Sunday, April 15, 2018

April, she will come

Spring has been shy this year. She comes for a day or two, and then quickly hides behind clouds again. (Case in point: yesterday it was about 80 degrees, and then today it is 40 degrees and rainy. And so it goes.)

But I am grateful for the sun and the spring when it comes. And I've been enjoying the sunshine while I can--and fun for me, it's been in different areas of the country and with different friends and loved ones (old and new).

Two weekends ago, I spent the weekend in D.C. with Sam, friends, and my aunt and uncle's family to celebrate LDS General Conference and Easter (which happily fell on the same Sunday this year).

It was a gorgeous time to go to D.C. The cherry blossoms were just starting to bloom, and we all went to the Mall to listen to Conference. We spread out blankets and jackets, and after many attempts, got the audio speaker to work so we could listen to General Conference, while watching kites float lazily and gracefully (and not-so-gracefully) in the air. Yes. There were kites. It was the annual Kite Flying Festival and it was just one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Such a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

[Sam and I found a little hidden park en route to the temple. We were enchanted.]

[And I'm always enchanted to have him around. Cheesy? Yes. True? Absolutely.]

[Busy Saturday on the Mall.]




[Cherry blossoms!]


[Not quite peak, but still really pretty.]



[Kites! So many kites!]

[It really was such a beautiful scene.]



[Let's go fly a kite] 

[I am not sure if this will even work, but I hope it does. If it doesn't work, it's our group listening to (and singing to, since it was the congregational hymn) General Conference on the National Mall.]


Last Saturday I was in California for a conference, which I was hoping would be sunny, but it was raining nonstop (until the day I left, of course). But the conference itself was friendly and uplifting, and I would rather have a good conference environment and a gloomy day than a gloomy conference and a beautiful day. So I'll take it.

[One day of California sun is better than none.]



And then, Princeton. Princeton in spring is beautiful! There are beautiful pink and white magnolia trees everywhere, and the flowers look so striking against the grey stone of Princeton's campus. It has made studying both easier and harder. Easier, because my soul feels lighter. Harder, because I just want to be outside and soak in the day. I hope spring decides to stay this week. And that next year she comes earlier and stays longer.

[So, so pretty]

[Can't get enough of this corner.]


P.S. I totally forgot to write about being home for Spring Break. It was good to be home. There was too much to do, but it was good to be home. Highlights include family, mountains, and dear friends who organized and came to a bridal shower for me. The older I get, the more I realize how I'm indebted to that town and the people in Utah County.

[Home.]

[Bridal shower!]


[Cute decorations]

[The fabulous Em. The sad thing is that I got more pictures of the decorations than the actual party and the people there. But luckily we snapped a few photos before Em left. Thanks for everything, Em. xx]

[Typical.]

[And more mountains. I will never, ever tire of these views.]

Friday, March 30, 2018

"Ride ten thousand days and nights"

A little over two weeks ago, I celebrated being alive for ten thousand days.

I calculated this when my cousin Kyra celebrated her ten thousand days. Since she is a few months older than me, I knew that my ten thousand days would come soon, and I wanted to figure out when mine would be, because, hey, it sounded fun. And ten thousand days--that's quite the achievement.

My ten thousandth day took place on an ordinary Tuesday. I didn't plan anything as I was swamped (especially on Tuesdays--they are my busiest days of the week). And, to be honest, the Monday before my ten thousandth day was pretty crummy (I got a parking ticket, I had too much work to do, I just wanted to be home for Spring Break, etc., etc., etc.), and I could feel the misery of Monday seeping into my already-crowded Tuesday.

But, that didn't mean I didn't want this ten thousandth day to be special. I did. Kind of in the way that you want your birthdays to be special. But birthdays come every year. Your ten thousandth day? Only once. Ever.

