Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stephanie's Bridals


Steph and I braved the cold yesterday to take some bridals for her before the big day! You can check out the whole event here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Great Koko--What a W-O-MAN!!!!


Ok, all you W-O-MEN out there. You need to go to your computer (wait, you're reading this, so you're already there, excellent!) and you need to download Koko Taylor's all time marvelous song "I'm a Woman" and you need to blast it while singing and dancing to it at the top of your lungs (preferably while you are making dinner so that you can use that wooden spoon as the microphone it was always meant to be.)

And then, you'll be just how I was tonight.

Yep, while making my dinner, I found my theme song for the year. I only found one small video of it on youtube, but honestly, I think little Raven Simone has about as much attitude at 4 as it took me 31 years to get. I have a slightly better groove, only cause my curves are right....


SERIOUSLY, IT'S THE MOST FUN YOU'LL HAVE ALL EVENING!!!!!




When I was a little girl Only twelve years old
Couldn't do nothing
to save my dog gone soul
My mama told me.
the day I was grown
She says "Sing the blues child, Sing it from now on".

I'm a woman,
oh yeah
I'm a woman, I'm a ball of fire
I'm a woman, I can make love to a crocodile
I'm a woman, I can sing the blues
I'm a woman, I can change old to new
Spell w o man,
Oh yeah
That means I'm grown

I'm a woman, I'm a rushing wind
I'm a woman, I can cut stone with a pin
I'm a woman, I'm a love maker
I'm a woman, you know I'm an earth shaker

SOLO

I'm a woman, I'm a rushing wind
I'm a woman, I can cut stone with a pin
I'm a woman, I know my stuff
I'm a woman, I ain't never had enough

I'm going down yonder, behind the sun
I'm gonna do something for you, that ain't never been done
I'm gonna hold back the lightning, with the palm of my hand
Shake hands with the devil, make him crawl in the sand

I'm a woman, oh yeah
I'm a woman,
I'm a ball of fire
I'm a woman,
I can make love to a crcodile
I'm a woman,
I'm a love maker
I'm a woman,
you know I'm an earth shaker
OH oh oh oh
I'm a woman

Monday, December 29, 2008

Streaks of Skin

Make sure to keep your eye on the painting blog over the next week, there will be a series of paintings posted all about slipping into your skin. Hallelujah!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hello July

2009 is all aligned for amazing things. It's in the stars, but more importantly, it is in ME. 

I wanted to share with you my AMAZING apartment that I have secured for the month of July. Yes, for the month of July I will eat, sleep, and drink in Paris. I will speak and kiss in French. I will write by day and find at least 4 (one per week, is that a good goal?) French beauties to walk, talk, smile and flirt and sparkle with (with a hell-of-alot-a French kissing thrown in). I will enjoy being young, being talented, and being alive. I'm livin' all I can right now, but it would be hard not to admit that July has captured my heart.



Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Phoenix Flames



A phoenix is a mythical bird with a tail of beautiful gold and red plumage. It has a 600-800 year life-cycle, near the end of which it builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix, reborn anew to live again.

The bird was also said to regenerate when hurt or wounded by a foe, thus being almost immortal and invincible — it is also said that it can heal a person with a tear from its eyes and make them temporarily immune to death; It is a symbol of fire and divinity.

This has been my year of the phoenix. This has been a year that all I knew and all I was went up in flames. December has been a month of seeing my life rise up in flames and swirl down into gray-white ashes, floating around me, with no chance of using them to rebuild anything.

Today was the day that I came out of those ashes reborn.

Today is the day that I leave all that this year brought to me exactly in the past, where it belongs. It was complete, it was perfect. Each person, each one of you, each moment that I shared with others this year was just as they should have been.


I've been thinking about the human tendency to get stuck in the past or to live in the future. We are the only animals that do this. Think of a lion on the hunt. If he missed his prey, does the Lion sit back, and think about what he should have done differently "Oh, man, I should have zigged when I zagged. Or I should have gone the other way. I'm a failure. I'll never catch anything." Does the Lion get caught up in the past, in the what ifs and never hunt again. Does the Lion bring on his own death with his paralyzing fear? No, the Lion gets right back on track and keeps going until he's gotten his dinner.

That's something I've learned about myself, no matter what life serves up...I'll keep rising. It's the phoenix inside of me. 

I'm letting go of the definitions that held me to me. I'm no longer defined by a religion. I'm no longer defined by my degrees or education. I'm no longer defined by the trips I've taken or the things I've seen. I'm no longer  defined by any of these things. For it is only when we stop placing ourselves in the boxes that have defined us that we realize we are free of confinements, and free to fly.

I am new, I am reborn. I am a phoenix.


Oh yeah, and I'm back....big time.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Joyce & Company

For Joyce's snowy family photo shoot, please go here. 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Slip Into Your Skin

Time is getting faster, can you feel it? Emotions are governed more by techonology than they are by actual interactions with people. 

What used to take our ancestors a few weeks to get a reply to (like a love letter)--takes us a second. One second. People connect with each other in virtual worlds now more than ever. Does this result in virtual realities? Virtual assumptions? Virtual opinions? Virtual selves? While a minute is still only 60 seconds long, about a million more things are now able to come to pass in a minute in 2008, then there was in 1888. Time is speeding up, do you feel it? These photographs posted here show that clearly....our new ability to catch a tiny nano of space and time...and capture it forever. Does this mean our feelings are more virtual?

