melancholy with a dash of hope

everything is frozen today.

it's bright and super sunny, but there is a certain still all around though the roads still have signs of life.

i tried to make the hour and a half drive up to see a dear friend come home from her mission today, as well as other friends i haven't seen since i came back from my, well, mission of sorts last week.

it started out clear but as i drove (exceeding the speed limit by you know, a more than marginal amount...), the sky turned from blue to grey. the air went from clear to clouded. and soon i couldn't see more than 50 or 100 feet in front of me. i slowed my car and felt a small foreboding feeling, but i kept on.

soon though, i knew i'd have to turn back. it was ridiculous--i couldn't see a thing in front of me, and every road sign that appeared was a surprise until it was right in front of me. the sun, however, was a tiny but perfectly clear circle high above me. i wondered why it wasn't helping more with my vision. with a bit of a heavy heart, but one that was willing to listen to my head for once, i turned off the next exit and re-directed my route to head back where i'd come from.

i made it back right in time to catch my own ward's meeting. it felt good to be back and i couldn't have picked a better meeting to welcome me back to my utah home and church.

however, as i walked out of the building alone into the cool, fresh air, pulling my scarf tighter around my neck, small sense of sadness tugged at my heart a little. my eyebrows furrowed in slight confusion.

i missed.

that's what the feeling was, i think.
is, really.
it's a familiar feeling.
i missed them.
the kids.
the friends.
the people.
the place.
the lifestyle.
in mexico, of course.

i found myself wishing i'd have hugged the kids more often
(even though i did it quite a bit; it was one of my favorite things to receive from them)
because i really missed that.

but then it extended into other people i'm missing.
people who have quietly stepped out of my life for some reason or another;
i missed them.

i drove along, reflecting as i did.
turned on some album leaf, which is the closest to sunday music i had.
it was a good choice for my mood.
and the day did its best to reflect my feelings.


everything in my life is pretty straight forward right now.
sort of like that freeway.
just go straight, and go on for like 86 miles, and eventually i'm supposed to turn a couple times.
but sometimes that super thick fog comes up and it's hard to see past my own nose.
but i can't really turn around so i just have to remember to let the light lead, even when it feels dim.


i contemplated writing this on the way home because i felt the familiar urge to process these particular feelings today, but i knew words wouldn't do it this time. they haven't really. though i felt like i had to try, which is what i did above.

so there you have it.

the only solid thing that came to me regarding how to express my current feelings were the words i used for the title, and a vague image i had in my head. i'll draw it real quick (i'm curious to see what it looks like) and post that, too.


okay i drew it. i was going to work on it more, but i don't really want it to be more than this. and it looks a little sad. but i'm not.

well, i'm not sad per say, i'm just missing.
just a moment of melancholy, if you will, but with a dash of hope.


it was a blur

jeff tends to do these things at the end of each year. i don't but i'd like to. honestly, i started and never finished this one, so i took out all the unanswered questions. but here are the answers i already put down. 


What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before? 
designed album packaging for a favorite band, moved to mexico, became a teacher.

Did you keep your new years' resolutions? 
yes and no.

What are some of your resolutions for 2014?

What countries did you visit? 

What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 
the second sunday in august.  easily the saddest day of the year.

Did you suffer illness or injury? 
sho' did!

What did you want and get? 
a perfect escape

What were your favorite films of this year? 
big fish (i know i'm late to that party), frozen.

What were your favorite albums of this year? 
white flag, youthemism, amelie

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 
oh, that's right. i held a photobooth party. called it my swanky silver party and everyone dressed up all fancy-like, then we took pictures in a make-shift photo room in my downstairs.

What kept you sane? 
toward the end of the year, this book.

Who was the best new person (people) you met? 
my family in mexico.


despedidas rotos

it's been a while.

too long.

first of all, you should know that i'm writing to you from my little kitchen in mexico.

yes, mexico.
i moved here three months ago sort of on a whim, to teach kids english.

the thing is though, this is the last night i will sit in this kitchen and still claim it as "mine".

in 3.5 hours, at...3:30am, i will walk out of this apartment door and start my journey home.

yes, that place.
in the united states.
my "real" home.

the thing is, this place seems like another home.
i've felt this way before -- last time it was this strong was when i lived in new york.

leaving there was hard because i missed a lot of the culture, the art, the atmosphere, my independence, my sense of importance and purpose, the connections i was making in the art world. at least i think so.

leaving here is different.


usually, places are very important to me.
i tend to attach emotion to physical location, and i usually let myself do that as long as it doesn't get unhealthy.
new york was a lot of that for me.
and when i went back to visit, it was so wonderful to see so many familiar locations.

but here in my pachuca?
here it was all of that....plus people.
so many people.
so many people to love.
so many people i let myself love,
with the hope that someday they would know how much they mean to me.

so today when i walked out of the school, it didn't really bother me that i didn't get to say goodbye to the classrooms i've taught in for 3 months or see them one last time. it wasn't physical location this time.


i've made many friends here.
the missionaries, especially elder gomez and three of his companions in our time here,
the ward members, the faculty at the school, the director and his wife who were like our parents, and especially 47 specific people.

47 other smaller, shorter, clever, sensitive, funny, bright, charming, curious, playful, wonderful people.
all under the age of 9.

and those are the people, perhaps, who make me want to spend more time here in mexico. they're not even quite "people" yet. son niños.

los niños que robaron mi corazón.


today was our final performance with the school. we were asked to make our part of the program 30 minutes, and we filled it all with singing because what better way to show what they'd learned plus bring the Christmas spirit?

and then after....after. that was filled with gifts, hugs, tears, and good-byes.
lots of broken goodbyes.

me gustaría tener las palabras para expresar mis sentimientos cerca los niños, la gente y mi experiencia en méxico.

but i didn't have the right words. i don't even know if i would have the right words in english. i just pray that someday, these people will realize how much they mean to me.

para siempre Dios esté con vos hasta nos vemos otra vez.


coming up for air

Come listen to living prophets

i've blogged about conference before, but have you ever wondered why it's so great? the video will help you understand (it is only one minute long!). 


