Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sightless friendship

Found this in the introduction to this year's RS manual, about the teachings and life of George Albert Smith (President of the LDS Church from 1945 to 1951). Already I love this book. I learn best by watching the examples of others, and this man was truly a saint. Nearly blind his whole life, he was a zealous advocate for the blind in Utah in addition to his calling as a General Authority. This is a poem of gratitude and friendship a member of the Society of Aid to the Sightless wrote for him to honor his service:

When Life beats hard with stormy hands,
And bitter teardrops fall;
When friendless Winter chills my soul,
And empty echoes call—
’Tis then I turn, with eager hope,
My steps though spent and lame,
To find an understanding heart,
Where burns a friendly flame—
A heart where gentle Wisdom dwells,
Compassionate and kind,
Whose faith in God and man has taught
A like faith to the Blind. …
Although his tender loving face
From us is shut apart,
We see the gracious wisdom
Of his understanding heart;
We feel a peace within his soul
And know a peace our own;
We hear his silent prayer that tells
We do not walk alone;
His faith in us will give us strength,
As unseen paths we plod;
Our souls uplifted by a man
In partnership with God.

As I have mentioned many times, friendship is one of my favorite things in the world. It has the capacity to reduce trials, color grey days, and enliven and enlarge one's soul. This is the level of friendship I will strive to show to others!

Monday, December 26, 2011

4.0 and 2011

Breaking news: I NAILED my classes with another 4.0 and I DO feel like being braggy about it. I worked so dang hard, and had to deal with some MAJOR personality clashes in one class. I literally poured my sweat, tears, and thousands of dollars into finals week this semester (the money, fyi, went to buying myself a new laptop and paying for the repairs of a second, borrowed laptop that I also ruined during finals... long story). Phew.  The image of grief I posted at the end of my first semester of grad school (here ya go) flickered to mind after I turned in my final paper a week ago, but I'm happy to report that I'm not as wrecked as I was that first semester, which was, amazingly, two whole years ago. I can't believe how long this master's is taking. TWO SEMESTERS TO GO!!!!!

2012's gonna be good. Gonna be a game changer. This scares me a little, I've actually grown to enjoy DC this year, more than I have in years past, when I've merely tolerated it. Visions of moving to the West Coast still dance around in my head, but for now I'm just going to leave my moving/career plans to fate and faith.

I don't want to make resolutions. I DO want to ruminate on what's just happened this year, though. Some years go quicker than others; this year was a long, slow haul with lots of mini-mile-markers that resulted in gradual progress and change in my life.

Biggest surprise of 2011: my job nannying Cobb, which came out of the blue in March and was a 1,000% improvement over my previous job managing the bakery. Cobb is a delightful little 2 year old, and his parents are absolute joys to work with. They love their son so much and support me in anything I want to do to help him develop into a happy, healthy, smart young man. I've really appreciated this job because, among its many, many great aspects, it has helped me realize how intellectually stimulating and rewarding the act of raising children full-time can be. I've had reservations about that in the past. But now I know I can do it, do it well, and absolutely love it. (Please oh please let my future children be perfect angels like Little Man is!)

Clearest memory of 2011: Running the last five miles of my first half marathon in November at full speed :)

Best unexpected answer to prayer: this is random, but a few weeks ago, coming home from one of my finals, I started to feel an unreasonable amount of anxiety about my train. I think I'd seen some sketchy guy with a pink suitcase on the platform or something. At any rate, by the time the train reached the bridge over the Potomac on its way into Virginia, I was convinced that death/an explosion was imminent. I know this sounds dramatic but it's true, and inexplicable. I don't do anxiety like that hardly ever. I started to pray. More earnestly that I had in a long while. I recognized the change in humility and intent with which I now spoke to my maker, and I acknowledged that I was not, in fact, where I would like to be should I really truly meet him in the next few moments. As the seconds wore on and the train chugged forward, my prayer turned to one of pleading for my family in case they were the ones in danger, and then, heart rate slowing, I began to thank Him for the many wonderful aspects of school, friends, and work that had been blessing my life lately. I thanked him for the gift of his son, Jesus Christ, who has been teaching me how to have faith and not fear all year. I told Heavenly Father about my plan to recommit to him and to use the atonement in a more dedicated manner to be who I want to be. I also told him that I have been thinking about actively trying to be more grateful to him, which plan I was going to implement immediately. :) As my train pulled safely into Pentagon City, I wondered why Heavenly Father caused me to have that weird near-death feeling (I knew it wasn't my own doing). I even said a prayer to him; "Well, that was weird, but I trust that You will tell me why You allowed me to feel that soon enough!" A mere three days later (a Saturday :) I found out I was teaching a lesson the next day on the second coming. I knew as soon as I saw my topic that Heavenly Father really wanted me to KNOW the urgency with which He wants us to prepare ourselves, our families, and the nations, for His Son's return. I needed to have some experience in this area in order to best give that lesson to my Relief Society sisters. So there you go; an unexpected answer that was actually given before I'd knew I'd had a need. I really appreciate these types of small reminders that Heavenly Father actively watches over our days and minutes.

