Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Visitation

The Visitation by Albertinelli

Journal Entry from 8 May, 2009 – Firenze, Italy

Today I saw the most beautiful, touching painting. It is of the moment when Mary, pregnant with Christ, met Elizabeth, pregnant with John. It so honestly and spiritually presents a connection between two righteous women. It captures the moment when both women are feeling weight, realizing the magnanimity of their responsibilities. What a kind thing for Heavenly Father to do—give two cousins someone to share their experiences with. Both women had miraculous conceptions. I find it so fitting and tender Heavenly Father would give each of them a woman companion to connect, divulge, and share with in experiences unique, yet connected. Further proof Heavenly Father truly understands women.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Humiliating

I was at the dentist a couple of days ago getting a crown put on when he gave me laughing gas. I was pretty sure it wasn’t really going to work (I don't know why I'm so skeptical of these things?).

It worked well enough I started laughing after only a few minutes.

Unfortunately it didn’t work well enough that I was not completely mortified when I snorted I was laughing so hard.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Shades of Grey

This is my final essay for my Shakespeare class. I really enjoyed writing this essay and haven't been this excited about an idea in a while. I realize most of you won't read this, but I wanted to post it anyway.
A Thousand Shades of Grey: Shakespeare as an Improver

There is a reason the general society considers reading the drama of William Shakespeare a daunting task. Distinct languages, extensive metaphors, multiple characters, coupled with confusing plots, bewilder Shakespeare’s audiences. I argue, however, that it is not the language, characters, or plot for which we consider Shakespeare an intimidating force; it is his ambiguity. Shakespeare never allows his work to be consumed by one complete emotion. He acknowledges the need for love, honor, integrity, humor, and balance; yet he does not deny the continuing existence and power of fault, weakness, pride, and disharmony. It is not that we have trouble understanding his thoughts; it is that we cannot sort our own. Bruce C. Hafen states society is uncomfortable with ambiguity (63). Hafen, quoting G.K Chesterton, asserts our society is compartmentalized into “optimists,” “pessimists,” and “improvers” (66). Summarizing Chesterton’s idea, Hafen says, “Neither the extreme optimist nor the extreme pessimist would ever be of much help in improving the human condition, because people can’t solve problems unless they are willing to acknowledge that a problem exists” (66). Chesterton asserts that “improvers” are those who can correctly see both the good and bad present in the human soul and action, and instead of being crippled by it, goes about improving what is seen so clearly. (qtd. Hafen 66). It is because of the ambiguity present in his work that William Shakespeare can be recognized as an improver through the contradicting triumphs present in his comedies and tragedies.

The improving quality of Shakespeare is recognizable in the ambiguity of his comedies as not even they are excessively and unbelievably optimistic. The end of a Shakespearean comedy brings marriage, dancing, and over-all happiness to the characters. The loose ends, however, leave the audience feeling a bit dissatisfied. A sense of injustice is felt as the virtuous, humble, and beautiful Hero’s heart still belongs to the raging, unjust, and presumptuous Claudio in Much Ado about Nothing (5.4.60-61). A feeling of incompletion remains with the survival and remaining evil in the conniving Don John (5.4.124-126). The four lovers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream model ridiculous behavior as they struggle to discover who loves whom to a point that disgusts the viewers. Flaws abound in almost every hero-character. Beatrice is prideful and harsh, Benedick is a hypocrite, Claudio is spineless, Helena is too devoting, and Demetrius is shallow. Audiences struggle to find a few characters they can like without reservation. Their reward is not granted often. Yet it is impossible to hate these flawed characters and blemished plots because they demonstrate the essentiality of love. Shakespeare’s imperfect picture of love reflects his nature as an “improver.” Shakespeare gives his viewers a beautiful message, displaying the hardiness, resilience, and necessity of love through flawed characters. He displays not an overly optimistic and unrealistic view of love, but a sincere view as love seems to be dragged through the mud yet somehow remains integral even as it is presented through the thick of human folly. Shakespeare improves the audiences’ view upon love as he acknowledges the presence of fault, yet does not allow it to consume the play or the viewers’ emotions.

