Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In which a shameless plug is made

So, this semester I'm participating in the Artsbridge Scholar program at my university, where I get to work in an elementary classroom helping to integrate music into their curriculum. I'm going to be going to a 4th grade class once a week to teach music, and I am incredibly excited. As part of the program, I'm required to document my experiences in a blog. If you're interested in seeing what I'm up to, you can check it out here: http://karissateachingadventure.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In which I am excited.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is my favorite. 

Also, I visited the dump today, which I had never done before.

And yesterday, I decided that fourth grade is my favorite grade to teach, which is ironic, considering it was my least favorite grade to be in.

Also, today will be the first time I've ever listened to more than one Sufjan Stevens song in a row. And I can't decide how I feel about him. I think we're going with, "Bizarre, but in a way that kinda really appeals to me." But I'm not sure. Maybe I just like it because people have been telling me for years how much I would like Sufjan Stevens.

That is all.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In which ward conference is more entertaining than usual.

Our poor stake president. Just trying to get all us singletons married off. Never even saw it comin'.

"Girls should be the passive ones. Don't argue with me!" he glared at those who giggled. "Boys need to be more aggressive."

"Have you ever seen a flower chasing a bee?" he continued, "No! Flowers just stand there, and look pretty and smell sssoooo gooooood."

And then a raised hand, "President, you do know that any bee you see outside the hive is female, right? The male bees stay inside the hive and pretty much do nothing."

Made. My. Day.

EDIT: I should admit that I took a little artistic license on this one. What he actually said was that all bees are girls. Which isn't true. So I changed it, because it's my blog and I can do that.

In which I edit

Sometimes I go back and read my old posts, and change around the words and phrases I don't like.

Because I can't do it in real life, so it's nice to be able to do it somewhere.

In fact, I just did it with this post. One full paragraph, GONE. Just because I can.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

In which I put in my two cents on "The Great Hipster Debate"

Hipsters, the twenty-first century enigma.

Everyone has seen them.

Everyone can recognize them.

But when asked what exactly a hipster is, we all find it problematic to describe them without incriminating ourselves.

We mock them. We revile them. We make blogs about them. And we protest vehemently if anybody accuses us of being them (except for those of us who wish we were cool enough to be hipsters...but that's an issue for another post)

The main beef people seem to have with hipsters is that they are disingenuous. They listen to obscure music to sound sophisticated (but not music so obscure that nobody will be impressed by the band names). They eat organic food, wear TOMS shoes and recycle in order to appear socially aware.

They dress in thrift store clothes to look original and unique, but really just end up looking like everyone else who shops at thrift stores.

They liked Arcade Fire before they won a Grammy.

(As a brief side note, will everyone please take some time to search "Hipster Disney" in Google Images? I promise you, you will laugh.)

Interestingly enough, I've noticed a similar insincerity in the anti-hipster movement. People complain about all these hipsters trying to be so cool, but just looking like posers. They complain about all these kids running around in skinny jeans and listening to vinyl. You know what that sounds like to me? That sounds like someone having an issue with the mainstream culture!  That sounds dangerously like...hipsterism! Judging someone for listening to Band of Horses and Fleet Foxes is really only one step away from judging someone for listening to Nickelback. That's right, friends. By hating on the hipsters, you have unconsciously become what you most hate. Good work.

Here's what I ask: can we just...stop?

If you like Belle and Sebastian, listen to Belle and Sebastian.

If you care about recycling, recycle.

If you'd rather ride your bike than drive, by all means, hop on that ten-speed.

And if you genuinely love vintage clothing, hit up that thrift store and shop to your heart's content.

And if someone calls you a hipster, don't worry about. It should only sting if you only listen to indie music to sound edgy, or if you shop at the organic store simply because that's where your friends shop.

And you know what else?

If Nickelback is your cup of tea, blast it.

If you can't get behind the vegan movement, eat you a juicy steak.

If you think skinny jeans look idiotic, good news, you don't have to wear them!

It's okay to like mainstream things. It's okay to like obscure things. Just....like what you like. Do what makes you happy. Don't stress about labels. And...please try not to label other people. It hurts, and doesn't do much good for you either.

Now if you don't mind, I'm going to go listen to Iron and Wine while wearing a sweater and chunky-framed glasses.

Monday, November 14, 2011

In which I state a clear preference.

Since I'm going to teach elementary school one day, (well, actually tomorrow, if you count guest-teaching in somebody else's classroom as "teaching elementary school,") I think it's important I take a stand on a very divisive, and yet important, issue.

Markers versus Crayons.

I thought about listing the relative merits of each, but really all the marker has going for it is a lack of controversy about the pronunciation of its name. (Everybody, crayon is pronounced CRAY-ON. Not "cran." Not "crown." Not "crenn." Ok?) So I'll just list all the reasons why crayons are the superior coloring implement:

With crayons, you don't get ink all over your hands and then leave inky smudges all over your previously-pristine visual aids.

Crayons never run out of ink.

Kids can't vandalize each other's faces with crayons.

Crayons give you a much more brilliant color than markers, typically.

There is so much tactile satisfaction to be had from coloring with a crayon. Something about the extra pressure needed and the rub of the wax on the paper just feels right.

You can make rubbings with crayons.

You can shape crayons into race cars (and other things too!)

Crayons smell like joy.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In which I iterate a list of things that irk me

The phrase: "Attitude of Gratitude." I don't know why, but it makes me cringe. Every. Single. Time.

The Washington Post Social Reader Facebook app. I refuse to download the app because I don't want the entire Facebook community to know that I'm reading about "Beyonce's Incredible, Unique, Miraculous Pregnancy." This means, however, that I get to see all the tantalizing headlines from articles my friends are reading, without being able to read them myself. It's...maddening.

