Wednesday, December 14, 2011

White Elephant

It's been a while since my last post. I'll have to play catch-up but not in this post. No, I have something special planned for this one.

My work Christmas party is tomorrow and there will be a $10 gift exchange. Technically it's not a white elephant gift exchange but silly gifts are acceptable. And, let's face it-- they're way more fun than candles, lotion, chocolate, etc. that you just don't need or want.

This year's find was truly great. The microscopic print next to the guy says "This jail hair has gotta go!"

Yeah. Classic.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pride Goeth Before a Fall (Sometimes Literally)

Yesterday was Fast and Testimony meeting. As is occasionally the case with "open mic Sunday," there seemed to be an unusually abundant amount of wackadoos sharing their thoughts at the pulpit. Since I try to be careful about what I post on the internet, I'll just say that many of those who got up quoted a string of strange scriptures (and then expounded them), discussed their bizarre Facebook posts and shared WAY too much about themselves (and took a really long time doing so).

My roommate, who gets embarrassed for others easily, immediately pulled out her scriptures and started reading. I quietly wondered if singles wards are driving young single adults to new levels of madness because how could four out of every five "testimonies" borne be so weird? Then I worried that maybe the social awkwardness that seems to be seizing YSAs is contagious and I might catch it. Or worse, since I've been in the system for so long, maybe I've already caught it and I'm not aware. The horror, the horror.

While I was feeling sorry for those poor souls who clearly lacked any sort of social tact or propriety, my roommate tapped my shoulder and pointed to the scripture she happened to come upon (3 Nephi 18:22-23):

"And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not; But ye shall pray for them, and shall not cast them out;"

We both looked at each other. CRAP. It was a sign. A warning.

And it got worse. Because when I was getting up to leave Relief Society, my foot couldn't support my weight (I think it had fallen asleep, like me, ha ha!) and I fell down. All the way down. On the ground. In a skirt.

Yeah. Pride goeth before a fall.

But still I wonder which is worse: Proving to the world that you're a klutz? Or committing social suicide at the pulpit?

Either way, I got the point, Lord. I'll try praying for them next time.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Special

The options for Halloween were 1) a tri-stake dance at the University of Utah (does it get any scarier than a bunch of 18-21 year-olds in bad costumes making sad attempts to flirt?) OR 2) PlanB with my roommates.

Without hesitation, I opted for Plan B.

We made brownies,playedwith glow sticks, and watched the 1967 classic, "Wait Until Dark." Starring the lovely Audrey Hepburn, I love this movie for many reasons. The over-the-top music. The thrilling suspense. The clothes (yes, Audrey could wear anything, couldn't she?).

But my favorite thing about "Wait Until Dark" are the cherished memories I have of watching the film with my mom as a child and later as a teenager. We loved to rent old movies. I remember our Audrey Hepburn phase well (we loved "Charade") but we also enjoyed all of the Hitchcock classics and the charming romances like "How to Steal a Million."

Those are some of my favorite memories and I'm glad tonight's Halloween festivities brought them back.

Who knew I could be in such a cheesy mood on Halloween?

Monday, October 24, 2011

On Patience

Lately I have been having the same conversation with the Lord. It goes something like this:

"Heavenly Father, I'm tired of ... [insert trial, problem, annoyance, etc.]"

The response? Nothing. Or, occasionally, "I know."

But recently a comment in Relief Society caused me to stop and think. "Patience," a sister said, "is when you are tired of a particular trial or problem but you keep going anyway -- without complaining."

I like this thought. I wish I could say that it's instantly changed my behavior to make my conversations with the Lord less whiny. This isn't necessarily the case. But it is helping me to stop and consider my blessings before I launch into the complaint section of my prayers.

And I think it's been making a difference.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Things that Make Me Happy

I was thinking about things that made me happy today. The weather was beautiful, which I greatly appreciated. But what I enjoyed most about today was listening to Lenny Kravitz. What can I say? Lenny just made me want to dance. Don't worry-- I didn't. But I wanted to.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review: Moneyball

I will admit that while I'm not the biggest team sports fan, I do often enjoy movies about sports. They make me feel like I am part of the American experience without me actually having to sit in a stadium and be part of the American experience.

Moneyball is no exception. The movie hits a home run. (And yes, I did need to say that. If it had been about football, I would have said touchdown. If it had been about basketball, I would have said slam dunk. If it had been about hockey or golf, I wouldn't have gone to see it because some sports can't be saved even by movies starring Brad Pitt).

I was surprised at how engrossing Moneyball turned out to be. I was engaged the whole time (and no, it wasn't just because Brad Pitt was in it, although that certainly helped). It's a good story (and true, too) told in an interesting way and I left with a greater appreciation of how professional sports teams are assembled.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Little Taste of Heaven?

