Monday, May 31, 2010

Life keeps on going

Hey look, my blog's all different now! It needed a change. Yes, I know it looks like a frumpy sweater but...its a cute frumpy sweater, yeah?

Today for Memorial Day, I went with my parents, siblings and grandparents to the Pleasant Grove Cemetery to visit the graves of some relatives. There was remembrance hanging heavy in the air today, some sorrow, some grief, and felt peaceful, restful and quiet. I sat by the grave of my great-great grandparents and listened to my grandfather tell stories about his polygamist grandfather living in the Mormon colonies in Mexico. I felt a connection to these people I'd never met, that somehow they are inextricably a part of my life in every way. I felt, not like an individual, but like a single thread in an enormous tapestry of my family.
We also went to visit Brandon's grave. My cousin Brandon died when he was 6 years old, 6 years ago this Saturday. I was 13 years old when he died. I remember feeling such intense emotional turmoil, as if a hole had been ripped violently into my heart. At the same time, I felt a numbness and an emptiness that terrified me. I didn't think it could be real, didn't think it was fair. Brandon's death made me realize, for the first time, that I wasn't immortal, and neither was my family. It shook the foundations of my world, and I think I'm still dealing with some of the psychological repercussions. However, I didn't suffer the loss alone. My entire extended family banded together and leaned on each other for support, for comfort. From this experience, I also learned how to turn to God for comfort and for healing, and to continue living in the face of adversity.
As I stood in the cemetery, I listened to my grandpa talk to a cousin he'd encountered. "It's been 6 years already?" said the cousin, referring to Brandon's death, "It doesn't seem that long."
"Well," replied my wise grandfather, "Life keeps on going."
As I looked around the cemetery, I saw two little girls running happily among the graves, playing tag. I saw my brothers and sisters talking and laughing. I saw living, vibrant flowers placed on tombstones, and young saplings growing to bring shade to visitors. I saw life continuing, beautiful and bright in the face of tragedy.

Life keeps on going.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I miss winter just because I miss when I knew you best...

Have you ever inadvertently heard a song that expressed exactly what you were feeling at that moment?
Have you ever listened to the music and the lyrics and, bewildered, wondered how on earth the artist read your mind?
Have you ever felt that stab of pain listening to words saying exactly what you'd tried to pretend you weren't thinking?
And then, have you realized that maybe you're not alone after all? That somewhere in this world, someone felt the same way you did, and they wrote it down and set it to music? That in listening to this song, you and the songwriter and the singer and maybe a few other listeners shared that moment, that thought....

I have.

Man, I love music.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Do I have to...?

I'm just posting this on here so I'll be accountable for it. Goals inside my head are a lot easier to neglect.

Tomorrow, I'm not going back to sleep after family scripture study. I will stay awake and do something productive, goshdangit!

Whew. Thanks for listening!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


So, in my new ward I was called as the ward organist. This is great and all, but with one drawback.

I've never played the organ.

I mean, I've played the piano for 13 years, so I should be able to just pick up the organ instantly, yeah? It's not like they're two completely different instruments, or anything.

I wish.

Surprisingly though, I'm really starting to enjoy this calling. I'm already discovering new and unexpected perks to this assignment.
First, and most obviously, I get to learn how to play the organ. I wanted to learn a new instrument this summer, and since my guitar learning has been temporarily suspended, it's awesome that I have some new instrument to replace it.
Next, I think this is going to help out my piano skills. A lot. I've always been really, REALLY pedal-dependent. So being forced to play a keyboard instrument where there's no damper pedal to blur over my mistakes, and I have to actually use (gasp) finger legato will be good for me.
And then the more unexpected perks:
I have to come early to play prelude. This means I can no longer be late to church. Ever. Punctuality is a new frontier for me, but one I'm stoked to explore.
I'm like...famous...everyone I've met in my new ward has said, "Oh yeah, you're that girl who plays the organ, right?" Maybe this will help me make new friends. Or just garner awkward, unwanted attention. The jury's still out on this one.
I may NEVER FALL ASLEEP IN CHURCH AGAIN! That's right, cats and kittens! Mike, Andria, Colin, and any of my roommates can attest to the fact that I have church-induced narcolepsy. But now I have to sit up on the stand, with everyone looking at me. That's enough pressure to stay awake. Also, I get to stand up about every five minutes to walk over to the organ.

Anyways. I was initially pretty skeptical about this calling, but the more I think about it, the more I realize...this organist thing may not be a bad gig at all.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Feeling content

Some things that I like today:
The fact that my laptop is sitting on my feet keeping them warm.
Nate Ruess. Hey, Dria, remember that time...?
Friends who call me when I'm bored and keep me entertained with their witty words.
Along the same lines: drowned muskrats.
My new favorite word: raconteur. Now that I've discovered what one is, I've gotta learn to be one, I think.
Adobe's "We love Apple" ad campaign. (Ok I'm a little bit of a nerd...but you have to admit this is the world's most passive-aggressive ad).
Peanut butter Rice Krispie treats.
The fact that I can do laundry for free. There are perks to living at home.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Goals goals goals goals goals....

