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Showing posts from 2013

In which I attempt to set a New Year's Resolution

Today in church, someone made the statement that God's defining characteristics are creation and compassion. I haven't been able to stop thinking about that all day. How wonderful, that the two most godly attributes are the ability to create beauty, and to love each other.

I think I want to make these two attributes the focus of the coming year, but I'm not sure how. I think I'm pretty clear on what compassion is, but how encompassing is the idea of creation? Is spending time with a friend an act of creation, because you're creating a bond? What about playing an instrument? If you didn't compose the song, does it still count as creation, because you're creating the sound itself? Does a product have to be completely original to be creative?

Readers, what do you think? How do you exhibit creativity and compassion in your lives?

In which I'm longing to escape

I just really want to run away to the mountains right now.

Forget about my classes, my job, the event I'm running for work tonight....

I just want to hop in my car and drive up the canyon until I can't see the valley anymore....

and then wander through the orange-red-yellow trees until I feel myself disappear...my thoughts, hopes, and worries dissipating...until I am nothing but legs and lungs in a forest....and then when I return to myself, I will be that much more refreshed and reenergized.

but sadly

though "the woods are lovely, dark and deep...

I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."


In which I actually talk about my life

So. Hi.

I don't post about my actual, day-to-day life very much on my blog. But for some reason, today I really want to. So here you have it: an update on the life of Riss.

I'm in my last semester of school before I student teach. I would say it's bittersweet, but it's not. It's just straight-up sweet. I love school, and I love learning, but if I had to spend one more semester sitting at a desk listening to someone else lecture at me about how to teach, I would tear my hair out. I am so incredibly excited to start practicum next month, and then to start student teaching in January. Not so excited for the job hunt that will inevitably follow graduation, but...c'est la vie.

After 3 years of living in the same apartment complex, I've finally moved. I'm living in a house called Ingleside with two friends I've had since I was tiny, and three fantastic new friends (yes, the name of our house is an Anne of Green Gables reference. Yes, that may be why we ch…

On disagreement

From my textbook for Science Teaching Methods:

"Change came about as the result of disagreement, the marshaling of systematic evidence, sustained investigation (which involved some surveying of students, adults, and local gardeners), and even the help of outside experts. "

Isn't it cool that disagreement can be a catalyst for positive change?

We don't have to all hold the same opinion, we don't need to bash each other over the head when our ideas differ, and sometimes we don't even need to "agree to disagree," pretending there isn't an issue. We can use disagreements as a springboard for investigation, exploration, and learning, eventually coming to a consensus.

The idea gives me shivers (the happy kind).

In which I need to figure out what happiness is made out of

Let me tell you a secret:

During my month working at camp this summer, I think I took my medication...twice.

And guess what?

I was fine. No, I was happy.

Let me tell you another secret:

Last week, I only took my medication twice.

And...

I was not fine. I was miserable. The world fell apart and I found myself crying about things like not being able to eat at Chick-Fil-A because I'd forgotten my debit card.

And so I've been asking myself...what made the difference? Why could I be blissfully content without my medication at camp, if I still depend on it for my happiness back at home?

There has to be something, and if I only could put my finger on it...

Maybe it was singing all day, everyday, sailor songs and whaling songs and songs about nature and songs about fish heads and songs about friends, just letting my voice ring out because that's what humans do, they sing.

Maybe it was always having opportunities to help others, or seeing the effects of my work with my own eyes. Ma…

In which everything about my life is happy right now

My brother is home.

I have friends who make me grin just talking to them.

My research group was selected to present at a conference in Portland this October.

I was offered an assistantship at a children's choir camp for the last week in June.

Today was my last day of class until September.

I'm going to Disneyland next week.

I leave for Scout Camp in less than a month.

Oh, and did I mention that my brother is home?

Life could not get much better.


In which I pose questions that I really would like answers to

Do you remember the first time you began to love your body?

Was it all at once, one fine day, when you realized, "My goodness, I am lovely"?

Or did you grow, piece by piece into the knowledge, beginning perhaps with an ambivalence (or even a loathing), and then sliding into a contentment, a satisfaction, a love?

Did you catch a glimpse of your eye in the mirror one day and find yourself mesmerized by its depths and patterns?

