Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Friendly Beasts

Jesus, our brother, kind and good
was humbly born in a stable, rude
and the friendly beasts around him stood
Jesus, our brother, kind and good. 

I remember performing this simple little song with the youngest of the children at church. Each age of kids was assigned to represent one verse, one of the friendly beasts. Starting with the youngest, as the donkey, all shaggy and brown. Then the cow, all white and red. Etc. When a particular animal's verse came up, the idea was that the appropriate children would hold up cardboard cut-outs of that animal, with a hole for their singing faces. I am not sure how accurate we were at this task, but I am sure the adults in the congregation thought it was plenty darling and also probably hilarious.

In this video, Sufjan Stevens' gentle rendition accompanies a little boy's illustrations of each animal's gifts, interspersed with video footage of him carefully setting up his plastic Playmobil nativity scene. So charming. Especially the drawings. The donkey, who has only a stump where his head should be, carrying a giddy Mary safely to Bethlehem town. The giant two-legged cow gladly gives the baby Jesus her hay, to pillow his head. Baby Jesus lying there, so spidery, practically levitating out of his manger. Somehow perfect.

As the story goes, Jesus grew up to say, about little children, "forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." I like to believe that he was talking about exactly this sort of thing. Which is why the song will always hold a special place in my heart.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Veni, Veni, Emmanuel

Do I just like all the minor songs? Perhaps.

Anyway, this is technically an Advent hymn I think, rather than officially Christmas. Somehow I feel like this song sounds better sung by men only, I prefer the tenor and bass voices on this one. I couldn't find a high quality version that I really liked. So here's a personal video somebody recorded at St Peter's in Vatican (Latin).

I sure do love every time they come in with the "Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel" - very full and rich sound.

Actually. I like this Enya version pretty well too, even though it directly contradicts what I'd just said about male voices. Very otherworldly, as per her style.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ukrainian Carol

The original Ukrainian lyrics to the well-known English “Carol of the Bells.”

It was originally a new year’s song, springtime, nothing to do with Christmas. New year was moved due to the Christian calendar so now we associate it with Christmas, reflected by the English lyrics.

But it's really pretty in the original language.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

Going to post a few of my favorite carols. Some unique renditions. 

Nice take on this one, Sting. Tempo doesn't drag, keeps itself moving. Love that raspy voice on the deep notes, and the choral harmony with pizzicato. And the bagpipes solo!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

New Look?

I am thinking it might be time for a new look for the blog. I do like that ridiculous title banner, but I might want something a little more subdued perhaps.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Are We Human?

I was examining skull replicas in biology. Our human ancestors. A lot of them are very similar to homo sapiens. But they are all long dead. I was wondering, what were the people like, when they were alive?

You look at something like the following video, of a gorilla, even more distant from us than australopithecus or homo erectus, and even then you see something familiar. Part of it might be human projection, wanting to see something you recognize in another creature. But it is hard to deny that there isn't some emotion going on there, and that she is trying to communicate that emotion using signs...

What would it be like to interact with an even closer early human relative? We will never know, I suppose. That's kind of sad, in a way.

From the YouTube description of the clip
Koko watches intently a DVD movie on her TV that she has seen several times before. It is called Tea with Mussolini. When it comes to a sad part, where the boy has to say goodbye to all of his relatives and waves goodbye on the train, Koko turns away from the TV. She then proceeds to sign: "Frown, sad, cry, bad, trouble, mother and Koko-love." Her eyes also look very watery. (Gorillas cry too.)

I didn't like that they were taking those flash pictures of her when she turned away from the TV screen.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Things I Love from Mormonism

  • Emphasis on hard work, self-sufficiency, helping those around you.
  • That we all have the seeds of godliness within each human being.
  • Honoring those who have gone before us.
  • Some really nice symbolism.
  • The idea of atonement, that there is a force in the universe for healing and growth for when you fuck it all up or feel like you just can't get where you want to go or be the person you want to be, that force for good there inside of you, waiting for the moment when you actually start letting go of all your old baggage and moving on to a healthy and happy you. 
  • That it was started by a little guy who asked big questions.
  • Related to the above, that sometimes you find fear/darkness/feeling of abandonment before you get knowledge.
  • Though it may not seem that way now, deviating from an expected path is at the very core of the religion; the religion's foundation is a giant metaphorical middle finger to "the establishment." If you find something that is wrong or that just makes your soul cry out for answers, maybe it's your responsibility to find the way that is in accordance to the principles of justice and mercy and benevolence and truth as you understand them. Maybe the system is broken. Maybe you were misguided or misunderstanding or headstrong or wanted to have everyone married together in a giant heavenly love-fest and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe you love communes. Maybe you find out after trying it out that some things work better in theory than in practice. Maybe you love nature. Maybe you love someone the same sex as you. Maybe you think people shouldn't be put into little boxes because of their sex or gender. Maybe you are mystical and spiritual and find all the obedience stuff super mundane. Maybe you end up realizing that mundane can transcend too. Maybe this bullet is getting too long compared to all the other bullets. Maybe all of the above. But most importantly, maybe you won't know until you try it, until you say Dear God I don't think this is right, I need to embark on my own. I know of at least one founder of Mormonism who did so. 

