Wednesday, February 25, 2009

'un-' an exercise in clutter examination

Every year, one of my New Year's Resolutions is to purge my life of unnecessary things: bad boyfriends, ill-fitting clothing, superfluous pairs of shoes, unused credit cards, and various forms of clutter. I do so well with everything up until I get to the "clutter." For me, "clutter" has come to represent many things: unfiled recipes, unread books, stray newspaper articles, and magazines. Tonight as I desperately needed a break from an unfinished work project, I decided to reorganize my shelf of unread books, which led to the unorganized shelf of magazines, which led to the box of discarded magazines under the bed. Holy cow, I have a problem.

I posted a list of 25 randoms on my Facebook page about a month ago, but tonight I realized that, since I'm a clutter junkie, I should make a whole new list of my OCD behaviors. Behold:

1. I have a magazine problem. Breanna and I noticed it first when there was a stack of magazines sitting on the kitchen counter: Shape, Fitness, Real Simple, Entertainment Weekly, and Ensign, all addressed to yours truly. Do I read them all? I peruse them all leisurely, but usually the only one I read, cover to cover, is Entertainment Weekly. Breanna and I evaluated the subscription expiration for each one, and most were at least 9 months into the future. The best part? I just got a $1 subscription to Rolling Stone from Amazon to add to my collection.

2. I can't bring myself to throw any of the above magazines away. I have this "thing" for making collages, and I would hate to think that one day I would want to make a collage and not have any magazines to destroy for that purpose. Thus the reason for the 2 large boxes under my bed and the 5 magazine boxes adorning the bottom rung of my bookshelf.

3. I am a book monger. I haven't read 75% of the books on my bookshelf (or I have started them, but haven't had the time or the willpower to see them to completion), but I continue to buy them because I love having them. It really is an illness. I love a good story, but I am usually more amused by TV on DVD than I am by a book - it's a path of least resistance thing.

4. I have old tee-shirts that date back to high school. For everyone's information, I graduated high school in 2001. I rationalize this because I like to work out - what if, one of these days, I don't want to use one my high-tech running shirts; or, better yet, what if ALL of my workout clothes are dirty! I can't work out naked! SO, they a dresser drawer...AND in a sliding box in my closet.

5. I have every letter and email that my mom, dad, and grandpa have ever written me. I used to keep these in a binder on my bookshelf, but they got ousted for all the books I haven't read. Never fear, they were just relocated to a new home - the box of keepsakes under my bed. These letters started coming to me as a freshman in college, and still continue to this day. They never fail to make me cry, and always help me remember who I am, what I've accomplished, and what I can become. I read them on a regular basis.

6. Speaking of keepsake boxes, I have 3 of them. One is an old cookie tin we got for Christmas last year in the office; one is a cardboard file box I made as a rebellious Laurel; one is a plastic rubbermaid tote. Their contents are diverse: wedding announcements, movie ticket stubs, letters, valentine cards, memoirs from old boyfriends, high school dance pictures, etc. And, yes, I do need 3 boxes.

7. I collected wine bottles and corks when I worked for Mimi's Cafe. Everyone would make fun of me because they all knew that I had never tasted alcohol. I use them as "decorations" in my apartment. My roommate, Michelle, (who drinks now and again) even mentioned to me that part of the reason she was so interested in living with me was because I had wine bottles (she thought I drank, and therefore wouldn't mind her keeping wine in the fridge).

8. I have every bib number from every race I have ever participated in. They were all 5K's (until June, when I will be running my first half marathon!), and they are all hanging proudly on my bulletin board.

9. I like to bake, but I rarely cook. This doesn't stop me from searching the Food Network for recipes I know I'll never use. I have a cupboard full of unorganized sheets boasting savory ingredients and intricate cooking methods that will likely never take flight in my kitchen. I tell myself that I'm building up my collection so that one day when I have a husband to cook for, the skill will come on its own and I'll have an entire repertoire of options to choose from.

10. My brain is cluttered with literally every phone number, email address, birth date, statistic, trivia tidbit and password I have EVER heard. I try not to admit this to people, but because he told me his password once, I checked my ex-fiance's email for a month after we broke up because I wanted to see if he or his mom dissed me in cyberspace. I'm telling you now, if you ever are a contestant on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, you would want me for your phone friend for my vast trivial knowledge.

