31 January 2011

vanilla bean

"Marge, tell us all about your interesting life," commands my Aunt (she is one of the tiniest commanding ladies you will ever meet).


"You're the only one here who's not married so you have the most interesting life of all of us. Tell us about it."

"Iiiiii don't know that I've got an interesting life." (Also, I'm not sure if that was a sneaky way to ask if I have any dating life at all since I try to tell them nothing about it so I'm not forced to bring boys to dinner before I'm ready.)

I can't blog anymore, I can't keep conversations going anymore because I am feeling like a particularly humdrum person. 

What do I do? I work from home falling down rabbit holes of information or home movies, which is what I love doing. I make sure to get fresh air and see people everyday. I eat, I sleep, I drink lots of water–sometimes in tea form. I periodically delve into family journals and pictures my mom has provided me with. I read an Audrey Hepburn biography while I brush my teeth. I read The Picture of Dorian Gray when I give plasma. 

This has less to do with what I'm actually doing than with the fact that I am not a clever vocal person. My storytelling skills are middling and frequently completely fail me when I am about to open my mouth. I have made an art out of saying the most banal, redundant, or stuttery/confused sentences. I could speak about the things that interest me–how Alicia and I took a walk discussing the protests in Egypt while wheeling grocery carts back to a neighborhood store; or how I discovered what I thought was just a tiny auto lot is actually a barbershop/auto combo. While those might not grab at you immediately, if I could make the right words come out of my brain and mouth you might enjoy them with me.

Instead, I specialize–eh, maybe I'm exaggerating, but a lot of the time, with all but a few people, I specialize in being a mild case of the boring. Loveable, but boring.

In a film that blew my mind the first time I saw it, Chris Marker says through his narrator, "I've been round the world several times and now only banality still interests me."* I loved this, I loved this, I loved this. He and Samuel Becket (and maybe some of you) proved that I should keep trying to be friendly, slow-of-speech me. After all, somebody's got to make fascinating people look good (insert wry smile here).

In other news, today I found a new favorite Buffalo Springfield song, "Hung Upside Down." Make note that my previous favorite BS (ha) song was "Flying on the Ground"

*Sans Soleil (1983) 

30 January 2011

Imagine a construction site. It's in the early stages with rubble ground from past destruction and eminent construction and just two elevator shafts constructed. Imagine a Christmas tree on top of one of these elevator shafts. I saw this. I walked home from church inspired by Leanne Shapton's art project, A Month of Sunday Walks, and was well rewarded. 

My family would always take Sunday walks down to the river, past the canadian geese. It was much more quintessential picturesque than my walk from l'├ęglise. Radio Shack, car lots, an old Blockbuster turned Karate studio. It's a road of small town industry. I find it a different kind of beautiful and wish I always had a camera with me to share this with you.

My Grandma loved vinegar. Her mom would send her to the neighbors to borrow half a cup of vinegar and she would ask for a whole cup so she could drink the first half. I used to think that was weird and quirky.
I've started drinking vinegar.
It's good for headaches and stomachs.

28 January 2011


Sometimes you hear the most amazing, implausible songs while driving home in the dark. Imagine Laurence Welk with a touch of Daft Punk.

Then sometimes I'm in the mood for Bon Iver because there's that one album that's named after me. And then iTunes starts playing Led Zeppelin after Bon Iver and I think, "Why don't I listen to this every day?"

26 January 2011

I'm getting restless wondering what I'll be doing come this summer, this fall. I should have enough to keep me busy and my mind all wrapped up but I want to peek through the wrapper and know what's coming next! I've got to know! I never know! Be my fortune tellers! Tell me what's going to happen!

24 January 2011

I am my mother's daughter: part "last night I learned about..."

Sometimes my day starts at 1:00 am, just because I wake up and decide to make bread. And the next thing I know it's 7:00 a.m. and I can do yoga with my roommate and run people to school (in my mom van) and run errands (in my mom van) and then settle in for work (not in my mom van).

This happens periodically–the odd hours of wakefulness–and like my mother before me I spend these hours delighting in the time I have alone in the quiet to get things done: cook, clean, paint, watch a movie, read, grocery shop, watch the sun rise, make sure every sleepy child has breakfast before they leave the house.

Sometimes in my growing-up years when I lived under my parents roof, my mother would tell me about all of the things she learned in the night from documentaries she'd watched. "Trubuchets! They're like catapults but instead of swinging like this (here you imagine my mother diagramming with her arms), they swing like this." She now has a model trebuchet with which to shoot mini marshmallows and other tiny things.

