Top 10 List for May’s 2012

I cannot believe this year. So much has happened, and I have only 56 entries to show for it. At least there are fewer blog posts to choose from for the annual countdown.

10. May: No one told me I’d eventually get to play against the BYU quarterback. I joined an intramural kickball team, and tonight was our first game.

9. July: Smartphone apps have a tiny dear place in my heart.  I looked around to see that I wasn’t the only one crying. I loved it.

8. July: This is the year I really got into hiking. And most of it during the season of a broken camera. Thank the Lord for making geology pretty.

7. August: Reilly’s birthday, and first time in New York City. We wondered about Glenn Close.

6. January: Careful to put ego-puffing somewhere in the middle. Being published in an academic, peer-reviewed journal would be a nice touch to my last semester.

5. September: The Oklahoma visit went along with going to NYC. Dad still finds happiness in little things. In simple things.

4. November: What an election year. I’m sorry to the friends I may have pissed off. But,  I spent maybe at least 5 minutes voting/playing with the fancy machine.

3. October: Recap of April’s commencement ceremony. I only slept because my friends who sat by me made me so very comfortable.

2.5. April: Full of transitions and excitement and bending rules for lists of 10.  The past four days have knocked me squarely on my rear. Three flights, up and down, up and down. My things, my books. His things, his books.

2. December: Can we distinguish the source of our tears in December? We talk about future names, but what is the name of our future?

1. June: Well, duh. Mindblowing. Incredible. Fantastic. Amazing. This.

This list doesn’t even include events like Christmas and wedding showers and getting jobs. It’s true that I am often vague in my blog posts, but know that these top 10 entries include the top people in my life. You’re always in my thoughts and prayers. You’ve done so much for my happiness and helped me to become a decent person. Thank you for your support. Thank you especially for your friendship and kindness and generosity, which I know will carry over into the new year and our upcoming and continued lives together.

I wish you all the blessings and happiness you deserve. Nothing less.

On Commuting

Dear Fellow Rider of the UTA Express Bus,

When the bus back to Orem is full and I end up standing in the aisle because it’s been one of those days and no one else wants to offer me a seat and stand for 40 minutes, and when your arm is hanging over the armrest into the aisle because the seats are too small and no one in Utah has the same concept of personal space/comfort zone as people do in New York City, and when the aisle is also too narrow because the bus itself has to be narrow enough to fit in a street lane, and when I have to stand for 40 minutes and shift my weight from one leg to the other, my butt will inevitably brush against your arm.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Yours truly,


I love public transportation. I appreciate paying less for gas/insurance/parking and getting to sleep and/or read on my way to work/home. Of course this way of commuting has its setbacks, but overall it’s great.

Here are a few comparison points of public transportation in New York City and Utah. These points are based on my experience. You may have a different background and observations.

NYC: Reilly got to experience this when we visited in August. We went to a Yankees game and felt how tightly packed the subway can get. It’s the same during rush hour, except that people usually look really tired and cranky. Imagine when Yankees fans get to ride with the rush hour crowd.

Utah: I haven’t really experienced huge crowds on the bus or TRAX (the SLC public train thingy), since Salt Lake City and Provo/Orem are car towns and not pedestrian towns.  Also, I’ve ridden the bus on Jazz/Ute days, and because the bus I ride mostly serves people who work in SLC, I don’t have to deal with obnoxious fans.

NYC: In December 2005, MTA decided to go on strike (even though many of us thought they were overpaid), and the subways didn’t run for a week. Because of good neighbors and home teachers with cars (friends from church who personally visit once a month), we developed a system of pick-up and drop-off spots at specific times, and I could get to and from work and home that week. When I first moved there in 2003, the monthly pass was $63. When I left in 2009, I paid $81. Now commuters pay $103.

Utah: I have so far only heard of all the money UTA gets, and that drivers/other UTA workers are overpaid, and people are angry because a lot of taxes or something goes to cushion the salaries of UTA workers? As a student, I started paying $50-75 for a semester, then $160 per semester (some contract with BYU had expired, and BYU encouraged driving to also pay to be frustrated with crowded and faraway lots). As a current rider of an express bus, the monthly fare is $189, which provides TRAX and local bus access.