Shakespeare’s status as an “improver” is illustrated especially well with the character of Demetrius in his comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The dream is contaminated by the remaining influence of the love potion over Demetrius at the conclusion of the play (3.2). One might not care about Demetrius’ insincere love upon first glance, recognizing the happiness of Helena, but upon the second glance an impression of disenchantment is felt. And so it is with many first and second glances on Shakespearean comedies. Blind happiness is shortly followed by open-eyed discontentment. The beauty of Shakespeare is that he provides the tools for his audience to improve upon the feelings of discontentment. Flaws are presented and magnified, yet Shakespeare allows his characters to triumph in their search for love and happiness. This gives the audience an improving view of love as it offers the opportunity to recognize it is not always perfect, yet it is always present and obtainable.

At the end of a comedy Shakespeare does not allow his viewers the luxury of a neat, overly optimistic ending. There is always an unresolved matter to which the audience feels invested. He forces his viewers to consider the reality of happiness and fault coinciding in an attempt to improve the ideals of his audience.

But Shakespeare does not force improvement and growth just upon the audiences of his comedies; his tragedies reflect his improving nature as well.

A Shakespearean tragedy creates a painful experience. A great and honorable character is the author of his or her own destruction through one tragic flaw in which death is the only release. Murder, insanity, and suicide run amuck in Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Julius Caesar. Audiences watch in horror as tragic flaws lead to brutality, war, and death. Even more painful, however, is the demise of character.

Lady Macbeth turns from a faithful and attentive wife to a murderous and compassionless lunatic. Macbeth goes from a content, honorable warrior to an inhuman tyrant. Romeo and Juliet turn from innocent lovers to irresponsible, suicidal teens. Brutus gives the final stab in the murder of his great friend and mentor, Caesar, leading the eventual downfall of the Roman Empire.

Yet at the end of these tragedies viewers are not depressed, miserable, or disheartened. The plays are clearly not optimistic, yet the tragedies do not reflect pessimism; pain is felt, but repulsion is not. Instead the ambiguous endings reflect the ideals of an improver.

Macbeth demonstrates that he was once a great man, valued solider, and respected Thane of Scotland. Macbeth is praised by the saint-king Duncan saying, “O worthiest cousin, / The sin of my ingratitude even now…Thou art so far before / That swiftest wing of recompense is slow / to overtake thee…More is thy due than more all can pay” (1.4.14-17, 21). Duncan proves Macbeth is a man worthy of many commends. Even after he murders Duncan, his servants, his friend Banquo, Macduff’s family, and many others, Macbeth’s madness has admirable qualities. Even amidst his downfall Macbeth states, “They have tied me to a stake. I cannot fly, / But, bearlike, I must fight the course” (5.7.1-2). There is something to be said for Macbeth’s decisiveness and determination. Macbeth demonstrates stoicism at it’s greatest as he resolutely faces the overwhelming English army.

Lady Macbeth, too, has laudable qualities. Her determination, loyalty, and courage are unmatched by any Shakespearean character. Once she learns of her husband’s prophesy, Lady Macbeth concocts the plan to murder the King and never strays from it, giving her famous “unsex me here” speech and exclaiming, “Leave all the rest to me” (1.5.40, 72). Her loyalty is notable as though she does not agree with murdering Banquo she offers support to her husband, even covering for his hallucinations at the banquet (3.4). Lady Macbeth’s courage is even greater than her husbands. She reproaches him saying, “But screw your courage to the sticking-place, / And we’ll not fail” (1.7.60-61) and is continually questioning his manhood when courage is called upon (3.4.58). Though Shakespeare presents them through a wicked character, certainly determination, loyalty, and courage are all admirable traits and viewers cannot completely rejoice when Lady Macbeth is dead, as her positive traits die with her.

Is it not the same with Romeo and Juliet? Aren’t viewers sad to see Romeo’s passion and Juliet’s wisdom and courage dead along with their irresponsibility and madness? Are we not touched with the foolish poignancy of their love?