This morning I woke up to the feeling that my bed was shaking. I felt it. I thought it was an earthquake. And my first thoughts about this supposedly happening disaster were not normal. I actually felt a small sense of relief. I actually wanted most of my things to be destroyed so I could be free of them all. With that destruction would come a newfound freedom. I have felt tied to Utah. Tied to my furniture and belongings. I want them all to go away somehow. That's not normal, is it? Of course, as we all read each others blogs, we know that the word normal is more a myth and idea than an actual truth. But, I was still a bit baffled by my reaction.

So what is my truth? I've lost my religion this year. I've lost friends. I've lost foundations and ideas that all used to make my life make sense. Why is it that part of me feels like it's time for marriage and children, and the other part of me feels like I should shave my head of this blond mass that many use to define me and that I should go on a pilgrimage of sorts? But, it would be aimless wanderings, yes? Because, honestly, I'm not even sure what I am looking for or where I want to go. 

The one call I hear is Paris. This past week confirmed to me that it was time to go back for more than just a few days. So, I have decided one thing. I'm saving now to spend a month in Paris next summer. The month of July will find me in an apartment in Paris, writing a book. No other connections but Paris and the characters that have been yearning to be created.



So, yeah, I've been in a weird place all year. A place that isn't fully me. A place where I feel like I have to figure things out. Figure things out. Make sense of things. Decide my future. And it's left me, in this final month of December, quite melancholy and lost. And this pressure of time. The daily mirror reminders that I am getting closer to death, that in fact, each second that I am alive, I am, in fact, dying too. The shaking of my bed, the dependence on virtual friends, the lonely echos of my footsteps along a dark sidewalk in my small neighborhood. All of these are reminders of something I have forgotten, or I never knew, or maybe part of me knows but hasn't told the other part of me. Can you have secrets from yourself?


I've been addicted to Regina Spektor, listening to her over and over and over again. There is her song, On the Radio,  and the lyrics say, 

This is how it works
You're young unitl your not
You love until you don't
You try until you can't

You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breath 
until their dying breath

No this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
and try to love the things you took
And you take that love you made
And stick it into someone elses heart
pumpin' someone elses blood
And walk arm and arm
And hope you don't get harmed
And even if you do, you'll do it all again....

I don't think that the lyrics only mean people in romantic love. I think any kind of love requires putting some of our hearts into someone elses. I just like that idea at Christmas time.





I finally figured things out this morning. What I figured out is that I don't have a damn thing figured out and that that is going to have to be enough for now.  What I think I will do, however, is use these next few weeks to really connect to the real people around me. The living, breathing, growing old, humming, singing, dancing, crying, sobbing, blue, and red, and green, and yellow people around me.


So, I'm signing off for the rest of the year friends, and I'm going to try and slip into my skin fully...or figure out how to make the skin I have on right now fit a little better.

Merry Christmas.

No Christmas For Me...

Every year I find a new Christmas song that speaks to me. Why do they always tend to be a bit melancholy? I don't know what that says about me. I found this one by Zee Avi (formerly Koko Kaina) and I can't stop listening to it.

Here is a link to see the artist singing it, I highly recommend going here (it wouldn't let me embed it)....if not, take a listen to the video below.








Other songs on my Christmas Listening Mix:

White Christmas--Otis Redding version
Christmas--Rogue Wave
Frosty the Snowman--Fiona Apple
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen--Barenaked Ladies
Santa Baby--Eartha Kit
Winter Song--Ingrid Michaelson
Baby, It's Cold Outside--Dean Martin
Let it Snow--Michael Buble
Oh Holy Night--Jewel










What is your favorite Christmas song right now?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Why Scream....when a Whisper will do?

Why scream, when a whisper will do? There are two ways I could talk about Paris...as I have before, with grand, articulate methods of adoration...OR...as I will today, in a calm, private whisper. Paris and I got reaquainted in quite ways. Walks up the Champs Elysees, sitting in a park watching the buslte, the creaking of the Louvre floors as I ventured up to my favorite Vermeer painting to have a conversation with the details of his art. I walked by this Grand Roule (big wheel) each day I was in Paris. It illuminated me.

Eating a succulent pear with the juice running down my arm as I slice it. Searching for a perfect baguette on a Sunday morning. Leaving my camera behind for the most part, and taking personal photos with my own memory. A cold, quiet walk through the cemetery on a rainy day. Looking out the window at the rooftops of Parisian apartments and feeling at home. Speaking French with everyone (I speak like a Canadian, apparently, at least that is what people kept telling me.) I took a stroll up the Christmas-Ready Champs Elysees almost nightly, taking in the Marche de Noel and watching the French be French.

Arriving in Paris, I immerged from a metro stop just by my favorite arc, in front of the Louvre, on Thanksgiving day-- feeling more grateful than I have in a long time. Paris is my friend, my confidant, my companion, my home, my seasons, my secret. Paris and I had long conversations. Paris and I understand one another. Paris and I take things slowly. Paris and I are grateful the other exists.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Oh dey foof!!




I used to speak French like a native (well, close to it) and now I fear that I speak French like Joey from "Friends".  It will be quiet interesting to see how I get around Paris this week. Hopefully, I'll be able to get my quiche, baguette, and chocolat chaud without any problems!!

I've been trying to read blogs and get caught up before I leave, but to no avail!! I promise to get all caught up with your beautiful lives when I get back!