NYC: Hurricane Sandy takes the cake. I’ve only experienced relatively minor tunnel flooding or little track fires that only delayed the train, or, at the very worst, these incidents caused me to walk to another station to take a different train. Once on an especially hot day I almost got into a fight with a guy because our hands kept touching while holding on to the same pole. We were both irritable.

Utah: I have yet to sit through a major snowstorm on the bus. The rain hasn’t been bad. Since I’m not the one driving, I get to nap or read.

NYC: One great thing about the subway is not having to deal with street traffic. However, sometimes the bus was quicker than the subway. For example, church was only two stops away, but on Sunday, I would end up waiting for a subway longer that it would take to catch the bus. Also, when I lived closer to church, even walking was a much faster (and the only) option.

Utah: The bus is part of traffic, but there’s a lane just for buses, so often we clip along faster than the cars in adjoining lanes. Yet traffic sometimes comes to a complete stop, mostly because of accidents and rubberneckers and different bottleneck exits along the freeway. And Fridays, sometimes. Last Friday, it took an hour and 20 minutes to get home. It usually takes around 45 minutes.

Drunk/High People
NYC: These folks were sometimes scary. Sometimes entertaining. Mostly annoying. Once on a crowded subway (see above) I had to stand really close to a drunk guy. He breathed in my face, and I smelled his breath, and I probably would have failed a breathalyzer test from that.

Utah: Around the university, people act drunk or high a lot. But they’re just unbelievably happy BYU students. On the express bus to work, people are sober, mellow, sleeping, or reading.

Homeless People
NYC: All the time, everywhere.

Utah: On the Provo local bus, there would be occasional drifters that got on the bus. At the TRAX stations, I have walked by a few homeless people.

In NYC and SLC, I have walked the sidewalks and homeless people have asked me to give them money.

Lewd People
NYC: I’ve seen people making out, which isn’t that bad. The worst time was when I sat across from a man on the subway during my morning commute. His pants were undone, and he was stroking himself. I was reading the paper and he was in my periphery. Everyone else was reading sleeping. I quickly glanced at the guy’s face, and he seemed intent on my seeing him and getting a reaction from me. I raised the newspaper so I didn’t have to look at him. The next stop was mine, and I got off the train as fast as I could.

Utah: The worst instance I have witnessed was on a Provo local bus when some older, special needs guys sitting near the back were making loud fart sounds with their mouths and laughing. The bus driver told them to stop. Oh, also random anonymous people who leave random milkjugs of urine on the bus.

NYC: Walking through the subway, asking for money: boys raising money for their “basketball team,” kids selling (stolen) candy, trying to stay off the street. People who say they have AIDS, armless people and war veterans, blind people, very sad people holding snotty-faced kids. Old ladies with cancer. People who just want something to eat. They always announce themselves with “Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen!” Sometimes I gave them change.

Utah: Outside of sidewalk encounters in SLC, none.

NYC: Different than panhandlers. Dancers (hip-hop), singers (all-types), mariachi bands, instrumentalists, magicians. All on the subway. All skill levels. Sometimes I put change in their hats as they walked by me.

Utah: On different corners on different days in SLC, the same cellist. On BYU campus, wandering weird students with ukuleles and unicycles. I don’t give them money. No one on the buses or TRAX yet.

Other People
NYC: Random people at bus stops who tell me their life stories. Clowns telling me their life stories. The guy on the train that tried to flirt with me when he told me the Stranger (the book I was reading) was a good book. The guy who thumbs-upped at me when he saw me reading the Book of Mormon. People that I actually know, so we chat instead of tuning out the rest of the world. Tourists that didn’t know better about talking to me. People that I accidentally fell asleep on.

Utah: Nice people who offer their seats to standers. The senior missionary who asked if I was a student then seemed surprised when I told him I worked. The woman I sat next to one morning who decided to take off her shoes and try to sleep in an actual reclining fetal position. Her feet smelled and part of her body was on my seat. The woman whose arm my butt brushed against when I was standing in the aisle, because I shifted my weight from one leg to the other, and her arm was hanging into the aisle. We were both reading and she seemed to pretend not to notice. Maybe she liked it as much as I did.

My Weekend

Other than short distractions from YouTube? I made a list.

