Thursday, February 26, 2015

Everyone needs a power color

I once had a roommate who would wear black nail polish when she needed an extra boost of confidence.

"It's my power color," she said.

For me, my power color is red.

And when I'm wearing bright red lipstick, I mean business.


I am a firm believer that everyone needs a power color.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Moscow and Rihanna

So this happened today: 

Professor (right before class): Megan, did you quote Rihanna in your last writing capture?* 

Me: Oh, yes. Yes, I did.**

Professor: Extra credit. [pause] I don't know Rihanna, but if I weren't married, I would totally go for her. 

Just another regular day in Tolstoy class. 

*Writing captures are basically a way for us to discuss a scene/theme from our reading and say whether or not we did the reading. 

**I was talking about how Pierre and Natasha's coming together in burned-out Moscow was symbolic. Just like Moscow was burned, broken, Pierre and Natasha were both burned, broken, but they were able to rebuild their lives through the love they had found. So, obviously, I quoted "we found love in a hopeless place." It's only logical, right? 

All we can do is keep breathing

You know those moments when you realize that everything really will be okay?

I've had multiple in the past couple of days.

And they've been exactly what I've needed.

Just small reassurances. Some big ones, too.

Like talking with non-BYU students and realizing how much I love diversity of thought, culture, and experience. And realizing that I am going to love graduate school.

Or running into old high school friends you haven't seen in ages. And just being able to talk about life in a way only old friends can. And just knowing that you both care about each other and each other's lives so much. True care. True compassion. Old loyalty and friendship. And reminding each other that people really are trying, even though we all come up short. [I really, really needed all of these reminders tonight--I just didn't realize how much. And isn't it interesting that they came from a person that I rarely see anymore? But I love his advice, friendship, and concern all the same. Perhaps all the more.]

Eating papusas for the first time in my life. [I know, I know, where I have I been all my life? Not living, apparently.]

Almost-finishing War and Peace. I have fifty pages left. It's been a journey. With so many beautiful vistas and things to ponder about. Like this line:

"Once you allow that human life is subject to reason you extinguish any possibility of life." (1261)

Because sometimes, even when everyone you love is telling you that things will be okay, and even though intellectually you know (or at least, you say you know) everything will be fine, you don't believe it until you feel it, deep down in your bones, sure as blood. That small place in your chest finally fills with light and peace--and calm. And you feel life coming back into you, like green pushing through winter branches.

So comes hope.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

you will see your beauty every moment that you rise

This song is beautiful and I can't get enough of it.

You really should listen to it.

And here are the lyrics:

"You are the Moon," The Hush Sound

Shadows all around you as you surface from the dark 
Emerging from the gentle grip of night's unfolding arms
Darkness, darkness everywhere, do you feel all alone? 
The subtle grace of gravity, the heavy weight of stone. 

You don't see what you possess, a beauty calm and clear
It floods the sky and blurs the darkness like a chandelier
All the light that you possess is skewed by lakes and seas
The shattered surface, so imperfect, is all that you believe. 

I will bring a mirror, so silver, so exact
So precise and so pristine, a perfect pane of glass
I will set the mirror up to face the blackened sky
You will see your beauty every moment that you rise.

And still, I rise.

Monday, February 16, 2015

dreaming as we ran

The weather has been unseasonably warm for Utah this winter.

Like, 50-60 degrees. In February.

It's spring when it should be winter. And I know that I should be more worried about global warming and droughts and precipitation, but there's nothing I can do to change the weather.

So I'm just enjoying it.

Because honestly, this weather is beautiful and good for the soul.

I have no idea what that purple light is. But it's kinda cool. 

This weather has allowed me to run outside a lot more than I have in the past couple of months. Because, as much as everyone loves running in freezing temperatures, strangely, I prefer not to. (Actually, the real reason I don't like running when it's cold and snowy is not because it's cold, but because I'm afraid that I'm going to slip . . . I hate falling on ice . . . and I hate pain.) 

But, this weather has allowed me to run. And has reminded me why I do it. 

Because, honestly, I'm not really a runner. I only run to stay in shape. I rarely run to train for a race, and I have never experienced a runner's high. 

But running does remind me that I live. 