Favorite purchase of 2011: The Red Dress :) ----seenhere----->

Love-life triumph: a fun, brief love affair with the most confident, thoughtful question-asker I've ever met

2011 Low Point: a poorly-timed visit from an ex. :)

2011 High Point: visiting my very pregnant best friend Jessica in August and then getting to meet her little daughter only a few days ago. Whatever makes Jess happy makes me happy too, so we were pretty dang happy this year!!! I'm so grateful for the enduring and enlightening power of eternal friendships.

College BFF Jess, bebe Olivia, me, bebe Jence, HS BFF Breann

Things that happened in 2011 that I want to repeat in 2012
Finish a half marathon, 
get straight A's,
make/save a lot of money,
see a musical (Les Mis at the Kennedy Center),

Things that didn't happen in 2011 that I want to do in 2012:
eat at Virtue Feed and Grain in Alexandria,
get a Master's degree,
get a job with business cards and a 401k,
visit Florida and Harry Potter World,
fall in love with a boy that is NOT 2 years old

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Two things tangentially related to OWS...


No more finals = the ability to think and be thankful for random things once more.

I'm thankful that finals are over. I'm thankful even though TWO computers died right out from under me during finals and left me sensationally bad-tempered for a day and a half (LOOOOONG sad/hilarious story) I was able to semi-resurrect at least one of them and finish my paper nevertheless. WOO!

I'm thankful that I still get to participate in this kind of care-free life when I'm playing with Cobb:

Their costumes remind me a little bit of OWS protestors, hence this video's appearance in this post. Its youtube page tells us that the kids in the video are all related to the filmmaker, and that they worked for pizza :) The whole video cost $150. I love the fact that beautiful and moving things can still be created by the little guy.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why I'm never, ever late for movies

1. I love previews, like, as much as whole movies.
2. I love titles sequences; they're like artistic microcosms of whatever movie I'm about to see. I MUST be on time to the movies, because the critical analysis side of my brain gets a free 3 minutes of free-for-all dissection-- "why did the director choose to show this? Why that font? Imma have to buy this soundtrack! Ooh I like that shot!"-- before settling into good old fashioned American movie-zombie mode.

I loved this video, it showcases some of the most famous title sequences by the brilliant Saul Bass. Watching it, I really get a sense of how cutting edge each of these graphics must have appeared when they premiered. What an amazing career. The list of movies corresponding to these clips is found here.

The Title Design of Saul Bass from Ian Albinson on Vimeo.

Of course, the most celebrated title sequence in recent memory is this one (you know you haven't seen it a while, let it blow your mind again):

What are your favorite opening credit sequences? I know I'm missing dozens of good ones... I'm thinking Hitch first of all, oddly enough. It's just so cute!!

Just for kicks, here's the greatest ending  sequence I've ever seen. Pixar must have an art history major on staff. I kicked back in my seat til the end of these credits, shouting out the names of each artist as they came along and laughing my head off. Isn't there anything that Pixar CAN'T do??

I wrote them down for you. It's a slow lunch.

Lescaux cave paintings
Egyptian hieroglyphics
Greek funerary vase paintings, the Black-Figure period
Roman/Pompeiian mosaics
Leonardo’s sketchbooks (he sketch the movement of falling water)
Michelangeo’s St. Peter’s Basilica blueprints
Venetian nautical paintings (highly celebrated for their ethereal sunlight and water)
Pointilism! Georges Seurat, everywhere!
Expressionism, vag Gogh- Look at those sunflowers!