the first session just ended and it's been amazing so far. you can even see my tweets (shift your gaze a little to the right and up just a tad, ah! found it? the feed is just right there on my blog) about some of my thoughts on it, hashtagged #LDSconf. 
anyway. tune in if you'd like some bits of hope: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/watch?cid=HPFR100413105&lang=eng 

 i feel like this is a little bit of light i can receive after i've been in a lot of fog, and before i head into more.


venus and allegories

written 9/30/13

this evening as my brother and i approached the overlook on ocean avenue in santa monica to view the hazy sunset, we were both strongly reminded of a similar view we had previously experienced, though that was overlooking the duomo and beautiful city of florence, italy last year. 

same sun, different continents.
similar sunset, similar situations. 
but how much has changed since then. 


my brother and i never did see the sun tonight, though its remnants were subtle and inviting and calm.

as we sauntered along the path, watching the sky change, we both noticed venus. venus shone, faintly at first, against the setting sunset as it faded from brilliant orange and pink to purple and blue to dark black. as the brilliance of the sky faded, venus was more noticeable and soon became the center of focus against the dark velvet sky.

its inherent brightness never changed; only its surroundings, yet it became more obvious as night settled in.


we had a really great talk. 
about the garden of eden.
about animals and communication.

about the importance of food
and perhaps its relevance on earth

about learning.
about the universe. 
about movies.


i told my brother something that happened on my recent trip from the east coast: 

at one point, on the last leg of the journey, i was driving late at night. the sunroof was open and mariah and i were cruising along somewhere in nebraska. 

all of the sudden, i was aware of our surroundings: it was flat all around us and i felt like we were in a big snow globe: i could see the stars so clearly and they surrounded us like a dome across the entire horizon. i could see them out the left window, up through the sun roof, and meeting the ground through the right window. 

so clearly--SO many of them. 

and i got so excited! the next night was our final night driving and i made sure i paid attention to the sky when the sun went down. the wyoming terrain was more rocky now, but the stars showed up as they had the previous night. i was driving again, but i looked over every moment i could get (grateful not many cars were on the road) out my window to just gaze on the stars. i could see the milky way tonight and it was such a sight to behold. i felt grateful that i could see such a wonder in so much detail. 


you see, i know that it's there. 
but seeing it is something completely different. 
it doesn't change the truth i've always known.

it just makes me go, 
"yeah! i recognize that 
because i've known it all along."


so tonight in santa monica, 
it was interesting to just see that one shining ball of gas. 
that was pretty much it. 

and to know that there were those millions and billions of stars that i'd seen
just a week ago -- out there, 
and they were still in front of my eyes tonight
but i just couldn't see them.

because of the smog here, 
because i was close to the city,
because of the lights,
because my eyes are too weak.

but knowing that i'd seen them last week
gave me a little secretive smile
as i folded my arms
and we both watched venus 
appear to be the only belle of the ball. 

just because i couldn't see the other stars
didn't mean they weren't there. 

i wondered what the sky would look like if this city weren't there, 
if the smog weren't there, 
if the lights weren't there, 
if our eyes could see all that was out there, 
and if the only thing that remained was the bench we sat on.

the sky would make everyone stop and stare. 
and it really should make everyone stop and stare anyway, 
but we didn't see one person stop. 

so there we sat, 
siblings on a bench, 
talking about the universe,
watching venus,
sharing a secret with each other 
and God
and the universe. 



i just traveled through 15 states in 12 days by way of car. spent most of the time on the east coast.
i am home for two days until i get on a plane to travel to the other coast for another couple of weeks.

but i woke up this morning lonely in my bed.
i just ate a grilled cheese and some tomato soup on my kitchen counter.
comfort food.
thinking about the same things i was thinking about before my trip.
being sad about the same things i was sad about before.
at the same table i sat at before.

i know that traveling doesn't take away problems,
but i'm just wondering...did i do it wrong?


i left without a proper goodbye

mariah is driving as i write this post. it's been a crazy trip so far, but the most meaningful state for me has been virginia. 

for lots of different reasons. 

so while we are still here, i wanted to write this. 

dear virginia,

you've always been a mystery to me.
you still kind of are, 
but i was surprised how well we got along. 
i feel like there's a reason i was born in a hospital within your borders.

i want to say i will see you again soon 
but i sort of feel like if i pen that, i won't, and i'm not sure which i'd prefer at the moment. 

so i won't pen either of them.  
i'll just nod my head at you and try not to wish i were still there (because now that i am finishing this, we are already a state or two or three away, so i am not).

thanks for the two-day adventure.
it was bittersweet, to say the least.


(the picture: my last night in arlington)


50 minute ride

i don't have more than a few minutes, and i wish i had more time to write this post in a way that could clearly reflect the poignant experience it depicts. but i don't. and i'd rather just get it out. 

i awoke at 7am in arlington, virginia this morning.

after getting lost on last night's extended bike riding adventure, mariah and i weren't exactly keen on getting on those bikes any time soon, but this morning i was anxious. restless.

7:30 let me know that i'd fail at sleeping any more, so i got up and knew where i needed to go. it was an idea i'd toyed with last night before drifting to sleep. i thought of driving, but the idea of morning traffic headed into DC made me think twice.

i slipped out alone, later than i'd have liked by this point, the chilly virginia air swimming around my skin. the morning was lovely, the sun calm and the breeze perfect. i liked the feeling of starting out alone, as this east coast trip has been wonderful so far and filled with so many wonderful people and friends, old and new, but i have missed the intentional company of being only with myself.  this would be a lovely outing.

my pace was hurried. i reached up and scratched my forehead, a bit startled to find my eyebrows completely knit in tense thought. clearly my subconscious wouldn't be fooled by the calm of this morning.

i will ride until i find some sort of solace. 

that's what i wrote on my phone when i got to the bike share station. 

i got on a bike and headed out on the trail. 

i started out all hardcore biker. feeling my still-exhausted muscles from yesterday's journey around all the monuments and the bike ride back to my brother's home, it slowed into a more ponderous ride as i put on some music (while google maps still crooned over the top at times). 