Paris, here I come!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Steph & Scott

One of my DEAREST friends in all the world is getting married! And I couldn't be happier for her!! It was such an honor to take their engagement photos today. The laughter, the love, the serenading (thanks Scott, that was memorable!) and every moment of seeing the two of them together just confirmed what I already knew...sometimes love just works, sometimes it's just easy, sometimes you just sit back and savor the time when you can be in the presence of two people in love!

Congratulations you guys!!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Joyeux Noel

April, Dottie, and I decorated the tree on Sunday. 
I've had these same decorations for 12 years--hard to believe! I am big on tradition.

"There is a deep malaise in society. We can send email and faxes anywhere in the world, we have pagers and cellular phones, and yet in our families and neighborhoods we do not speak to each other. We need roots to be able to stand straight and grow strong. When we respect our blood ancestors and our spiritual ancestors, we feel rooted. If we can find ways to cherish and develop our heritage, we will avoid the kind of alienation that is destroying society, we will become whole again."

I have a crazy collection of ragtag ornaments that I have collected from all over the world.
 Here is my Shakespeare from Stratford-Upon-Avon and my Big Ben from London.

"True love needs mindfulness. We have to take the time to acknowledge the presence of the person we love. "Darling, I know you are there, and I am happy." This cannot be done if we can't free ourselves from our preoccupations and our forgetfulness. In order to acknowledge the presence of our beloved one, we have to offer our own true presence. Without the practice of establishing ourselves in the here and the now, this seems impossible. Mindful time spent with the person we love is the fullest expression of true love and real generosity."


"In the Psalms, it says "Be still and know that I am God." "Be still" means to become peaceful and concentrated. The Buddhist term is samatha (stopping, calming, concentrating). "Know" means to acquire wisdom, insight, or understanding. The Buddhist term is vipasyana (insight, or looking deeply). "Looking deeply" means observing something or someone with so much concentration that the distinction between observer and observed disappears. The result is insight into the true nature of the object."

Here are George and Martha Washington. I got them from a Mount Vernon road trip with April.

"Do not think that the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to receive others' viewpoints. To me, this is the most essential practice of peace."

Our finished project.

Happy Christmas Season Everyone! While our world is in tumult, mabye we can find ways to foster peace and calm in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Much Love.

**Quotes from Living Buddha, Living Christ

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"To Have a Voice, You Have to Listen"


"It's the easiest thing in the world to demonize those who have different opinions than you. It is much harder to actually walk in their shoes." 
AC


On Saturday, Stina and I went to see Anderson Cooper deliver a speech entitled, "Reflections on the Journalist's Role in Presidential Elections and on World Events." I was so impressed with his speech (and his suit, and his piercing blue eyes, and his dreamy white hair....oh, oops, I digress) that I took out my program and began jotting notes and ideas and reflections down. I wanted to share a few of them here with you, and they aren't in any comprehensible order, but I thought them worthy of a discussion.

WARNING--SOME OF THIS MAY BE HARSH TO HEAR--

Cooper, perhaps more than most Americans today, has been witness to some of the most atrocious acts of human cruelty. He has seen the genocide of Rowanda and the current devastation in the Congo, just to name a few. When listening to his tales, I sat and contemplated the seeds that lie within each of us that we choose to foster or not. There are seeds of evil and seeds of good. How do we decide which to foster? How do we remember to choose the good? How can we work more towards a unity than towards constant division?



 What is the power of information?
Why do we seem content, as a nation, to focus on the frivolities of news, instead of that which is truly newsworthy? The stakes in American history have never been higher--look at the Middle East, especially Afghanistan--what forces are shaping what goes on there? In this age of instant information--where are you getting YOUR information? Who is slanting it? Has the information you are reading been checked and double checked? Information is one of the most powerful forces on earth today- and it is OUR responsibility to make sure that we are getting the right information (ahem...Obama is a Terrorist was a big fallacy that I received in so many email forwards this past year I about tore my hair out!!)

The government may fail us here, but as individuals, we can find truth and facts.

Why must we be so divided?
We each tend to lean towards a political viewpoint. I didn't post a lot of political blogs during the election, because I tend to internalize my viewpoints a lot. I do not affiliate myself with either party. I do not claim Republican or Democrat (ok, sometimes I do, because in Utah, it's just fun to play Devil's Advocate to so many blind sided Republicans)--you'd probably be surprised for some of the people I voted for over the course of my life, but somehow I have always been able to see both sides of an argument. (And this doesn't feel like a virtue, it feels like a curse because I have THE HARDEST time making decisions)--But here is a question--why does their have to be a Republican Truth and a Democratic Truth? Why do so many choose to see life through their view of the truth--when it is really only a limited lense (this extends beyond politics, doesn't it?) I've always tried to focus more on FACT than on OPINION--and truthfully, most talk shows, most radio shows, most of every type of media slants it's group of facts with a bit of opinion. 


What happens when Tragedy Strikes You?
So many disasters cover the globe on a daily basis. All of us want to believe that this tragedies will never touch us, but they can, they most likely will, and in a split second, our worlds will change. This is what the word "FRAILTY" means. And I think it is our ability to recognize our frailty that makes us see our humanity more clearly. Cooper talked of what is going on in the CONGO--in the past ten years, six million people have been killed in the Congo alone. Cooper has witnessed first hand the very specific "War against Women" as he referred to it. Rape is being used as a weapon, as a means of control, as a means of keeping women down. He has interviewed several women recently who have been victims of the newest trend in crime. It appears that men, or groups of men, will rape a woman, and then insert a gun into her vagina and then pull the trigger. And the amazing part, several of these women are surviving, but their lives are ruined, and their bodies are ruined. 