There is something exhilarating and invigorating as my feet touch the ground in a steady rhythm on the pavement, matching the pounding music of my heart. Those harmonies together, combined with the melodies on my ipod--songs of dreams, cities, hopes, and love--course through me and keep my soul and body in sync. 

but if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing changed at all? and if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like you've been here before? --"pompeii," bastille. 

Today's a holiday. That means I'm at home. And so I ran. In my hometown. I haven't done that in a long time. I'm used to running those Provo streets--going past student housing, Center Street, and "Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve" signs. 

But today I ran along my old bus route, past brick houses, past horses, fields, bridges, and parks. The white peaks of Mt. Timpanogos smiled at me, gleaming with sunlight. And I was reminded of how much more there is to this world. My world. My world is so much more than mountain paths and magic stop signs. But then, that is also what I am made up of. 

There was something at once both familiar and new, running these paths I have walked and driven--a new kind of intimacy with these roads, as my heart pounded through my veins and my feet echoed my heart. Becoming one. Like holding someone's hand and feeling their pulse course through your palm. Or placing your head on someone else's chest and hearing--no, not even hearing, but feeling--their beating, living heart . . . or is it yours you feel? After a while, you can't tell the difference. And maybe that's the point. 

That life force of a heart--beating, beating, beating--keeps us moving, breathing, bleeding, loving. I am reminded constantly of my heart while I run. I hear it in my ears. I feel it in my feet. I see it in the way my fingers turn red and painful with cold. My heart circulates, beats, believes. 

Hearts are incredibly resilient. 

How's your heart? 




Some people's hearts can hold more desires than others' hearts. But that doesn't mean those with big hearts are better than those who might be more contented or vice versa. Size of heart doesn't matter. But those desires do. Because in the end, we all get the desires of our hearts. 

Those beating, dreaming, living hearts that can hold and handle so much more than we ever thought possible. 

all we can do is try and live like we're still alive. --"chasing the sun," sara bareilles

We can always be chasing the sun. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"I have a new man in my life. His name is George. And he has a town."

In October 2013, I suffered an existential crisis of sorts. Not only had I just returned from my mission and was trying to find my place back at BYU and make the transition from Cectpa Armknecht to Megan Beth, but I realized that my career goals that I had made before my mission were not appealing to me anymore. 

Before the mission, I wanted to be an editor and freelance writer--now, don't get me wrong, I still love writing and I still harbor a desire to write a book--many books, actually. But I realized that I did not love editing like I thought I would. The editing class I was taking bored me and I did not care about details that much in order to be an effective editor. Soooo, that left me without a day job. 

I also realized that I loved my history classes a lot more than my English classes, but it was too late to change my major . . . plus, I didn't want to be at school for another two years to finish my bachelor's. Soooo, that left me feeling unhappy in many of my major classes. And again, don't get me wrong. I really am grateful for my education--and I still don't know if I would go back and change my major to history if I could do it all over again--being an English major has opened so many doors for me, helped me make some lifelong friends, and has taught me a lot about the purpose and ambiguities of life. Still, it made me wistful for all of those history classes I could have taken and for missed opportunities and connections. 

I was trying to find my place in the world again--really, I was trying to forge my own place in the world. I wanted some control over my future, but what was I going to do if I couldn't figure it out? What if nothing was appealing to me? What if I graduated from BYU with no job, no prospects, and no future? It was fatalistic thinking, but I spent many nights just trying to figure out what I truly wanted in my life--what would make me happy? What would make me a productive member of not only society, but for my family and for the Church? What was my path? I felt that I had something to give--something great to give--but I didn't know how to focus my efforts.

It wasn't until a professor approached me after class one day and asked me if I had ever considered getting a PhD and becoming a professor. (Now I realize that this isn't very common--most professors, especially history professors, seem to have some kind of secret pact to dissuade as many students as possible from getting PhDs . . . not because they don't think they'd be able to get PhDs in History, but simply because it's really hard to get tenured teaching positions.) 

But my professor asked me if I had ever considered becoming a professor. "I think you'd be really good at it," he said. 

His suggestion hit me. It was like the room filled with light and everything came into focus. 

Yes. Yes, that's exactly what I want to do. 

As I made that decision to work towards a PhD, the universe began to conspire in my favor. Doors started opening in ways I never thought possible--internships at archives, research assistantships, publications and presentations, incredible mentors--all of these people and opportunities preparing me for grad school. 