the ponderous ride turned a little more therapeutic and the knitted eyebrows, unwelcomed as they were, resumed their position as i allowed some more difficult thoughts to drift into consciousness. riding certainly helped. 

there were some amazing vistas, and i didn't let myself stop to take pictures because nothing could really capture this experience anyway except for experiencing it, partially because of all the sensory input and partially because of everything that was going on in my head and heart. 

i crossed a few bridges and vaguely remembered my brother mentioning that he and his twin brother used to stand on a bridge and watch planes take off. i felt warmer and close to them. being 15 years older than me, we grew up in completely different worlds. i wondered what bridge it was.

eventually, the therapeutic ride turned into lost tourist. a little annoyed at myself, i realized that i hadn't payed attention when my intuition told me to go one way and i thought google told me another way (the same thing happened last night; perhaps i should learn from my mistakes)--but instead of correcting myself as we did last night, i kept going the way i thought the map had told me. i was a few miles in what i guessed might be the wrong direction. 

at this point, i was really low on energy, both emotionally and physically. the banana i'd eaten back in my brother's kitchen had worn off in the first few miles i'm sure, and the gatorade i'd packed became my energy. so, my lost-stops became gatorade-and-look-at-the-pretty-view breaks. though i really wanted to get to my destination. 

eventually i figured it out and continued on. i went slowly but i kept going. SO MANY life metaphors swept in and out of my head; i suppose that's just how my mind works to get me through physically hard challenges. 

anyway. finally i saw the landmarks that assured me i was headed in the right direction. i took a few more breaks and pedaled on. 

i guess i was sort of surprised when i rounded a bend and saw the bike deposit spot, with my destination just beyond that--and it just sort of happened upon me. i hadn't realized it but i had sort of resigned myself that i'd never really get there, but i was just going to obediently follow directions. right, left, go over this bridge and take the left fork...but here it was. i deposited my bike and dismounted. 

i walked up to the monument. i was glad, relieved even -- that even though i'd gotten here later than planned, i was alone. this was the whole reason i'd even wanted to go. i walked up the white steps and through the great white marble pillars, and mister jefferson greeted me. 

just like he did yesterday, when other people were buzzing around him. 

i stood right in front of him. i wondered what he'd have said to me.
i could use some good advice right now. 
then i sat, and i thought. 
then i read, and then i wrote, 
and then i read and thought some more. 

now, the rest of the experience is for me. but the journey there, i guess, was for me to tell you. maybe because i'm out of time, maybe because i got stuck up there in the details, maybe because it's meant to be that way. 

but either way it was lovely to find a place this morning and make it sacred. even though it was hard.

and i have to just kind of laugh at myself when i think of the journey it took to get there: hardcore and determined -- emotional and pensive -- wandering and lost -- exhausted and desperate -- surprised and quiet. i kind of just think that's the general repeating pattern of my life.


sometimes i leave the state to wander

smart: doing laundry before a trip.
not so smart: doing laundry that can't be dried in the dryer the day you board the airplane.

smart: blocking social media sites on your computer to prevent yourself from getting distracted.
TOO smart: picking up your phone and logging onto said social media sites to distract yourself from using your computer in productive ways.

smart: getting glasses before the trip so you don't have to wear contacts while you drive home across the country
not smart: not getting them in time for the "drive across the country" part

smart: finding an online glasses company who will ship glasses to your brother whom you will visit on the trip
not smart: losing the glasses you already own (which go over your contacts to assist you with things like, oh, driving across the country....) the DAY YOU BOARD THE PLANE

smart: transferring money from your savings to checking account in preparation to travel
not smart: forgetting your debit card at home and realizing it on the way to the airport

smart: getting to the airport early
too smart: early enough to find out that your 11:25pm flight has been delayed til 1am. 
also smart: calling back your ride and going to iceberg drive in and eating a lot of food to lull you into a food coma to sleep the plane (at least that's the hope).

...this was also smart because there was literally NO line at security. and it was actually a pretty fun experience. 

so it begins....




i walked out this evening to find this waiting for me.

it was beautiful and i stood there, on my front porch, and against my will i watched it fade. 

but then it didn't fade fast enough

so i took a picture 
and hurried along my way.




i don't want to sleep.
i desperately need to.
i'm exhausted.

in so many ways that i can't even process it all.

but things are so close to the surface.
and sleep is like a division.
it closes one day and starts a new one.
the next day will come but it's like sleep is consciously accepting that, you know?

and tonight came so fast.

i've been alone with my art for so long.
so, so long.
just hours in my basement, painting.
thinking. feeling. crying, sometimes, honestly. praying.
it's been pretty soul-wrenching at times.
goodness, i know i'm tired because my emotional guard is down for me to actually type this. and pause and blink and not delete it and barrel on like a train through some dark tunnel.
but this has been the most honest, heartfelt show i have put on since my bfa show.

it was all i had.
i unabashedly loved every piece i made.
i am proud of what i put on display.

and then i showed it...
and three hours later opening night was done.

it just felt so short.
i mean the art is up until the 27th,
but i'm leaving town soon and so i won't even see it very much.

it was a relief tonight to find out that my work wasn't just selfish.
i had a few conversations where i learned more about some of my pieces
(i really like learning about my work from the insights of others).

it was nice to be surrounded with some people whom i really care about and love.
i was surprised to see some people whom i hadn't seen for quite some time.
it was lovely to be helped by a few angels whom i wasn't expecting
and by some i was.

i also missed some people.
i wanted some to be there that weren't.
i don't know why some didn't show
and i knew why others couldn't.

but it's done.
and now i'm sitting in the same place i have sat so many times in the past few weeks,
but it seems so cold.

i realize it's because my paintings are gone.
it feels sort of drafty.
which is weird because it's the exact same room
as it was before i started painting.

but after you create something and then take it away,
something in the atmostphere shifts
and you can't quite put your finger on it.

also, my van might have died tonight.
wouldn't even start after we tried to jump it.
so i'm sort of feeling the juxtaposition of a quick and mighty triumph
with the pang of an odd sort of loss.
with more subtle undertones wafting the scent of other losses.

