Thursday, May 27, 2010

a laugh a day

if you know me, you might be aware that i have something of a, shall we say, high-strung personality. i try not to, people, but sometimes panic is all i can do.

anyway, i have been feeling particularly wound up these days, so my mom started sending me a joke a day to help me keep my head. (smack points out that vodka or some sort of prescription medication would accomplish the same thing, but jokes seem easier and less potentially-dangeous.)

below is today's joke. warning: you will laugh out loud.

and they say serious journalism is dead.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

fictionalized, post-edit

i promised a wrap-up to the great mormon novel discussion, so i am going to stay true to my word, despite the fact that it has been suggested that this particular topic has run its course. that may be true, but here are a few final thoughts.

for starters, i feel like i should clarify the definition of "great mormon novel" under which i was working. i am not talking about novels that were simply written by people who happen to be mormon. i think it has been rightly pointed out that there are some fairly good examples of those. and also pointed out, by cousin nan, that some of them might even become classics in their own right once they have weathered the test of time. (orson scott card, your day is coming!) what i am talking about is a novel written by a mormon, yes, but also a novel that captures the mormon experience. a novel that can give the world an insight into what being a mormon might be like. something along the lines of gilead, by marilynne robinson, for example, or the golden compass trilogy.

so, that's one thing.

now. steve suggests that perhaps the most plausible explanation for a lack of great mormon literature is rooted in the lack of a collective mormon narrative. it is true that the mormon church, these days especially, draws from a wide geographic pool of people and traditions, and mormons don't identify as strongly as a cultural or ethnic group as other religions. i also think it is true that, as mormons, we are encouraged to find a way to live the doctrines of the church that makes the most sense to us; we have to live all of them, but our reasons for and ways of doing so vary. so the church can become a more individualistic than group-like experience. i do think, however, that the narrative of the beginning of the church and, in particular, the westward-bound pioneer experience represents a collective narrative on some level, though probably much less so to people joining the church now, and especially in countries outside the united states.

ultimately, i think the answer comes down to this. whether you consider it a collective narrative or just the history of the mormon church, there are things that make us stand out, things that make us self-conscious, things we would just rather not talk about for fear of seeming or sounding more peculiar than we already feel. the need (not unjustified, i might add) to be accepted and thought of as "normal" by our peers is strong enough to disallow any truly reflective examination of our heritage, at least one that other people will see and read and talk about. are we proud of who we are, what we do, what we believe and what we stand for? i think the answer is most definitely yes. but i think we would also like to seem sort of like everyone else.

so. will there never be a great novel that captures the mormon experience? i don't think so. but, i am done talking about it for now.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


it was another successful weekend in new york.

(is there any other kind?)

for starters, i got to finally meet this baby, though i was too busy adoring him when he was smiley to snap a picture, so all we have is his i-need-a-nap face.

but still. heart-meltingly adorable.

and i got to celebrate this girl, who i love so dearly. could not be happier for her. truly.

i spent the rest of saturday with jaron, who happened to be out of town in the same town as me, thanks to best friend jeff (hereafter known as bfj) who had come to nueva york on business from l.a. i convinced them to eat giant cookies as big as our faces from levain bakery (didn't take much) and they convinced me to spend the afternoon poking around russian grocery stores in brighton beach. seems like a fair trade.

bfj laughed at my "a neutron walks into a bar..." joke (my favorite!) so i think we are good to go there.

the traditional sunday brunch with ABK included the traditional intellectual exchange, this time about whether the term "silver fox" means a leacherous older man who sleeps with younger women (see: george clooney) or a suave and handsome older man who is not leacherous but who sleeps with whoever he wants, younger women included (see: george clooney).

the other sunday goal was a shepard fairey exhibit down on canal street, which was sadly closed when suvi and i arrived. but, we made up for it with a pilgrimage to a shepard fairey mural on houston street. it was partially covered with graffiti tags, but was still pretty amazing. i have always preferred art i can touch anyway. so take that, exhibit with your weird and ever-changing hours.

we also passed a lesser-known but just as wonderful shepard fairey on our way home from church earlier in the day, so i would say we did mr. fairey (fairly) well.

and then it was a slice of pizza and home again, home again, jiggity-jog.


Friday, May 21, 2010


well, children, i am off to new york city in a few hours for a weekend of fun including ck's bridal shower, the traditional brooklyn brunch with ABK, and hopefully a walk through the highline and a shepherd fairey art exhibit with suvi marie. and much more, i am sure.

i hope your weekend plans are equally delightful.

also, by way of preparation, this whole "where is the great mormon novel?" business has sparked so many fascinating conversations i can hardly stand it. so we'll be talking more about that when i get back.

consider yourselves warned.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

f your information

did i mention that sallee had her baby? ms. claire elisabeth joined us about five weeks ago and, in my grand tradition of never finishing anything on time, i just mailed off her blanket last week. to be perfectly frank, i think baby claire could have managed the hand-stitching better herself, but i was otherwise delighted with the result.

did i mention that i signed a lease for a new house? after a year of attic-squatting i figured it was time to move on. emily h. and i will be co-habitating starting july 3rd, and i am thrilled. please come hang out in our enormous backyard any time you would like.

did i mention that doobie has officially landed in d.c.? our plans for his summer in the capital include the zoo, a road trip to richmond and starting "battlestar galactica" over from the beginning.

did i mention that katie and smack and i watched "glee" on tuesday and then katie gave us ridiculous hair styles and i laughed until i had to pee?

just thought you might like to know.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


a few months back, ABK and i were eating brunch in brooklyn (say that three times fast) when he posed the following question: if i were to recommend a seminal piece of mormon literature, what would it be?

and i could think of nothing.

well, nothing except for the twilight saga. but that is not a serious answer.