Spotify. For similar reasons.

Too-long eyelash extensions. Girls, having baby tarantulas attached to your eyelids is not attractive.

The dating scene. I would like to either be completely single and romance-less, or have a boyfriend who loves and adores me. None of this going on dates with boys who I don't actually like that much. None of these mini-crushes on menfolk who won't ever reciprocate. As Patrick Henry once said, give me true love or give me asexuality. Or, wait...that was...liberty...death...never mind.

Well, I think that's enough for today. That was wonderfully therapeutic. As always, thanks for listening, Internet friends.

In which I add my drop.

Friends, let me tell you a story.

Three years ago, a friend of mine started a club. The purpose of this club was to raise awareness about human trafficking, and to make what difference we could in ending modern-day slavery. I was passionately involved in this club, and the following year, was an officer in it. I believed in the cause, I loved the people in the club, I felt like the little we were doing mattered. I had a grand vision of myself graduating college, swooping into third-world countries, and saving them from their poverty and despair. This vision expanded beyond slavery; in my fantasy world, I was going to solve world hunger, end poverty, and give everyone an education.

And then...something changed.

Maybe it was fighting with my then-boyfriend about whether or not I had a "Savior complex."

Maybe it was the remorse I felt after I stood up my roommate for a temple trip in order to chat up the visiting founder of a non-profit organization I was particularly interested in.

Maybe it was looking into the research done on certain types of NGOs, and realizing that oftentimes, they did more harm then good.

Whatever it was, in the middle of a letter-writing session at Free the Slaves Club, it finally all caught up with me in a rush of futility

I started making excuses not to come to meetings.

I stopped advertising the club to everyone I met.

I told the other officers I was too busy to be an officer anymore.

And then I disappeared from the club.

Since then, I've focused my service efforts closer to home. I've mentored local children and volunteered in elementary schools. I've tried to be a better sister, a better roommate, a better friend. I've tried to make the most of my church callings. I've realized that I can do more good for those in my immediate vicinity than for those on the other side of the world. I haven't been perfect, but I'd like to think that I've made a difference.

And all this time...I've kind of been ignoring what I can do on a more global scale. I tend to get overwhelmed when I think about all the many, many things that are wrong in this planet. Knowing that any tiny effort I can make will have an almost negligible affect has discouraged me in the past, and has kept me from doing the little I could.

But tonight...somehow I ended up back on my old club's blog. And I found a link to chainstorereaction.com. At first I rolled my eyes, thinking, "Oh yeah, writing letters to corporations, that's real effective." But then I saw the quote from Margaret Mead on their consumer page, reading, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." And I thought of the story of Naaman from the Bible, who would have done "some great thing" had the prophet counseled him to, but who was reluctant to go through the simple act of washing seven times in the river. And so I followed the link, and signed my name to some form letters to companies like Speedo, Lunchables, and Pizza Hut.

And you know what? Maybe it won't make a difference at all. But maybe one of those companies will get enough of those letters that they'll change some of their business practices. And maybe that change in business practice will  hurt one slaveowner. And maybe that will bless the lives of just a few people. And if it doesn't, I invested all of five minutes into it.

I'm still not sure if I'm ready to dive back into the international development world. I think right now the primary way I can make a difference is to concentrate my efforts on becoming a better teacher, so that I can enrich the lives of my future students. And my boyfriend was right...I did have a savior complex. I've worked hard at overcoming it these past couple of years, and I'm afraid that reentering that environment would bring it back. I want to help, but I want it to be for the right reasons, not simply to satisfy my pride. Nonetheless, I think when opportunities like this come, opportunities to make some kind of difference in global problems I truly care about, I can't feel justified passing them up.

If you've gotten to the end of this post..thank you. And can I make a request? Will you check out chainstorereaction.com? If you don't agree with what they're doing, then feel free to close the tab and don't think about it again. But if you, like me, think that corporations could use a reminder to keep their labor slave-free, go ahead and fill out a few of their form letters. And will you also go check out BYU Free the Slaves blog? The people there are passionate, committed young people who are doing their best to make a difference, and they could use your support.

Not one of us is going to save the world today. And I highly doubt any of us will be the next Mother Theresa. But I'm slowly...slowly realizing that that isn't the point at all. We can each only do a little, tiny, infinitesimally small amount of total good in the world. But when all those tiny little drops of good combine, we can flood the world.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Copied from the Vienna Journal, Episode 2

Stephansdom Cathedral, 25 June 2011

Gothic cathedrals don't make me feel small. Or rather, they do, but they make me feel as if being small isn't a bad thing at all. I follow the lines of the arches and vaults and my soul expands to fill the entire space, joining with hundreds of other expanded souls, reaching, spilling upward to Heaven, to Our Lord.

I do not feel small because I do not feel any size at all. I feel my being melt and merge into a Holiness full of souls, where each soul is unique and precious, and all are filled with the light and love of Christ.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Copied from the Vienna Journal, Episode 1

I scribbled this down while awestruck in the Rembrandt room of the Kunsthistorisches museum in Vienna

I think art, in its best form, is a way we share ourselves with each other. A way of saying, "This is how I see the world, please let me show you." All truly honest painting, writing, musical composition, tries to do that.

And I think that sharing of souls, of perspectives, is so important.

"Here is what I think is moving, touching, beautiful, sacred, frightening. Please share it with me."

And the sharing is never perfect. Everyone interprets each artistic conversation according to his or her own experience. But I think the communication is often more clear, more perfect than with verbal language.

And I think it's wonderful that I can sit in front of these paintings, and maybe feel for a moment how Rembrandt felt about his son, or understand how he envisioned the Apostle Paul, or what the lines on his mother's face meant to him.