Working for the dream of grad school sometimes feels like I'm chasing shadows--false promises and a deluded hope. Believe me. There have been more than a few times where I've considered throwing it all away and becoming a hand model instead. Studying for the GRE was one of those times. Doing grad school application after grad school application was another one of those times. The history department's "Grad School Prep Night" was another one of those times when I wondered why I don't just blow all my savings, move to Lichtenstein, work in a postage stamp shop, and write about my experiences. 

But I'm incredibly stubborn. And, there have been people in my life who have kept encouraging me. Who believe in me. And I'm so grateful to them. 

This week, I've started to hear back from grad schools. 

I've only heard back from 2 so far. But I've been accepted into both of them! 

Utah State and Georgetown. 

I'm in. Whatever else happens, I'm IN!!!!! I have a place to go in the fall. And, I have options. 

(I'm still waiting to hear back from the 5 other schools I applied to--we'll see what happens.) 

I've gone back and forth between feelings of joy, humility, terror, and exhilaration. 

For how do you begin to write about a dream that is finally getting wings? 

Because that's how it feels. This wonderful dream is on its way. I don't have to wait anymore. I know that somewhere wants me, has accepted me, and that next fall I will start a new adventure somewhere.  

I may be small, but I've got giant plans to shine as brightly as the sun. 
                                                                                 --"astonishing," little women 

I'll let you know where I decide to go. But for right now, I'm just holding onto this feeling of success and joy. 


Oh what a circus

Maybe it's something in the air during the week of Valentine's Day, but I've encountered some strange things on BYU campus this week. Like, more than usual.

-Like some guy outside the HFAC jamming out to T-Swift. "I'm wonderstruck, blushing all the way home." Don't get me wrong, I like "Enchanted" just as much as the next person, but I will never get that image out of my head.

-Speaking of the HFAC, people come out of there singing and dancing all of the time. Like, I know why. #vocalperformancemajors
But sometimes it just catches me off guard.

-Also, can we just talk about the library this week? People need to stop playing FHE scavenger hunts in there. Cawing like a crow in the library? Not cool, people. Not. cool.

-This might be just because it's almost Valentine's Day, but the library also seems to be the spot for couples to make out. In front of everyone. On the fourth floor. On the first floor. It doesn't matter. Really, people? Really? Like, I'm all for kissing, but maybe you'd want to do it somewhere more private? Like the stacks? Just a suggestion, just a suggestion.

-Speaking of private moments, this takes the cake. It goes like this: Em and I were at the library, looking for a place to study. We finally decided on the 2nd floor--the area where they play classical music--because 1) there were lots of open tables there, and 2) why not.

So, I was grading papers while Em was working on a beast of a Russian essay. People come and go--up the stairs, down the stairs, sit down, etc. The circle of life in the HBLL. Then, this girl and guy come down the stairs. It looks like they're friends, but they sit at different tables--neighboring tables, but different tables. The guy starts playing with his phone. Nothing weird, right?


Because, not ten minutes later, two other guys come down the stairs--a blonde and a brunette (we'll call them Blondie and Bruno. Just because). Bruno looks way too excited to be in the library, and Blondie looks nervous.

Bruno goes over and stands to the side of the tables, really awkwardly, while Blondie takes the seat next to the girl.

Blondie: "Hey, can I talk to you for a second?"
Girl: "Sure . . ."
Blondie: "Well, I just have to say--" (starts to get all emotional) "Ever since I met you, and then ever since that kiss in the canyons, I just knew that I loved you and I knew that you were the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and just--I love you. And Alexandra," he gets down on one knee and opens a small black box, "Will you marry me?"
Girl: "Yes. . . . But did it have to be in the library?"
Blondie: "I couldn't wait." (Embraces her)
Bruno (comes in from behind and throws these violet flower petals on the happy couple): "Hey, oh hey, congrats. That's awesome."

Em and Me: (hiding behind our laptops, just trying not to laugh--because here is this incredibly intimate moment, and it's unbearably awkward and I just couldn't look--yet I had to. I absolutely had to.)

Blondie: "Do you want to get out of here?"
Girl: "Yeah."
They leave, while Bruno and the other guy pick up the flower petals, leaving Em and me to try to keep it together--because this is, after all, the library. But it was just too much.