Edited, as of 10/10/10 @12:30pm

Edited, as of 10/10/10 @8:45am

Edited, as of 10/9/10 @3:15pm

Write 2nd proposal for English 385
Read Volpone for English 385
Read Mary Wroth for English 385 as of 10/9/10 @3:15pm
Read Sonnets for English 291
Rewrite paragraph for English 291 10/10/10 @12:30pm
Read for English 359
Review for French Oral as of 10/9/10 @3:15pm – I don’t even want to talk about this.
Do review sheets for French Exam as of 10/10/10 @8:45am
Do review exercises for French Exam as of 10/10/10 @8:45am

It’s not my fault my brain is stuck in 17th-century British history and I feel doomed to fail this semester. I asked a friend if it is okay if I don’t make straight-A’s, and she said of course.

I’m about to do the things for French.

If you can find it in your heart to do so, wish me luck.

as of 10/9/10 @3:30pm


Remind me to write about:

Botanical Gardens
ANZAC Memorial and the Utah Invaders
Adopting a dugong
Lamb chops
Sausage rolls
Petting a wallaby
Animal sounds
Didgeridoo sounds
Ferry rides and other Maine memories
Not wanting to start school
Not being ready to start school
Stuff I like about Australia
Election Day
Needing to buy a boomerang
Being the coolest people on the bus
Getting the band back together for an international tour
Thinking in such a way that would
– turn wheels on perhaps maybe possibly transferring schools
– make me consider leaving everything
Needing to buy a dress for a wedding

Traveling to Katoomba and the Blue Mountains today. I’m going to be out of touch. More than usual.

Everyone, have a great weekend.

“Come Thou Fount”

When I type, I sometimes let my thumbs take turns at the spacebar. It depends how fast I type, which depends on my train of thought. Am I raring to go, or do I have to pause every few words? See, my right thumb is used to dominating the spacebar. If I’m typing quickly, my right thumb involuntarily, reflexively taps the spacebar. If I have to stop and think for a second, my left thumb gets a turn, and it generally feels pretty good, like I’m ambidextrous, because my left upper limb and its digits are practically vestigial, and the slower, meditative push with my thumb is different than the tasks I usually give it, like helping hold things when my right hand is busy. It might also be good for hitchhiking – I haven’t tried that yet. Also, thumb wrestling, but no where near as adept as Righty. Yet.

This evening after Institute class, quite a few of us stayed after to play volleyball (and this was after I rehearsed with the Institute choir because someone asked if I could sing, and I said “alto” and I was basically the lone alto until the girl with the solo joined me in the chorus of “O Holy Night” because I can be social when I feel like it but I also knew I wouldn’t be able to perform because I have a prior commitment but it was nice singing anyway and I wanted some physical activity which also happens to be a convenient way to observe people and get to know them without actually having to talk much). We rotated players in for each time teams changed servers.

So I was on the court sometime during the third or fourth game, left net. Volleyball is not my sport of choice, mostly because, well, it favors tall people. I can set and bump just fine, and I can hustle and dig, but I am definitely not the most comfortable at the net. I laugh when I put my arms up in blocking position, because I know that’s not me, and I just don’t have the ups. So when the serve lobbed over and back and the ball arced its way in a wonky parabola to my part of the court, and when my elbows weren’t bent just so, putting my thumbs more vertical than in a proper setting position, the ball landed hard on my left thumb and jammed it.

And now my left thumb just sits, hesitant, distrustful. It hurts to put any sort of pressure on it; it hurts to stretch my fingers to see how big my hand is. As I’m typing, my right thumb gets carried away,virtually dancing on the spacebar, almost mocking Lefty. Occasionally I reprimand Righty and give the left thumb a few chances to push the spacebar ever so gingerly. I should hope full-functionality returns, albeit slowly.

Sometimes I feel like my left thumb: bruised, a little less confident, therefore a little less valued. As I’ve sometimes set my left hand aside so my right hand could do the more “important” things “correctly,” at times I’ve resigned to aloofness, giving others the spotlight, the attention they deserve so much more than I. Then, even given simple tasks, my left thumb still gets hurt, as I do in my shortcomings, and the pain often feeds into greater weakening, lesser self-esteem, deeper not-good-enough-ness.

But, sometimes, I feel like my left thumb: hopeful, fixable, healable, lovable – deserving love; eager, ready to serve in any capacity, regardless of relative skill or coordination. Building sureness, boldness; ever determined, grateful, and indebted for whatever help comes my way. A continually waxing belief that I have worth, a great price.

“Come Thou Fount” finishes that list of songs I began back in April – the ones I can’t live without.