But, day ten thousand was a pretty typical day. The only people who noticed were those I told. And, to be honest, some of the consequences of Monday did seep over to Tuesday.  But for some reason, it didn't matter as much as I thought it would . . . perhaps because I noticed it as something more than just an ordinary Tuesday. The air felt different. In any case, I lived a bit more deliberately. I was a bit more aware of how how days can change, how mornings are, indeed, wiser than evenings, how days ebb and flow, how good and bad are interwoven into twenty-four hours.

My ten thousandth day was like most of the days that brought me to day ten thousand.

And it was like most of the days that will lead me into my next ten thousand.

I went to school. I had some interesting conversations, I tried to make some jokes (most of which received courtesy laughs, but hey, I'll take them), I made mistakes, I was awkward, I tried to be kind. It rained for a bit, the sun shone for a bit, the air was fresh, buds on the trees waited to blossom.

It was a day like any other days. But also a day that made me more grateful for the little things (those little things that actually matter so much).

Like taking a walk with a colleague-friend in a cool spring evening, or feeling relief and comfort when you read a new article and realize, "Yes. This is what I want to do. Something like this. There's a place for my work."

It's seeing glimpses of spring on a tree, hearing life around the canal, and tasting change in the night air.

It's crying/laughing with a friend when you've both had rough days.

It's professors who remind you that yes, you are entitled to reach out to [insert your favorite public intellectual's name here].

It's sunshine on your hair and hope filling your chest.



A few weeks ago, my dear friend Hannah sent me a passage from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran:

"Then a woman said,
Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well
from which your laughter rises was
oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper the sorrow
carves into your being,
the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds
your wine the very cup
that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that
soothes your spirit, the
very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous,
look deep into your heart and you shall find
it is only that which has given you sorrow that is
giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful
look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in
truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, 'Joy is
greater than sorrow,'
and others say, 'Nay,
sorrow is the greater.'
But I say unto you,
they are inseparable.
Together they come,
and when one sits alone with you at your board,
remember that the other is asleep upon your bed."

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. [. . .] Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. 


[your joy is your sorrow unmasked.]


Perhaps that is the lesson of ten thousand days. We ride these ten thousand days and nights, and in the ride we experience joy, sorrow, and everything in between. Opposites come together. There's something beautiful in an ordinary ten thousandth day, since it represents the average of all of those days.

Here's to the next ten thousand.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Surviving Nor'Easters

Apparently March really does come in like a lion on the East Coast.

In the last 10 days, we had back-to-back Nor'-Easters (plus a storm today [so, when I started writing this, it was a couple weeks ago--ha]*, but it's nothing like what they're getting up in New England, thank goodness).

But I learned a lot from these storms.

First, snow is serious business.

[SO. MUCH. SNOW.]


[After the storm.]


Second, Puxatawney Phil was right this year. Unfortunately.

Third, sometimes fortune smiles upon you and you don't have class on the day of a big blizzard. And on those days, what you do (naturally) is to catch up on work (maybe), but really take a bunch of selfies of yourself hibernating, because that's the logical thing to do.




Fourth, snow is beautiful. But I'm ready for spring.


*I have so much catching up to do on this blog. But then again, I have so much catching up to do on my life. So in the meantime, the blog goes on the back-burner. And so it goes. But hopefully I'll start to breathe again soon. But to be honest, I need another week to recover from Spring Break. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Things learned, things relearned

Things I learned this week: 

-Nor'easters are serious things. And I guess that groundhog wasn't kidding about the 6 more weeks of winter.

- I can write decent poetry when I'm angry.

-There is a store in Princeton that sells really good green smoothies. I'm craving one right now.

-"I Dreamed a Dream" was actually written about grad school. Specifically grad school at Princeton. (Just think about it: "But the tigers come at night, with their voices soft as thunder/As they tear your hope apart, as they turn your dream to shame." We sang this at a karaoke/pizza party last night, and I lost it at this line--in laughter, not tears, mind you, but still. Lost it. Too true, too true.)