SO...there you have it. I'm a mess. And you know the best part? I have no intention of cleaning it up.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Movie Savvy?

I have always been a self-proclaimed "movie buff." It wasn't until others pegged me with that title that I really got serious about this year's Oscars - well, that, and Entertainment Weekly. 2008's honoree's were, for the most part, an amazing collection of cinematic talent; a smorgasbord of savvy; a surplus of skill. It was the January 9 issue of EW that cited the 25 Movies You Need to See Before Oscar Night. The listing was rather impressive, and, given that I had only previously seen 4 of the 25, I took upon myself the challenge. I had a wonderful 6 weeks of movie-going ahead of me.

The first week, I managed to find myself in a movie theater six times. Sadly, twice were for the same movie (one of my favorites from the year - Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist), not from the list. Another, Bride Wars, with the girls (also not on the list - nor, initially, on my list either). However, I felt this excellent preparation for my hind quarters for the weeks to come. I decided to tackle the ones in the theaters immediately, and started "the list" with Defiance, Milk, and Frost/Nixon in the theaters, following those up with Wall-E and Tropic Thunder from the comfort of my bed - all in one weekend (Friday-Sunday). I had started out with a bang.

I became a movie machine, even enrolling in NetFlix to be the first in distribution once Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Frozen River, and Changeling came to DVD. It was an exhilarating experience to take in the cinema in such a condensed fashion! My friends made fun of me, but were more than happy to accept my invitation when i hounded them to be my movie buddies.

In watching the ceremonies tonight, I found myself quite satisfied with the time I had invested. I managed to see 20 of the 25 total, including all those up for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress (with the exception of Rachel Getting Married, which I have full intention of seeing once it hits NetFlix). I have a deep and profound respect for the art that went into the making of all of these films. Though I didn't fall in love with some of the movies, and I likely won't see some of them again, I recognize the flair and the forte of their production. The talent exhibited in this year's Oscar movies was beyond perception.

I wasn't really playing favorites as I watched the ceremonies tonight. I was trying to see if I could guess who would win, based on my own assumptions and the predictions of my trusted sources. What a fun experience! Please indulge me, if you will, to name my top 5 movies moments from the last 6 weeks:

5. Gran Torino - The uber-talented Clint Eastwood made the list, but seemed to miss the critical eye of the Academy. This movie was a work of art, incorporating Clint's experience with war and racial conflict. Clint also wrote the masterful score for the movie. I was moved to tears while watching.

4. Defiance - From the first time I saw the preview for this film (probably at least 6 months ago), I was intrigued. A story of three brothers who escape to the forest during the raiding of their village where their parents and neighbors were killed. They make plans of how to survive and gradually numerous others come to know of them and join them in their efforts. Their colony grows and they form a militia to combat their enemies. Another great (true) story about triumph in adversity! Another beautiful score (nominated for best score this year).

3. Australia - I have always been a Baz Luhrmann fan, from Strictly Ballroom to Romeo + Juliet; from Moulin Rouge to (now) Australia. His directing/producing tactics are different from all other directors and make his films a joy to watch. This is a compelling story about a wealthy English woman who inheirits a plot of land in Australia (where she meets Drover, played by Hugh Jackman). This movie was a delightful cocktail of romance and action - and it didn't hurt that Hugh was shirtless for half the movie. Hugh also proved to be quite the congenial Oscar host this year as well.

2. Milk - Sean Penn won a Best Actor statue for his phenomenal efforts in this politically charged drama. I loved watching the story unfold, and didn't even giggle when Sean Penn and James Franco kissed. I did giggle, however, when he opened his acceptance speech addressing the audience as "commie, homo-loving, sons of guns." It was a momentous time in history, and a noteworthy film. I love Sean Penn as an actor, however I find it hard to "like" him as a person - chastising the general public for their views on gay marriage (and even failing to mention his beautiful wife in his speech).

1. Slumdog Millionaire - By far my favorite film of the year. I watched the Golden Globes, in complete awe and confusion of how many wins they had. Once I finally got to see the film, I was again in awe, but this time in awe of the fact that I had waited so long to see it. Immediately, I was hoping for wonderful things for them at the Oscars. I instantly fell in love with the little boys that played young Jamal and his brother, Salim (those are the kids in the photo above). I was sucked in, and before I knew it, I was crying in yet another movie this year. This movie had a GREAT soundtrack, incorporating Paper Planes by M.I.A., and an awesome ethnic song, Jai Ho, which won Best Original Song. I'm so excited that such an underdog went all the way and won Best Picture!