Whoever said "eat to live, don't live to eat" has obviously never been to Salt Lake City's Bruges Waffles and Frites. Yes, they pretty much only sell waffles and french fries but they are THE BEST waffles known to man. OK, maybe not compared to the liege waffles in Belgium, but trust me these are good.

The first time I went, I tried the vanilla liege waffle with belgian chocolate baked inside and topped with strawberries and creme fraiche. It was delicious but today I had the pleasure of enjoying my waffle with creme fraiche and peaches (no picture, I'm afraid) ... and I must say, it was perfection.

A little taste of heaven? Next time you're in Salt Lake, stop by Bruges and decide for yourself.

The fries are good too. You just can't go wrong.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Review: My Name Is Asher Lev

Recently I finished Chaim Potok's My Name Is Asher Lev. Although I have always loved to read, few books have moved me as much as this book did. In this rather straightforward tale of a Hasidic Jewish boy who chooses to be an artist against his father's wishes, I discovered a complex and thought-provoking analysis of the creation, purpose and value of art.

Of course other themes are at play in the novel as well, but a particular passage about the purpose of art struck me. After an encounter with his unsupportive father, Asher Lev, the novel's protagonist wonders, "What did I have to justify? I did not want to paint in order to justify anything; I wanted to paint the same way my father wanted to travel and work for the Rebbe. My father worked for the Torah. I worked for -- what? How could I explain it? For beauty? No. Many of the pictures I painted were not beautiful. For what, then? For a truth I did not know how to put into words. For a truth I could only bring to life by means of color and line and texture and form."

Although there is nothing wrong with painting, writing or singing (or expressing whatever artistic gift one may have) for beauty, I love Asher's moment of realization that he has to paint to express truth. Of course, this truth is subjective; our perceptions of truth differ from person to person. But I believe that it is when we tap into that truth as we see it when the art we create becomes authentic, valuable and meaningful.

When I closed the book, I was inspired to ask myself if I am expressing the truth as I see it when I create my own art.

The English major nerdy side of me also manifested itself as I read the novel. The irony wasn't lost on me that the truth that Asher can't express in his words is so eloquently expressed in Potok's words.

If you haven't ever read it, I highly recommend this masterpiece.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: The Tree of Life

Warning: This is a long post. Read at your own risk.

To be fair, I can’t actually give a very informed critique of the new Brad Pitt film, The Tree of Life because I only made it through 42 minutes of the movie. And that, in my opinion, was being generous.

But I can tell you this: I hated each of those 42 minutes. Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. After all, when you go to a movie you usually give it a few minutes to see where it’s heading before you start making judgments. Especially if it’s not your typical movie that introduces a character or two and presents a situation right from the get-go (Tree of Life doesn’t really do either of these things).

So I think I probably gave it 5-10 minutes before I decided it was going to be a really looooong two hours and 18 minutes. Really, I should’ve known from the descriptions of the film I’d read, referring to it as an “impressionistic,” “difficult,” “poetic,” “hypnotic,” and “artistically ambitious.” None of those terms imply entertaining, which is often what I want when I go to a movie. Even thought-provoking, artistic films can be entertaining on some level. So in a way, I should’ve known better. Here’s how it went down:

The film opens with a scripture from Job flashing on the screen. I settle in my seat. Immediately I know this was going to be a “serious” film. I briefly wish we had the second season of How I Met Your Mother at home instead.

But then it just gets better. And by better, I mean worse. After the scripture, there are various images. I would tell you what these images were if I knew. But I can’t help you. Some are recognizable—like trees, especially one in particular (I assume it is the Tree of Life from the title—go me!) but the other images are … weird, formless entities. There’s just no other description. These images are accompanied by a whispery-voice narrator asking profound questions about man’s existence. Yawn.

At some point we see Jessica Chastain’s character answer the door of her home and receive a letter, where we learn from her collapse and scream that it is bad news. We don’t find out what that bad news is until after several more images and weird whispery narrations. And by then we’re not sure we care. We want to know where in the he** Brad Pitt is because he’s 97% of why we wanted to see the movie in the first place.

And then we do get to see him! But he doesn’t say anything, just like no one else in the movie says anything and then there are more bizarre images. But we manage to figure out that Brad and Jessica’s (I didn’t stick around long enough to find out if what their characters’ names were) oldest son was killed. That was the bad news in the letter. And Jessica’s not handling it so well. And we see Brad a lot now but he doesn’t say much. So maybe he’s not handling it so well either but we’ll never know because suddenly there are tall buildings with glass windows and Sean Penn is there and now we’re following HIM around. Again, there’s no dialogue and we go back and forth between Sean Penn doing weird things (like wading in the ocean and then suddenly climbing rocks in desert).