so yeah.
weird feelings.
not sure what to think of things.
feeling lots of stuff.
they don't mix well with sleep.

my soul feels like it should feel sort of patched up
because i just processed a hecka lotta stuff with art,
but instead it feels sorta patchy.

new music time.


warm fuzzies: the recent evolution

sparkplug has recently become more like a quiet neighborhood stroll that i take every once in a while, rather than the daily commute of thoughts rushing back and forth.

recently (thankfully) i've started writing again a lot, but just in other places. i write here at sparkplug (or more fondly, warm fuzzies), and in my journal on my phone, and in my little notebook i carry around, and in my notepad on my phone. i also write in my paintings and i paint in my writings, and i write in the form of pictures, too. yeah, you read that right. riddle me that, batman.

that being said, have you been over to my art blog lately? there have been some crazy things happening.

well, not crazy, but there have been like 2 or 3 recent posts.

and even more crazy has been my facebook page. that's where i've been slammin' down art like nobody's business.

although i've missed writing this blog. i've missed the familiarity of writing posts. for some reason, it really lets me just be me in a way that conversation can't, and neither can visual art or any other medium. i'm regaining this slowly but surely and i'm looking forward to it.

it desperately needs a facelift to really be my blog again. but that'll have to wait a while. for now, i need a place for my words and sparkplug is one of my most comfortable places.

but i won't promise "more" or "less" for sparkplug because i just don't know as far as quantity goes. or content for that matter. i don't know if it's gonna be pensive like it has been the last few posts or if it'll be sort of jaunty like this one. but i can bet that it will continue to be what i need it to be, and i'd love for you to continue to accompany me on that journey.


also. you can't really tell that i was soaked and it was crazy windy and how conversationally stormy it was so i hesitate to even post this (perhaps this is a good reason of why i need all the arts), so that's why i only allowed this one image, but this is the only documentation i allowed myself from that one time i chased the rain.


chasing the rain

(written 8/27/13, 9:54pm)

tonight, i started out thinking that there wasn't anything so quietly rebellious as running against the wind.

feeling it push against you, impossibly hard, knowing you're losing, but running anyway.

or feeling your injured knee joint pulsating against its cage of ligaments, furiously objecting to the rigorous motion, but gently urging it on, like a rider to its horse.

and seeing the raindrops start to collect on the pavement and watching the park patrons hurriedly gather their belongings, secretly taking pride in knowing that what beckoned you to the park is what scared them off. knowing that you'd soon have it all to yourself.

and letting the sky change your mood, both getting more and more cloudy, more layered, more concerned as both deepen.

the rain comes.

i want to yell, come on, rain. give me all you have. you're just rain, what can you do to me? what can you do? you're just rain. 


oh, it felt so good.

i knew i couldn't really run tonight. there is no way in heaven that i could try to run like a "runner" because i wince when i stand after sitting in a cross-legged position for too long; how could i even attempt to run for real with my busted knee?

but a child can play, can't she?
i hadn't initially thought of it like this.
but i certainly did tonight.

the angry storm was rolling when i pulled into to the parking lot of the park. i arrived with my running clothes on under my warn, thin white zip up hoodie, not knowing if i was there for a thought-provoking stroll or to invoke a song-writing session or there for art inspiration. i assumed i was there just for just a brief walk, or a brisk work-out walk, or a run-walk in an attempt for exercise. i didn't really know why i was there; i just knew i needed to be there.

i found out along the path. earphones in, i turned to specific music which perfectly framed the scene. the storm quickly gathered its thoughts after i arrived; they seemed unhappy. i observed as birds and people alike interacted. as the sky darkened, so did my mood. i didn't fight it this time. soon the raindrops came more and more rhythmically and thankfully, the people soon dispersed.

i couldn't help it anymore. my mind was agitated; so was my body. my walk became more brisk. it became a jog. come on, i urged my already tired knee. i had a side ache already from walking. i found that pathetic. but instead of being frustrated at my injured body, i encouraged it. we can do this. we can even go on the grass. and so we did.

we wound through the trees, from one spot of grass to the next and visited the pavement between. it was a freeing sort of a run. i realized that i didn't have to run a route; i could go wherever i wanted to. i wasn't training. i wasn't even here to run.

at one point i paused. i noticed the rain seemed happier that the people gone as well, almost like a we'd been a couple wishing away a third-wheel friend. it was almost instantaneously constant and though there was lightning and thunder, they were distant and the air carried a light mood amidst the continual rain. similarly, my mood also started to lift. there was still one stray kid and a waiting car, but i didn't mind. i switched to a better song and was off again. it felt wonderful. then i caught a glimpse of the sun--ah! the sun! i remembered that is what brought me to this particular place to begin with: it was the only location in which i could still see the setting sun. i jogged towards it. how i loved that setting sun.

i soon realized there was a whole portion of the park that i'd never run before on my "runs" -- the runs that i'd ran when i was trying to stay in shape or better my time. so i delved into that area. it was liberating. it had started to rain hard. i reminded myself: i wasn't even here to run. i could do whatever i wanted to do. and so i did.

i jogged.
i zig zagged.
i walked.
i bounded.
i ran in circles.
(big ones and little ones)
i twirled.
i laughed.
i spit.
i skipped.
i sprinted.
i slowed.
i ran around the trees
and touched their bristles with my fingertips.

i stopped for a second,
the rain dripping down my nose
and chin, into my eyes,
and looked at the sun.

the sun looked back at me,
hooded from behind its clouds
which made it easier for me to look it in the eye.

which was sort of a paradox.

it was raining so hard.
i felt like a little child.
so giddy
so gleefully happy.
i felt like i could do anything.

i did some more frolicking.
i felt like i was playing games with myself,
and i kind of was.
i raced myself.
i chased the wind.
i sang songs in my head.
i blinked back the water.

and then it hit me like a ton of bricks,
why i thought of going for a walk in the first place --
i am getting sick.
i skipped yoga tonight because i'm getting sick
and i was going on a brief walk because that felt less hazardous than a full yoga session. i am an adult and i am on one of the strictest deadlines i've had for quite some time and i've no time to be sick.

