Why Do You Care So Much About Merlin Olsen Shirtless?

Seriously. That search term pops up in my stats ALL THE TIME. 

I went to seminary this morning. Pulled off a lesson that I took 15 minutes to prepare. Not that I’m bragging. It’s actually kind of embarrassing, how I can’t focus very well right now. It worked out, though. Those kids are amazing.

Then I went to the temple with my friend, Lynn. I had a really, really good experience there. 

Then we went to brunch.

Now I’m blogging.

Oh, I need to announce my reading! 

I’m reading!

Stake Arts Festival. Saturday, May 2, 2009; Lincoln Center Building; 4:30-5:00 PM. I get 15-18 minutes of that half-hour. Exciting stuff! 

See, life isn’t all sludgy tar acid rain deep-fried poop on a stick. What happened two days ago is in no way connected to any potential un/happiness in the rest of my life. At least it doesn’t have to be.

Oh, yeah. The rest of my songs on that list. Right. I’m on that. Fun music projects, yay!

very quick summary

right now, i’m whistling gershwin’s “summertime,” even though it isn’t summertime, even though the livin’ isn’t easy.

i had a wonderful time in florida. i was telling a friend it was one of those experiences where i wish i could have stayed a little longer. i hadn’t felt like that in quite a while.

i’ll post photos soon.

actors study the range of emotions to portray different characters effectively. maybe actors should have shadowed me this weekend, because the range of emotions was pretty accessible. i went from pure elation to the deepest sadness. anger was somewhere in there, too.

some of the things people said to me:

“you seem so happy”
“maybe you can speak on sunday”
“you know, [so-and-so] married a total redneck”
“i appreciate the comment you made in sunday school”
“that’s my backfat hole”

that last one was by my brother in response to an observation at the beach that his shorts were a little low, and that i could see his butt crack. then he said something else about how the extra adipose tissue at the small of his back only gave the illusion of an unusually high crack.

why am i writing about this?

my family, you guys. i’ve omitted all the comments about farts on purpose.

we’re going through some trying times. it’s definitely a time of change and the transitions are going to be bumpy.

well, the life parts are bumpy, so the transitions should be relatively smooth. right?

i came back to new york city, attended a student’s band concert, went over to watch the Chuck season finale with becky, alicia, eleece, and elise. came home, cried myself to sleep thinking about my family, woke up with a huge headache, skipped seminary, went to work, and got fired.

so maybe summertime starts a little early for me.

but livin’ ain’t gonna be easy. at least for a little while.


on the upside, mom, at the end of the month i’ll hopefully have a new job.

anyone who wants more information can call or email. i’m still quite a bit tenderhearted, and i’d like a little introspective time. so maybe i’ll not answer the phone for a few days. just so you know.

but i do have to say i have the most amazing friends in the entire universe. they swooped in and took care of me, and i know i’d be in so much worse shape if it weren’t for them. thank you. prayers, positive thoughts, everything.

Waiting Silently for Me

Um, I’m having A LOT of fun here.
I love it, but at the same time, it’s a little disconcerting.
Went to the temple this morning with a friend.
The drive to Orlando was wonderful.
That’s still my favorite temple, you know.  Manhattan is terrific, but I hadn’t been to Orlando in nearly seven years. I missed it, and I didn’t realize how much until I saw it, then I was inside, and all these memories came flooding from when I used to attend the temple at least monthly since August 2000.

I went to a birthday party this evening, where I saw some familiar, friendly faces. Man, the same feelings I had for the temple, I had for these people. Also, they made me stuff my piehole until I was in pain. Y’all, the love language of the South (and most Asian homes) is food. Food is the way to go.

And so, now maybe I have to speak in church on Sunday. I’m not sure how that happened.

This is so much more comfortable and welcoming and … fun than I expected.

It feels pretty good to be home.

Tomorrow, we go to the beach. Frank will join us. Yay. It’s been over a year since I’ve seen that dork. Man, I love that kid.

Friends back in NYC, maybe you should break out your aloe reserves, just in case. This body has not seen the sun in ages.

In the Interim

I’m so sorry about the list of 10 songs I can’t live without. Four songs left. I wish I could just name them right here and now, but the truth is I’m still deliberating. This is pretty hard, you guys. I’m pretty sure one of the songs is by Kermit the Frog. And another of the songs is a clarinet solo piece, but I don’t know if it’s going to be by Mozart or Weber. I’m kind of leaning toward Weber. And one of the songs is definitely by Patty Griffin. And the last song? It might be U2. The Cranberries? Tori Amos? Radiohead. I can’t decide!

Plus, you know how I have to say something about each of the songs and make these posts multi-media. All that takes time. And I don’t have a lot of that right now. I promise to finish. I hope you understand.

Love you!