Brutus presents perhaps the strongest case for ambiguity. An honorable man bases his logic from the shaky foundation of trust and murders his friend in a decision based off of limited information. Brutus repeatedly rejects the advice of the older and more experienced Cassius by allowing Antony to give his swaying speech at Caesar’s funeral and again by making irrational military moves (3.2., 4.3). Yet audiences morn his death and say “this was a man” and call him “honorable” just as Antony does (5.5.67-74). Audiences admire Brutus’ pureness. He is indeed honorable and integral in his desire to protect his country.

The ambiguity felt is a reflection of Shakespeare’s ability to improve upon tragedy. Shakespeare takes a once noble trait and pushes it to a negative extreme. There is something great and admirable about the faults of those in his tragedies, yet we cannot deny they are faults. If the plays were merely black or white audiences would have no trouble distinguishing or articulating their thoughts, emotions, and ideas. Instead the plays are grey. And as such audiences have great difficulty in deciding if the Macbeth’s should be admired or hated, if there is a pure or pathetic quality in Romeo and Juliet, and if Brutus is honorable or a selfish man of treason.
Instead of allowing his tragedies to be subjugated to disaster, misery, and pessimism, Shakespeare provides an emotional catharsis in the nobleness and honor of his characters. Shakespeare provides the tools for improvement as he demonstrates failed potential and character, but not failed existence.

Instead of allowing a comfortable sensory experience wherein his plays allow his audiences to sort their emotions and thoughts into one compartment with one label, Shakespeare stretches his audiences by never allowing his plays to be dominated by overwhelming optimism or devastating pessimism. Shakespeare’s unwillingness to leave his work in complete light or shadow leaves his audiences feeling disconcerted in a thousand shades of gray: certainly an improvement on only black and white.

All-Time Low


Problem #1: I don’t want to do and have no time to do my laundry.
Problem #2: I have no more clean underwear.
Problem #3: Non-clean underwear is NOT an option.

Solution: Go to WalMart and buy new underwear with my roommate who has a similar predicament.

New Problem #1: Old lady underwear is too big and trashy underwear is too small.

New Solution #1: Go to little girl section.

New Problem #2: Only options are Care Bears or Sponge Bob Square Pants.

New Solution #2: Care Bears it is.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Good Find

"Build a house?" exclaimed John.

"For the wendy," said Curly.

"For Wendy?" John said aghast. "Why she is only a girl!"

"That," explained Curly, "is why we are her servants."

-JM Barrie (Peter Pan)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dating in the Words of Willy

“But for mine own / part, it was Greek to me” (Julius Caesar)

“Come what come may, / Time and hour runs through the roughest day.” (Macbeth)

“But screw your courage to the sticking-place.” (Macbeth)

“My mind is full of scorpions.” (Macbeth)*

“The course of true love never did run smooth.” (Midsummer Night’s Dream)

“Why then ‘tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or / bad, but thinking makes it so.” (Hamlet)

“Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.” (The Tempest)


*Should I be worried there are so many Macbeth quotes in a blog about dating…?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cold, Wisdom, and Wit

Our conversation walking to the library went something like this:

Me (in a slightly whiny tone): “How can it be this cold? We are wearing wool, how are we supposed to get warmer?”

Kelsey (tone equally whiny): “Every year I forget how cold it gets. Every year!”

Me: “It must be like childbirth.”

Kelsey: “What?!”

Me: “You know, that drug your body releases after childbirth.”

Kelsey: “…”

Me (matter of factly): “You know that drug your body releases after childbirth that makes you forget the pain. If it didn’t no one would have more than one baby.” I offer a small self-indulgent laugh at my clever connection.

Kelsey (seriously): “Oh right. Yeah it must, otherwise no one would come to school here for more than one winter.”

Me: “Childbirth and Rexburg winters….and falling in love.”

Kelsey: “Oh yeah. Falling in love. Yeah. I bet you’re right.”

Me: “I think I’ll write a blog about it.”

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Day in Pictures

7:00am-8:30am:
Cycling and swimming with Angie and Travis. Together we make up the three legs of a triathlon.

12:30pm-3:30pm:

Covered myself in charcoal while drawing my Italian friend, Massimo.

3:30pm-4:40pm: Matt, the snitch.

Watched my FHE brothers play QUIDDITCH!

The beaters and a chaser

Great quote from Ian (far left), yelled in a moment of frustration when the fans were getting too intensely involved, “Guys! We aren’t real wizards! We can’t really fly!” Take it back Ian. You proved yourself wrong.