Or did a friend tell you that your smile was radiant, and you let yourself believe them?

Did you fall in love with the way your muscles throb when you run, or the way your hands smoothed your crying child's hair out of her face?

Have you ever glanced at yourself in the shower and shivered with delight at what a completely matchless, flawed, ever-changing wonder you are?

Or catalogued your list of wishes: that your armpits would sweat less, that those three perfectly stacked rolls wouldn't appear whenever you sat down, or that your hair were just …

In which these topics seemed more related in my head

I know a hobby is going to stick when I start finding metaphors for life in it. It's obviously woven itself firmly enough into the way I process existence that I can use it as a mental filter to help me understand other experiences.

This past weekend was about as beautiful as a weekend could be, with the perfect balance of activity and lazing, new adventures and bursts of nostalgia, old bosom buddies and new friends. Also, there was plenty of cheesecake, and a new baby joined my extended family (can't wait to meet him!)

Today was my little brother's birthday. This kid is amazing, you guys. He speaks Spanish like a native, plays basketball like a pro, and cuddles like the best teddy bear you've ever known. Now that he's old enough to date, I think the ladies will be flocking to him right and left. And how could they not, eh Gus?


One of my best friends is getting married this weekend. And I really thought I was going to go when all of the sudden my plans dropped out …

In which I'm feelin' great

Got to class practically on time.

Played the organ for a couple of hours.

Was all of the productive at work.

Played a wicked game of ultimate Frisbee.

Sat on the grass with my friends while talking about zoo animals.

Ate frozen yogurt.

Took a refreshing shower.


This was indeed a wonderful day.

In which I go for a run, think some thoughts, and then type them up as soon as I get back.

I don't know why people say rainy days are gray. Have they ever been outside on a rainy day? The grass looks like it's about to start leaking green all over and even the houses are brighter. If nothing else, rainy days are brighter-colored than pale sunshiney days.

On my run today, I saw a boy just standing in the middle of the sidewalk. Maybe he was thinking or maybe he was waiting for someone, but I like to think that he was looking at how green Y mountain looked today, feeling the rain on his face, and listening to the birds. Anyway, once I was a little further away, I stood and looked too.

When I have a house I want it to be small but beautiful, with a lot of flowers and trees. I also want  a porch with some latticework and a swing.

In which I am itching for an adventure

Things I would like to do this spring/summer, in no particular order:

Tube the Provo River Climb Y Mountain Climb Mount Nebo Get a library card
Visit the Springville Arts Museum Go to Llama Fest at the Krishna Temple (update: I'll be in California. Maybe next year). Visit the Living Planet Aquarium in SLC Go to a fair, where I will ride the most vomit-inducing ride I can find, eat a funnel cake, and get a henna tattoo.  Go to the Sheepdog Festival (It sounds silly, guys, but this is one of the cooler events I've been to in Utah) Rooftop Concert Series! (update: done! Thrice over!) Go to Boise for Jenni's wedding! Hooray! (update: couldn't get a ride. But a visit is in the works) Meet Gail Carson Levine (update: done! She's really short!) Go to the rope swing in Mona (update: done! And I went off the highest platform) Go to the natural waterslides in Alpine (update: done! Highly recommend) Actually make use of my Pass of all Passes at Seven Peaks Sidewalk chalk! Go hik…

In which I fail to overcome my gag reflex

When I was little, I was a picky eater. I wouldn't touch zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes, spicy food, or any kind of fruit. I would throw tantrums at the dinner table, pretend to throw up, hide food under the edge of my plate, anything I could do to get out of eating the foods I hated.

Fast forward to now.

I consider myself a fairly adventurous eater. I've eaten goat, octopus, squid, and eel (warning to everyone: dried squid is nasty). I love spicy foods of all varieties and have learned to love squash, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. If I forget to ask for no tomato on my burger, I leave it on, and enjoy the juiciness. But there is one area where my tastes have apparently not matured.

I still hate fruit.

Usually when I tell people this, they look at me in horror, as if I'd just said that I drown kittens for fun on the weekend or I think Saddam Hussein was a pretty cool dude. They tell me fruit is the nectar of the gods, that I'm missing out on something amazing. A…

In which we mean intensely and we mean for good

Today was my last day of one of my favorite jobs. For the past year and a half, I've worked as a writing tutor for BYU's Writing Fellows program. While it has been wonderful being able to combine my love for writing with my passion for teaching, and increase my skills in both areas, I think the best part of this job was in the bizarre and wonderful Writing Fellows culture. I mean, how many people can say that their job has a theme song (with an official band to boot)? Or a never-empty cookie jar in the office?