Why did he share these stories? To remind us of the fleetingness of life. To remind us that we lose sight of lives that are different from ours. 

It's not pretty to hear, is it?

So, do we ignore it?

Do we send money to help?

What is our responsibility here?

What, really, is there for me to do?

Wouldn't it be better just to not pay attention to these stories?

That's what America seems to think. The stories that get told to the general public are the stories that get the highest ratings. These are not stories about the Congo, they are not stories about global warming...it's stories about Paris Hilton and the latest James Bond movie....

RATINGS are the greatest threat to news coverage!!!

And apparently, as a people, we could all start there, couldn't we? Couldn't we all start with a dedication to turn off the crap and demand to be told the stories that maybe we should be rallying around?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Torrey & Judd


Yesterday I was able to take photos of a couple of my FAVORITE people! Almost a year ago I was able to photograph their wedding, and to see them a year later, still full of love (it's so obvious!) and energy (enough to spare) and vibrance and laughter and just about everything else two people in love should have was awesome. It was SO MUCH fun to spend an afternoon taking these amazing photos of Judd & Torrey (seriously folks, they are the MOST photogenic couple). Also, they really make you want to fall in love...sigh. Thanks guys! And you're helping kids in India at the same time!!

Theo & Grandma


I went with Stina and Dave to take some photos of Theo with his grandma. I think the two of them together are breathtaking. Check them out!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I have a HOT date on Friday....



With the ONE man who will always love me, no matter what. Nope, it's not Daniel Craig...it's my Dad. He's taking me out on a date this Friday. And, boy, do we bond over the new Bond.

Happy Weekend Everybody!!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Wish Life Were Like a Musical!!

April and I finally crossed paths tonight, each with no other obligations...so we did something we haven't done in a long time. We dusted off the old musical collection and chose one to watch. As the strains of "Meet Me in St. Louis" sang us songs from childhoods long ago, I looked over at April and wistfully said, "I wish life were like a musical."

Growing up I NEVER watched cartoons. I don't know how that happened, my parents just NEVER introduced them to me. We would go on the weekend to the video store and my mother would rent us Calamity Jane, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, On the Town, White Christmas, Easter Parade, An American in Paris, Singing in the Rain and the list goes on and on. April and I became obsessed with musicals. We would watch certain musical numbers over and over and over again until we had perfected them. We would spend hours rehearsing our numbers and then when they were perfect, we would call our parents into the family room and they would patiently sit and watch us perform.

April and I always chose who we were...I was always the blonde, April the brunette and luckily for us, most musicals contained one of each. This number from Calamity Jane was one of our favorites. I still find myself singing it when I clean sometimes.


I love how Katie cleans by just throwing everything out the doors. Then, when she paints the door, the holes magically disappear. This only happens if you have a woman's touch. "The pies and cakes a woman bakes can make a feller tell her that he loves her very much! So never underestimate a woman's touch."


 
The GREATEST musical scene ever, in my expert opinion! When he throws off his hat and yells "aeroplane!' the crush I had on him was INDESCRIBABLE!!

When I was in Junior High I had photos of Gene Kelly in my locker and would dream about him at night. I never listened to traditional radio, only classical, so when people talked about the "New Kids on the Block", I distinctly remember thinking that they were new kids who had moved into the neighborhood, I literally had NO idea who they were....but I could do a mean Oscar LeVant impersonation....so who could ask for anything more?

 
The BEST and most ROMANTIC "meet-cute" in musical history.




If there is any musical number April and I will NEVER be able to live down, it is "Sisters" from White Christmas. We perfected it for a talent show when we were young. We had big puffy dresses and instead of fans we used these ruffled umberellas....and even now at family reunions my mother will still make us do it. Yes, I am 31 and April is 28 and we just performed this last month.


What defined your childhood?

Art for Charity

The Auction is On!!!! Check it out!!



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

SSBs


During a choice episode of Sex and the City, Carrie admits that it is hard to live with Aidan because she can no longer indulge in all of her SSBs--that's right... her SINGLE SECRET BEHAVIOR. You know, those little things that you do alone that we would never do in front of anyone-- like Charlotte said that she liked to stare at her pores in a magnifying mirror for at least an hour every night, but now she couldn't because her husband would think that it was weird. (which he would). So, as I came home from work today and pulled the fresh, organic, addictive salsa out of the fridge (so long Rice Pudding, you have been replaced!!), then pulled out the chips and dipped them right into the carton, I thought, "What am I doing!!! No self-respecting girl eats the salsa right out of the container, and double dips!" (note to my visitors, you probably don't want to eat my salsa). I got to thinking about other things that would be odd if I lived with someone (which I do, but we have such opposite schedules that often times we see each other as she is getting home and I am going to bed, so for all intents and purposes, I basically live alone.) You know you do these things too.


1. I read at least five books at a time, leave them strewn about everywhere where I want to read them...politics by the overstuffed chair, health books by the couch, my French language book on my desk, the tender stories and poems on my nightstands. Then, as I read, I just like to hear some parts out loud, so I will read them outloud, to myself, often.