Roman Polanski said "Cinema should make you forget you are sitting you are sitting in a theater." I say "Mission accomplished."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


When I was a Freshman in college, in the bleak town of Ephraim, Utah, my roommates and I decided that each year we were in school, we would make a mix dedicated to love; a mix that would remind us of memories of the past year. That initial mix was called The Soft Sounds of Snow, aptly named for the college we were attending. It contained a wide variety of songs, and was, at first, meant to be a three-disc set saluting three different genres of love songs: kinky, classic, and contemporary. When we came to the realization that we didn't have the time (nor the resources - none of us owned a computer with disc-burning capacities), we decided to create one mix with the best of all three worlds. The content is almost laughable, now eight years into the future: Cupid by 112; The Distance by Evan and Jaron; Drowning by the Backstreet Boys; All My Life by K-Ci and JoJo. Each song had its own significance and place in our lives. We loved that CD - and even listening to it now makes me nostalgic for those carefree days when I would stay out until 4am, sleep all day, and DIDN'T have to work.

The tradition continued with alternative versions: Cache In (our first effort in Logan) and Half Cache (as I only stayed for one semester that next year). The track lists are equally as amusing, very accurately reflecting the music of the time, and genres painting a picture of the lives we were leading. As life continued moving, so evolved my taste in music.

This year when Nick asked me what songs I was putting on my Love Mix, I was stunned to tell him that I hadn't made one - and shockingly so! Immediately I went to work trying to compile lyrics and melodies to articulate my comprehension of love at this moment in time. The process wasn't easy. I have a healing heart, and a cynical one, at that. It still beats, but not to the tune of a "love song." You won't hear my heart pitter-patting to Unforgettable or Unchained Melody. Though I love those songs, my heart won't yet allow me to recognize that sentiment as love. Instead, the sad and cynical chambers of my heart have taken over: an underlying tone in the songs thusfar occupying the playlist "Brokenhearted." A sub-sample, if you will:

Light Years Away by MoZella: "It's almost like you had it planned. It's like you smiled and shook my hand and said, 'Hey, I'm about to screw you over bigtime.' But I don't blame you anymore, that's too much pain to store. It left me hefted, inside my head. And I think that I cried for days but now that seems light years away and I'm never goin' back to who I was."

Heal Over by KT Tunstall: "Isn't very difficult to see why you are the way you are. Doesn't take a genius to realize that sometimes life is hard. It's gonna take time but you just have to wait. You're gonna be fine, but in the mean time. I'm over hear lady, let me wipe your tears away. Come a little nearer baby, 'cause you'll heal over, someday."

How to Say Goodbye by Paul Tiernan: "He loved to say goodbye, and always counted out the time until he was free, to get up and leave to learn how to breathe again."

There are a few songs, however, exhibiting a sense of hope. Songs that were added despite the current state of the thumper in my chest:

Inevitable by Anberlin: "I wanna break every clock. The hands of time will never move again. We could stay in this moment for the rest of our lives. Is it over now? I wanna be your last first kiss that you'll ever have."

Somebody by Depeche Mode: "I want somebody to share, share the rest of my life. Share my innermost thoughts, know my intimate details...I want somebody who cares for me passionately, with every thought and with every breath, someone who'll stand by my side and give me support, and in return, she'll get my support...and when I'm asleep, I want somebody who will put their arms around and kiss me tenderly"

There are a few covers that I deemed worthy for the occasion (with surprisingly upbeat, romantic undertones): Coldplay's Yellow, as performed by Jem; Mariah Carey's Always Be My Baby, as performed by David Cook; and Don Henley's The Heart of the Matter as performed by India Arie.

So, there you have it - a small cross section of the 27 songs comprising the 2009 "Brokenhearted" Love Mix. I know I'm capable of better, but until my healing heart boasts it's umpteenth batch of scar tissue, this effort will have to make due.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Love is love. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. — Leo Tolstoy

It was February 14, 2003. I was not yet 20 years old. Still a teenager in the eyes of the world, and had just become, officially, engaged to be married. To a man (boy, really) that I had known for a whopping 3 months. I think my mom and dad thought I was crazy. Looking back on it now, I think I would have been crazy had I gone through with it. The rocky two months that followed were all I knew of being engaged. We were both young, very foolish, and lacking in life experience. His mother was convinced that I was a minion of Satan, sent to corrupt her first born. I've been asked if I thought I was in love - I don't think I was in love with SHAWN, I think I was in love with what he represented. I was in love with the idea of being in love. Gratefully, I never became a Bluemel (his last name), and moved on to greener pastures.