To recap the previous nine:

Samuel Barber, Adagio for Strings

Indigo Girls, “Galileo”

Bee Gees, “Stayin’ Alive”

Arvo Pärt, Spiegel im Spiegel

10,000 Maniacs, “These Are Days”

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

Kermit the Frog, “The Rainbow Connection”

Patty Griffin, “Mary”

Black Eyed Peas Featuring Justin Timberlake, “Where Is The Love”

“Come Thou Fount” fits. Everything about it appeals to me: that itself is an appeal, a prayer, a supplication, a testimony; that the simple melody builds to the same part of every verse before it descends as it began. It’s brilliant, inspiring. It radiates hope and optimism. It attests to and embodies the Atonement.

I hope the thumb analogy works, especially as it correlates to the hymn.



Come, thou fount of every blessing,

Tune my heart to sing thy grace;

Streams of mercy, never ceasing,

Call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet,

Sung by flaming tongues above.

Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,

Mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;

Here by thy great help I’ve come;

And I hope, by thy good pleasure,

Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,

Wandering from the fold of God;

He, to rescue me from danger,

Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let thy goodness, like a fetter,

Bind my wandering heart to thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,

Prone to leave the God I love;

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,

Seal it for thy courts above.


Prom. Junior year.
I didn’t go with a date, but with a group of girlfriends.
It was toward the end of the evening.
I was dancing with a good guy friend.
He was a son of one of the faculty.
He was cute. And eccentric.
Adorably nerdy. We had a few classes together.
We were talking.
His mom had appeared along the sidelines of the ballroom while we danced.
She was a chaperone. She was dressed to the nines.
We both saw her.
He looked at me. Smirked a little.
He nodded toward his mom.
Suggested that perhaps we surprise her.
I mean, I had never kissed a boy in front of his mom before.
Also, I wasn’t quite 17.
I wish I could say I had never kissed a boy.
But that wouldn’t be very honest.
Instantly, I got nervous. Terrified.
I said no. Not in front of his mom.
I mean, what about my grades?
We finished the dance.

Oh, the one guy.
From Montreal.
We cuddled.
But we didn’t kiss.
Then I went home.

Then there was that time.
By the river.
With that older man.
Knowledgeable. Worldly.
Numerous stories.
No hints of writing opportunities for me.
But his seeking opportunities of … not writing.
From me.
Sun setting. His arm behind me.
I very much didn’t want to kiss him.
I tried saying as much
With all the negative body language I tried to give.
But he didn’t get it.
And he leaned in anyway.
And I had to put my hand up to stop him.
And I was incredibly clever about it.
And I haven’t contacted him since.
Other chances to write will come up.
I know.

Then one time
One guy
It would have been so easy
Just to lean in
And watch his eyes close
Because he was there
And I was there
And we were talking
And he asked when was the last time I made out with someone
I was honest and said a [long time]
And he answered his own question
With considerably less than [a long time]
What if, he said
What if, I said
Then what
I really want to, but
Then what?
We agreed we shouldn’t
So we didn’t.

Then, the times when I didn’t chicken out or reject and went for it. I don’t know how many times I’m going to bring up this list. It seems to emerge every couple of years:
1. On the band bus … twice.
2. In the parking lot in front of Shopko/Movies 8
In the parking lot of Regency apartments that same night – same guy, of course
3. In the living room of another apartment complex a couple of years later – the fiancé.
4. At a party around Thanksgiving in the late 90s
5. That one dude in Orem I totally forgot about
6. The state attorney
7. The one friend who’s not really a friend anymore
8. The guy from a few years ago.

Well, it seems I’m a bit obsessed right now with kissing. Maybe not so much kissing, but I just spent a week camping with a whole bunch of women and maybe I need the company of a nice man. So maybe I’ve been thinking about a nice man. Not just any nice man, but I have a few in mind. Any of those few would be nice to spend some time with. Or, maybe even a really, really nice random man. From church. That wouldn’t be so bad, right? Maybe? Because it’s church? Right?

And yet, I just spent a week camping with a whole bunch of young women from church, where we emphasized self-control and virtue and changing the world with goodness and purity. I taught excellent things at camp. Didn’t swear once while I was there; not a single peep. So I guess that whole bit about kissing and the boys I’ve kissed and wanting the time of a few specific men or a random man from church even though I wouldn’t necessarily have to kiss him even though I would really, really really want to, I was just kidding.