Yes, I treasure these times.

Today I got a poem in the mail from lovely old-lady-in-training-M.M. She's my Poem Friend who's traveling the nation staying with nuns and general orthopedic-shoe-wearers, spreading the information of poetry. Sometimes she finds a select piece to share with me. This one took out my breath. Ask person to person-like and I'll tell you more about it–but eh, you know, sometimes you don't share poems. Or in some mediums you don't share poems. They're meant to be scattered in piles on wood floors and sorted through while everyone sits searching through them, reading them silently or out loud, sharing thoughts or looks or life stories. Oh Heaven, I'm planning you out already. I hope you can pardon that, Heaven.

There are so many letters I'd like to write to you. Oh gee.

22 January 2011

i write the things in my brain? dicey and boring and why?

Well. It's been looking like spring here and I've relishing it while steeling myself against the eventuality that winter will jump back down our throats and the tops of our boots, soaking our socks. In the midst of all this melting I've been coooooking. You see, I've discovered the truth in the proverb "He who eats alone grows bigger outside and colder inside." Yup, what wisdom. Meaning, I corral people into joining me for meals. "Hey Alicia, come over and we'll do yoga....then we'll eat edamame while I bake banana bread and zappetizer." "Hey Grace, wanna eat 30 Rock while I eat dinner?" "Can I make you waffles?"

I love food. It's great. And food should be homemade with natural ingredients, this I firmly believe. But here's the reverse. Maybe you've heard, I have some type of acid problems with my stomach. I take a prescription pill every day (and occasionally a weird concoction of apple cider vinegar) and I'm only supposed to eat small amounts when I'm hungry. Lot's of yogurt and vegetables. Let me point out where I have a problem: when I'm hungry. I'd like to get something off my chest and if I'm lucky maybe someone can provide me with some of their own proverbs. Rewind ten years and you'd find a Marge struggling with –ahem, I can get this out– well, some eating disorder stuff. Did you know that completely confuses your understanding of when you're hungry/full? I still haven't quite relearned it all. I've struggled to come to a place where I'm mostly delighted by eating healthily and taking care of my body and suddenly in one year it's become terribly complicated and discouraging again. It's important for me that I don't backslide into a quagmire of crying over meal times. What to do? People delight me, take my mind off things, remind me of the many ways food is nourishing.... So can I make you waffles?

I've also received MY DIPLOMA!!!! Which means I'm going through accordian files stacking 90% of old tests in the recycle pile (so much weight from my shoulders!) and a few things in the "to scan" pile. And setting letters in another pile entirely. They keep their paper form until they relinquish their lines to decay. I can't shred Seven-page-letter-S with his Norwegian fisherman who remind him of me. And there's an old C moving into my letter box with his too-much-coffee-scrawl. I can't lose a single page of Jbottoms or Karonius or Dad or post-it notes on newspaper articles from my Mom. You know, I'm certain, my family could win awards for our multi-media, strange correspondence.

Email is lovely and speedy. But I wish email were more like a page of paper, ready to be manipulated by photocopies, the quirks of handwriting, and creases of an envelope. And I wish email showed up in the mail box outside my front door. That never loses its romance. Nor do waffles.   

19 January 2011

you know it will happen

Did you know the back seat in the van I currently drive fully reclines so I don't have to heft the seat out by myself when I want to take my bike to the shop? It fully reclines, Bicycle has a nice cushioned ride to the shop, and I am much less worse for wear.

I like this.

I also like my local bike shop. I've been going there for years. Once while waiting for the Owner to retrieve Bicycle from the back room, I scratched behind the ears of one of the siberian huskies that roams the shop at will. It had been raining. Which means that when Owner came back out to talk to me I stood up with fur hands. Fur hands are awkward and mildly embarrassing. "Is there some place where I can wash my hands?"

Today I took Bicycle in for his graduation treat total tune-up. As Owner looked at dillapidating Bicycle I noticed a glossy, brown and black cat brushing against my leg.

"You have a cat now?!?"
"Yeah, my wife and I moved out to a place with more land so we're keeping the foster dogs out there. But there are so many dogs we have to take the cat somewhere else. She's really friendly."

True: the cat is friendly and pretty. And my bicycle specialist rescues husky dogs.

So there is now a cat roaming my favorite bike shop. You can't help but smile when people are living as they please. 