I've had a lot of time on my hands lately. This is great. Unfortunately, it also tends to give me a lot of time to drift around and do nothing. And so, to ensure that I harness this time and make this the best summer ever, I'm going to make a few goals for the summer. Here they are, in no special order:
  • Train for, and run a half-marathon, and the Red Rock Relay
  • Get my average mile pace under 8 minutes for anything less than 5 miles
  • Meet someone new at church every Sunday
  • Learn how to cook something new every week
  • Smile a lot more
  • Go to the temple at least every other week
  • Serve someone every day
  • Consistently read my scriptures earlier in the day (I'm too sleepy when I read at night)
  • Read at least 2 books each month
  • Work on my Honors program Great Works requirements
  • Keep better track of my belongings
  • Learn how to talk quietly when I'm on the phone
  • Learn my Debussy and Bach pieces, and become capable at playing the organ
  • Go on ADVENTURES!!!!
Yep, that looks like a pretttty good summer.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

sometimes I pretend I'm a poet....

To my latest teacher-

Our first meeting was one of teaching:
“No, I’ve never played racquetball, but I’d love to learn,” I offered coyly.
You took me up on it two weeks later.
I’ll be honest, I don’t remember anything you taught me that time, except that you were patient with me, and smiled when I held the racquet wrong, and laughed with me when I missed the ball, and cheered when I made a point, and didn’t let me win.
Later, over Jamba Juice, you taught me the history of rock music, about the Ramones, Velvet Underground, Operation Ivy, Black Sabbath, Eminem
while I responded in kind with a lesson on Chopin, Beethoven, Liszt and why I love the piano.

Other lessons followed:
how to make the world’s best peanut butter bars.
how to appreciate the 80s.
how to properly capture a duck.
and how to play “Three Blind Mice” on the guitar.

One night, we stayed out until three talking about truth, and God, and trust, and snow.
And that was when I learned how to share myself with someone.
Another night, you taught me how to kiss.
“It’s really easy,” you said, cradling my face in your cold hands.
It was easy, but not so easy that we didn’t keep practicing for hours, weeks, months.
From you I learned to cry for help, to lean on someone else, and
let someone lean on me.
I learned to take chances, to put my heart in your hands,
to trust myself with your heart.
From you I learned to see the world not in black and white, but in living, vibrant color.
Your eyes, arms, words, taught me devotion, loyalty, sensitivity, caring.
In short, you taught me love.

I taught you a few things too:
the foxtrot, and basic music theory.
why I love to read.
how to find a pair of pants that fit.
and how to live with passion and optimism.
Like all classes, ours had to end
with the final lesson.
how to let go
how to say good bye
how to…hurt.
I won’t forget your lessons (how could I? they are burned in my heart) but I must be
My own teacher now.
I must teach myself:
how to heal.
how to keep living.
how to try again.

Until I find another teacher as great as my last.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Feelings? or something....

What are you supposed to do with unpleasant emotions?
I'm not trying to be angsty, this is a legitimate question I'm wondering about.
Part of me wants to say, "Repressing emotions is bad!" and revel in cathartic misery. Nothing more therapeutic than yet another round of sobbing, right?
Part of me says, "Emotions hurt!" and wants to build a thick wall around my heart and just...stop feeling.
I know there's gotta be a balance somewhere. Because I don't want to be a stone wall. I know if I don't let myself feel some sadness, I cut myself off from feeling joy later.
But I also know if I spend my days curled up in a ball crying, or falling apart at the most innocent reminders, I won't ever be able to move on with my life.

Oh boundary, where are you?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

"Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time..."

I once had a friend say to me, "Karissa, do you ever wake up and just think, 'Anything could happen today. Today's events could change the course of my entire life'?" I find it thrilling how unpredictable life is, how often I find myself shaking my head in wonder and saying, "Wow. I sure didn't see that coming when I woke up this morning."
Yesterday was one of those days when I said, "Wow. I sure didn't see that coming when I woke up this morning...and if I had, I probably just wouldn't have gotten out of bed."
But this same unpredictability is what gives me hope. I look over the past year of my life and see how many blessings have poured in that I'd never have expected. New friends, rich experiences, fun times, hard times, opportunities, and lessons in love, in trust, in letting others in. I never would have seen this coming. And so maybe a year from now, I'll look back on this weekend and say, "Yep, that sucked. That hurt a lot. But wow, if I'd never done that, I'd never have learned [lesson] or had [experience] or met [person] or done [awesome thing]."
You never see what's coming up while you're in the midst of the hard thing. Ammon knew this, and said, "Could we have supposed when we started from the land of Zarahemla that God would have granted us such great blessings?" (Alma 26:1). I bet when they started out from Zarahemla into an unknown wilderness, to teach a hostile people, and suffer incredible hardships, they weren't saying, "Man. This is so awesome. I just know right now that we're going to convert exactly 1327 Lamanites, including two Lamanite kings, and we'll forever be happy and hailed as deeply successful missionaries. Let's get out there and do this!" I think they were probably saying something more like, "Well, this sucks. Himni lost the map, so we have no idea where we are. It's been raining for three straight days, Omner's got some weird parasite, Aaron's leg is broken and...seriously? We don't know how to be missionaries! We've never done this before! We've never left home before! What are we doing?"
But the thing is, they didn't go home. They trusted the Lord, had patience, and kept going. And they were successful beyond anything they could have foretold.
The Lord said, "Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation." (D&C 58:3).
And so, underneath the emotional pain and turmoil I've found myself in these past few days, I have great hope. I know we did the right thing. I know the future's bright. I know the Lord has crazy good things in store for me. And for you.
I'll be ok. You'll be ok. We'll both be ok.