Surely there are more, but those are off the top of my mind. Sorry Mormonism that we couldn't make it work, but we had some good times, a lot of which have made me who I am today.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Sometimes I like to listen to and compare different covers of a familiar song. I was just recently doing this with "Rainbow Connection" one of my favorite songs. Here's the original Kermit, from Muppet Movie:
I like this Dixie Chicks version. Soulful, nice twangy banjo and guitar supported by fiddle-y strings, sweet hearty voices.
This Weezer version is good too (with Hayley Williams). Nice, quirky sound, expansive at points, a little edgier, but still maintaining that tender feel of the original; I also like the swampy sounds in the background, nice touch:
Willie Nelson. Ephemeral. Savory, easy, nostalgic feel. You kind of get the sense he has already found that rainbow connection.
This one, I don't even know what to say, but I think I love it:
I already posted about the Sarah McLachlin version another time. Definitely a bit more wistful sounding.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Today, a grasshopper

Today, a grasshopper landed on me while I was riding home. It was cute, and it kind of tickled. I was about to flick it off then I realized it would probably land in the road, get run over and smushed if I did that. So I let it ride home with me on my arm. As we rode our short journey together, I began to grow attached to it, or at least to feel some sort of affinity. Found myself glancing down to my arm, checking to make sure it was still safely clinging, hadn't jumped out into traffic of its own accord or anything, even though I could feel its tiny feet gripping - a little prickly almost.

(Thank you JessicaNarelle for the image)

I got home, hopped off my bike, leaned down next to a bush in front of my apartment, and off it climbed. Little hitchhiker... haha... nice knowing you, that short trip.

"Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness..."

Friday, July 20, 2012

Like a Boss

I like this meme.

ps I just realized the cat one actually doesn't say "Like a Boss" but that cat is definitely lying there like a boss.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to Make Friends with your Lab TA

When he is talking about increasing the pressure in a system and uses inflating a bicycle tire as a real-life example, and then says there aren't a lot of everyday examples of decreasing pressure, you might say something about suctioning a drinking glass onto your face.

I do that every day, doesn't everyone?

Or, while asking him a question during the procedure, you notice he is wearing a shirt that has the same college as your former roommate. You ask if he attended there, which year? When he says 2011, a good idea is to say loud enough for many people to hear "What?! From undergrad???" as you realize/try to make sense of the fact that OMG when I graduated college, this guy was still in high school! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ok or not ok?

Well, since yesterday was so effing balmy, I stayed up and did some extra work ahead of time for my now crazy schedule - taking accelerated Human Physiology and Chemistry II simultaneously - Wednesdays are particularly brutal, 9:30 AM to 9:00 PM, fortunately one class got out early, so I'm writing about a little "moral dilemma" situation I had in Chem lab.

For lab today I made up an excel ahead of time/last night with the graph for our data (the graph would populate once we had filled the data into the table, which I also set up). Part of the post-lab assignment is to create a graph like the one that I had made ahead of time. After we got our data, I entered it into the table on my laptop, and we used the spreadsheet to do the calculations instead of doing all of them manually/on a calculator. My partner and I both copied the numbers into our lab notebooks. But then, he asked if I could send him the excel and the graph. I said that I didn't think it would be fair, because that is the assignment, that is the work he is supposed to do. I pointed out that we had written down the numbers we had calculated in class in our lab notebooks anyway, and said I could email him the raw data, but not the analysis part.

I don't know if I erred on the side of being too stingy, but whether I did or didn't, I guess it was probably the right choice ultimately, for me, because I would have felt annoyed having done the work myself and then just giving it to him for free.

Monday, July 9, 2012


So. Thoughts since my big life changes.

I feel happy. I am challenged. I am working toward a bigger goal, something worthwhile. I am learning so so so much each and every day. I'm feeding my brain with a lot of new thoughts and information. Spending more time outdoors, in sunlight, exercising so much. My body feels great, my soul feels great.