18 January 2011

"never go with a hippie to a second location"*

Something I am facing over lunch today: I may be mildly crazy. You can frequently find me in public with black electrical tape around a finger tip on my right hand and there is usually back up tape in my pocket. Also, I just made my own apple cider vinegar-ginger-garlic juice to see if this will help along with all of the life style changes I'm trying to make for my stomach.

*Jack Donaughy on 30 Rock

pardon my old soul in the rocking chair

I sometimes find myself at parties or deep in discussions in friends' kitchens when I imagine filming this time in our lives and twenty years down the road showing it to the teenagers of the people I hangout with now.

Dear Future Seventeen-year-olds,

Imagine your parents sitting on a collection of wooden kitchen chairs, arm chairs, folding chairs, countertops in the kitchen of a house we called "The Hot Chocolate House" where we have all marked our height on the door jamb (and where we can see that while theoretically I am supposed to be average height everyone really is taller than me). We're wearing clothes we bought at thrift stores or our parents bought us when they were worried we were becoming too bohemian. We have all just finished an impromptu potluck meal and are now debating if pulling fingernails or teeth is more terrible. This comes up in the middle of talking about photography trips to Romania and John the Baptist and Venus and what classifies a documentary.

Seventeen-year-olds, I can't believe you're going to happen someday.


The strange thing is it gets closer everyday. We're all graduating. Karonius, JBottoms, the other E's, and KB are already hundreds of miles away. Currently Alicia, Gracie and I are graduated but still here. But Alicia's got her grad aps in and I'm thinking I'll be moving hundreds of miles away myself at the end of this summer. And half of the people I hang out with now are married and even pregnant or with new babies.

Where I move, will there be hiking, skinny-dipping, bike rides, pot lucks, gardens, county roads with pastures and industrial wasteland?

We're getting older and some things are going to change. We won't always notice as it happens but someday I'll be going to the station on my fifth job as a researcher for some radio or television program, I'll forget what the latest technology is and ask the intern (who's wearing skinny jeans because they're hip for the bazillionth time) to record a pre-interview on her/his ipod and (s)he'll look at me dumbly because (s)he's never listened to an mp3 only mp11's. Mp11's will probably grow on trees.

So much is always changing.

I'm excited for all of it.

14 January 2011

the state of things

What would happen if I didn't correct the spoonerisms that keep coming out of my mouth and my fingertips? The following is exactly how I typed it the first time through.

Today a par culled in front of me with a license plate saying "PLAN IT." I wanted more information. What were we planning? Could I have a pamphlet?

10 January 2011

what could the result be?!?!?

I've got a pregnancy test sitting on my desk.

Ha! I knew that'd get you. It's true, I have a pregnancy test on my desk, I won it in a game on Saturday. A cousin of mine had a baby shower so my aunt, two cousins, and my sister and I piled in to a little SUV for the three hour round-trip drive. Our bonding time included:

Car horn honking; glitter stick-on flowers; me accepting that none of us could muster an origami crane and my card would instead look like something out of Star Trek; a discussion of our enjoyment of Stanley Tucci; and deciding why Rihanna sings "What's my name" when he's "taken the time to get to know [her]."

At the baby shower we had to face the proverbial shower game time. Bridal/Baby shower games always find me at my least competitive. I don't want to guess how much anyone weighs or make toilet paper wedding dresses. But. This time the prize was a pregnancy test. Who would not get excited about that?

Now, I'm LDS and not married and so you can imagine how much I need this test. But I'm going to take it.The really ironic thing is my weekly reading of NYT's Modern Love essay is about a single 35 year old Mormon woman deciding she's done with the hopeful, celibate, single Mormon girl life.

So let's talk about this. Nicole writes, "Most troubling was the fact that as I grew older I had the distinct sense of remaining a child in a woman’s body; virginity brought with it arrested development on the level of a handicapping condition, like the Russian orphans I’d read about whose lack of physical contact altered their neurobiology and prevented them from forming emotional bonds. Similarly, it felt as if celibacy was stunting my growth; it wasn’t just sex I lacked but relationships with men entirely. Too independent for Mormon men, and too much a virgin for the other set, I felt trapped in adolescence."
I'm not yet a Russion orphan adolescent trapped in my woman body. But I've struggled with liking my physical body. And while this may be a life long struggle of mine (an issue to which I might subject you to in another blog post) and there are many facets I need to work on to find peace with myself–one day I kissed a boy and I suddenly felt a lot more comfortable in my own skin. Like ridiculously 100 times more comfortable in my own skin. Sadly, we didn't even really like each other and yet I felt like my body was a little less blundery and flawed. I doubt this had much to do with making it through a societal rite of passage. Frequently our physicality is taken for granted in our relationships and daily interactions, it's still important, but we don't recognize how great it is. Instead, our physicality takes the blame for our awkwardness, lack of success. It becomes our corrupt flesh.