4:30pm-6:30pm:


Started grading this very intimidating stack of papers.

7:30pm-11:30pm:

Had a social life, despite my lack of time for one.

11:30pm-12:00am: Read and listened to Julius Caesar. I was feeling pretty confidant in my Shakespearian abilities until about 11:29.59pm.

What is on the agenda for tomorrow?


Watching Edgar Allan Poe’s funeral, of course!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Clues to Adulthood

I have determined I’m an adult.

I discovered it Tuesday when I subscribed to a scholarly art magazine.

I coked my head to one side and sat and stared for a few, very long and self-aware seconds, with a (I'm sure) bewildered look on my face when it hit me: Only adults subscribe to non-trashy magazines. And now I’m one of them.

I'm glad my new-found adulthood wasn't found in a novel-like way of a Series of Insignificant Events.

Rather it was just one insignificant event.

And I think that's a pretty good start.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Of College and Milkshakes

Wrote September 10, 2009: I’m sitting here tonight trying to convince myself I like suppers solely comprised of brown minute rice, soy sauce, and a plumb I stole from my house, after a day of sitting through classes listening to syllabi after syllabi and running into old friends, ex-boyfriends, people who’s names I should—but don’t—remember, and coming home to an apartment of mostly strangers, I am wondering why I do this thing called college.

Wrote Today: Yesterday I realized it’s for reasons like this:

Happy National Chocolate Milkshake Day (Saturday)! As celebrated by me and my roommates Angie and Jocelyn.

Yesterday was one of those days when a chocolate milkshake said more than a chocolate milkshake. It said, “I’m free. I have little responsibility. I have fun friends and roommates. I am independent. I’m at a great time in my life.”

Chocolate milkshakes are the reason I do this thing called college.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Few More Things

  • I dream in black and white. Every so often there is a muted, almost neutral green thrown in there too, I think it’s my brains way of shaking things up.
  • I enjoy working out at night. If I work out in the morning things like this happen.
  • I drool over JCrew.

  • My first word was in German. I had a German neighbor, Emilee, who became my Oma (Grandma) and taught me, “Muhen-Kuh” (Moo-Cow) as my first word. One of my earliest memories is of her house while watching Betty Boop and eating butter cookies from a tin.
  • I’m convinced that other people would like certain movies more if they watched them with me.
  • I judge people on how they spend their money. I often think to myself behind others in the check-out line, “Why are you wearing those $300 jeans and texting on your iphone, telling your kids to be quiet, and then telling the cashier you can’t afford milk and haggling over an expired coupon. Fix your priorities!” It’s terrible.
  • I love getting/giving $.41 in change because it is one each of a quarter, dime, nickel, and penny.
  • I look at women’s clothes from the 40’s and wish my wardrobe was comprised solely of them. I think they are classy, flattering, and beautiful.

I’m pretty sure kisses like this only happen in dresses like that.

  • I have a charm bracelet but am very careful as to what kind of charm gets a spot.
  • A boy once wrote a hate song written about me and published it on PureVolume.com.
  • I go through these stages where everything I love is connected to a single item or idea. I think 2009 will be called the “Pistachio Year” as lately everything is either pistachio flavored (who knew pistachios, pistachio ice cream, and pistachio pudding were SO good?) or pistachio colored (leather jacket the color of a nut, anyone?).

  • I take IQ tests periodically.
  • I love bread pudding. I still think about some apple bread pudding I had over a year ago with my cousin Haley in Alaska. It had grape-nut ice cream on the side and was divine.
  • I wish I had beautiful handwriting.
  • I started my blog this month a year ago and honestly didn’t think it would last this long. Hence the list of things about me again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Staples Easy Girl


No one likes wearing a name tag with the phrase, "that was easy" directly beneath.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Europe: Letter to Ray and Cali


Dear Ray and Cali,

Coming back from Europe I was asked lot of questions: “How was it?” “Where was your favorite place?” “What did you do?” They were hard to answer and I usually gave cop-out answers.

“Wonderful, Amazing, Insert your own adjective.”
“I couldn’t pick a favorite. Oh, alright Italy.”
“Studied art.”

