The Scary Storm

There’s a profound metaphor a-brewin’.

While scrolling through my Facebook feed and ignoring the happy, oblivious posts of those who aren’t being affected by Sandy, I came across this photo. Click on it and say some prayers.

Winds are howling, lights are flickering, transformers are exploding. Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons. There are reports of green electrical arcs in the sky, a scary form of the Aurora Borealis. I doubt New York has seen many hurricanes, and it probably hasn’t received the Noreasters that Boston has, but it seems that the Big Apple finally gets to enforce a lot of its emergency preparations. I know my friends are prepared.

The island would seem different than a mainland hit, because it’s an island. Two and a half miles wide by 12-13 miles long. The tunnels and bridges are closed.

Yet, no man is an island.

But I also don’t want to downplay the rest of the Northeastern shore. They also have floods and fallen trees and power outages. Leaky ceilings and floating cars.

Hang on to your hats.

My friends are prepared. I’ve seen their statuses of the provisions they’ve gathered. Lights, food, batteries, water, cheerful souls and prayerful hearts. When the winds stop whipping and the water subsides, they’ll use their optimism to clean up their towns and get back to their usual lives. Which happen to be extraordinary.

I believe John Donne.

Sandy Dunkin New York

Right now I imagine a former home of mine is receiving a lot of rain, lightning, and high winds. Many former homes have been part of those circumstances.

I was born during a typhoon in the Philippines. This may be why I don’t really freak out during big rains. My birth versus the storm: I won, but I’ve also always made sure never to get too cocky. Don’t stand in an open field under lightning clouds. Don’t play in puddles and get ringworm.

I lived in Guam. Seems if you live in the Pacific Ocean, you have to expect the whole range of tropical weather. Which would include earthquakes. And if volcanoes were nearby, those, too.

I lived in Key West. Consistently warm weather often compelled my brother and me to stay inside with the air conditioning. But I played a lot outside, too. But I mostly blame Key West for making me break my brother’s arm.

I lived in Jacksonville. Hurricanes mostly miss Jacksonville. The city often catches the fringes of the swirlstorms, and it receives a lot of rain, but Jax has had its share of lucky breaks when hurricanes decide to turn northward toward the Carolinas. And that’s not so lucky for the Carolinas.

I lived in New York City. That damn town greeted me with a blizzard, and it rained when I left it nearly 7 years later. That place brought out my allergies and gave me a true glimpse of depression. Rain, snow, strikes, sweltering and stifling heat. I miss that place.

I live in Utah. The sun is out, I can see the mountains that still hang on to the turned leaves. I walked two blocks through wet and heavy snow the other day, and I felt nostalgic. Today, nary a trace of that white stuff. But the mountains cling to that, too.

New York, I know you’re prepared. Candles, flashlights, water, food, batteries. Board games, radio. Dance parties. Storytime. Quality time. Run to the Hills. Or Washington Heights. I’ll be praying for you.

On Voting

My very first federal election is coming up. After changing my name and residence for voter registration, I looked up my ballot. There are a lot of names I don’t know. The only political commercials that air on television don’t even apply to my congressional district, and presidential commercials don’t even air around here because not enough Obama voters live here, so I guess Romney’s using the money he saved from Utah to campaign like crazy in other states where Obama has a competing influence. Which I know is Mitt’s biggest concern. I just wonder where he gets and how he keeps his tan.

Anyway, here’s what my ballot looks like. I’m about halfway done researching the list, which sort of helps, but it’s mostly overwhelming. I recognize some of the names from billboards. My votes may just boil down to whether I like the spelling of names or if I can write poems from the anagrams of names or if my favorite letter of the alphabet that day is A. It is no coincidence that the initials of my new married name are the same as Mitt Romney. So, I could vote that way. Also, I like the Yes or No questions for the judges. Nothing about voting in Utah, America is confusing in the least little way.

Graceland

Today, my student loan grace period ends.

It’s hard to believe six months have passed since graduation. Sitting in the Marriott Center, falling to sleep to Elder Oaks’s commencement speech. I only slept because my friends who sat by me made me so very comfortable. The hour before, we happened to find each other in that giant mob of the School of Humanities, all of us scattered about in the ASB parking lot, and it’s not like we planned it. We’re humanities majors; our degrees were not in planning. But we stood in the sun, waited for our cue, marched into the arena. Passed by professors in their regalia while “Pomp and Circumstance” blared. I wonder if Sir Edward Elgar ever got annoyed by how long his piece could be.

I could not have been more honored sitting with these friends:

Maddie thinks big and likes small houses. She’s passionate for noble causes and homemade pickles.

Jen, “Ms. Magna,” was so very ready to take her vacation to Ireland and wants to take on a certain spritely dancing violinist.

Stephanie, was more or less on her way to an internship in France, because if you can change France, you change the world.

Bridgette has already landed a job, and her mind is anywhere but Provo. She might be too smart for her own good.