Sort of.

Sorry. It’s just been too long.

Black Eyed Peas Featuring Justin Timberlake, “Where Is The Love”

Is it in a box?
In a fox?
Under some rocks?
Behind those clocks?
In Fergie’s botox?
May, where is your love?

Maybe this is one of the few instances where I can stand Fergie. Sometimes, when it’s this song’s turn on the iPod, I’ll repeat it 4 or 5 times before letting it go to the next song. Maybe having this song on my list will satisfy my crazycrush on Justin Timberlake. Easy enough: I don’t even have to meet him, just feature him in a song about The Moral Of The Story. Yeah, the message is strong and that’s part of why this song’s in my top 10, but I think I like this one more for the music.

Catchy tune, nice beat. It’s extra fun when those lower strings kick in for real. Maybe about a third from the end. You know where. You can’t hear it so much in this live version, but in the studio version, it’s pretty awesome. If I were stranded on some seemingly deserted island, wouldn’t this song be handy to have around? Just in case? Justin case?

If you don’t like it, I may not like you. I may not love you. Maybe this will get you questioning: See video.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Black Eyed Peas Ft Justin Timberlake-…“, posted with vodpod


Patty Griffin, “Mary”

I’m posting this here. Again.

Patty is performing at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, NJ on June 2, as part of Three Girls and Their Buddy. It would be awesome to go, but tickets are sold out. The next closest concert is on May 29 in Atlantic City. I mean, I already saw them on February 20, but … now it seems I’ve my train of thought, but you get the idea. Anyway. 

The very first Patty Griffin album I got was Flaming Red, back in 2003. The album was already five years old at the time. The song on repeat was the penultimate track, “Mary.” The lyrics are simple enough, and they repeated enough I could follow them quite easily, yet they’re deep enough, and the melody is also simple and beautiful enough that the song bears repeating, because I just can’t get enough of this song. “You’re covered in treetops, covered in birds, who can sing a million songs without any words.” I like how the melody is strung out for that line.

Apparently the story of “Mary” is that it’s about Patty’s grandmother. I mean, it depends on who you are and where your sensibilities lie, and while this song means a great deal to Patty personally, what does it mean to you? What kind of power does this song hold? The answer to those questions for me is why “Mary” is part of my top 10.

Vodpod videos no longer available.Mary
You’re covered in roses, you’re covered in ashes
You’re covered in rain
You’re covered in babies, you’re covered in slashes
You’re covered in wilderness, you’re covered in stains
You cast aside the sheet, you cast aside the shroud
Of another man, who served the world proud
You greet another son, you lose another one
On some sunny day and always stay, Mary



Jesus says Mother I couldn’t stay another day longer
Flys right by me and leaves a kiss upon her face
While the angels are singin’ his praises in a blaze of glory
Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place

Mary she moves behind me
She leaves her fingerprints everywhere
Everytime the snow drifts, everytime the sand shifts
Even when the night lifts, she’s always there

Jesus said Mother I couldn’t stay another day longer
Flys right by me and leaves a kiss upon her face
While the angels are singin’ his praises in a blaze of glory
Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place

Mary you’re covered in roses, you’re covered in ruin
you’re covered in secrets
Your’e covered in treetops, you’re covered in birds
who can sing a million songs without any words
You cast aside the sheets, you cast aside the shroud
of another man, who served the world proud
You greet another son, you lose another one
on some sunny day and always stay
Mary, Mary, Mary

Kermit the Frog, “The Rainbow Connection”

Back to the ten songs I can’t live without! Yay!

Kermit the Frog is my favorite Muppet, ever. As a moppet myself, I had a Kermit doll, with velcro patches on his hands and feet so he could hang onto things. Except when I was three years old. I lost him at a bus stop in California. L.A. area. Maybe I should put up a Craigslist ad to see if anyone has him.

Oh, Kermit. So contemplative, deep, hopeful. Someday we’ll find it.

I don’t have much to say about this song. Either it does it for you or it doesn’t. I will say the key change makes me smile. The nostalgia consumes me. I have been able to live without my Kermit doll for almost 30 years. This song, though, I hold fast to it, as if velcro were on my own hands and feet.

This is just about the only YouTube video of Kermit singing this song that doesn’t have the sound disabled. Debbie Harry is a nice touch. That Kermit really knows how to charm.

Vodpod videos no longer available.



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!