Your question, however, was my favorite. And the only one that required almost two months of thought. I’m still not entirely sure I have a complete answer as to why I am a better person for going to Europe, but I think I’m close.

In Europe I discovered a lot of things about myself. That sounds so cliché. A better way of stating it would be that a side of me that was dormant, but very much there, came alive.

None of this slow and steady oozing of a self-discovery. I’m talking volcano. I had three and a half weeks, five countries, ten cities, forty-three girls, two boys, seven credits, and three professors to bring out that volcano. The lava that erupted in our metaphor will affect the rest of my life.

In Europe I learned I have a lot to offer.

That is a pretty simple sentence. That sentence, however, has taken me 20 years to formulate, say, and believe.

I didn’t know it until recently, though I have always been drawn to it, but art is one of my passions. In middle and high school I remember hating the classrooms that had Garfield posters and pastel-colored geographical maps and loving the rooms that had Norman Rockwell and cool historical photographs covering the walls. In Europe it was like I was always in the good classroom with no end of eye-mesmerizing artwork. And this time I didn’t have to stop looking at it to take notes on the Civil War.

Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it must find us working.” Europe was my work. Art was my notes.

In Europe I discovered art is something I am good at. Not making art, by any means. A few mediocre watercolors and sketches are all I have to show in that area. But I found I am okay with that, that isn’t where my talent lies. Instead my talent lies in finding the meaning of art. To me meaning lies in feeling. And art is something I feel.

Rick Riordan said, “You might as well ask an artist to explain his art, or ask a poet to explain his poem. It defeats the purpose. The meaning is only clear through the search.” In Europe I found that not only am I good at finding the meaning of art through feeling, but I can help others in their search. I asked questions that probed, prodded, and produced feelings, ideas, and movement for myself and, often more importantly, others.

I’ve always been fascinated with the talent of others and how they choose to share them. In Europe, were I was constantly exposed to both the tangible and indefinable talents of others, I realized it would be wrong for me to not express and develop my talents in leading others to their own volcanic discovery.

I may never move viewers to tears. No one may ever spend hours gazing at something my mind, hands, and heart produced. I may never be featured in a well-lit gallery, my signature painted for all to see.

But I can teach others to feel enough passion to offer tears on sight of a piece of art. I can put my mind, hands, and heart into teaching others to appreciate and mimic the great producers of art. Instead my gallery can be a classroom with florescent lighting.

And to me, that is a lot to offer.

Love, Ande

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Oh Fiddle-Dee-Dee"

One of my all time favorite books is Gone with the Wind.

I’m sentimental. I’m a (semi) rational romantic. I’m a sucker for tragedies. And the O’Hara plantation has it all.

Scarlett O’Hara is a great character. I love her complexity. She is straightforward (as her acid tongue proves). She has courage (could I have killed that Yankee soldier?). She is resourceful (dress made from green curtains anyone?). She is strong (not many of us would vow to survive off rotten carrots). And although she takes her qualities to the negative extreme and is a perfectly despicable character, I admire her.

Unfortunately those aren’t the traits of Scarlett’s I posses. No, instead I seem to almost live and breathe by this quote:

“I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.”

Thanks to Scarlett O’Hara I am a procrastinator of thought. I’ve found I get sick of hearing myself process the more dismal, embarrassing, or painful parts of my existence, and so, in a fairly recent development, I just don’t.

I put off until tomorrow too many things I should have thought about yesterday.

I’ve always thought of myself as choosing the type of man that would say, as Rhett did, “Here, take my handkerchief. Never, at any crisis of your life, have I known you to have a handkerchief.”

When really, that would never happen. I rarely cry in front of men and men don’t offer handkerchiefs anymore.

Which…I will think about tomorrow.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Europe: People I Love

I am a different person for meeting these people. I wish there was a way I could paint a true representation of them, but I know that even at the end of a novel written about each one all I would want to say is, “Oh, you would have to meet them.”

Tori.