At this point, I realize something important: I have given up on this movie. I wonder how long it’s been. I consider checking my phone but since I have a pretty good sense of time, I fear that it’s only been 30 minutes. And I didn’t come by myself so I don’t feel like I can just get up and leave. So I don’t think I want to know what time it is.

I consider other things I might be able to do in a dark movie theater when actually watching the movie on the screen is out of the question. Sleeping seems like a good idea but now there is this really loud opera song playing and I think it might be distracting. Hmmm. (For the record, there is absolutely nothing else to do in a movie theater).

Fortunately, while there were more images being shown on the screen (and they just got stranger and stranger), I looked over at my friend who looked at me at the same time. And we both started laughing (quietly of course). I knew it was over. She asked if I wanted to stick it out and I told her I didn’t mind losing the $8.75 I’d spent. We got out of there faster than you can say “Brad Pitt.”

Moral of the story? Go see Crazy, Stupid, Love. instead. Go see Planet of the Apes instead. File your nails. Read a book. Go to the dentist. Clean the bathroom. Weed your garden. Do ANYTHING besides see this movie.

Just sayin’.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Occasionally someone tells you something that makes you say, "Huh" because you have no other response.

This happened to me the other day at a work birthday celebration when a co-worker randomly mentioned that if I were to kill someone, it would be a crime of passion rather than a premeditated act. He went on to explain that I can talk myself out of of anything so if I murdered someone, it would be in an instant when I just snapped.


The thing is, he's probably right. It's true that I can talk myself out of just about anything. When I am at the store and I see something that I want to buy but don't really need, I will often pick it up and carry it around with me while I talk myself out of buying it. And it usually works.
(That method would be rather tricky if I was in the act of a planned murder and I suddenly changed my mind.)

So I probably would just go postal one day. Watch out, everyone! I am a ticking bomb. Ha ha.

What was most odd about the conversation was that I didn't find it very odd at all. The truth is, I have been watching unhealthy amounts of Castle lately as a way to procrastinate working on my book, finding a hobby, learning a new language, getting a social life or some other proactive step to keep things "fresh" and "interesting" like the psychology articles recommend.

TV is less hassle than those other things and I do enjoy a good crime-solving show (even though they drive me nuts at the same time because of all the plot holes) so Castle has kept me entertained.

But I'm thinking that maybe too much of anything really is too much. Because when someone accurately assesses what type of murderer you'd be and you don't find it a little strange, not to mention disturbing . . . you need a new hobby.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sad Songs Say So Much

Recently, I listened to a rather insightful This American Life podcast about break ups. "After a break up, you just stare at what happened," the show's host, Ira Glass, astutely observes in the introduction.

I think this could be said for any unwelcome event in life that comes out of nowhere and knocks you flat on the ground, leaving you shaking and desperate to figure out what exactly did-- or did not-- happen that so drastically changed things.

The show continues with an amusing and honest analysis of how break up songs simultaneously help the healing and perpetuate the hurting after you've been through a break up.

"Rather than listening to songs for pleasure, I began listening to songs for pain. I listened to break up songs to feel better, and by better, I mean worse, " explains writer Starlee Kline as she describes her post-breakup trauma, which led to an unhealthy obsession with Phil Collins and an attempt to write her own break up song.

She continues, "There is something satisfying in listening to sad songs. . . they make you feel less alone with your crazy thoughts. . .they don't judge you, they understand you. They don't tell you to try online dating or that you're better off without him. They tell you what you do want to hear, that you're worse of without him because that's how you feel."

But what nailed it for me was when she said, "I wanted to wallow-- big time, deeply and with the least amount of perspective as possible."

I have not experienced a break up recently (you actually have to date for that, which requires a whole different set of sad of songs-- found on the unrequited love playlist) but this week has been a Thelma and Louise kind of week-- the kind that could end with me in the car, driving off a cliff. Ok, so I wouldn't do that.

But something that wasn't broken last week crumbled this week and even though I should have seen it coming (and possibly did see it coming), I didn't prevent it and now I don't know how to fix it.

And the only thing that has been making me feel better (and by better, I mean worse), has been sad music. I've been listening to Kelly Clarkson's "Sober" and Linkin Park's "Waiting for the End" almost nonstop, mixed in with DCFC's "Tiny Vessels" and Broken Bells' "Sailing to Nowhere." The music understands me, I tell myself. I can't drink. Sex is out of the question (again, hard when there's no dating), and I don't want to go to the store and buy ice cream.