(though, sidenote, when ABK, my measuring stick for all things intellectual and worthwhile, said, "i think i am going to see the second movie. the first one was pretty good and the preview for the second one looks kind of bad-ass" all shame i felt about twilight disappeared.)

back to the question at hand, though, i was seriously stumped. no great mormon novelist, no precise and moving mormon novel came to mind. i could not think of a single piece of literature that captured the mormon experience. it was distressing.

and so ABK asked the next logical question (logical question-asker that he is): why do you think that is?

i didn't have a very coherent answer then, but i thought about it for a while and consulted many a thinking mormon, and came up with a few theories.

for one thing, the mormon experience is young. it is not rooted in the exotic and expansive generational histories of so many of the world's other religions. there is not much ancient or mystical to draw on.

i also think that much of moving and great religious literature relies somewhat on an identification with struggle and trial, and while the history of mormons and the mormon church certainly has adversity to spare, i feel like the mormon ethos is one of triumph over trial instead of self-identity in trial. some groups of faithful people live in it, weather it, make it a critical piece of their identity and experience. mormons tend to conquer it and move on. this is not to say that one is right and one is wrong and, as with most things, a balance between the two is probably the best. but endless optimism doesn't always make for reflective, heart-wrenching fiction. (unless that fiction involves true love and vampires.)

another theory is that the mormon ethos is one of practical production, not artistic self-indulgence. we are CEOs, not novelists! there is a sense of urgency about earning, doing, leading, progressing, moving up and on that can stifle the more quiet, and often less tangible work of thinking and creating.

most of all, though, i think mormons still worry about being weird, and the thought of putting the intricacies of a spiritual experience that most people find bizarre at best, and sacrilegious at worst, out into the world whether as a piece of fiction or something else is, frankly, terrifying. the truly religious experience is hard enough to put into words that other people who have not lived your life can understand. and harder still when you feel that your life is so much different from everyone else's.

well, it turns out i was not the only person thinking about this.

just yesterday, slate ran an article asking the same question ABK did: where is the great mormon novel? the author, a mormon himself, offers many similar theories to my own about the lack of great mormon fiction, and provides some additional postulations as well. mormons are too uncomfortable with ambiguity and imperfection to write great fiction. they find a willingness to ask questions is threatening. mormons are unwilling to look beyond their conventional selves. major detractors suggest that the absence of great mormon fiction writers (sorry, stephenie meyer), is proof that one cannot be intellectually serious and a mormon at the same time, though i take major issue with that particular claim.

i think the author hits the nail on the proverbial head when he says, "a great mormon writer might change how the religion is perceived in the wider culture. if that writer drew on his own background in his work... he could help humanize a group of people still regarded by many as peculiar."

but i think the honest truth is, we are all still too sensitive about, and afraid of, our peculiarity to try.

what do you think? am i up in the night here? and is there a great mormon novel we are all missing? (no nominations for orson scott card, please.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

the first 1,000 years

this saturday marked one year since i moved to d.c.

one year since sallee and i pulled into bob and joyce's driveway and went out to dinner at red, hot and blue to celebrate.

one year since i said good-bye to most of what i knew, and hello to things mostly unknown.

one year.

it seems impossibly long ago, and like an impossibly short amount of time has passed, all at once.

it has been a year of good and bad and up and down, as most years are, i suppose. i have desperately missed familiar things and people, and desperately wished that they were closer when i needed and wanted them. i left more behind me this time than any other time and i have felt it.

but i have also felt like i was going to explode with all the excitement and discovery of a new life, new friends, new adventures. i have looked back a time or two, but i have never wished i could go back. and that, i think, is the test.

so here's to one full and happy year down, and many more to come.