So in the future I need to really remember that these are things that contribute to my overall well-being. Not  overlook or settle or anything like that. Make them a priority, wherever I find myself, whatever I end up doing with life.

Hopefully I'm learning to be in tune with myself and to recognize the absence of these qualities to life.

That is all.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Get Married, Have Baby

Apparently all the kids are doing it.

I am not opposed, I would like it at some point, but I have never met somebody I want to do that with. Aside from one somewhat disastrous two-year experience, most of my romance interactions haven't lasted more than 1-2 months and then I begin to feel like it's not really enhancing my life at all (except for in the most corporeal sense).

Sometimes I feel like a bit of a freak.

Wonder if all these people have truly found *THE PERSON* or are just getting caught up in hormones, saying, "meh good enough for my purposes" (i.e. married/baby), and then dealing with the lack of fulfillment by realizing that it's not supposed to be that fulfilling actually, it's commitment and tradition and stuff.

That is the one interpretation I can see. And then the other is you meet someone and form an initial, intense connection. Intellectual. Spiritual. Sexual. You get to know one another and that initial spark simmers down a bit but becomes something deeper. There is work, but it's rewarding work, because it's work that you want to do, because it pays off, instead of busy work or work that seems to have no reward for the effort.

Obviously the second is preferable to me, but I cannot tell if it is realistic. I just am not sure if it's too much of an idealization for a  romance relationship. Is it too Disney? Too fairy tale?

With time and effort I have repaired myself quite a bit from the damages of that two-year disaster relationship, and feel like I am in a fairly good place, so perhaps something like that is more realistic than ever before. But I guess I've yet to meet someone where we share all three of those things (intellectual, spiritual, sexual connection) AND a relationship. So absent any firsthand data, it's hard for me to see it as a possibility for me. And if I can't see it as a possibility for myself, then I have trouble imagining that ALL relationships - or at least the majority who post statuses or pics about it on FB after a like 3 month engagement - don't fall under that first category or interpretation I described.

Ah well. These are my current thoughts about things.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sad Day

During my observation hours today I saw a lot of patients I'd never seen before but also two repeat patients (i.e. I was observing another time when they also had come in for treatment). The first was in her early 30s, had back pain, was doing quite better.

The second a man, much older, had gotten knee replacement surgery. The first time I saw him he was in a lot of pain, had very limited mobility. It had been several weeks since the surgery and his recovery was unusually slow. It was obvious that even bending or straightening his knee was causing him a lot of pain. He ended up having to have manipulation under anesthesia performed (basically they knock you out and the surgeon bends the knee to restore range of motion - sounds gruesome but apparently tends to be effective). That was a few weeks ago.

He was the last patient today and it was kind of heartbreaking. For whatever the reason he had lost almost all of the mobility that the knee manipulation had restored. It was almost exactly the same as the first time I saw him getting therapy. Even with assistance, his knee was not able to bend past 90 degrees, and even that caused him immense pain. He was shaking and kind of whimpering, eyes pressed tightly closed, and when he opened them, they were watery. It didn't seem like it should have caused him so much pain, and the PT I was observing said that even for people of comparable age, this is rare. It just appeared that his body experienced pain differently from most people, that he wasn't able to do - or motivate himself to do - his exercises because of the pain he was experiencing (even with a pretty hefty dose of percocet).

I don't know. It just seemed like, if he cannot do what needs to be done to restore the range of motion in his leg, it isn't unlikely that he will ever be able to walk without pain. I just felt kind of bummed out leaving on that note. The PT was really supportive and encouraging to him, but I think she felt a little bummed out too.

Monday, June 25, 2012

I am gonna win

Ugh two finals this coming week. I'm SO not feeling prepared. I had a fabulous week in Yosemite (see Facebook pictures, since pretty much all my readers are fb friends anyway) but that meant missing an entire week of the like six-week semester. Not so great. I did surprisingly well on the first two exams, if only I could make this work... I have done quite a bit of studying over the weekend since I've been home. But somehow I just don't know if it will be enough to make up for the three lectures and two labs that I ended up missing in order to go on the trip.

Ok well the lecture exam is Wednesday, the lab exam on Thursday. I guess just do the best I can do and hopefully get better than a C for the course.

Aw ploppy.

(I had originally had a much more negative title, but decided that's no way to succeed)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pure Conventional

For some reason I was thinking about another student intern I worked with at my first internship. He lived in the same city where I went to school (and also attended that same school). The office was about 20 minutes away so we drove together, had a lot of conversations.