"...it was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials."
- John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath)
  • I knew we would be friends when, during a meeting before leaving for Europe, she leaned over to me, introduced herself and said, “I have kind of a personal question…are you going to shower every day in Europe?” Together we embraced the filth of both Europe and ourselves.
  • One of those people that funny things just happen to.
  • Gave money to every homeless person she saw. Once, when she didn’t have any money she gave the man a gummy candy shark. She was giving it to him because she thought he would genuinely enjoy it.
  • Knows everything there was to know about furniture and architecture. When we would walk into a room full of paintings she would often comment on the seating in the room and its designer.
  • LOVES street performers and took pictures with all of the slightly creepy, but somehow charming street performers.
  • Gracefully honest.
  • Said things like, “freaky-tiki-tavi” instead of just saying scary.
  • Made funny observations about things that most others wouldn’t find humor in. We had the same goofy sense of humor and laughed when things really weren’t funny.

The Girls.

Tori, Brittany, Rachel, Melissa, Megan, Me

"I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives."
- Jane Austen

Megan.

  • Bought a shirt that says “Make Art, Not War” and wore peace sign earrings.
  • Loves Nutella and constantly asked if I would go get some more gelato with her.
  • Always happy.
  • Has a lot of expression.

Brittany.

  • Has a raspy voice. That is always saying kind things. I love it.
  • Was always cheerful. Not just happy, cheerful.
  • Wore pink almost daily.

Melissa.

  • Answered to “Marmy.”
  • Believed in “hand hugs”.
  • Taught Steven to braid hair.

Katie.

  • Doesn’t really like museums.
  • Snored.
  • Out-bought us all when it came to chocolate.
  • Couldn’t walk a straight line to save her life.

Steven.

"Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence."
- Robert Frost

  • Asked me to teach him to waltz on a rooftop in Bergamo, Italy at sunset.
  • Let all 44 of us girls tease him mercilessly about his man purse, among other things.
  • Has a great sense of direction and never got us lost.
  • The only person on our trip who had the foresight to bring a Book of Mormon in a language besides English with him. It was honestly one of the most humbling experiences, and one of the highlights of the trip, to watch him teach a man about the Gospel for over a half an hour in a cafĂ© in Vienna. He pulled out a Book of Mormon in German that had been waiting for an opportunity to emerge the entire trip. Steven just got an e-mail from the man.
  • Only lost a game of Egyptian Rat Screw once.
  • Never won a game of Speed.
  • Gave me bites of all of his food if I promised to do the same.
  • Let me talk, and talk, and talk to him about art and the things it made me think and feel. When we would be by a piece of artwork I knew something about he could always tell and would ask me to tell him about it, knowing it was about to burst out of me anyway. He always had great questions and comments and I learned a lot by talking and discussing things with him.

Brother Geddes. Brother G.

“It's hard not to like a man who not only notices colors, but speaks them." - Markus Zusak (The Book Thief)

  • Wore brown Crocks with brown socks.
  • Told me I laugh like an old French man.
  • Teased us all.
  • Speaks French and Italian.
  • Followed his wife to Hawaii, even though she was engaged to someone else at the time.
  • Moseyed in the back of the group with Tori and me and pointed out interesting details.
  • His face was a mass of wrinkles, until he smiled. Then it was a mass of creases around his mouth and eyes.

Brother Stephenson. Brother S.

"Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness."
- Victor Hugo (Les Miserables)

  • Knows something about everything. Art. Music. Architecture. Literature. Theatre. Ducks. Everything. He literally has some sort of knowledge on anything you ask him.
  • Does great voice impressions. My favorites were Jimmy Stuart (both young and old), Darth Vader, Sister Wendy from the art videos, and the Italian guards at the Vatican.
  • Speaks French and Italian.
  • Wore socks with Teva sandals.
  • Encouraged us to learn and experience.

Brother Anderson. Brother A.

"Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one"
- Stella Adler

  • So, so, so very awkward. In a very endearing sort of way.
  • Hunches his shoulders and sways from side to side when he laughs.
  • Extremely knowledgeable about art. I became his shadow in museums, not only because of his extensive knowledge, but because he is honestly one of the kindest people I know.
  • Speaks German.
  • Put his arm around me in Paris when I was cold. Couldn’t figure out how to take it off without being awkward. I just let him struggle and giggled inside.

Semi-Group Picture.