Monday, May 10, 2010

bob's your uncle

aunt joyce greeted me this morning with a big hug to say thanks for the flowers and cookies i left on the kitchen table last night. really, it was nothing. i just figured if i was the one coming home after a hard-fought re-election campaign that ended in insane tea party activists (i'm looking at you, brother beck) taking over the GOP convention and knocking me out of the race, i might like to find some flowers on my kitchen table.

so, there's that.

the news that uncle bob was voted out of the convention on saturday was sad to be sure, because it means that the crazies, with all their dirty campaigning and misappropriated facts came out ahead. (have you started planning your escape in the event that sarah palin is elected president? i am not joking here, people. i will be moving to mexico. see you there.)

but it was also sad because uncle bob is just one of the best people you will ever meet, and it is nice to see good people finish ahead whether you agree with their politics or not. and let's be honest, there is a lot about uncle bob's politics with which i disagree. but i also happen to know that he is an honest man of utmost integrity who has only ever done what he thought was best for his state and his country. he said it best himself when he told the gathered crowd that he wouldn't have cast a single vote differently, even if he had known then that it would cost him his career now. something tells me that is more than his opponents will ever be able to say.

and on a more personal note, he has obviously showed nothing but endless kindness and generosity to me (i've lived with him twice, remember?) and i can tell you without a doubt that he has one of the biggest hearts around.

in short, convention results aside, i think uncle bob has every reason to be proud. and i am certainly proud to call him my uncle.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

weekend update

high(s): outdoor movie; stayed in bed until noon on saturday; baseball game for jimmy's birthday (the nats won, and i got a tan!); froyo at mr. yogato; art purchase; stayed in bed until noon on sunday; fresh flowers and chocolate chip cookies; phone call from jen; celebrating a mother i simply adore; the peace and power of priesthood blessings.

low(s): utah GOP convention taken over by the wackos; v-slice's going away party (fun party, sad occassion); another button fell off my sweater; i cut myself shaving. again.

how was your weekend, dears?

Friday, May 7, 2010

ready, set, (ok), go

for the official record, if the lead singer of ok go came up to me right now and asked me to be his wife, i would say yes.

and once we were married i would suggest, as only a loving wife can, that he should maybe not use the f-word 5 zillion times at a concert where his parents are in the audience.

and he would take my suggestion to heart, as a loving husband should, and then we would cuddle and watch his awesome music videos (here and here) happily ever after for the rest of our lives.

(and he would also figure out why i can't ever embed anything from youtube anymore. because that is also a good husband's job.)

the end.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

off to the races

for those of you who have ever gone to a department store and wondered if men actually buy pink shorts/full seer sucker suits/knee socks/linen pants/straw hats, allow me to relieve you of your suspense.

the answer is yes.

and they wear them to the virginia gold cup races.

don't believe me? see for yourself.

also spotted: argyle pants, red pants, popped collars, plaid bow ties and saddle shoes.

and we're still talking about the men.

if my life were ever to turn into the great gatsby (and i won't lie and tell you that i have never sometimes wished it would), i imagine that every day would lok something like the virginia gold cup.

luckily, i have the hat for it now.

and everyone else in our little group was looking rather dapper, and well-topped, as well.

oh, and there were also horses and racing.

the most dramatic event of the long, sunny day was a jockey falling off his horse after the horse's back hooves hit the gate, the horse then falling on top of the jockey, the horse then getting up and continuing to run the race sans jockey, the next horse and jockey behind coming over the gate and stepping on the downed jockey and the jockey rolling around on the ground in what had to be excruciating pain before the ambulance finally made its way over what seemed like too long a time later.

as for the title race, the virginia gold cup, it was he's a conniver in front the whole time until the last lap when bubble economy surged from behind and won it by a nose! (literally.) i sort of had my heart set on idle hour stormy night taking home the trophy, but oh well.

i was also hoping to work up the nerve for a my fair lady style outburst including my favorite curse. but i never quite got there. so next year i'll bring my awesome hat and my cockney accent.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


a few nights ago i watched a documentary called "helvetica." and if you think a documentary about the history of a typeface sounds boring, well, you are wrong.

for one thing, helvetica isn't just any typeface. it is the most used, and most legible, typeface on this planet earth. it's used for street signs, the american airlines, staples and lufthansa logos and everything printed in the new york subway system.

we probably see helvetica more than anything or anyone in our lives.

but helvetica also has a fascinating backstory. created by a swiss typography house in the 1960s, it was an expression of clean, simple, commanding modernism. it's hard to believe now, but helvetica literally changed the visual world. and now, it seems, helvetica is dividing the world into those who think it cannot (and should not) be improved upon, and those who think it is the mark of the old regime and should be done away with right away.

dramatic, right?

if i haven't convinced you yet (which i cannot imagine), might i also point out that the movie is full of remarkably good-looking typographers, many of whom are dutch (swoon) and some of whom say things such as, "some people look at wine bottles. some people look at girls' bottoms. i look at type."
gotcha, didn't i?

Monday, May 3, 2010

may, i

happy monday and happy may! remember how it was just april? what is that all about? the time is just flying by. luckily, i have isadora and her fancy camera to help capture all the best moments.

like this delicious cupcake from buzz cafe.

jaron and i went on a quest for the best cupcake in d.c. and baked and wired in georgetown was our winner (eat that, georgetown cupcake!) but this fancy treat was pretty delicious, too.

and like los campesinos! at the 9:30 club.

we got so close to the stage, and we danced until i felt like my head was going to fall off.

and who would want to forget that smack and i wore practically the same outfit to work on friday?

teal dress. check. black cardigan. check. calling each other from now on before we get dressed for work. done and done.

it's also (finally) outdoor film festival season, which means playing "set" on blankets as the sun goes down.


here's to isadora! here's to may!