2. I use my hairbrush as a microphone....a lot, usually to ABBA or DUFFY songs.

3. I like to pump up the Opera while I am cooking food and sing in my operatic voice....you should hear my version of "O Mio Babino Carro."

4. I like to clean my keyboard with q-tips, it makes me happy.

5. I like to put on Bridget Jones' Diary and quote it word for word.

6. Sometimes I just get an urge to try my belly dancing techniques to "Living La Vida Loca."

7. Before I work out, when I am zipping up my hoodie, I often sing "Eye of the Tiger" and jump around and punch the air like Rocky.

8. I come home and sometimes I just put on a pretty pair of high heels for no reason.

9. I talk to my plants in French.

10. I tell myself I am not going to eat anything else after dinner, then around 9 pm I have five keebler club crackers with crunchy peanut butter and jam....and I eat them very surreptitiously.

11. I look through magazines and tear out any picture I even remotely like, even if April hasn't read the magazine yet, then I put it in a big folder of pictures that I like. I have no idea what to do with this folder.....ahem, I mean, folders.

12. When I make dinner alone, I often pretend that I am the host of a cooking show, and I make up funny phrases for different methods and ingredients...picture Bob Ross, and instead of painting, he cooks. I am like the female, chef version of Bob Ross. "We don't make mistakes here, we just have happy accidents. " quote by Bob Ross.

13. When I do my pilates, I curse like a sailor, a big, burly, surly, drunk sailor....that stuff is *&#%$ hard!

14. Ever since a random layover in some crazy state (Wisconsin I think? or Minnesota?) I have a fondess for the Magic Bullet informercial and I watch it whenever I can, I especially love the part where Hazel comes out.






OK, dish! What do you do when no one is around?? I want to know your SSBs!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Theo

Theo turned supermodel yesterday and posed for his first photo shoot. It's pretty adorable, so be careful, the following photos could cause baby hunger!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Il Etait Une Fois......(or Once Upon a Time)


Once upon a time... from Capucha on Vimeo.

A breathtaking story by Capucine. Starring baby monkeys lost in frightening trees, a witch, crocodiles, a tiger, a "popotamus" and a lion, and even a "tremendously very bad mammoth".

This is just ONE of the reasons I'd like to have lots of French babies! And also one of the reasons that I will probably hang out at the park in Paris, all creepy-spinster-like, when I go there in three weeks.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Why I Love My Religion




I've been questioning. I've been doubting. I've felt anger. I've felt sadness. And as I have explored my issues with my faith, I realize that I haven't painted many of my fellow LDS brothers and sisters in the best light. I've decided that you are adults, you read my blog, you know I vent, and that we all have our issues. However, I would be greatly saddened if you, by any means, thought that the few people I may discuss are by any means the norm.

There are so many reasons WHY I love my religion. And I want to share a few of them with each of you. It has been a singular experience to grow up in a faith that probably remains one of the most misunderstood religions in the world. I've been condemned and spit upon (literally!!) and hated and mocked because I am a "Mormon". It amazes me how the false beliefs surrounding my religion keep propagating across the country, and people still look with a weary eye towards the LDS Mecca of Utah.

So, let's clear a few things up. I'd like to address some of the major questions I've been asked.

1. Are LDS people Christian??? Ok, if you have had this question, can I ask why? The name of the church is "The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints". We worship Jesus, we end our prayers in the name of Jesus, we teach Jesus from the bible..WE LOVE Jesus. And yet, even when I say this, people still doubt. I do NOT get this one.

2. How many wives does your dad have? (followed by cocky laughter) Um, what in the world? Yeah, I guess the church will never escape its long ago history with Polygamy, but it ended. It's over. It's done with. Got it??  As a member, I've done extensive research as to WHY the church implemented polygamy at the time, I won't go into here, but if you are interested in knowing, let me know. But, for a LONG time now, no polygamy has been practiced. Yes, there are some crazy extremist that may try to associate themselves with our church, but they just AREN'T a part of it. So, any questions? Don't ask a mormon this, it's rude, it's ignorant, it's offensive. Just know that they are NOT! Got it?

3. LDS people MUST have lots of BABIES. This isn't true. Now, it is true that the family is the center of the church and it is REALLY important and kids are good. But NO ONE forces people to have children. God doesn't get mad at you if you don't. It's not a law, it's a stereotype, just like many faiths, LDS families come in all shapes and sizes.

4. We promise not to convert you!!! Yes, while the LDS church has distinct missionaries across the world, they, by no means, seek to convert everyone who they meet. You don't need to worry about them, just treat them like regular people. The thing is, like you in your faith, it IS good to share ideas. And when you find extreme joy in something, it's natural to want to share it. But by no means will friendships formed with LDS people be based on your willingness to listen to their religion.

5. You don't want some alcohol??? Yes. LDS people don't drink (and they would rather be called LDS than Mormon) Funny, when I used to tell people that I didn't drink...they would naturallly mock..."are you like a Mormon or something?" And yes, I am. When they found this out, they would usually give me a hard time about it. They would make sheep noises and joke around and try to pressure the drinking.  Now that I actually tried drinking and feel like it's just not my scene, so I say I just don't like it, or it isn't healthy for my body, and nobody bats an eyelash. Funny how you do things in the name of "health" it's fine. But do it in the name of "religion" and you're a lemming.

Hmmm...I am trying to think of other questions. Do you guys have any? Can you members of the church think of a time when you were wrongfully stereotyped?