i took stock of myself.
i was dripping wet.
out of breath.
and suddenly i felt ashamed.

and that bit of shame uncovered
all the thoughts
that had been hooded
under the sun in my mind--
all the reasons why i had been brooding
along with the sky in the first place.

somehow, both slowly and hastily,
i dragged myself back to the car.

the rain felt so heavy
and i was soaked to the bone.

i became vaguely aware of my iphone
which was tucked into the front of my shirt.
so i held my hand to my hoodie to pull the wet fabric away;
i'm sure it looked as though i was clutching my heart.

i felt like the rain made up for the tears
that i felt like i should be crying.

i felt ever so confused.
i glanced over to where i last saw the sun.

i wished i could still see it,
but it had hidden itself for the night.
in my sudden panic and confusion,
i hadn't even bid it a proper good-bye.

good-byes are important to me.

i wished it would come back.
how i miss the sun.
and though it comes back,
it first always leaves me.


a little lost

it's been a long time since i sat on my porch and wrote a post. it feels good to sit here and write again.

i could write about a lot of things from this weekend: really, really good things. but i feel the need to document one in particular from a couple hours ago. 

my mama and i went on a walk this evening. it was perfect weather; i felt like the outside was too warm and inviting to even consider staying indoors, and it was fun greeting neighbors who apparently felt the same.

eventually, our walk was interrupted by the tiniest, but most urgent of distractions: mom spotted a tiny duckling at the end of a driveway we were passing. at first we cooed and smiled, admiring how cute and absolutely fuzzy the little tyke was. but eventually we realized that it wasn't okay. it kept running in little circles...round and around it went, its path the smallest possible circumference. eventually it would get dizzy and fall on its back. then it would struggle and struggle to get up again, its little webbed feet flailing and thrashing as if the air itself were pressing enough to keep it down. finally the duckling would get up, only to repeat this terrible cycle. all the while, it was chipping its tiny little chirp, desperate for help. 

as we realized what was happening, i knew i couldn't pretend like i didn't see it. i couldn't just walk on and continue to chat about the types of neighborhood trees or the good weather. perhaps it's in moments like these that i realize where i get that determined compassion from: one look at my mom and i knew she couldn't leave it either. that was comforting. but neither of us knew how to help. 

after standing there a few long minutes, debating on what we could do, i couldn't bear to watch it struggle anymore. my mind snapped into action. i had to DO something. i started to get antsy and impatient as we discussed what we could do or who we could call. 

call. shoot. ironically we had left our phones at home so that we could be in the moment as we enjoyed our little walk. we'd have to borrow a phone. we decided mom would stay with the duck and i briskly walked to a friend's home a few blocks away. my walk turned into a jog. i rang the bell; no one answered. anxious, i ran back to mom and the duck and i could tell mom was getting pretty distressed. she had been corralling the little duck with her feet so that it wouldn't wander into the road. she'd observed that it couldn't open its eyes and thought it might be blind. the way it was continuing its little pattern, it might be injured as well. 

i ran down the next street in the opposite direction to another neighbor, who had majored in zoology, but no one was there either.

across the street, i saw a family with a few generations, the children playing a little softball game in the front yard while grandparents and uncles and aunts looked on. i knew that grandma and went over to speak with her. i explained the situation and got some bread from her, but i knew that's all i could really ask for as it was mothers day and i didn't want to disrupt their gathering more than necessary.

i hurried back to mom and the duck, but the duck wouldn't eat the bread. i was getting a little desperate. what does one do in this odd situation? 

mom decided to go to another neighbor we knew across the street from our location to see if she could get some water or call animal control or something. this time, i stayed with the little duck. i squatted down and tried to guide it to the bread. because it was so frantic and couldn't see, i doubt it even knew food was there. i suddenly wished i knew more about ducks. do they smell? would it do better in grass? could i touch it? i hadn't touched it yet because i vaguely remembered reading something about touching birds eggs and the mother bird disowning the eggs. was it the same with actual ducklings? probably not? i didn't dare chance it. i felt like i stood there forever but it was probably about seven minutes. in those seven minutes, though, the strangest experience happened. all those thoughts went through my head. then feelings of desperation, impatience, frustration that i didn't know more about how i could help. 

i crouched down, so i could be as close to it as possible. it must have been an odd sight, to see a girl dressed in a sunday skirt, holding half a piece of bread crouched down next to the gutter. 

my brain turned over ideas of what to do and it wasn't long before it exhausted all the limited options. all i could do was wait. then my mind caught hold of the thought, "why do i care so much? why do i care at all?" my memory raced back to my childhood, most of which is a blur, to my mother reading me make way for ducklings. i had loved that book. she read it to me at bedtime, or maybe when i took baths? or whenever she read me books. i couldn't quite remember when, i just remember her reading it and me loving it. maybe that's why i apparently like ducks? or maybe it was back in high school when one of my best friend's family, the clifford family, were raising chickens, so i saw them from when they were eggs incubating to when they were fuzzy tuftballs of yellow energy, hopping around and chirping happily. we named them and even cuddled with them while we watched a movie. maybe it was that? 

no, those were good memories, but i don't think they impacted me to this extent. 

and then it sort of hit me. not like a revelation, but more of a quiet thought: this creature is living. living and helpless and lost and weak. its cries are too quiet to be heard by anyone making any sort of noise, and its presence too small to be noticed by passing cars. and if i left it, it would probably die alone. no one else would likely notice. at least, i'm pretty sure no one in our neighborhood has pet ducks. 

but for that alone, i would fight for it and try to do everything in my power to help it survive, or at least not be alone when it passed. i feel silly admitting this, but even now there are some tears running down my cheek as i think of this. 

but maybe it's not so silly. as i watched that duckling struggle, and as i realized that it was helpless and so was i in helping it, my mind recalled various memories of watching friends and family members struggle with battles: mental, physical, spiritual, emotional battles. feeling so much empathy for them, but feeling totally helpless in being of any use. coming to terms with the fact that some battles are meant to be fought alone while i could be a warrior alongside them in others. and ultimately, i thought of an experience i had last year as i had the privilege of being there when a dear sweet friend of mine quietly slipped from this life to the next after he fought his hardest battle: the battle to give up fighting for life. 