One, I recall, about a woman he had been dating. He told me they had broken up. He found out her dad was gay. This was not acceptable to him for his partner. He could not agree with her family lifestyle. I couldn't even explain how baffling I found this. It is not like SHE was gay even. I could understand that. I can't date you, because you are gay. That makes sense to me. But her father? Not like she can change who or what her dad is. He was just very, very conservative.

Another time, more toward the end of the summer. I was talking about how I was going to miss everyone, asked him if he thought it would be more appropriate to give everyone hugs or shake their hand to say goodbye. "Well," he said. "That depends how you would like to be remembered. Do you want to be remembered in a professional manner or more like a little kid?" That also baffled me somewhat. Is the world really so black and white? I remember thinking. Ultimately I ended up staying on to work part time during the fall semester, so it wasn't even an issue, but still. A glaring contrast in perspective, I suppose.

Somehow, even though you wouldn't think he would be any fun at all, he got quite into things like survey of the week which we (okay let's be serious here: I) would post on the little counter by our intern workstations. Which is your favorite Muppet? What is the most food you have ever eaten at one time? Red Sox or Yankees? Or, the time we snuck into a polo match which was supposed to be some sort of posh business development thing, but I guess we had misunderstood that part of it. We ate the fancy exotic horderves too with wild rice and capers and chit-chatted with ladies and gents.

So I guess it goes to show, nobody is pure conventional or pure fun. I wonder if he would still be opposed to a gay dad now...?

Monday, June 11, 2012


Anatomy class is like being thrown into a foreign country, only knowing a handful of words. It's all jargon to you, all these terms, you have to just try to memorize them all, repeat them at rote. But then. Suddenly things start appearing in multiple places, you recognize a word or a phrase, it relates to something else you know, you understand how two things fit together, why one thing is called what it is called.


We had our first exam, a lecture exam, on Thursday. I don't think I failed it, but other than that I have no idea how I did. Tomorrow is the lab practical exam. Eep! I was telling a friend, I think the honeymoon phase of back-to-school is over. It is still interesting, still cool, but it is definitely WORK now.

We also began our cat dissections last week. Not nearly so bad as I thought. Still gross, but I did not die. I think somehow I'm always amazed that I'm not dead after doing something which I've been dreading. Like somehow I cannot conceive of life after the horrible event which is to come. But that has proved false, time after time, so you'd think I might learn. But anyway. I am getting desensitized to the dead flesh aspect of it and more able to look at it and try to learn what I can and need to learn from it.

I did very well on the math and verbal GREs, only ok on the writing. Probably more than good enough for PT school, but I still might want to re-try later just because I think I can do better than that. Hm. Realisticaly I probably won't.

Interosseus membrane.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Anatomy Day 1

Well, I did it. Attended class: both lecture and lab.

I can tell it is going to be a lot of work, but I think it will be doable. I am actually pretty nervous how it will be for me dissecting the real animal tissue. Today in lab we just looked at plastic models of human organ systems and also some microscope slides of different types of tissue (histology). But sooner or later we will be cutting up whole - and portions - of cats, sheep, pig, etc. Well the lecture professor said at least one thing that reassured me, the animals didn't die so that we would have something to dissect. They were either from shelters (sad) or had to be put down for other reasons.

Anyway though. On a less sad-animal note, here's something cool I learned today. In terms of comparative anatomy, guess what corresponds with our ear canal, in fish.

It is actually the gills. Can you believe that? I cannot. I mean, I can actually, and it's kind of fascinating.

I had an lunch and an interesting conversation with a little 19-year-old college sophomore who's also taking the class and who has her head on surprisingly straight for someone of that age. I was impressed. It is interesting looking back at myself almost ten years ago. I'm not sure I would have had it so together back then. I think I told her as much. She was also heartened upon hearing that I am in the process of making so drastic (somewhat, not super drastic) of a career change, that she didn't have to know exactly what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.

It's ok little one, life's gonna throw in turns and kinks into whatever you plan anyway.

(last sentence as much for me as for her of course :) )

Monday, May 21, 2012

Look what happens

Someone from my high school posted this on facebook and it really struck me somewhere inside, especially that last phrase.

Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, “you owe me.” 

Look what happens with a love like that. 

It lights the whole sky. 

This quote appears to be attributed to Hafez, Persian poet.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Yesterday was my last day of work. Very bitter sweet.

I have been ready for awhile to move on to a new phase in my life, but it was so so tough to say goodbye to everyone I've come to know over the past five years.