Now, the church, to me, has SO much good. I might not be able to blog about it all here, so I'll just mention a few. I will quote from a fellow LDS member:

1. Spirituality. The LDS Church provides a forum for nurturing spirituality. Humans innately crave a sense of mystery, wonder, and spirituality. Without it, they often cease to feel motivated to continue striving for truth, beauty, justice and excellence. I acknowledge that neither religion generally, nor Mormonism specifically, holds a monopoly on spirituality. But in my experience, the LDS Church is one viable place to find spiritual experiences

2. Community. The LDS Church provides community. Strong social bonds are irreplaceable for healthy living, and a well-functioning LDS ward does an amazingly good job at helping large groups of people build meaningful, enduring relationships in a relatively short period of time. .

3. Family. It is THE most important thing!

4. Clean living. The LDS Church serves as a strong advocate for clean living, family focus, and Christlike community service. I acknowledge that the church doesn't always live up to the standards it sets -- but in my experience, sincere, devout Mormons are consistently identified worldwide as living generally honorable, compassionate, respectable lives. At their core, in spite of all their idiosyncrasies, Mormons are good people. Myself and many others, have benefited tremendously by our association with them.

5. Much of the doctrine. For many, Mormon-specific doctrines -- like the ideas of eternal families are some of the most beautiful existing in religious theology today.


AND DESPITE WHAT MANY IN THE WORLD MAY THINK RIGHT NOW, THERE ARE ACTUALLY QUITE A LOT OF US WHO BELIEVE IN MARRIAGE EQUALITY. WE BELIEVE IN IT SO MUCH, WE EVEN HAVE OUR OWN WEBSITE-- MORMONS FOR MARRIAGE

Wouldn't it be nice if all the bias, all the preconceived notions, all the hatred and misunderstandings could just fall away and we could each just see each other in a spirit of love and acceptance. Yeah, that sounds like heaven to me.


Here is a short video clip that had a big time affect on me as a young girl growing up! Enjoy.





I am a week late...but





I thought I would give a short recap on Halloween. First of all, my sister stole the show...she usually does. She won best costume and best personality and best friend and best sister and best diplomat and best comedian and well....I could go on.

She threw a party on Saturday and asked me to be in charge of one thing. Yep, one thing. She asked me to make up little things to do and put them in balloons. Then, during key parts of the evening, people would have to pop a balloon and do what the paper said. April was giving me suggestions like "chug a beer" and "do a jello shot" but since I try NOT to recreate a Frat House atmosphere in my home, I told April to sit back and relax and let me do my thing. 

Here is a list of what I came up with. These friends of hers were really just expecting to do shots, so when they opened it up and saw these, it was priceless to see people I barely knew acting out my imagination. I wish you could have been there.

THE LIST:

1. Call out "group hug" and then enforce it

2. Grimace painfully while smacking your forehead and muttering "shut up! all of you just shut up!"

3. Shout out "help I'm a beautiful butterfly"

4. Answer's people's questions to you with other questions all night long

5. Stick your fist in your mouth....yep all of it!

6. Pretend you are a flight attendant and review the safety instructions with everyone at the party

7. Start the wave

8. Hum the music from jaws and chase after someone making your hands into a big fin

9. Imitate the voice of the next person you speak to, while you are speaking to them

10. Trade two accessories on two different party guests to "spice things up" and yes, I want you to say, "I'm doing this to spice things up."

11. Keep yelling "marco" until someone responds "polo"

12. Respond "i shall not be swayed by your sweet words" to three different people throughout the evening"

13. Next time someone laughs, yell "hit the ground" and then you have to hit the ground and cover your head

14. Start a standing ovation

15. Pretend your hand is a puppet and have a conversation

16. Make explosion noises whenever someone laughs

17. Mime, yep, mime

18. Practice a marriage proposal on someone at the party


Anyway, as the photographer of the party, there is rarely a good picture taken of me. Here is one I found that is not that great of me--I am not paying attention and whatever....BUT I am wearing the cool hat I got in an Argentine antique store! Nice, huh? I was Sylvia Plath...yeah, um, no one knows who that is apparently.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Book Banning 101

(Persepolis--the sad victim of the latest in Book Banning)

Banning Books. Does is still happen? You bet. Does it happen to me??? Um, yeah.

Another name for this post could be "Mormon Mother's in Utah hate my Liberal Guts" or "Please teach your children how to NOT ask questions and to be Sheep" or "I want my child to be Uniformed about the World, thank you."

Ok, I am being a bit cheeky, and I wasn't even going to do a post on this, but it continues to be in my life and it honestly is affecting me to the point where I have been considering a new profession. So, if I've been distant lately from you, my blogger friends, it's because I've been weighed down with some questions and sadness about the closemindedness of my fellow people.

My experience from book banning is as funny as a mother coming into my 8th grade classroom and getting angry that her son had borrowed a copy of  Captain Underpants from a friend of his. I really had to try and not laugh in her face, but in the end, she got the book removed from the library ( It's a tale of a cute, unlikely hero...but the mother never read the book, she just didn't like the word "underpants" ---{and yes, her kid used MUCH worse language than this in the hallways})....this is the type of personality, to me, who uses "special" words for body parts so kids grow up uncomfortable with their bodies.