a noise snapped me back to the present; mom was leading the neighbor and her daughter to the place i was standing. i straightened and watched as they approached. they brought a paper plate and a gallon-sized plastic bucket. we used the plate to get the duck into the bucket so that we could carry it without hurting it. the neighbor and her daughter directed us to their neighbors across the street who apparently fed ducks, and pointed out the feed that was on the sidewalk in front of that house. they kindly wished us luck and left us. mom and i headed to the duck-feeding neighbor, but of course no one answered the door. of all the days to try to rescue a stranded duckling, it had to be mother's day and apparently everyone was at their mother's.....

neither of us felt good about leaving it on the sidewalk, even though it was more out of the way of the main road and there was food. nope, we couldn't leave it. we decided to take it to the clifford's, who lived about 10 minutes walking distance away.

we were super anxious by this point as the duckling was steadily growing more and more uneasy in its new predicament. as we briskly walked, we came upon a neighbor in her garden. we both felt we needed to ask her help. "jan!" my mom called. "do you know anything about ducks?" out of context, what an odd question. but we both knew jan loves animals. to our slight surprise, she replied, "a little. why?" we showed her our new little friend. immediately, she scooped up the poor little thing and nuzzled it into her hand. for the first time, the duck looked still and calm. 

apparently, jan had incubated and bred some birds growing up. we quickly spoke with her about options. she said that she would take the little duck in at least for now, to get it back to health. she said she'd have to get feed for it tomorrow and hoped that it survived the night. i did, too. even though i felt a tinge of anxiety leaving it, mom and i both felt good entrusting the little duck to jan. 

mom and i walked back home, got the car and drove to the clifford's, but no one was there. we realized that was all we could do, for now. we drove back home and i stepped outside to write this. it's dark now, and i watched the sun set as i wrote. 


i don't know why this experience happened. but all the while, in the back of my mind, i think i knew that i was experiencing something of a microcosm.

i feel like i started to understand a fraction more of what God really feels for each of us. no one else really cared a whole ton about this duck except for jan, and i didn't expect them to. they hadn't seen it struggle and they hadn't invested their afternoon into helping it and they were likely in the middle of things that were important to them and rightly so. besides, my mom and i had already taken responsibility for it. if someone would have come to me with a lost duck, maybe i wouldn't have been as invested either, especially knowing that the person was already taking care of it. but today, in ten minutes time, i went from not knowing that duck existed to devoting my time and resources to try to help it survive first and eventually hopefully thrive.

i don't remember which point in the experience i did, but at one point i prayed in my mind. something like, "Father, please help me to know how to help this little duck. please help me to find someone who can help if i can't. maybe it doesn't matter at all but it really matters to me right now." and then i was ever so gently reminded that He feels that way about each of us. 

maybe at times we feel like we don't matter to anyone else. maybe we don't feel like we even matter to ourselves. maybe we're okay running around in circles and falling down and struggling, and maybe we're not okay with it but that's the only thing we know how to do. maybe we do it because we're not strong enough to do anything else, or because we're lost, or because our eyes aren't opened either for one reason or another. but regardless, i am confident we have someone who watches over us, who cries with us, who wants us to get up, to first survive, then to thrive. and when we fall down again, He will still help us get up. first to survive. then to thrive. 

i could write another whole set of blog posts about understanding the reason i know this in practicality, and how i have felt God's love for other people, but those are stories for a different day. this post is about finding a little lost duckling.


into skin

first of all, i don't even know where to begin blogging again. it's been...a very long time. i am self-conscious and out of the habit. but i think i need it to some degree. so instead of letting perfectionism stop me, i'm just gonna start. perhaps i'll analyze my hiatus later. maybe not. probably not. i wrote the following last night right before going to bed. it's not polished; it's just thoughts.

today i felt like i slipped back into my own skin again. i felt more myself, more aware, more alive. but all in very, very subtle ways, that if i wasn't paying attention i probably would have missed feeling anything different. it felt good.

some things were beyond my control and completely because of the generosity of others. other things were intentional on my part. and you know what? when i intentionally did things that made me happy, that genuine happy sort of feeling, the more i noticed others and the general forces of the universe coming together to make me feel great. i dunno if it was all in my head or not, but either way our thoughts tend to create our reality so i really don't mind that. days don't always go like this but i sure appreciate when they do.

and similarly to the actual experience above, i feel like making a record of days such as these somehow produce more of those days because i start to expect more. out of others, out of the universe, out of myself.



in the past i have been incredibly good at record keeping. mainly because of a challenge my dad gave to me when i was in 6th grade, but that's not really what this post is about.

i've not been keeping a regular journal for over a year now and that's the first time since i was 12 this has happened. it's easy to slip out of habits you work so hard for, which is why the reason of such habits is so good to remember. again, this isn't today's point.

the point is, i'm exhausted. i feel like i have so much on my mind that even considering the task of putting a pile of words down and sculpting them into precise representations of abstract and complex feelings, which i have historically loved, feels like daunting. and feeling responsible for what seem to be lost memories seems haunting. especially when circumstances and feelings and thoughts come so quickly and change so suddenly. daunting and haunting.

that being said, well, read that again. did you catch the irony? meta-recording here.

i guess that's why sometimes i just have to write or record in shorthand. resort to looking at texts, emails, calendars, etc. to remember what goes on in my day-to-day life, because as seemingly insignificant as days are, they make up our weeks and months and lives. so day to day stuff is pretty important to me as a whole.

this sort of shorthand might not make sense to anyone else but sometimes that's okay. like today's for instance. today feels like window; i hope that tomorrow is thule.


come, listen to a prophet's voice!

did you know.....