Because of Writing Fellows, I've gotten paid to talk to new people, and to share my knowledge and experience. I've had many chances to improve my own writing and help others improve theirs. I've learned to treasure the moment when someone who has never considered herself a writer realizes how to express her thoughts in a clear, effective, and even beautiful way. There's just something kind of magical about seeing someone discover that beautiful writing is…

In which two heads are, surprisingly, better than one

Today, I worked on a group project and didn't hate every second of it! In fact, throughout our meeting I continuously found myself thinking, "Man, I'm so glad I have a partner for this assignment. This is way better than working alone."

If you know me at all, you know that this is a very rare experience for me. I hate group work. When it comes to academics, I prefer to work at my own pace, with my own ideas. But today, my partner and I were on fire, bouncing ideas off of each other, and working with much more speed and quality than we could have managed on our own. Maybe it's just a matter of finding the right partner?

All I know is, that is one less project I need to worry about as finals approach. Success.

In which I take whatever excuse I can to write about myself

So...Andria at Is this Awesome? Y/N nominated my blog for a Liebster award! I'll be honest with you, I'm not really sure what that is (are there prizes if I win? or do I just get warm fuzzies for being nominated?), but I like German words and I like friends, and I like having other people give me ideas of what to write about, so I'ma roll with this.



So, conditions for the Liebster award require me to post 11 things about myself. Thus, in no particular order:

11 facts about me:

1. I have an inordinate fondness for reptiles. Especially turtles and snakes. I would love an albino corn snake (they're so pretttyyyyy) but barring that, I would be happy with a box turtle.
2. I once peed my pants while on a date with a boy I really liked.
3. This one time I went scuba diving in the Caribbean and threw up. On my sister's head. She didn't notice though, because we were underwater so the vomit just kinda...dissipated. Honestly, I'm just glad I remembered to remove my regula…

Top o' the Mornin' To Ye

Perhaps it's just a manifestation of my spring fever, or the fact that I watched Leap Day last weekend, but I have been incredibly psyched for St. Patrick's Day this year. (Which is a little ridiculous, because what would I even do on St. Patrick's Day? I don't drink, which seems to eliminate...the majority of options). So far, my plans are to listen to Irish pub rock all weekend (good thing I already have a Pandora station in place for that), get friends to play some non-alcoholic drinking games with me (Fresca pong, anyone?), watch Waking Ned Divine, and go see Natalie MacMaster perform some Celtic fiddle tunes. Some of these activities won't actually happen until a few days after St. Patrick's, but that just means longer celebrations for me! Hooray!

Commenters: what do you usually do for St. Patty's, if anything? Do you have any vaguely Irish plans this weekend?

And, for your listening pleasure:










In other news...if any friends want to come with me to the …

A post about medication? I guess?

Here is the bizarre thing about antidepressants:

I know that they work. I know because the times I have forgotten to take them for more than 2 days in a row have been miserable. Picture a weepy mess unsure why she can't get off the couch. Picture 5 naps a day. Picture grumpy and snappy. Picture...picture me before the meds, I guess.

But I also know that really, I can go 2 or 3 days and be safe. Except that these little pills make wonderful placebos. So if I start to feel down and I remember I haven't taken them yet, I just pop a pill and feel much better (Even though I know that it is physically impossible for Zoloft to have that quick of an effect). And if the depression strikes on a day where I have taken the meds, I just have to tell myself over and over again that I took them that morning, so I should be feeling all right. And, pretty often, that does the trick.

It's kinda like how when you realize that you forgot your deodorant that morning you instantly start drippin…

In which I am content.

For the past few weeks, I've felt myself disappearing.

It was terrifying, because it was reminiscent of these days, or these ones...

dark times.

(heck, I'm not afraid to say it: pre-Zoloft times).

I couldn't remember what I loved, or even what I liked.
I didn't want to do anything.
But not doing anything was even worse, because it turns out...when you can't remember who you are, being alone is unbearable...

because you don't even have yourself to keep you company.
And so you stay busy, you stay around people, and you sleep a lot.