So music it is.

And maybe going for a run, reading my scriptures or talking with a good friend would be better choices-- but I still prefer the catharsis pathetically sad songs offer me. Because sometimes I don't want to be told to try something else or that I'm better off. Sometimes I really do need to wallow with the least amount of perspective as possible.

What sad songs do you like to listen to when you're "staring at what happened" after something unexpected and painful happens?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Encounters With the Soccer Lovin' Kind

On Saturday, I attended my first Real Salt Lake game. This is because I'm trying to branch out and discover new interests which will then make me a well-balanced person. According to all of the Zen articles I regularly read, this is what we should all be striving for.

So my friend T and I bought tickets and headed to the game to discover that we were only about three rows up from the field. What does this mean? That's right! We were smack in the middle of the Soccer Lovin' Crowd. Everyone around us was wearing Real Salt Lake jerseys and scarves-- the scarves confused me at first because they made me feel like I had stepped into a Harry Potter movie-- but then I remembered that I was actually at a sporting event (silly me, how could I forget?) and I snapped out of the magic moment.

It was an exciting game. For everyone else because they were actually watching the game. For me because the Soccer Lovin' Crowd enthralled me. These people were passionate about their soccer-- not only did they have the scarves to prove it but they knew the players' names: "That was dull footwork, Tony!"

But the thing about soccer is this: the most exciting parts are when one of the teams actually comes sort of close to scoring a goal. Which means they run up and down the field and pass the ball to each other and then maybe, just MAYBE, one player takes the risk and manages to kick the ball toward the goal. Then the crowd goes wild and everyone stands up and starts cheering on Tony or whoever and THEN, just when you think somebody might actually score a point during the 90-minute game, a player with great calves from the opposing team who has been standing there the whole time suddenly decides to block the ball and kick it down the field. And everyone sits down and yells at Tony for his dull footwork.

As I witnessed this, I couldn't help but wonder how 16,000 fans (that's how many attended on Saturday night) aren't completely bummed out by so many letdowns. I mean, at least in basketball or football points are scored fairly regularly. But in soccer, the crowd gets a rush from the HOPE of a point being scored. As I observed this phenomenon, I wondered if I would be more content with my life if I applied the soccer principle-- if merely the HOPE of a date or a dream job or a hot fudge sundae or a European vacation would be as satisfying as if it actually happened.

I don't know. Maybe I will have to consult more Zen articles.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Weekend of Wallowing

Sometimes I just need to wallow in what my mission president referred to as the hot tub of self-pity. This past weekend was definitely one of those times. But Jamie, you say-- why on earth would YOU need to wallow? You're so blessed! You don't have a controlling mother, no one you know is dying of cancer, you have a car and a place to live and a job that only makes you want to slit your wrists sometimes. Plus, you get to live in America and you get to be a Mormon. With all that and more, why would you possibly need to wallow?

Why, indeed.

All I can say is sometimes the hot tub of self-pity looks warm and alluring and once you dip your toe it isn't too long before you are fully submerged and comfortable so you might as well stay a while. And ask someone to bring you chocolate. Unless you've temporarily lost your mind and agreed to go off sugar. Then you will just stay in even longer.

It all started on Friday. I can't really explain why, but it seems I unintentionally opened a metaphorical closet where all of my unfulfilled hopes and dreams and expectations and other cliched phrases came crashing down on me, leaving me lying on the floor trapped underneath.

On Saturday I was still buried by the aforementioned unfulfilled desires so I did what any experienced wallower would do-- I stayed in bed until 4 in the afternoon, lazily reading sad essays on the Web from other people who had also opened the same metaphorical closet. I wasn't much more productive after 4, although I did get up and wash my hair, which was greasy at that point and distracting me from having a proper wallowing. But, tired of reading about people who were also crushed under the weight of disappointment and regret, I turned to the next best thing: movies depicting characters who had also been gypped by life through no fault of their own.

Today, I unwallowed a little by sitting through three hours of church; although this didn't help me completely dewallow because I made the mistake of noticing the 500 eager, glowing girls and 27 carefree, lazy guys, which proved once again that singles wards are the equivalent of eternal damnation. Like every Sunday, I vowed never to go back (although I'm sure I'll be back again next week) and wallowed some more.

And so, you wonder, in the end what lesson was learned in all of this? What great epiphany did I have? Did I realize that it's important to rise above wallowing? To get out of that hot tub and dry off and go on with life? Perhaps I realized life is a marathon and it's important to keep running so you don't fall down and get trampled by long-legged Kenyans-- and, if you make it to the finish line, you might get a t-shirt and free food.

No, what I took from this weekend was this: wallowing is way better with chocolate.