The next year I had a few LDS mothers up in arms about teaching the kids The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I assume that they were upset because they believed the book taught about witches or witchcraft? I wasn't sure. And they weren't sure either, because they NEVER read it. For those of you who have read this AMAZING novel, it's the story of a young girl coming to Puritan America and because she is different, the town wants to condemn her as a witch. It is a beautiful book of religious tolerance and appreciating each other's differences. I LOVE this book. And I kept teaching it.

This year, I have a mother who is not very fond of me. This started when she saw that I put The Power of Myth on the reading list (as an OPTION!!!). Then, I introduced the Hero's Journey in the class, as a reference for character motivation and plot interpretation. She came in very upset. Of course, she was SO upset that she couldn't even vocalize it. She typed a two page rant about me, my course, the books I chose, and she asked me to read it, while she sat there and watched me. It was seriously awkward. I sat for five minutes and read nasty things about me and my teaching methods while she stood there shaking her head. Then I asked her, when I had finished, "Have you read this book?" 

And the universal answer...No. 

"What is your problem with this book?" 

"It teaches that Jesus Christ is a myth." 

I'm not even going to justify that with a response on my blog. She also wanted to know my religion ( I have found that being 31, single, and a Democrat in Mormon society has often dubbed me as an atheist lesbian...I am NOT being dramatic here!)...which I wouldn't tell her. Then she went on to question many things I did. 

I said to her, "If you are looking for a teacher who is going to sit at the front of the class, hand out work sheets and busy work and never cause a stir, then you are in the wrong place. I am not that teacher. I am a teacher who will get these kids to think, to question, to wonder, to value, to decide, to contribute. They start college next year ( I teach at an early college high school)...don't you think we should prepare them?" 

Most LDS moms I meet don't expect this from me. They expect me to be really sweet and fake and cheesy. They expect me to say "Oh, yes, whatever you say." They don't expect me to return rant for rant. But I do. And it usually comes back to haunt me. She gave me the evil eye and then left. She has now been monitoring every thing her son is asked to do and then reporting to the principal when she thinks it is not right. 






The myth puts you there all the time, gives you a line to connect with that mystery which you are.

Shakespeare said that art is a mirror held up to nature. And that’s what it is. The nature is your nature, and all of these wonderful poetic images of mythology are referring to something in you. When your mind is simply trapped by the image out there so that you never make the reference to yourself, you have misread the image.

The inner world is the world of your requirements and your energies and your structure and your possibilities that meets the outer world. And the outer world is the field of your incarnation. That’s where you are. You’ve got to keep both going. As Novalis said, "The seat of the soul is there where the inner and outer worlds meet."     
Joseph Campbell


So, yes, when I am teaching Julius Caesar this week, I make the kids decide their political party. That means they have to research BOTH the Democrat and the Republican parties. They have to decide where they stand on the issues. That means the have to research the PROs and CONs of stem cell research, gay marriage, abortion, the war in Iraq, and etc. The parents have NO problem with their kids researching the Republican party, but wow, I can't even tell you how many have called in upset that their kids have to research the Democrats? Is anyone else trying to keep your jaw from dropping open??? Welcome to my world.

Back to the mother. Today I was informed of her latest rage against me. It is the fact that I want to teach Persepolis, a novel of a young girl coming of age in war torn Iran. Hmmmm, 10th grade is World Literature. We read stories to understand people in general and ourselves in particular. 

Can you think of any culture in the world that American's need to learn about and identify with than that of the Middle East? 

Do we really want to continue to propagate hate and fear and lies and all the things that follow? I asked again, "Have you read this book?"  I am waiting for her response. My only idea of why she doesn't want me to teach this is either A) She thinks it's about Terrorists or B) the title "Graphic Novel" makes her think it will have naked pictures? I really can't understand it.

But, teaching is exhausting me...and it's not even the students, it's the parents.


Some of America's most commonly banned books:

1. To Kill a Mockingbird
2. Huckleberry Finn
3. I know why the Caged Bird Sings
4. The Bluest Eye
5. A Wrinkle in Time
6. The Outsiders

Friday, October 31, 2008

Something More Important

So, I had my political blog all ready to go. I had all the reasons I am voting for Obama down and all the reasons why "that one" just doesn't cut it for me. I had articulate thoughts on how much pettiness I have been witness to, among adults. How many slurs and slanders and jibes and hating remarks and "I'm Right, You're Wrong" finger pointings. This blog was so good, it would have called all the evil slanderers to remorseful repentance!! Yes, indeed, in one blog post alone, I called us all to accept each other and our differences in politics and put everything else aside

....and then I thought...nope, not going to do it.


Because I have something more important to write about.


The Children of Shanti Bhavan.


















I was asked to be part of an art auction by my friend Emily to help the George Foundation of India. Here is her message.

Christmas is coming, and instead of giving your money to Target or Walmart, 100% of your contribution will go directly to helping sweet Indian children receive a quality education! This whole art benefit will be on an official George Foundation website in the next month or so...but I am giving you a sneak peak of the amazing art that will be a part of this benefit, just in case you're an early shopper...