…“Oh, you would have to meet them.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

To Ty

Ty,

To me you are otter pops. You are the little plastic tops of the wrappers littering the house.

You are paper airplanes.

You are laughing. You and you alone, can make me snort.

You are listening to your absence of a laugh. The one where all you do is breath out of your nose and smile really big.

You are rope tricks at Lybbert’s Pond.

You are cups of dry cereal and popping ankles.

You are a monotone voice that is always raised. We have to remind you, “We are right here Ty. Talk quieter.”

You are a compliment in the morning while I am doing my hair.

You are obnoxious. Delightfully so.

You are physical contact. Personal space means nothing to you.

You are squirmy. You can’t sit still. And you have a lot of sharp edges on your body. Not a great mixture when we are crowded in the backseat together for any extended period of time.

You are a phone call where I can’t hang up because you make me feel guilty. Secretly I like it when you wouldn’t let me hang up.

You are being included with your friends in high school. You would let me play cards with you, and because I was good, you even wanted me on your team.

You are the brown truck and learning how to drive stick shift. I recall yelling.

You are the 6 a.m. alarm clock saying, “Come play!” (When you are 18).

You are bitten nails and crusty cuticles.

You are running around the house five times, at Mom’s command, to settle you down to our energy level.

You are the brother who didn’t know his own strength until you would give us bruises. Sometimes, when I was little, I would use Mom’s MaryKay samples to make fake bruises…just to get you into trouble.

You are, “Pressure point, pressure point!”

You are Ty the Tiger.

You are uncontrollably crying when we said goodbye the day you left for your mission. I was still crying at work.

You are e-mails that scream your personality and make me say, “What a punk” out loud when I am done reading them.

You are my best friend (tied with the rest of the family of course). I’m excited to see you today.

I love you. Happy Birthday.

Love, Ande

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Welcome Back

It seems I have a fickle fan.

Monday I had X amount of subscribers to my blog.

Tuesday I had X minus 1.

Today I am back to X.

I am glad to have you back.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dear Europe: Places I Love

Dear London,

It’s not you…it’s me.

Brigham Young said, "If I were placed on a cannibal island and given the task of civilizing its people, I should straightway build a theatre for the purpose."

London, the theatre made you.

At the Globe Theatre waiting to see Romeo and Juliet .
London, I never really liked Romeo and Juliet, even my romantic mind thought it was ridiculous and a bit irresponsible. But London, you made me love it. We chose to get standing “seats” right by the stage. I could smell the actors. I’ve always thought Romeo was kind of an idiot but I was half in love with him by the end of the night. London, that was all you.

Really excited about Les Miserables

Nothing can beat “One Day More,” Enjolras waving the red flag, Gavroche’s sacrifice, or Valjean’s prayer.

London if you were once a cannibalistic island, it was your theatre that brought you to civilization.

Dear Paris,

Although you were dirty and I went through an entire bottle of hand sanitizer in your city alone, I really like you.

I love your food. Crepes, baguettes, cheese, pastries, what’s not to like?

One of many.

I also enjoyed discovering you while walking along the Seine River …

And watching the street painters…

And climbing the spiral steps to the Arc d’Triumphe...

...to watch the crazy 12 lane round-about traffic below...absolutely no rhyme or reason.

Our legs were shaking from the 14 miles we walked that day and the 800 stairs we climbed in your city.

You offered me the Orsay Museum.

Sacre Cour through the giant clock at the Orsay

You fulfilled one of my life-long dreams when you opened the doors of the Louvre.

Through the glass pyramid

After being in the Louvre a bit too long...large museums can have this affect you.

The top of the Eiffel tower at Sunset probably helped you win me over, too.

Sometimes graffiti is O.K. When on the Eiffel Tower is one such occasion.


Dear Rome , Sienna, San Giminiano, Bergamo, and Florence,

I loved you because of the art:

Looking at the Sistine Chapel with binoculars

And the architecture:

Colosseum

Look at all of that Tuscan stone...On top of the Duomo in Florence

And the food:

1st course: bread, oil, and vinegar

2nd and 3rd courses: pasta and pizza


Dessert: gelato...times this by about 30 and you have my entire gelato intake

And the beauty of Rome:

Borghese Museum


And Tuscany :

Sienna

Florence

And your fountains:

Throwing my three coins into the Trevi Fountain, ensuring I will come back.