We had a little going away party, and (here is the craziest, nicest thing I can imagine, which I wasn't expecting at all), my coworkers chipped in and got me a going away present: an ipad!!!! I was a little bit almost in shock and so touched by such a gesture from everybody that I hopefully didn't just sit there dumbfounded saying something like "oh my gosh WOW" and was able to get out a gracious thank you. But really, what a blessing to work with people who care so much that you succeed, even when you are leaving them, sending you on your way with such a thoughtful and useful gift.

I was eager to see what it was all about and playing around with it last night... there are so many features... for example, I can download apps about the different systems of the human body (muscles/bones, organs, etc) and there are models at different levels of magnification, I can zoom in and rotate around, use it to study and see how everything is fitting together. I'm sure there are other uses I haven't even discovered yet. Wow. I just keep thinking that to myself. Wow. And every time I use it I will remember how blessed I am with the people from this part my life who care for and support me.

This next week is serious overload.

  • Today I have to bike over to BU where I'm taking Anatomy and Physiology, pay my tuition, get my textbooks, etc. 
  • My first day of the course is Tuesday. I have six hours of lecture and four hours of lab. 
  • I'm registering for an online developmental psych course as well.
  • Saturday I take the GRE. 
  • And tonight, my friends the Danes are coming into town and will be here through almost all of next week. 
  • My roommate is graduating from his master's program and his girlfriend and family will be in town. 
  • I still need to work out the lease for this coming year with my two new future roommates. 
  • Now that I have more free time during the week I need to get back in touch with the people I was shadowing for observation hours and see if we can set up some more regular times I can come in. 
  • And I want to do some last studying for the GREs. Maybe take another practice to build up my endurance. 

It is weird. A week or two ago I felt so many conflicting emotions, like inside of me was where crazytown was happening. Now that I've actually officially begun my new path, I still feel like things around me are a bit all over the place, but I'm strangely calm in myself, where I'm headed. Purposeful.

I'm sure that feeling will come and go, but, for now, I run with it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Kale Quiche

I made it. It was delicious, but I maybe used too much kale so mine turned out kind of crumbly. Used frozen and used the whole bag. I guess that is equivalent to more than one bunch. But seriously, a bunch is a pretty vague unit of measure. Anyway. Tasty.

(not my picture)

Here is linky: Kale Crustless Quiche

Also I am interested in trying: Gatherer's Pie and Mushroom Thyme Gravy.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

No roommates...?

...no pants?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Here I Go

Changes in my life happening.

I announced at work today that I will be leaving my job in engineering to pursue a new degree and career in... physical therapy!

Even though I enjoy working with my coworkers, I had been struggling for quite some to have a vision for myself, my future on this career track. It was a tough decision to come to. Thought long and hard about so many options or paths I could take. Visited different clinics, talked to people who are currently practicing, in school, went to an information session/open house at one of the schools in the area. It just feels right to me. The plan now is to take prerequisites over the summer and in the fall and to apply in the fall for admission next year. I have fulfilled some of the prerequisites in my civil engineering degree, but I still have to take Biology, Psychology, Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry II, and Exercise Physiology. Lots of work. I can do it though. I know I can!

Everyone at my job has been soooo supportive and kind and understanding. Giving me hugs. Saying really nice things about me, and about working with me. Saying they want me to be happy and find work that will make me happy, that they will miss me. I was joking with myself on the way home, nothing like quitting your job to help you feel affirmed in yourself! But seriously, I couldn't ask to have worked with nicer people. It will be hard to say goodbye. Having these conversations has made the transition easier in some ways, harder in others. I get a little sad just thinking about it now.

Actually I feel a combination of this:

and this:

and this:

And this:

Time to wax philosophical though. I've learned so much these past years working here. A lot of it is very specific, task-based skills, which I will likely never use again. However, possibly more of what I have learned has been things I will carry with me no matter where I go.

  • Balancing my time
  • Organizing my thoughts and organizing the steps of a task
  • Seeing a something through from start to finish
  • Working with clients
  • Learning to explain complicated things in a simple way
  • Standing up for myself
  • Getting in touch with what it is I actually want
  • Working with people who have different communication styles

Yes all of that goes with me wherever the road takes me. And I'm sure there's even more than what I listed. Tomorrow I am attending the ribbon cutting for a project I worked on at its beginning back in 2008. A very nice conclusion to this stage of my career and life. Seems like everything is falling into place finally.

