto. The North register, though, is at a small desk tucked away at the far end of the store where very little is likely to occur. The most exciting thing that happens is when an Elder manages to neglect the big stop sign on
the photo kiosk that warns against sticking a mini SD card into the regular SD card slot without a card adapter, and goes ahead and sticks a mini SD card into the regular SD card slot without a card adapter. Then his card slips down the machine's gullet and gets lodged there, and Leonard must be paged to come out and use various skinny metal tools to cajole and maneuver it back out. Other than that though, there is little life at the North. In fact I sometimes refer to it as the Frozen Desolate Wasteland Tundra of the Northernmost Nether-regions, or some variation of that phrase.

So I often find it necessary during those weeks to reach out across the vastness of empty space that exists between me and the other desks and seek interactive connection with my fellow cashiers. The activities with which I choose to accomplish this vary. Sometimes it's playing this little game with Heather that is essentially peek-a-boo with the inclusion of grumpy faces, mirrors, and using the bodies of the people in the store to block eye contact and then poking our heads out again like three-year-olds. Sometimes I stage-whisper to other people and try to find the perfect number of decibels so they hear their name but missionaries' heads don't whip around. My efforts in the interactive regard very often take the form of poems, notes, threats, or doodles, written or drawn onto receipt paper. I roll them into scrolls and tie them with a rubber band most commonly, though sometimes they take the form of flimsy and not-flightworthy airplanes, or wadded up paper cannonballs launched in a haphazard trajectory from a rubber band sling. Anyway, then I quite dangerously and bravely slink away from my assigned post momentarily and go throw my message at some unsuspecting coworker. Often I hit them from behind while their back is turned. I also totally miss with some frequency. I then typically turn around, and, with an innocent smile and my hands hanging clasped neatly in front of me, walk calmly back to my register. I always ignore any comments or inquisitions for explanation. Then I sit and fidget on my stool feeling pleased with my tiny escapades.

We got a new employee a couple of weeks ago. This caused a minor stir among us cashiers, because he is a boy, and we are all girls. This new guy, Jared, actually already worked his last day on Saturday, having received his own mission call. We'll see him again though, in a month when he reports. I interacted very little with him, as we never worked the same desk. Basically he made weird faces at me sometimes across the store and wore his ugliest tie on Saturday per my request after hearing its hideosity described. We have also engaged in desk-to-desk rubber band warfare, in which I believe with confidence that I was the victor. One time I even gave him a receipt scroll that hit him on the arm. Gloria said she would buy me candy if I wrote him a poem. Here is basically what it said:

Dear Jared,

Now that you work at the MTC Bookstore,
It's probably best that you know what you're in for.

First, it is known that from time to time
I write dumb receipt notes that usually rhyme.
Don't ever offend the dog Sunny the Ninja
She can be very fierce and quite willing to injure.
Don't be fooled by the cookies, "Marias"--I've tried them;
The picture's deceptive--there's no jam inside them!!
If you ever want chocolate milk, better be speedy
They go pretty fast cause we all are so greedy.
If you're obviously bored, Wayne often appears
To give you a task that WILL bore you to tears!

I know that these pointers won't help you much really
And this poem to you may seem stupid and silly
But my last tip is this: at the North, to survive,
You do any dumb thing to keep your brain alive!

The next day Gloria received a projectile receipt-wad missile that said:

Dear Gloria.

I am bored.

I blame you.

Mostly I just miss you though.

Forlornly and Bored-to-deathedly,


So you see. There are ways of working through the deadly North Desk doldrums without succumbing to a coma. It just takes a little idiotic poetry and the ability to derive inordinate pleasure from throwing things at other people while bookstore customers and superior employees may or may not be watching you act dumb.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge that this was a long and rambly blog post about practically nothing, and I don't even feel too apologetic because you really didn't have to read it. Also, I would like to say that Sunny the Ninja Dog is a real ninja who is less than one inch long, but who is black as night with a little ninja mask and little ninja booties. She is generally possessed of a pleasant enough disposition, but has some killer instincts which sometimes cannot be denied manifestation in cold and sudden violence. She is very strong and swift and capable of much pain-infliction; just ask Gloria. Mostly she guards my extra coins or, more often lately, sticks with her booties (as well as some gratuitous-and-definitely-not-necessary scotch tape) to the side of my register's little screen thingy in order to intimidate customers who may be inclined towards monkey business.