A Comment on Another’s Blog

I’m fixing to leave town for Jacksonville for the weekend, (as you can tell by my switching to their colloquial), so things have been a little hectic. So, I’ll just post part of a comment I left on a friend’s blog about the Indigo Girls’ concert last week:

I was up in the balcony with some friends, and I swear, I seriously swear, Emily looked right at me, and we had a moment. It was during “Power of Two.”

The new album is pretty awesome.

This was my Very First Time seeing them live, and they did not disappoint. I knew they wouldn’t, which sets them up to disappoint, so extra points for not doing so.

I’m not gay, but man, those two are my biggest crushes right now.

The whole experience was amazing.

Loved the Roches. I mean, to come from an even purer place to sire the purity of the Girls? Woo, boy.

I probably saw you without Seeing You, being at the front of the stage and all. Sweet.

Speaking of music, some friends have decided to converge parts of our music collections into The Most Awesome Playlist Ever. We each contribute 50 songs. Four of us makes 200 songs total. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited trying to pick songs that define me and my friends would like at the same time. Also, trying not to overlap their playlists is a challenge. Maybe. Maybe it’s a non-issue.

At An Apostates Anonymous Meeting

I lost God more than 4000 years ago.

I started out like everyone else, a blessed child in a cursed, fallen world. Like everyone else, I had to work for my keep. Work hard I did, tilling the ground, fighting thistles and weeds, to bring forth crops, provide food for my family. I wasn’t too bad a farmer at all.

The earth seemed so new then. So clean, green, quiet. Relatively, that is. Nothing like it is today. No distractions per se, but still, my thoughts wandered out in the fields.

I didn’t really listen to my parents growing up. Self-proclaimed sinners. Always trying to make up for something. Scrambling to please the Lord. It looked like way too much work, more than any physical labor, all the floundering they did.

Maybe that was my first mistake. Yeah. And it was a big one. Mom and Dad tried teaching me about God. I didn’t listen, so I didn’t know him as I should have. Do the doctrine, know God’s will. Or is it the other way around?

Regardless, back then, obedience was for losers.

Of course I didn’t forget what I said. I can’t forget it. I shudder to think it. Who actually says that? “Who is the Lord that I should know him?” Who am I now? God is still God, but what’s become of me?

And then came my stupid little brother. That’s what I thought at the time. He was better at everything. Better at listening. Maybe he was better at shepherding than I was at my job, but I doubt it. He was also obedient, faithful. But all I saw was how much more everyone else loved him. I hated that. I hated him.

I hated God.

Those thoughts possessed me while I worked. They wrested my dreams. Loathing my brother was an obsession. It consumed my life. Looking back, my heart was so cold, so small. It didn’t even seem to be beating.

Like now.

I made no friends, really. They say nobody likes a downer, but misery sure does love company. Love. That’s what the scriptures say. I guess that’s what I felt for him, my only friend. Friend. The only one who clung to me at that time. I clung to him, too. I let him into my life, listened only to him. He never left my side. Until, well.

Sure, I see that now: He was a wrong friend, the wrongest friend anyone could ever have. I mean, was that really love I felt for him?

But this friend, or whatever he was, he told me things. He said I was special. He pointed how different I was, that I was too good for anyone else. He showed me things: I was older; I was superior to my brother; I was entitled. He billowed my jealousy. He fed my ego.

Was I being naive? Do you know what I mean? The offering? Go along with it, he said. And I did whatever he told me; I obeyed him, respected him, trusted him. So what do I do? It wasn’t the best of my harvest, so of course God rejected it.

I wasn’t even thinking. Of course Abel was God’s favorite, because he was everybody’s favorite. Walking in holiness. Of course he offered the firstlings of his flock, and that humiliated me. It pissed me off.

Yet, God still gave me a choice. A chance. Which I didn’t take. He was upfront with me, but I had none of it.

Then things were never the same.

It’s never worth it to be that mad. There was God, who I thought was making me feel guilty, and then, you know, the other side, telling me what I wanted to hear.

The other side. He promised me things. Victory over my brother.

We swore secrecy in everything. He dangled death over our heads if we revealed anything, and we believed him.

We. My wife and I. We swore we would do anything he told us to. We had to.

Involuntary obedience.

His plan. I clearly chose his plan.

It is possible to choose no agency. Why else would I be here?

He promised me gain and success. Freedom.

I knew he’d keep his promises.

But I had to kill my brother first.

I promised to murder my brother.

That sounds so absurd now.

Now. 4000 years. It’s all the same.

Eternally, the same.

Ennio Morricone, “Gabriel’s Oboe” – The Mission Soundtrack

Have you SEEN this movie? Have you listened to this soundtrack?

I’ve described my favorite scene from the movie here.