2 years later, still infatuated with the idea of being in love, I found myself leaving my cozy life in Logan to move back in with my parents, yet again, to pursue another potential fiance. This time I was sure it was for real. He wrote songs and sang them to me, he was an artist, he was sensitive, he had a game plan, he had experienced life. We had a great relationship devoid of any major fundamental flaws, or so I thought. So, when he proposed, I was startled at my inability to say "yes." Driving home, my eyes brimming with tears and my brain puzzling over each minute detail of the evening, I sought an answer for my cryptic behavior. Though we kept dating with the intent of an eventual marriage, I knew that I would likely be moving on again.

My perceptions of love have changed and evolved over the years. My life experience has shaped my views of what love really is, and what I expect out of a relationship. As a newly-engaged 19 year old, I was just perfectly giddy to be wearing a ring on my left hand. As a 25 year old, back on the market again, I realize there's more to life than being a Mrs. I'm quite a bit more picky in my "old age" than I was back then, and I don't hesitate to cut to the chase when things just aren't as they should be. Though I wouldn't mind having a Mr., or an alternative last name, I'm trying to find excitement in the chase.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

JDRF Video

I work for a wonderful organization called the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Our mission is to find a cure for diabetes through the support of research. I have the pleasure of being a Special Events Coordinator and organizing our FIVE Chapter Walks each fall. In my capacity at JDRF, I have had the opportunity to rub shoulders with some phenomenal individuals, whether they be on our Board of Directors, Corporate Walk Teams, or our AMAZING families who deal with diabetes on a daily basis. Because of these relationships, I have recognized the need for a cure for this disease. These kids and their parents have become my heroes. They deal with very specific challenges on a daily basis, but most of them never complain. They are troopers!

I have met several friends (Crystal and Tiburon to name a few) through JDRF, and have fallen in love with them (haha) and their families! Their kids are adorable, and you would never guess that they have diabetes. They are part of the reason I am so passionate about what I do. The photo is Crystal's son, Brenner. He is one of the sweetest, spunkiest boys I know.

Our Chapter produced a video this year featuring some of our GREAT kids and their families talking about their challenges with diabetes. I know each of these families very well and have developed a great love for them! It is for this reason that I am posting this video. We are hoping to raise $1 MILLION through the viral spread of the video through email, blogs, facebook, myspace, etc. Please take a moment to visit the site, watch the video, and (if you are able) make a small donation to the cause. Just WATCHING the video will help, as it drives up our ranking on YouTube. It can be found here ( Feel free to spread the word to any and all who are interested.

To all of you who have supported me or my family in our efforts to find a cure, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

2009 Grammy Affair

Most who know me understand my love of music. Interestingly enough, I didn't really get a handle on this obsession until I was about 19. I realized, as I was listening to a live album by Ben Harper, laying on the floor in the dark, that I REALLY loved music. I have since adopted this behavior as a staple in my lifestyle. My friends often remark how strange it is that I LOVE to be alone, listening to music, savoring the essence that is contained therein. Of course I have those never-fail, tried-and-true musicians, such as John Mayer, Ben Harper, and Coldplay, but I have found myself incorporating new peeps into the rotation: Ray LaMontagne, Adele, Bon Iver, and The Weepies, just to name a few.

There are a few nights of the year I anticipate (like some do with the Superbowl): the Golden Globes, the Grammys, and the Oscars. Golden Globes have passed, Oscars are just a couple of weeks into the future, but tonight were the Grammys. My little musically obsessed brain spins with excitement like a kid on Christmas as I watch the night unfold with numerous live performances, tributes, and honors awarded. Though I don't always agree with the nominees or the winners, it's almost always a great event. Not to mention, John Mayer has performed the last three years.