{via here}
i've been so busy lately, but there is nothing that will bring me more lasting peace, happiness, and understanding, than listening to all the sessions of conference this weekend.

i know this, because i've been doing it twice a year for 25 years. ;)

wanna try it out? from lds.org: [conference is] held Saturdays and Sundays (today and tomorrow!!) at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. mountain time. For the April 2013 conference, the President of the Church, Thomas S. Monson, will be speaking during the Sunday morning session at 10:00 a.m. MDT on April 7.


hypothetically speaking

you know those days when you wake up as early as you can (sometimes it's eeearly...but sometimes it's 8) and end up having a really good scripture study which sets your day off nicely? and then you get ready and go to a cafe and work on that project that's due that day but then you are incredibly focused which is awesome?

and then your friend comes to visit you at that cafe to pick up girl scout cookies he bought from your niece and you talk with him while you work and it's a really cool conversation but you're still super focused on work so it's like hitting two birds with one stone?

and then he leaves and you continue working and then stu maxfield ends up having lunch at the next table and you think "man, i grew up in a cool town and so many people don't even know how much talent and energy there is here just walkin' around eating lunch at places" but you don't say hi cuz you're super focused and you feel like he should be able to get his alone time with his food and then you keep working real hard on that project? oh oh and then you have to go to the bathroom a few times but you manage to not get your stuff stolen through various tactics, and you faintly notice you've gone through the same spotify playlist like 3 times over so you change it and your back and neck is absolutely on fire since you've been in the same position all day? but all this happened cuz you had incredible focus that was totally a blessing?

aaaaaand then you finish the project but you've been working on it for so long that you can't hardly believe it's finished? and you know that it really isn't finished because there are tweaks to be done but it's at least finished enough to present to your client who lives in egypt so he'd get in the next morning anyway? and then your boyfriend comes and is super interested in what you have been working on and validates you and you're reminded that even if your client hates it (even though your client is also super awesome), at least other people like the work you've been doing and then you eat food cuz by this point it's like 5pm and you're staaaarrrrrrrving but you're still in the mindset that this is lunchtime because you didn't eat lunch? but then the food is delicious?! especially after going on a short walk around the block because you can FINALLY see the sun and it's not freezing?!

and then a small kid comes up to your table and gives you a little toy heart and then you realize you actually know this kid and you look around frantically until you see two of your friends who married each other and made that kid, laughing at you in the corner?! remember how hilarious that is?

AND THEN you get up the courage to hit the "send" button to your client?! remember that?! eeeeeeeeeeee!

and then you run an errand and your boyfriend is super chill and all like "yeah i'll come to your fhe and also do yoga meditation with you" and then he does and he totally owns the fhe game that they are playing? and then you pick up your other super awesome friend and meditation is sort of weird but also really good and then you all go for delicious hot chocolate and cider? and then you and your boyfriend pick something up from your old art studio and then go to your home and have a really good talk and then some interesting conversation about snowboarding and then an cool discussion on your respective fears regarding extreme sports and then a good heart to heart and then laugh and are silly and goofy? and he leaves you super happy and then you check your email even though you told yourself you wouldn't cuz you wanted to sleep peacefully even if your client hates the stuff you made and says you need to start over but then you see the email that your client says and he totally digs the work you did?!


i mean, it's not like i'd ever really have a day exactly like this, but today was, well, you know. kind of along those vague lines. :)


begin it well and serenely

i took myself out for a date this morning. 

it included early morning scripture study, extremely focused yoga, good cruising music and breakfast at a favorite bookstore so i can hopefully work happily on a somewhat stressful yet hopefully rewarding project (with deadline of, oh, monday).

i even slurped my smoothie a little bit. and wrote my to-do list on a napkin.

i feel good about this plan. 


we're dug in deep, the price is steep

“courage doesn't always roar. sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "i will try again tomorrow.”*

i mean...right?


i'm also contemplating one of my own paintings tonight, which might seem kind of odd and maybe a little pretentious. but i think one of the reasons i was made to make art is to learn from it later.

(*quote by mary anne radmacher)


it was the cello, probably

it's beautiful to watch someone discover something for the first time. to watch their curiosity and their mistakes and their quiet little discoveries.


to anyone's heart, really

dear heart,

in your life so far, you have felt an abundance of emotions. you have felt exquisite joy; you have felt terrible loneliness. you've felt twitterpated, giddy, sweeping emotions, and you've felt angst and anxiety and difficult depression.

you've loved and lost, and you've loved again. in lots of different ways and times and for lots of different reasons. and sometimes it's love that makes sense and sometimes it isn't.

sometimes you are injured and don't even know why. and sometimes it takes a long time for you to heal.

but i just wanted to let you know: all of these things you have and will and feel right now are all part of the package this life came with. and through all of it (and i mean all of it), you are becoming more full.

but i just wanted to remind you that in whatever state you're in, you're doing just fine.

the rest of yourself.


“be soft. do not let the world make you hard. do not let pain make you hate. do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” -kurt vonnegut


white flag

::july 29, 2011::
i had been asked on a date by a friend. i stipulated that i could only go if we went to a battle of the bands to hear a band i'd heard was amazing. either that, or i'd have to go with him some other time. he agreed to the concert.

we doubled with one of my best friends and her date. i wasn't quite sure what to expect, but i was familiar with the venue and happy to be at a concert. i don't remember much about the first bands, but i'm sure they were good.

the time came for the band i'd heard about to play. as we stood there, close to the left side of the stage, i was overcome with something i hadn't expected. this music....this music was different. it was all instrumental--but i hardly noticed. there was something different about this band. something about the energy and the combination of rock band instruments plus a violin and cello...?! and the passion with which they played. i was stunned. i found myself standing there, transfixed with their music, but somehow in my own world, separate from the crowd i was standing in.

i left the concert on a high, feeling that something in my life had shifted just a little bit. and it felt good.

it's been a year and a half since i first heard searching for celia play that battle of the bands. i have since attended almost every concert they've played, first as an unashamed groupie, and eventually as a friend to each of the band members. but always because of my love for and belief in their music. i'd say that my regular attendance was because i'm a supportive friend, but many times it's been purely selfish: i need to hear their music. it does something for my soul that nothing else can tap into.

as i've listened more and more and have become more involved with their band, i realize that it has something to do with this:

as far as music goes, i guess you could say i'm primarily a "singer". at least i used to be. i grew up singing and in high school choir was my "thing". i've lost the majority of my ability since i let visual art consume my college life, but point is: i used to feel that i needed lyrics.