PHOTOGRAPHY





"Autumn Leaf" by John Turner
Photo size is 12x16. Frame included. size is 16"x20", natural wood.
$95, shipping included















"Madonna and Child" by D'Arcy Benincosa
8" x 10" in a white frame or 11" x 14" with no frame
$75, shipping included
Other Photos by D'Arcy










"Shape and Shadow" by Leilani Bascom. (black and white tile)
film photograph printed on archival photo paper 12x18
$80, shipping included
Other Photos by Leilani






"Study in Aesthetics #2" by Leilani Bascom ( yellow and orange plant)
film photograph printed on archival photo paper 12x18
$80, shipping included








"Translucence" (green and white plant)
film photograph printed on archival photo paper 12x18
$80, shipping included










VISUAL ART




"Hurricane Stoves" by Keva Gneiting
acrylic on canvas
12"x12"
$100, shipping included










"Tree Series-Cherry Tree" by Emily Potter
watercolor on canvas paper
8x11"
$70
red mat included, shipping included










"Tree Series-Autumn Leaf" by Emily Potter
watercolor on canvas paper
8x11"
$65
blue mat included, shipping included







"Tree Series- Green Forest" by Emily Potter
watercolor on canvas paper
11x14"
$75
black mat included, shipping included


Save $10 on "Tree Series": $200 for all three













Intention Jewelry www.intentionjewelry.com
by Angela Johnson
Item #1: retail value for all earring pairs: $125. Earrings shown are examples only - actual set will be custom creations.
Item #2: $59 Turquoise Flower: Turquoise beads come together to cradle a beautiful Hill Tribe silver flower pendant.
Item #3: $25 Intention Jewelry gift certificate - this can be used at any Intention Jewelry open house, custom order or online.








The children at Shanti Bhavan

About the George Foundation
I love raising money for other people!









This is a photo of my dear friend Emily. She worked at the school in India for several months and through her eyes, I came to know and love these children.

As an added Christmas bonus...if any of you want commissioned paintings throughout the month of November, I will give all proceeds for those paintings to the George Foundation. 

I will also give 50% of each family photo shoot I do, during the month of November, to the George Foundation. I've only got two scheduled, so come join in and let's start giving!!


This is the place that my family has decided to donate their money to for Christmas. I couldn't be happier with our decision. You can buy one of these amazing pieces of art at the art auction on Emily's blog.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What does YOUR price tag say?


"Madame Pericand felt that each social class should wear some sign indicative of their station to avoid any misconceptions, just as shops displayed price tags."

                         ~Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky

Doctor: So, you dropped out of your PhD program didn't you?

Me: Yep.

Doctor: Well, now what are you going to do, I mean, why would you drop out of it, I mean, you should be doing so much, I can't remember, what do you do right now?

Me: I'm a teacher and an artist.

Doctor: (scowl and smirk together cross his face) An artist? A teacher? Are you just trying to be poor. I mean, what are you going to DO? You can't just do that the rest of your life.

Me: Actually, I am really hap.....

Doctor: What about law school? What about the PhD program at U of U? Have you applied there? Have you thought of that. You're such a smart girl, you should be doing more than what you are doing. Your life isn't over you know.

Me: um, yeah, I know. (insecurity strikes...and for some reason, i get dragged into this conversation that I don't know why is taking place--with my Doctor, who comes across really poorly in this interaction, but who is usually such a great guy)...but yeah, law school, that would be cool.

Doctor: Exactly, now you're thinking....blah...blah...blah...on and on...and...on....

....and my mind wanders to what I am doing with my life and I start to feel a bit smaller (see Sugar's post). Am I wasting my life in small town USA? Obviously my doctor thinks I am a smart girl. Obviously he thinks I am capable of a lot more than what he currently sees before him. And obviously he sees me passing time as just a teacher and just a struggling artist.... according to him, and probably most people in the world, I should try to remedy that quickly.


"Alas, we-- Who wished to lay the foundations of kindness-- Could not ourselves be kind."

                                                     ~ Bertolt Brecht

When I graduated from NYU, I could have followed my head and been on the fast track to fame and fortune. I worked for a very "important" woman. Again and again she let it be known that she was the one who would give me my big break. She lived on Fifth Avenue, her son was a multi-million dollar film producer, she was a published writer, and she, like Madame Pericand in the novel, believed that people had price tags. And, for awhile, I allowed her to treat me like my price tag was much, much less than hers....and in return, I would get what everyone wants. All her assistants had.

Sometimes I find myself thinking back to my stint in the big city....wondering what I gave up. There was a time in my life when I was on a first name basis with the people at Dior. There was a time in my life when I was able to go shopping at Versace and people rushed to do my bidding (well, her bidding really). There was a time in my life where men in white gloves opened all my doors and pushed all the elevators buttons for me, a time when I got into black limos, a time when I got the first bags released from Gucci, and a time when I got high off of this type of living.

People envied me. For the people who heard my tales, my price tag was high, I was living THE life. I had it made. I was going to be famous. I was going to be rich. I was going to be everything this world tells you that you should strive to be.


And then....I decided to move back to Utah. No one understood. Many still don't understand.





Now, instead of Dior, I help my dad weed his garden. Instead of making reservations at the newest five start restaurant, I made dinner for my brother last week. Instead of looking out onto Central Park West from the penthouse apartment, I had a late night girl chat with my sister. And, instead of getting that screenplay into the right hands, I helped my baby sister write her resume yesterday.  And now, instead of a million nameless faces pushing past me on the street...each in search of that dream, my nieces and nephews know my name....



They didn't before.

Baby Mamma!

Today I really wanted a couple of kids of my own.




Even after the melt downs.


That's Progress.


See the whole "Celebrating Grammy's Birthday by Getting Lots of New Photos for Her at the Park Photo Shoot" here.

Jo Inspired Me....

Jo inspired me to go out today and take some pictures of Fall. Thanks Jo!