So we got up to leave so we could take a walk in the atrium, laugh, and talk about the sheer awkwardness and horribleness of it all. As we left, a girl sitting at a neighboring table said to us,

"I'm so glad we were able to witness that terribly awkward moment together."

But really.

First of all, this really happened.
Second of all, just no. No, no, no, no, no. Do NOT propose in the library, people! Out of all the places you could, why would you propose to your future wife in front of a dozen students you don't even know?
Third of all, the flower petals. The flower petals.
And fourth of all, "Did it have to be in the library?"

Em and I are 98% sure that it was fake. But that other 2% of me thinks that maybe it wasn't. I can't decide which is worse.

Friday, February 6, 2015

and if you wait for someone else's hand, then you will surely fall down

I have been obsessed with this song lately. And this video.

Turn to Stone from Melissa Marquez on Vimeo.

and learn our souls are all we own
before we turn to stone. 

hearts too big to fit our beds. 

but brother how we must atone
before we turn to stone. 


Putin on the Ritz

Today had no rhyme or reason. 

I woke up after the CREEPIEST DREAM IN THE WORLD. I dreamed that Putin forced me to go on a date with him. And then he tried to kiss me. Eww. Gross. Just no, no, no, no, no. 




So, after that lovely dream, I was wondering what the day had in store for me. 

Luckily, no Russian despots tried to ask me out. Today, anyway. Which is always a plus. 

Instead, there were free bagels at the corner store. 

And it was 66 degrees today (on February 6th, people! February 6th!) 

And I gathered a slew of wonderful non-sequitur quotes from my Tolstoy professor. 

And my Russian history professor cried when he talked about the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine. The Holodomoor. Death by starvation. 

So, lots of Russian stuff today. But Putin did not call. 


Monday, February 2, 2015

I went to the mountain.

Sometimes the mountains call your name. 

And sometimes the fresh, cold mountain air is exactly what you need to clear your head and strengthen your heart. Not to mention the goodness of kindredsoulsisters. 

I love going to the mountains in every season. I love how they change with the light and shadows of the different seasons. How the colors change. 

And yet, everything remains grounded. The same. Firm as the mountains around us. 

I am a mountain girl at heart. I was born underneath their shadows, and they have provided the backdrop for most of my life. 

And they provide the perfect place for reverie. And for reminders. 

i went up to the mountain because you asked me to
up over the clouds to where the sky was blue
i could see all around me everywhere
i could see all around me everywhere

sometimes i feel like i've never been nothing but tired
and i'll be working till the day i expire
sometimes i just lay me down, no more can i do 
but then i go on again because you ask me to

some days i look down afraid, afraid i will fall
and though the sun shines i see nothing, nothing at all
then i hear your, your sweet voice
come and then go, come and then go
lord, telling me softly you love me so. 

the peaceful valley just over the mountain
the peaceful valley  few come to know
i may never get there ever in this lifetime
but sooner or later it's there i will go
sooner or later it's there i will go. 
--up to the mountain, by patricia griffin 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

who the hero took for lover

One of my dearest friends sent this song to us (and by us I mean emmers and me) a few weeks ago. It is hauntingly beautiful, and it captivates me.

I love how intelligent and thoughtful the lyrics are (with references to Victorian literature, even). And the music is just beautiful.

but when it comes to flesh and bones, you remind me of shalott--only made of shadows, even though you're not. 

everybody loves a hero, an image to create, 
antithesis of everything inside ourselves we hate, 
but you'd better close your eyes when it's time for them to die, 
cuz you'd hate to think the life you'd build upon them was a lie. 

oh, to reach through all your surface, just to find an empty pool
and to suffer all your pride, as i lay down by your side, 
and you swallowed up my heart, and left me a fool--
left me a fool. 

So sad. But so beautiful.

I know this song has to do with an ending relationship, but I think it can also apply to other things in life, too. Those moments when what we think we have is real, only to discover that we were fooled--"to reach through all your surface, just to find an empty pool." Accepting that disillusionment and disappointment cuts to the bone.

Life is full of those moments.

And you know what? It is also important to remember that the journey wasn't worthless. Even if we do find an empty pool at the end of what we thought would be something rich, full, and beautiful. The trick is seeing the contrast between the grey disappointment and bright expectations, the joy and the sorrow, the despair and hope. That tapestry of life.