Thank you to everyone for humoring my foolishness and rapscallionry with such long-suffering tolerance.

Okay that's all.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

What I Wrote While Camping

I would like to write a little about Southern Utah.

During the few days we were camping there, one of the two teachers in the Liverpool group, named Michelle, proposed that we all write a phrase about how we felt about the place. On the day we went to Calf Creek, I ended up staying back while most of the group hiked up to Calf Creek Falls. I was feeling restless and couldn't draw. I watched little Hannah (my professor's 9-year-old daughter) make a drawing with a leaf, a kleenex, a graphite stick and an eraser. It was probably the most beautiful thing I saw that day in that beautiful place. I admit I was filled with envy, watching her easy movements and carefree, contemplative decision- and mark-making. It only took about two minutes and then she was done, and pleased. The drawing was lovely.

I wandered around a bit and then sat in the dirt to write some things down for Michelle's collaborative poem. After much struggling and scribbling, I had written about a page. This is what I had:

This place feels deep, like I'm walking on the surface of something that reaches very far down to places that can never be remembered or understood. The landscape here is more familiar to me than it once was, but coming here still makes me feel as though I've crossed over into a new and alien place, far removed from my home and unique in its personality. The feeling of strangeness and mystery seems only intensified when I notice a gambel oak or a magpie just like the ones at home, or I look up at night to find the familiar pattern of Cassiopeia looking back, and it occurs to me that home is only a few hours' drive away; I was there yesterday, and will return soon. How strange that places like this are so near, with many inhabitants that I recognize, yet whenever I come here I feel plucked out of life and put somewhere otherworldly and new.

Here is a place that one could come to love very deeply, where one could live and feel at home, but it could never be quantified, owned, or understood. The ancientness and strangeness and depth of it defy fathoming. It would not be possible to enhance or contribute to this landscape by any means that I possess. This sense that I am very small and alien here, and so limited in my capacity to understand, is not really a bad one. It is somewhat discomfiting to consider the scale of the landscape and its history that both surrounds and eludes me, but it is a special and awing thing to experience. It feels good to stand here on the surface of so much depth. Perhaps this is the best thing anyone can do in a place like this, whether inhabitant or visitor, staying for a moment or for a lifetime: stand on its dirt and let its beauty and strangeness fill you up and even change you; love the place for what it has offered for you to see, as well as for all that it won't ever show you. I love Southern Utah for both its beauties and its secrets. It fills me.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This post contains: Various Words, Noisy Birds, Magnolias, Wormhole-ias, Screaming Toes and Buffalos.

I am an art major. I really love the Studio art program here at BYU, and I really love art. I have a bit of a problem, though, which is that I have a lot of difficulty producing artwork. Over the past year or two, it's gotten to the point where sitting down to draw something is extremely anxiety-triggering and I usually can't even handle it. Unless it's doodling; I like drawing weird crap out of my head, and it generally involves much less stress and pressure for me. But I want to get to a point where I can love the process of making art, or at least feel like I can function as an artist until the process becomes comfortable enough that I can work through it. Otherwise, what exactly can I claim to be doing here? It is something that I really want to be able to enjoy.

This spring semester, I took a two-week long class that was an art collaboration between BYU faculty and students, and a dozen artists from Liverpool and one from New Zealand. It was so fun! I loved the people I got to meet and the fantastic camping trip we went on together. I knew when I signed up that I would enjoy it. Primarily, though, I enrolled as a challenge to myself. I would have to produce some art by the end of the course, whether I felt capable or not. We went camping in southern UT, and then upon our return we had three days to make pieces for our show that would open that Thursday. It was so hard! I became really sick, too, and only got a few hours of sleep each night. By Wednesday I was kicking myself, thinking, if I can't even make art for fun, what made me think I could make gallery-worthy art in three days with materials and methods I've never used?! I made it, though. And in the end, I was very dissatisfied with my piece; in the making of it I encountered many agonizing little failures, and the result lacked a lot of what I'd hoped to include and was pretty low quality. But I did make it, and I can acknowledge that as a milestone on my road to becoming a artist who makes art. I've decided not to think about that ugly piece shipping over and showing in Liverpool, and just consider it another step taken.