But then, over the last few days, I found myself waking up a little bit, like a perennial popping back through the soil in the spring. It wasn't ever dead, the bulb was there all winter long, waiting for the sun to come back.

And I don't know for sure what it was...
but it might have been being in a classroom, teaching music for the first time in far too long
and then spending almost an hour just chatting with the teacher I wor…

Speaking from the Dust: In which I pull another post from the unpublished drafts folder

Dear Body of Mine,

I think you're pretty great. Sure, I wish you had 20/20 vision. I wish you didn't feel the need to break out every other day. I would love it if you knew how to produce the proper amount of serotonin in my brain or if you didn't funnel all of my stress into stomachaches. But I have to admit, you are pretty fantastic. I mean, there are all the normal, miraculous things that you do every day, like digesting my food, and pumping blood through my arteries, and allowing me to walk to class. And then there are the crazy, exceptional things you can do. Like my double-jointed elbow. That one's a great conversation starter. And have I ever told you thank you for having such a remarkable immune system? Remember that year when two of my roommates got swine flu and I didn't catch it from either of them? All you, my friend. So hey, I know a lot of people talk about hating their bodies, and I just wanted you to know that I think you're pretty all right. I …
Sometimes, this scary, insidious thought pops into my head, and it goes like this: "Karissa, what are you even doing with your life?" And then there's this split second where I don't know. I don't know what I'm doing or why and maybe I should be disappointed in myself?

You see, when I was little, I knew I was going to do big things. Because, as my teachers, friends, and the kids who picked on me at recess said, I was smart. And since I was smart, I knew that I could do anything in the world. I could play in the WNBA, or become a world-famous landscape architect, or design bridges as a civil engineer. I could become a world-renowned author or a concert pianist or a rabbit breeder (yes, these are all careers that I considered during my childhood. Let us disregard the fact that I was the least coordinated kid on the planet, so the WNBA was out. Let's also ignore the fact that I hated my pet rabbit, so why I wanted to help bring more of those into the world i…

Speaking from the dust: In which I believe

I was perusing my unpublished drafts folder the other night, and realized that, by golly, there is some good stuff in there (if I do say so myself). So I figured, why not let my past self be a guest blogger once in a while? Blogging "as one speaking from the dust," as it were. I'm not sure when this one was written, but I like it.

These are the things I believe in:

I believe in snow and sunshine and rain and thunderstorms. I believe in conversations that last until 2 am, in letting another person see a part of your soul, in trusting that you can be vulnerable without getting hurt. I believe in love of all kinds and shapes and forms. I believe in kindness and smiles and spontaneity and service. I believe that eye contact is terrifying and important. I believe in exploring the mountains. I believe in adventure. I believe in discourse and dialogue and argumentation, and I believe in respect for other's viewpoints and being flexible enough to change your mind. I believe …

In which my creativity is frozen

Sometimes...I really want to post something in my blog.

Just so I can point at something and say, "See! I'm still creative! I created that block of text right there on the screen!"

And I want to solidify many of the thoughts bouncing around in my brain about love and truth and freedom and uncertainty and ukuleles and how badly I want to have a classroom to set up and why I love pizza so much...

but...I'm just...really tired. And my brain is foggy from studying. Also, I think my mental functions have frozen as a result of the frigid temperatures outside. Seriously, I do not ever remember a Utah winter this cold, and I've lived here for almost 23 years.

Suffice it to say, people, my life is great. And I'm learning a lot every day and spending time with people I love and having adventures whenever I can and trying to suck the most experience I can out of this thing called life while contributing at least a little bit to the world's net happiness.

Also, I'…

In which I salute the sun

I made an observation today. My yoga DVD, which I used to ridicule for it's hokiness, is no longer hilarious to me anymore. And while I still giggle a little bit when the yogi says that a pose feels like "somebody licking ice cream off your body," and tells me to "feel the sweet honey of your hip," I really appreciate the admonition to breathe in all of the green plants in the world, or to carry yoga with me by lighting someone else's fire.

So...maybe I've become less cynical? Or more hokey? 
Either way, in the words of Eoin Finn, "Let love rule. Namaste."