The five of us. A juggernaut of awesome women. BYU graduates. Ever so ready to take on the world.

I wish we would have gotten a picture.

Always, I’ll feel indebted, but friends are the kind of grace never ends.

Book on Tapeworm Was Here

This is what happens when I bring a camera. There doesn’t have to be as many burdensome words.

Last night, I went to an album release show of a band called Book on Tapeworm. Here they are:

The percussionist here is my husband’s brother:

Here was their real-life, life-size set last night at the Velour. As you can see, the stage quite resembles the band’s CD case:

Here’s Gavin working his magic. He came all the way back from grad school in Illinois for this show. This guy is legit:

So, if the set looks surreal, if the CD packaging is styled after their set, you can expect to hear music that’s ethereal and transcendent and not harsh and grating and makes you feel like gagging yourself.

If you’re into well-written songs, tight harmonies and angelic voices; if you like thoughtful music that truly reflects how serious and professional and skilled the musicians are; if you appreciate the shrinks, swells, and swings of emotion in music that makes you sigh with longing or nostalgia; and if you want the mystery and magic of the morning mists meandering groves and chaparrals, then you’ll love this album.

If you don’t like any of that stuff, I can accurately conclude that you’re pretty stupid.

Also, these folks are incredibly nice and insufferably cool people. None of the band members are likely to become supreme jerks when they become rich and famous.

Check them out, like them. Buy their stuff. Watch them:

Book on Tape Worm – Shadow Puppets from Jason Moffat on Vimeo.

They’re amazing.

Aron Ralston Was Here

I never have my camera with me for these opportunities. My little flip phone does okay. The lower end of okay, but still okay.

Aron Ralston’s talk was part of the Nuskin convention at UVU this weekend. A friend of mine who works with that company had some extra tickets, so Reilly and I jumped at the chance to hear him speak last night.

Company formalities took up the first hour of the evening: votes for Nuskin’s Got Talent, a Lifetime Achievement Award, recognition of the Gold and Lapis executives. Those familiar with the company know how this business works, their whole culture. Easily, at least 2,000 people filled the seats of the UCCU Center, and one could conclude that nearly all these people matched the network marketing archetype. A giant family all with this personality came to this reunion with loud music and a bright stage almost as bright as the smiles of the crowd, almost as clear as their product-enhanced skin. I felt out of place. I didn’t get the jokes. The whole setting was surreal.

It was worth the wait, though, because Aron Ralston told an incredible story. He cut his hair and wore a suit and tie. We watched the trailer to 127 Hours, we watched a few scenes from the movie during his talk. He shouted and whispered and reenacted scenes of videotaping himself and fidgeted with his prosthetic arm that he helped design. Effective pauses and homage to his mom. Out of body experience where he met his future son. Picture of the 4-year-old son nearly 10 years later. Pictures of him with his friends climbing various mountains around the world. Pictures of him climbing solo, appearing impudent, challenging fate, seeking the same solitude he pursued when that boulder pinned him.  Pictures of him giving back to the community, participating in search and rescue parties and other non-profit organizations.

He recounted that a truly bad day is when you’ll have to drink your own urine. He spoke of turning boulders into opportunities, being grateful to leave the arm behind that held him back. He prayed in the middle of nowhere. He thanked the boulder that he used to break his arm off and ultimately set him free. He described everything well, as if he’s had to tell this story thousands of times. He talked about what matters when death is imminent. He dismissed prestige and achievement and lauded his family.

His appearance at the Nuskin convention seemed fitting. He inspires.

I’ll never go hiking alone.

I haven’t seen the movie or read his book. But hearing him tell his own story live, in person, seems a sufficient primary source.

Lois Lowry Was Here

 

The man on the left is someone disguised as my incredible husband. The woman in black on the right is the real Lois Lowry.

She came to the Provo Library tonight on a book tour. She’s promoting her latest book, Son, the “thrilling conclusion to the Giver” series. She had some interesting things to say about her stories, her writing, her life. She made us laugh, and she also made us wait in line to get her autograph.

She also held a question-and-answer session where she answered about six questions from audience members. Some questions were pretty good; some were just dumb. You be the judge:

1. Do you have any regrets about how late you started your career?

2. How did Gabe get down the hill on the sled? Where did the sled come from?

3. Who’s your favorite character ever?

4. Do you consider the Giver an allegory?

5. How did you decide to leave color out of the Giver?

6. Some question I’ve completely forgotten.

The director of the Provo Library reminded us that Lois Lowry is one of five authors to win the Newbery Award twice. Pretty dang cool.

The man disguised as my husband got a copy of Son autographed for the junior high school where he works. I wonder how many kids there will even read it. A society where no one reads is the worst dystopia of all.

So it seems that my husband was disguised as himself. No one knew who he was. The cleverest ruse.

I enjoyed listening to Lois Lowry and meeting her and thanking her quickly but sincerely for her autograph. Her authorgraph. Thanks so much for coming to Provo!