Some of my personal highlights of the evening (in no particular order):
  • John Mayer doing a jazz tribute with B.B. King - the man is a guitar genius!
  • Katy Perry performing "I Kissed a Girl" in a fruity ensemble, stepping out of a giant banana to kick-off the number.
  • The JONAS BROTHERS! I know i'm almost 26, but these Disney-bred, teen superstars make my heart throb! I was initially introduced to these underaged phenoms by way of JDRF when Nick Jonas was diagnosed with diabetes (and released a song about the diagnosis). Now I'm just looking for a buddy to come with me to see the 3D experience on February 27th - any takers??
  • Adele winning Best New Artist (even though she beat out those Jonas boys, she's still got a ROCKIN voice)!
  • Radiohead performing 15 Steps off their stellar, grammy-nominated album In Rainbows. Some of you non-Radiohead fans will recognize this song from the movie Twilight.
  • Kanye West and Estelle singing "American Boy." Kanye was sporting the early 90's haircut - the almost-mullet (kind of like the pre-child molestation days of Michael Jackson).
  • Coldplay winning Best Rock Album - and don't they deserve it! This one has spent numerous days on repeat on my iPod.
  • John Mayer WINNING Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Say," one of the songs off the soundtrack of my life. If only he had gotten to perform it :(
While there were great moments, there was also one that profoundly disturbed me - M.I.A. performing on her DUE DATE! HELLO?! There's a 9-month, full-grown fetus in your uterus and you still want to perform? Not to mention her heinous outfit. Her sheer little number BETTER have earned worst-dressed in EW this week. By the way, there's a polka dot patch on the back side as well. Behold:

So, that's Grammy wrap-up for 2009. Maybe next year Chris Brown can refrain from roughing up his girlfriend so he can make it to the show to sing his song. When your girlfriend's as hot as Rihanna, what do you have to complain about?? Maybe he thought she's the girl that Katy Perry is referring to...and she liked it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ode to Mayer

I still remember the first time I heard the lyrics "Welcome to the real world, she said to me..." Not knowing the title of the song, nor the artist whose beautiful voice came crooning over the radio waves, I came to call this song the "halls of my high school" song. Constantly itching to hear it again, I sought out to find the album. I wasn't as internet savvy then as I am now, so it didn't occur to me to look there, and I continued to listen intently to radio.

Several weeks later, at a family reunion, in a secluded A-frame cabin at Aspen Grove, I heard a familiar voice sing new lyrics, "We got the afternoon, you got this room for two." It was on a mix my cousin Ashlee had made, which I later dubbed "Ash's Sexuality Mix." She couldn't tell me the name of the artist either, but I made the connection between this one and the "halls of my high school" song. Immediately I asked Ashlee if i could copy this CD, hoping I could find someone who could shed some light on the identity of this crooner if it killed me.

Later that month, after I had nearly forgotten my quest to find out who was writing these songs I had fallen in love with, my brother and I were at WalMart and I stumbled across the "breakout" CD section, where an artist, John Mayer, and his debut, Room For Squares caught my eye. I said to him that, "Your Body Is A Wonderland - hey I think that sounds familiar like that one song we were listening to with Ash at Aspen Grove." I decided to take my chances and buy Room For Squares, silently praying that I would hear that voice that had made my knees buckle so many times before.

Room For Squares did its fair share of time in my CD player as I realized that there was much more depth to John Mayer than I ever initially thought. Thus began the beginning of a beautiful love affair, infatuation, obsession, and delusion. John has since released numerous notable albums, all of which have become some of the most cherished in my personal music collection. John's musical prowess has evolved since Room For Squares into alluring bluesy tone (which, I'm convinced, is the way he would have done it from the beginning if he didn't have to kowtow to the record label). All of John's efforts are phenomenal and none fail to impress (me, at least).

I have seen John perform live three times, all with my dear friend Nick. I have since vowed that if John is in Utah, I will be there also.

I can't pick one favorite song - that would be like trying to pick a favorite child (if I had any). Lately, the one that sings to me is Slow Dancing in a Burning Room. It's so painstakingly heartbreaking and the lyrics are so moving. However, I re-listened to a song I've heard countless times before, but it spoke to me in an all new way. Good Love is on the Way is a Trio song, and last night, it was like I was hearing these lyrics for the first time. "Three years broken hearted now the ghost is finally gone. Done with broken people, this is ME I'm workin' on." It's pretty self-explanatory.

John writes the soundtrack of my life (corny as it sounds). This is why when I meet him, he will fall in love with me...and want to marry me...and make babies with me. Until then, I'll have to be content with my "other" eternal companion - my iPod.