Just last week I had a mini-meltdown, felt like I was stuck, couldn't get into the classes I needed, like I would never move forward to where I want to go. Then yesterday night before bed, I made the decision to go for it, to just jump, and see where I land, I suppose. Right before I was about to sleep, within minutes of making my decision, I just thought I would quickly check the website for the class I need to take, just in case. There was an opening. The class had been full for weeks, every time I would check the site. Somebody had dropped the class right before I checked, and I was able to register. A miracle.

Thank you universe, for blessing me on my way.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Trees

Here is a poem I remember reading in high school. Well actually I only could recall that first line.Thanks, google.
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

How fitting, for this time of the year. I just love looking out and seeing the overlapping shades of the fuzzy trees. Various yellow greens, all so tender.

Going from a kind of grief in ancient rings to beginning afresh, afresh, afresh.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Due to some little bit surprising circumstances, my brother is back in town. I am so so happy that he is safe, that everything turned out ok. Also that he is here, that I get to see him now, like whenever I want (and he wants). I have missed that little dude.

I didn't even realize how much.

Here's a video of one time I taught him to tap dance.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Long Over Due Post: Why I Am Not a Mormon

Short answer, there are probably a ton of reasons:
  • Political ones
  • Social ones
  • Doctrinal ones
  • Faith ones
  • Creepy experiences with men in power ones
These were all sort of happening for years and eventually I couldn't justify those things, didn't get enough out of it, didn't feel I could find enough good to justify them. Basically, I got tired and I wanted to be happy.

Long answer: I know I never had the rock-solid belief that a lot of other people in my various congregations seemed to have. I didn't know if I believed, but I knew I wanted to believe in a benevolent, all-powerful, all-loving God who wasn't sexist or racist or arbitrary or believed in certain sexualities over others. Who was there when you needed him/her. Who helped you through the tough times. I prayed and prayed for that. For God to tell me even something as simple as Yes I validate your struggle, you are known and loved. I clung to the words that other people spoke of their own experiences. Searched everything I could find. Tried to train myself, my habits to be the kind of person who believed, who was worthy of the gift of faith. Who - to use the LDS phraseology - knew.

I don't know why, but I could never feel certain. And I could certainly never justify a lot of the horrible things that have been done in the name of my religion, and the religions it was based on. Never seem to have enough faith in the other stuff to let those bad things slide, or trust that they would be explained 'in the eternities'. And I didn't want to. That felt gravely wrong, terrifying.*

But I also didn't think that I should give up on the good in it. Didn't think my voice, my experiences should be discounted, just because I didn't fit the mold. At times, I thought maybe my role would be to help pave the way for other forms of belief, of living the religion, or to work against those bad things from within, trying to fight injustice where I found it while still attempting to fit in with the greater culture, to 'live in harmony with the gospel'. But let me tell you. That's kind of exhausting. I don't actually love conflict. I struggled on for what felt like a very long time.

And I had my little seedlings of faith and hope. I stumbled upon fiercely loving friends, gentle ones who listened to my teary confessions of doubt, ones who would discuss the complexities of what I was facing, who were maybe facing similar things, or who at least didn't trivialize either side of my conflict.

I came across ideas and principles that really resonated. Little bits here and there that made me feel larger, powerful, good... and gentle too. I created simple rituals for myself (and close friends who were interested) that reflected the beauty and order - and chaos too - around us in the seasons, in darkness and light, in quiet moments and joyful ones and painful ones. Hey, I figured. Joseph Smith could start a religion, why can't I? I carry those little seedlings with me still. And now, too, I love to snatch up those little bits that make you feel like your soul and body are a part of something bigger and like that deeper, wiser part of you knew this all along. They are taking root, getting stronger and sturdier.

Somewhere in this process, my little brother decided to go on a mission for the LDS church. I think I hadn't attended a service in awhile, but then on top of that, began spending Sundays afternoons having family time, hanging out, eating delicious food. A legit 'excuse' for people from my own congregation who might be concerned for my spiritual welfare. My parents went to their congregation in the morning with my little brother and littlest sister, and I didn't want to miss the family time to go to the one near me, so I just didn't go. After he left for his missionary service, I realized, I am happier, calmer, more peaceful when I don't go to church. So I didn't go back.

I have done and tried a lot of new things these past couple years now, most of them not even directly related to things that I wasn't "supposed" to do as a practicing Mormon. I just found myself saying "yes" to new things, new experiences, trying stuff I had never even thought to try before. And it has been good. I am challenging a lot of things I didn't even realize I was holding to so closely. For example, I went to a shooting range and fired a pistol for the first time. I don't love guns, but I have at least tried that now. The world has opened up before me. I feel safer and more confident in myself. I still only think I like 30-40% believe in God, but I do feel more settled and serene.