In sports, romantic/sexual relations, and between a female and her offspring (I can't speak for males) the body is exalted and cannot be ignored. It is absolutely necessary. Of course I felt happier with myself. I work! My body is just like everybody else's body! And (cover your eyes for a sentence, Dad) boys like my body!

President Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, says, "The gift of mortal life and the capacity to kindle other lives is a supernal blessing. Through the righteous exercise of this power, as in nothing else, we may come close to our Father in Heaven and experience a fulness of our joy. This power is not an incidental part of the plan of happiness. It is the key–the very key...Pure love presuposes that only after a pledge of eternal fidelity, a legal and lawful ceremony, and ideally after the sealing ordinance in the temple, are those life-giving powers released for the full expression of love.*" Through physical relations we can fully express love.

Somehow this–recognizing how great our bodies are–falls by the wayside even though in LDS theology we learn that a huge point to this mortal life is that we receive a physical body. We lived with God before our life here on earth, God presented a plan for our growth and eventual salvation, most of us agreed to this plan. We come to earth, our spirits are given mortal bodies of flesh, bones, blood. When we die and are resurrected we then have perfected physical bodies. We're a physical religion.

But maybe we don't talk about this enough. In Nicole's essay I mourn all that could be as she describes what happens to her in her trip to Planned Parenthood "Oddly, my trip to Planned Parenthood provided much that the church had not in recent years. During my exam, the clinician explained every move before she made it, asked permission to touch me during the most routine procedures. I was mystified: by her compassion, by the level of attention paid to my body — as if it were fragile, or sacred." Our bodies are nothing but sacred. I don't care what you believe in, they're divine. We don't just forget this in churches, we destroy our bodies everywhere with our obsession with perfection and change.

I just tried out my pregnancy test. Why not? I like to practice before there's any pressure or hyped up expectations. Hilldear aided me as I tried to follow the directions exactly. You're supposed to pee into a cup. Apparently we're all out of paper cups. But we did have plastic, disposable champagne glasses. And I'm not pregnant.

This isn't a subject I really want to end up in a void. If anyone wants to take me up in discussion, counterarguments, personal stories, self-flagellation, yoga, or pick me up in a honda to go on a date, that'd be cool.

*October 2010 General Conference address "Cleansing the Inner Vessel"  

07 January 2011

a university graduate in 2011 might live like this:

Let's be perfectly clear: I'm not exactly needed at RadioWest. They already have an intern, I just intrigued people with my enthusiasm and when you're a public program I don't know that you regularly turn down qualified (yeah, I'ma say I'm qualified, check out my univeristy degree!), free help. But they've taken me on and I've got work to do. Right now I am currently compiling a list of classic documentaries and since I'm ridiculous like this, I'm taking it upon myself to actually watch all of these films so I know what's up. Maybe you don't get how ridiculous that is: it is often plain to see, without watching a film, what its impact has been. And when documentaries have a tendency to take their time without apologizing...

I have decided I need to stop telling people I do what I want, whenever I want. Because while that's true (in fact, I feel like I've been doing that for months) because I am doing what I want and I work on my own so I make my own hours, this has a tendency to give people the idea that I am prancing about partying or being lazy. I've never really been that person. Even if I didn't have a job and an internship I've got a long list of things to do: study for the GRE, start pretentious discussion groups, find grad schools I want to go to and apply to them, work on my paper to submit to a conference, sand and refinish some furniture, make a short stop-motion film, edit the Community Gardens doc, go running...

There seems to be a pattern where all my paragraphs end with ellipses, I wonder why...

Another project I have up my sleeve we'll call my reconstitution/re-appropriation/mending of things. It doesn't sit well with me that I can own something that's in perfectly good condition but is a little out of date so the general rule would be to buy something new to replace it. Does that sound vague? Let's take it out of the abstract. I buy nice planners. Moleskine planners. But 2010 is over and 2011 is different and I need a new planner. I am not a smart phone person. I am a mildly resistant owner of a flashlight that serves as a cell phone. This summer my nice little Nokia fritzed out after two years so I bought a $20 Nokia go-phone and put in my SIM card. So paper is my planner. 2010's Moleskine planner is in good condition minus the dates that are already written all over and planned. But I was looking at it today and thinking, this I can easily reconstitute for 2011. It's gross to consume when I've got a nice thing already. Well...