I've got some thoughts about how to get the wheels turning and the juices flowing again. There are some ideas and media that I want to explore. Sometimes I can think more about it without wigging out, and I get this feeling that I'll be able to make things I can love and be proud of down the road.

In the meantime, all I have to show for myself is doodly drawings and lots of photos. I love photography, and I'm very grateful to have that creative outlet in my life. Taking pictures is very engaging and challenging for my eyes and brain, but still relaxing and fun without fears attached.

Here are some things.

I drew the screaming toe freshman year. I was actually drawing a stuffed giraffe I sewed out of polka dot socks, starting with his button eye, when the button got messed up and it turned into a mouth.

This is Ernesta and All Her Ghosties. I drew her two summers ago with Magic Scent Markers on the back of a handout during the 2-week-long, 8-hours-a-day, boring-as-heck training at the Utah State Developmental Center.

I'm quite a bit in love with the magnolia tree on the north side of the HFAC.

Holy crap, that seagull just popped into a wormhole between shots 2 and 3!
Cross-processed film, SupaSampla camera, Cali '09.

A Raucous Raven.

Chukars, chukars, everybody loves chukars!!

That was for you, roomies!

Ok, there weren't any buffalo anywhere in this post.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

And here comes post #2 right outta nowhere!

About half an hour has passed since I took the epic First step into blogdom by posting a post. I'm still not ready for bed, though; I suppose I'm all jazzed up from my bloghood initiation. While I seem to be on a roll with made-up bloggy terms, I'm going to throw out a few more: bloggerific blogetry; blogification; blogitronic blogacity; blogrant blogerisms of a blogtastical nature.

Hmm. It really must be 1:15 AM.

I love walking to work. It takes about twenty minutes to walk from my apartment to the MTC, and it is pretty often my favorite part of my day. This year's spring has been the most beautiful spring I have ever experienced. There have actually probably been several springs in my life that offered more spectacular and lovely views, but this year I've had a greater capacity than ever before to notice how lovely things are, and be touched by all the things I encounter, and love all the things I see. I can't easily think of many activities that are more interesting and special to me than looking very closely at something I come across when I'm out and about.

Today I was enjoying the sight of a rusty piece of machinery, and I thought about how God is in everything. He was in the materials that made it, and in the lives of the people who shaped the materials into a machine, and in the weather that changed and aged it, and he is in me; he is in my eyes as I take it in, and in my mind as I process and consider it, and in my heart as I love it.

I felt very grateful today that God is an artist. I looked around me at the mountains and sky and trees, and I knew that he enjoyed very much to make all of it. I very much enjoy interacting with it and feeling a part of it. It is a source of happiness and wonder for me every day.

And now it is 1:39 AM, and I have quite thoroughly worn myself out. Good night everything! I will enjoy some more of you tomorrow!

Hello friends!

Here, everybody, is the much-anticipated first real post on this blog that I made many months ago, and then neglected for many months. Tonight Deidre and I were collecting cool nature specimens from a tree on our way home from swinging at the park, and we decided we will become bloggers for reals. I'm not going to actually say anything cool or important now, but this First blogpost is a pretty monumental event anyway so I don't feel like I need to try very hard.

As this sunny warm day
In the middle of May
Is dusking and waning,
The light that's remaining
Looks pretty and sweet;
And down onto my feet
The light's cast in lines
(through the gaps in the blinds)
that are golden and strange
and which subtely change
as the minutes walk by
and out into the sky
to retire for the night
with the last of the light.

This is a poem that I wrote for my friend Tamarra while sitting on my bed.

A few weeks ago, I was walking home from FHE with my roommate Sarah, and Orion was already right there in the sky to say hello! So while we walked I composed an ode:

Hanging up there in the sky!
He's my favorite heroine,
Though he's actually a guy.
And he's not a drug,
Nor is he illegal,
Nor is he a thug,
Nor is his name Smeagol
'Cause it's Orion!
Hanging up there in the sky!
(Repeat repeatedly, preferably forever).

I think it is probably much better when sung in person. If you want, I will sing it for you if you ask. It's pretty special. Sometimes my roommates get it stuck in their heads, and I feel a little bit bad about that.