People from church - I try to remind myself, they are coming from a place of care and concern - have tried to encourage me to go back, to attend activities or meetings, to meet with leaders. I have had to learn to politely say "no thank you," to set my boundaries, and stick to them. To respect my own ability to make choices for my life to trust my decisions and understanding of what I want, and to demand that others respect that as well. This has been a good learning experience for me too.

I don't know what the future holds. I don't know if I will get married or have kids, if my path will lead me back toward the church my parents chose as a young couple with two children, or to a different church, or to some other path I can't even imagine. Maybe I'm actually ok with not knowing.

Maybe it is enough that I can tell myself, Yes I validate your struggle, you are known and loved.

*and probably even a lot of people within the religion would agree that I shouldn't go against that, but other people might also think a person struggling with such thoughts should pray more, read her scriptures more, just trust more

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

On a Day of Love, Some Lessons from Being Sick

Being so sick makes you realize a lot of things. You might think you are an adult, but you get really sick and you feel just like a helpless little kid, like all you want is somebody to hug you, wipe your snotty little nose, say "it's gonna be okay, I'm here."

I am blessed to have kind loving people who care about me and will help me as soon as they know that I need help. Sometimes you just gotta ask for help. 

Whether it is saying oh honey, giving me advice on the phone from another state, making me soup, bringing me food and DVDs, talking to me on the phone saying yes I will get better, helping me to clean, going to the store to get me medicine, patting my back, sending me nice texts and emails and well wishes on facebook - I have had people do all those things for me over the past week. 

Another thing you realize. Every day of life is a gift, and your body is a miracle. You especially remember this when you can’t do normal actions you usually take for granted, like cook for yourself, clean your room, walk any distance further than like the bathroom, breathe freely, have a conversation without breaking down coughing, sleep through the night. 

Sometimes things just take time. Waiting and doing the things you know are good to the best of your ability, sometimes that’s all you can do. 

I love the put your face in a bowl of steam and cover with a towel treatment.

I went for a snowshoe hike Sunday with my coworkers in the White Mountains. I’d been planning/coordinating the hike for weeks (or even months) so, even though I was still pretty far from being better, I just went, because I’d been planning it and looking forward to it for so long, because being couped up inside was getting very old, and because I wanted to go, damnit. We hiked up the White Ledge Trail near Albany NH. A nice little 4.5-miler with some moderate elevation gain (1500’ or so) and some nice views. On the descent, amidst the trees, the sunlight shining bright on the snow, the views of frozen lakes powder-white at the bases of the other mountains around us, I thought to myself. This is holy. As holy to me as I once wanted going to church to be. 

And God saw that it was Good. And I saw that it was Good too! Nothing like the fresh clear mountain air to clear your lungs and freshen your spirits.

Anyway, still fighting off the remnants of this beast. Hope to have fully beaten it in the next few days. 

Maybe a little bit rambly, and not a super Valentines Day post, but I guess there are all kinds of love. And I am loved in many ways. I am loved.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pupcakes anyone?

I was feeling in the mood to make something cheesy/crafty and thought "aha! groundhog cupcakes." Did a quick google image search for ideas and let me tell you, a lot of them are downright disturbing.

This one looks like a pedophile.

Mouse... with... dentures?

I'm meltinggggg.

Still looks like a peanut.

Just looks vaguely inappropriate.

Sweet mercy what is that thing??? Little poops with M&M eyes?

Finally I saw a link for these Punxsutawny Phil pudding pops from the Junior Society. Unfortunately, I was unable to access the original post, or the blog at all, so we may never know what Junior Society is or where they went. Since the Junior Society was MIA, I figured it would work with cupcakes too.

Nilla wafers for heads.

Almond slices for the ears.

I used yellow cake mix and made some chocolate buttercream frosting. Nutella used to fasten the ears and to draw the faces. They don't look 100% groundhog, more teddy bear almost, but I decided I would rather have cute, bear-like cupcakes than creepy, groundhog-like ones (and even the "groundhog-like" is questionable in many of the instances I came across).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Winter Learning

As you know, I attended one of the winter mountain workshops with the New Hampshire chapter of the AMC (in specific, I believe my class was called "intermediate winter wilderness travel" or something like that).