I have nothing more to say today.


ALSO: If you have any suggestions of documentaries that should make my list or want to get in on this docfest of mine let me know! 

05 January 2011

internship part 1-ish: Frederick Wiseman.

I have an internship. Not paid, I've got payings coming from elsewheres, you can ask me about that sometime. But this internship: I can't be vague on this–I feel too blessed. I'm a researcher for RadioWest, a regional NPR program produced here. Take a taste of today's show to see how cool it is.

But I want you here with me, so please take part in my journal entry for today.

I wish I could explain the drive through the winterized canyon today, but there's no words for this magical weather event I saw over the reservoir. Someday I hope to go back and film it and know what it was. I got to Park City around 10:15 (when I was told to arrive at about 10:45), paid $6.00 to park because I didn't want to worry about time or parallel parking in the van. I was already nervous enough. My insides were jiggling around, I felt light headed and like I was going to puke–that horrible acid feeling like when I forget to take my antacids for a few days.

I walked in through the Kimball Arts Center's main door per Elaine's dierections and was pointed to some double doors at the far end of the foyer. What it looked like beyond those doors I could not imagine. There it was, my destiny, fifty feet away.

Perhaps I should explain that I hadn't yet met any of these people. I had an impulsive moment a week ago, I sent an email to Doug, and now I was starting my internship by showing up for a live recording of the show today.

It turns out my destiny was in a long room. I was at one end by a chalkboard wall (I cringe!!) and the microphone end of the table. At the other end were people.

"Hi," says a confused young lady, the other intern they've had for a while, just a few years older than me.
"I'm Marge..."
They all look up, it takes a moment, then–
"Marge, I'm Doug" (The host) "And I'm Elaine" (the producer)
"And that's Louis," says Doug pointing to the mustachioed man at the laptop near me.
Someone says (my head was whirling), "You'll have to pardon the mad scramble we're in right now (I was showing up just before the live show today), there might be some swearing."
"You just missed my swearing," says Louis.

Doug is in the zone going through his questions and notes. Elaine is trying to do something with a USB thumb drive and talking about printers, someone is bringing in a fifth laptop, and Louis and Cynthia are taking care of tech things.

"Can I help with anything?"
Another momentary pause as they all look up. "If I need anything you'll be the first to hear about it," says Elaine.

I sit down. A few minutes later I'm asked to adjust the thermostat. I'm at my post adjusting said thermostat when two people walk in. I turn around and see Frederick Wiseman. He's two feet away from me. I've been reading about him for years. He's great. He inspires me. He's two feet away from me. What do I do?

I sit down. So do FW and lady who was later identified as a Salt Lake film person and I can't remember her name at the moment.

I still feel like I could throw up.

Cynthia gets me a water cup so I sip and worry about spilling it over the electrical cords in front of me.

Out of the corner of my eye I keep looking over to FW but I don't think I can say anything. Do I, as a barely intern, merit speaking to him? I don't know what's proper etiquette. And what would I even say? "Hi" obviously doesn't work.....(?!?!?)

As you listen (because I know you will), know that during the last break I finished drinking the last of my water because I thought, "I've made it this far without creating some catastrophe, I should make sure I can't knock my water all over those microphone cords and ruin everything in the last five mintues."

He's so great looking, such a character. His eyes and his hair! I mean:

Now listen to the interview!!!

01 January 2011

let me be boring

So lately I've been on this researching Frederick Wiseman kick. He's a filmmaker that's a legend in documentary but not necessarily to the wide world. Part of the reason for this is that he makes films about institutions–a mental asylum for the criminally insane (in 1967 so you can imagine), law enforcement, high school, juvenile courts, welfare, ballet companies, boxing gyms to name a few– and they're observational films: Let's sit and roll with the camera and take our time. You might not know this about me anymore because for the last couple of years I've been making docs for pay or for causes, but that's my first love. I want to be a "boring" filmmaker and I've forgotten that. The cause of commercial documentary is a foreign and stressful campaign to me: I doubt and trip over myself because it's my counter-intuitive. Anyway, thanks Freddie. Thanks for you doing what you've done. I forget myself.

Oh. Also, you should look up pictures of Frederick Wiseman. He looks like a thoroughly charming and idiosyncratic character.

And, I guess, happy 2011. I can't believe this eleven business. Time is no linear beast, it's an unwieldy, fluid, and here-and-there substance. The next thing we know I'll be 45 and...well...I don't know the rest of that sentence.