Things I relearned this week: 

-People actually read my blog.

-I actually can't do it all. Nor am I required to.

-People can be so lovely and helpful and think about you and find books for you to read that relate to your projects--that they remember your projects and interests is lovely. To be thought of kindly is lovely.

-If I had a Time-Turner, I would use it in the same way Hermione did, and that was the lesson I was not supposed to take from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. 


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Things I've been missing lately

-mountains
-the skies of Utah
-Sam
-seeing Magdalen Tower in morning sunlight as I walked across the bridge to class
-seeing Magdalen Tower in moonlight as I walked across the bridge to home
-Tanzania
-free time
-anytime
-the sun
-roommates
-conversations with people who just know you--and not just those conversations, but
face-to-face conversations
-sisters
-my brother
-my parents
-the streets of Ukraine
-Ukraine in springtime
-sugar
-Sam.

February always brings a sense of melancholy. Especially the last part of February, when we wait for daylight and the sun. When we wait for the winds of March. Those winds of change and new life. But in missing things, that also means I've been reminiscing. And sometimes that leads to fun discoveries. Like how on Sam and my texting thread, I apparently like to send him videos of myself talking in very strange ways (or maybe that's just how I sound). And that I really like taking selfies with Chick-fil-a shakes.


And that we took some really fun pictures at the spice farm in Zanzibar. 

[I totally forgot about these pictures because they weren't in my phone. But they are very fun.]


[Probs the best one. All hail the king and queen.]

So missing things isn't all bad. What it means is that you care and that you made good memories and good relationships.

(But that doesn't mean that someone [read: me] isn't reallllllly excited to head home to Utah for Spring Break. Because man. Those mountains.]

Maybe it's Maybelline

A couple weeks ago, a very talented friend gave me a makeover for a Galentines' Day activity. She did a very good job and I decided to show Sam for fun. He was thrown off by the amount of makeup (since I usually wear very little). When I sent him with- and without-makeup pictures, he liked the ones without makeup better.

[With makeup]

[Without]

Is there a difference? Yeah, I can tell. But I like them both. I know that some women really enjoy wearing makeup, while others don't. I don't really have issues with either choice. But I am grateful for the progress I've made over the years in feeling comfortable in my own skin. It's a work in progress--the work of a lifetime--to feel at home in your own body. 

And, I'm also grateful Sam. That he likes all shades of me (even if the contour lines are a bit much for him at times). He's a keeper. 

Some trips to the city

I've been pretty open with how I feel about New York City: I just don't get it. I really don't. It just feels so big and I don't know if I'll ever love it. (I am a basic white girl in many ways, but not in NYC love.)

But there are things I love about it. Like beautiful art museums and the New York Public Library.

A few weeks ago I went to the Met to see the Michelangelo exhibit. It was really beautiful. (But, confession: I took most of the pictures for an Instagram Story which I then did not post until two weeks after I went. Oh well. Hahaaaaa.)

[That red chalk art is beautiful.]

[In the room, the women come and go . . .

[. . . talking of Michelangelo.]


[Not Michelangelo. But still a beautiful picture of Joan of Arc (who I deeply admire).]

[My ticket covered the Met Cloisters, and since I had time, I decided to make the trek uptown. And I wasn't disappointed.]

[I remember learning about this triptych in Art History 202.]

[Look at that detail.]

[So lovely.]


[All alone with the unicorn tapestries. That was really cool to be the only person in that room.]


[Why I love Medieval art. So wacky.]


My most recent trip to the city was for archival research at the New York Public Library. I went up there on Valentine's Day, and it was a beautiful winter day, and the city was quite charming to me that day. So maybe I'm warming up to New York. Maybe. 

[NYPL]



Especially when you can find views like this in New York. I do get some of its appeal. I have a few more years for New York to grow on me. We'll see what happens. But I do enjoy quiet uptown vistas like these.