Left work early Friday and carpooled up with some other people who were attending from the Boston area. Had some classroom sessions and went out for some hikes with our groups on snowshoes, did a 2,900' or something the first day, and bushwhacked up to a smaller hill and over to an old cellar hole (where there used to be a house like a thousand years ago, probably less than that). We slept in a lodge in bunk beds. We ate a wooden tables in a dining hall with giant timber beams across the ceiling. Like probably 2' deep or something. Nothing like could be built now. I believe the lodge was built in the 20s or 30s, so there were still some big trees like that then. It was kind of paradise there. Got back Sunday evening and had a couple friends/family members over for a little birthday toast.

Things I learned (or did for the first time):
  • Learned the symptoms of hypothermia, what to do if something like that happens, what the biggest dangers or things to avoid are
  • Carry extra set of socks, dry long underwear, in your pack
  • Learned to read a compass/setting bearings
  • Bushwhacking (going off the trail, just through the woods, using your map and compass to get from point A to point B)
  • Saw where a moose had chewed the bark off of trees. The type of tree was called striped maple, I believe, but the nickname is moosewood, because they sure do love it. 
  • Saw snowshoe hare tracks
  • Broke trail (this is very fun, basically you are walking in the front of the group, on the fresh snow, and you may or may not be finding the way to go, depending if you are following a trail or bushwhacking)

Things I learned (or remembered) about myself:
  • I love being outside
  • I love being active
  • I love learning new skills
  • I am excited to be the first to do something
  • I like to notice things and try to figure out what is going on or what caused it to happen or be that way
  • I'm not cold when I'm moving
We were packing up to head home and somebody said "back to the real world" and to be honest I was a little bit bummed. The weekend really was spectacular. But then I wondered. Is where we were, in the forest, in the mountains among trees and snow and open sky, isn't that more the real world than almost anything? In a way, yes it is. It does remind you how fragile you are, as a creature, how much we need clothes, shelter, heating, insulation, things like that to keep us warm. That is pretty damn real. We kind of live in a bubble that we can take those things for granted.

In a way it was like a dream too, so so so beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful. So much fun. And there wasn't anything to worry about really, they fed us, told us what to do, taught us what we needed to know. Really the main thing to worry about is not dying, and you do worry about that, a tiny bit, but only from time to time.

Which is more real? I guess all of it is IT IS ALL REAL.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Sweetest Birthday Wishes, from My Mom...

Got this email in my inbox when I returned from my NH weekend. I think it might be the best happy birthday I got this year.
Hey Hi Birthday Girl!

Hope you're having a wonderful day snowshoeing around - we even got the snow that I special ordered JUST FOR YOU...

Getting out this AM put me in mind of the Saturday morning you were born - it was sooooooo cold that AM that by the time we got Kevin into & out of the car to the Guggios house [and we only had to take him at W______ Rd] and then on to Beth Israel hospital, my labor stopped - and it had been going strong for several hours. Fortunately when I 'thawed out' things kicked back into high gear and we had you .. ta-da here she is! I am so glad that we did; you have truly been a joy to me. I love your spirit and quirky-ness and joie de vivre and kind & generous & loving nature and exceptional, inquisitive mind and your creativity ...and so much more! I love you more than words can say. Happy Birthday, Katie. 

It really means something, coming from the person who has known you since you were born. Who actually made that happen (your birth). Who wiped your little butt and your snotty little nose and held your hair back while you barfed into the toilet and put up with you when you were acting like a little shit... who watched you grow through that super awkward phase (which you may or may not still be in), who loved you through it all and will continue to love you through it all.

Thanks Mom!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter Adventure

This weekend I turn 28.

Also, I am taking a winter wilderness/snowshoe class with AMC. I will need to purchase, borrow, or rent a couple more pieces of gear. Specifically microspikes, as the terrain near the hut where we'll be staying is apparently super icy.

It is so exciting, I can't wait! I can't wait!

I am trying to get my coworkers (or some of them) to do a winter snowshoe hike too. There's actually some significant interest!

Also, I have been spending a bit of time lately with someone for whom it actually makes sense to say "you too" when he says "happy birthday" to me. Cute, right?

Monday, January 16, 2012


This is the time of year in which I am confused both about how old I am and which year to put at the end of the date. It's like a mini number identity crisis.

p.s. it's 2012 and I'm still 27 for a couple more days (although have thought I'm 26, 27, and 28 this past week).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Sometimes you look at all the things that seem hard, that you want or need to do, and you feel like you just. Can't. Do it.

Sometimes you just gotta look it in the face and say PUP YOU I'M GONNA SHOW YOU. Or at least just dig a tiny bit deeper and find that little bit of strength to drag yourself where you need to be, go through the steps necessary to get things done. One. By. One.

Ah motivation. Ah January. Ah winter.