however, searching for celia made me realize the amazing effects of really quality instrumental music. specifically, instrumental music that really connects with me. because of the lack of lyrics, their music doesn't dictate specific things i should think about. rather it invokes feelings, filtering and directing my own thoughts--providing them a passage through which to flow, with momentum to do so. i suppose this could be true with any instrumental music, but searching for celia invigorates and excites me.

i often live too much in my head, and if left to my own thoughts, i can sometimes stay on one idea and stew. other times, that thought mixes with just a couple others and goes in circles. both are not terribly helpful and sometimes they can be destructive to my happiness or productivity.

since my interest in searching for celia stemmed, i've branched into other groups in the post-rock genre. not all the bands i've experienced have held my interest. i've only recently realized a reason why, though this is only one component. but here's the idea: the ones that i love and hold my interest are those which have distinct melodies or thoughts behind them. they're not just noise. their songs travel an emotional journey, exploring all kinds of feelings, dynamics and tempos, always with an actual recognizable melody, and are diverse enough to beckon you to come with them. and you want to.

that's my current thought, and it might not make sense in words, but i guess that's kind of the point. you'd just have to experience it.


last week, searching for celia released their first album! of course i attended their album release concert, which i might add, was sold out. i'm sorry if you weren't there; you missed out on an amazing experience. however, to console you, here's a link to find out more about how to purchase their album. and here is a music video for the first track on their album.

and yeah. you're welcome. :)


shoot for the moon and hit the stars

looking back, 2012 was better than i ever could have imagined, but in ways that i didn't imagine.

remember this post? (if you don't, check it out. go ahead, i'll wait...)



i'm so happy (and astonished) to announce that in 2012, i accomplished *most* of the things on that list.

when i wrote the 2012 list, i left open spaces so that through the year, i could add goals to those spaces as i thought of them or as opportunities arose. it's amazing what happens when you give yourself some room to dream. here's what my list ended up looking like:

i accomplished most everything in the "to do" section, except for learn a legit dance routine (i started to learn party rock anthem but never finished; alas, a goal for the new year...). and i also didn't exercise daily or do anonymous acts of kindness consistently. BUT, writing those down made me do them more often than i would have. i didn't leave my comfort zone once per week, but i daresay i certainly left it more often this year than i ever have before. and i'm pleased with my accomplishments.

the things i wrote down in the "to be" section were more challenging, but i worked really hard on them. they're not checklist items, and it's always good to focus on certain areas of life at different times.

the bottom part was meant to be motivational....and it really was!

and as for my dear friend who challenged us to make these goals in the first place? britta? yeah.

this was how she ended her year:

photo by steven freeland
she's the one in the wedding dress. :) i dunno if this was on her list or not but....bottom line? don't be afraid to dream.

dieter f. uchtdorf's reminds us of this in a great way:

i am still making my 2013 resolutions. a little late, i know, but better late than never. feel free to leave some of your resolutions or victories in the comments if you'd like to share. i'd love to hear them. :)

related: to find some really lovely resolutions, click here!


a word (or 109 words) about love

dear blog,

i miss you.

and it is valentine's day so i thought i'd make it up to you.

...with valentines-y quotes...from other people. i think valentine's day should be a day of love and happiness and appreciation for all those whom we love...not just our "valentines". though i'm not gonna lie. it sure is nice when we have a valentine.

Source: tumblr.com via Kristin on Pinterest

Source: etsy.com via Kristin on Pinterest

i made the last one from a picture i took in italy and i'll probably make a better version later. it's based off of something my bishop's wife (jeneanne marvell) explained to us a few months back that really stuck with me. i believe it. anyway, blog. you're great. happy heart day.

also, happy valentines day to all those human-type people that i love as well. :)



questions i ask at 1:26am

dear brilliant ideas,
how's about you stop coming to me ONLY after 1 in the morning, hmmmmm?

dear this week,
how about we command + D you, so it's like the time of 14 days for the price of 7?

dear after effects,
why have we not been better friends before now?! we could have been making some beautiful stuff long ago, and now it's crunch time.

dear adobe,
if you would let me download the 30-day trial of after effects, i'd kiss you. but you're not. so i'mma punch you in the face. why are you choosing this option?

dear 2013,
you caught me off guard there, so i am hereby re-starting beginning this month of february. cool? thought so.

dear february,
oh, you already started? well. i'm re-starting you on like the 13th. thanks.



at the end of some days, you've just gotta say to yourself, 
"self, i am going to bake you a single cookie in a goblet."

and at the end of some other day, i will perfect the aesthetics of such. 



new year, NEW NEWS!

happy new year!

lots of things have been happening.

well, lots and none at all.
the none at all is shown by the activity on this poor dear blog that i miss.

and by the fact that i rang in the first week of the year by almost breaking my foot, putting up a solo art show and promptly getting a sinus infection in my sinuses/ears/throat and lungs which kept me down for the entirety of the month until yesterday and even yesterday was...hazy. so lots of nothing in those weeks. which was exactly halfway between nice and totally aggravating.

BUT lots of things have been happening on my art blog! and i want you to see it! so much so, that this whole sentence is a link in case you missed it in the last sentence! PLEASE go check it out and tell me my work hasn't been in vain. yes, let's start the new year by shamelessly begging for validation. hey, at least i'm being honest. ;) but between not being able to leave the house and having other [super dooper kind] people take some of those pictures and having to format the whole dang thing, it took me forrrrever to get that post up.

but i feel bad that i've neglected this blog.

so you know what i'mma do to compensate? i'll announce HERE first, before i do on the other blog, that i have an official facebook fanpage! you know, for my art! because i do art sometimes!

and also, i'll secretly announce that i have a one-night-only solo art show at sora dining on february 1! more not-so-secret details on that forthcoming.
AND i'll also announce that the first version of my website is coming veeeerrrrry soon. be on the lookout. you might have to go like my facebook page or follow my art blog to hear about that though ;)

oh. and one more thing.

got this in the mail yesterday.

= passage into big kid life, woooo!

adventure is out there.