I’ve listened to this oboe feature hundreds of times, and it’s impossible to get tired of it. It’s just too beautiful. The instrument sings; it soars, triumphant. Glorious.

I’m not sure I can do too much more to describe this piece. Every time I listen to it, it’s the best two minutes of my life. That’s happened … hundreds of times for me. I can’t get enough.

See if you feel the same way.

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10,000 Maniacs, “These Are Days”

This song makes me feel so good.

This song sparks every nostalgic particle of my body to the next energy level.

This song came into my life for the very first time my freshman year at BYU. Of course, it conjured memories of high school.

And, now, this songs awakens every single experience that has ever meant anything to me in the world.

This song makes me feel more alive, because it reminds me just how much I have lived. This song is every moment, all the best moments. This song is now.

I have a good life.

The lyrics are a force. These are the words you’ll remember. Where was it? Ah, yes: The commons room on the second floor of Ballard Hall (U-Hall) of the Deseret Tower dormitories on BYU campus was one of the first times a song really connected to time, to history, and history included me, and I was part of eternity, an expanse not so overwhelming, so … expansive, because I felt signficant. I feel significant.

This song couldn’t have come along a better time in my life.

These are the days you’ll remember.
Never before and never since, I promise, will the whole world be warm as this.
And as you feel it, you’ll know it’s true that you are blessed and lucky.
It’s true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.

These are the days you’ll remember.
When May is rushing over you with desire to be part of the miracles you see in every hour.
You’ll know it’s true that you are blessed and lucky.
It’s true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.

These are days.

These are the days you might fill with laughter until you break.
These days you might feel a shaft of light make its way across your face.
And when you do you’ll know how it was meant to be.
See the signs and know their meaning.
It’s true, you’ll know how it was meant to be.
Hear the signs and know they’re speaking to you, to you.

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Just Sayin’

I’ve had a pretty disorienting day. I can’t remember what I’ve done. Oh, yeah. I went to church. I sent some emails. I took a nap and woke up and completely freaked out about missing my seminary class. It was 7PM, not AM.

The song list will continue tomorrow.

Also, I had another post in mind.

My head is about to explode.

Seminary starts back in the morning. I had a pretty good break. I hope the kids did, too. I’ve missed them.

I’m going to be in Florida in four days.

Can’t wait to see everyone!

I love my friends. You. And You. And you, and you, and you…

Also, if not having a headache and being completely disoriented means not getting to stay up to share journal entries and laugh and speak franglais and treat sunburns and sing random songs and watch YouTube until, say, 3:00AM, I’ll keep my headache and limbo syndrome, thank you very much. It’ll always be worth it.

Auf wiedersehen. Good night.

Arvo Pärt, Spiegel im Spiegel

“I could compare my music to white light which contains all colours. Only a prism can divide the colours and make them appear; this prism could be the spirit of the listener.”

-Arvo Pärt

The end credits of the movie Wit roll as this piece is playing. If you’ve seen the movie, then you’d know I’m already crying at the end as they show the split screen with Emma Thompson’s character, Professor Vivian Bearing, healthy, and her character deceased. I’m sobbing. And it all starts, really, 10 or 15 minutes before the end, when Ms. Bearing is so ill she can no longer speak. She lies in the hospital bed, letting the other characters exposit what’s going on. Her own college professor from many years ago, Professor Forster, comes to visit her, enters the scene; she’s in town to see a grandson and went to the university to ask for Vivian, and the faculty tells Ms. Forster she’s in the hospital.

Ms. Forster slides open the door. Vivian sees her and begins to cry. Her only friend, you see. Ms. Forster removes her shoes and lies next to Vivian and reads her Runaway Bunny, a children’s story, something that isn’t John Donne. Vivian cries herself to sleep. Ms. Forster kisses her tenderly on the head, fares her well, and leaves. This scene is so tender, so compassionate, so poignant, one can’t help but cry.

And 10 or 15 minutes later, the movie’s over.

Except it isn’t. See, it’s this piece that keeps me from turning off the DVD player. (Yes, I own this movie.) It doesn’t contain trills or glisses or fugal elements. Three-note repeating sequences on the piano with that gentle, bassy boom every so often at the left of the keyboard, and the cello sweeps along the progression with long, bowing tones. Two – TWO! – instruments. It seems like it could go forever – I want it to – but here, it lasts eight and a half minutes.

It’s powerful, it’s so simple it’s brilliant and it’s brilliant because the catharsis just happens, and like Mr. Pärt says, I can see all these colo(u)rs, and my life seems to gain all this depth and passion and … clarity. Colors. Definition. Meaning. If I had stopped that movie before the credits rolled seven years ago, I would have been fine, but since I didn’t, I can’t imagine its absence. It’s white light I can see.

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