I discovered I have a small obsession with fountains.

Be it drinking from...

Jumping in...
Discovering my inner Water Muse...


Or just looking at, I love your fountains.

And literally stumbling upon ruins:

Some homeless guy napping on ancient ruins.

Thank you for starting out my Chaco tan line.


Journal Entry for May 7, 2009: “No wonder Italy produced such great artists with this beautiful country to inspire them.”

Yup, I love Italy.

Dear Vienna and Salzburg,

Some parts of you were so picturesque. Drawing inspiration from The Sound of Music, as it took place in Salzburg, I will show you a few of my favorite things about you:

Bratwurst and spicy mustard:


Maribel Gardens :

The hostel we stayed at in Salzburg plays The Sound of Music every night. This is the garden where she sings “Do Rei Mi.” I am obviously Frauline Maria in the above picture.

Bike Rides:


The fortress that was always in the background:


Castles and gardens:
The Alps and surrounding hills:

And the rain. You brought relief to the heat with your rain and made me feel justified for buying an umbrella during that rain storm in Rome.

Other parts of you, however, were horrific.

Journal Entry for May 14, 2009: We just got done visiting Mauthausen Concentration Camp (the camp where Peter from The Diary of Anne Frank worked and died). It was so sobering. I don’t have a lot of thoughts or insights on it. I just feel sick. Physically sick. I honestly want to puke.
The small stones are a symbol of Jewish mourning.
We started at the bottom of the quarry where once-dignified men and boys would carry stones weighing 60-110 lbs stones. It’s funny, I just realized I have no idea what those stones were used for. Were they used to continue their torture? Were thy used to build up a fascist Germany? That would be torturous in and of itself, to know your suffering was being used to heighten others suffering.





















From the quarry we climbed up the “stairs of death.” These were the stairs the prisoners would climb to relieve their load. I climb stairs to heighten my enjoyment and comfort. They climbed stairs to survive. At the top of the stairs I climb I find rewarding experiences and beautiful memories. They found vicious guards and cold, ugly surroundings.
At the top of the stairs is a view over beautiful Austrian hills and forests. It was such a stark juxtaposition to the grey cinder walls and barbed wire of the work camp.
It’s interesting to me that the place didn’t have an evil or bad feeling or spirit around it. It was calm, somber, and even though terrible things and awful sufferings were carried out there, there were some feelings of peace and rest. I felt sickened and saddened, yet somehow peaceful. Christ must impart his Spirit there as an act of mercy. I have a hard time believing that Christ has not opened his arms and salvation to those who suffered and died there. It’s also interesting to me that Christ covered not only the suffering that took place there, but also those who imparted their cruelty.

We toured through the barracks, the washroom and the bathrooms. We then walked through exhibits with pictures, facts, and artifacts. I paused at a homemade chess set, drawings and journals, made by prisoners to pass the time and drudgery. It’s so interesting that people have a will to survive and create no matter their circumstances. As we were walking up the path to the camp I wondered what kind of person I would have been: someone who jumped off the cliff, someone who just survived, or someone who inspired others to survive.
After the exhibits we walked downstairs where I was expecting more exhibits when I turned a corner to another room. Instead I found ovens. It literally hurt my heart. We then walked through rooms leading to the gas chambers. The rooms were so cold and scary. I was scared just walking through; I can’t imagine the fear that took over the prisoners when that became part of their life and part of their story. In the gas chamber there was a lone plaque with a picture of a handsome young man. His name was Stefan. That was when I lost it. It was already real to me, but it became personal then. I just stared at his young face and cried.
There were pictures of younger boys at another part in the museum. It was so sad to me that even if they lived, they would never fully recover.
There were some shoes in a case. One pair particularly caught my eye. It was a pair of women’s sandals. Those shoes had a life, had a story. When she was young her dreams and aspirations didn’t include living, suffering, and dying in a concentration camp.

I don’t have any sort of conclusion to my thoughts other than my life is so blessed and privileged. Seeing Mauthausen makes me want to increase the kindness, love and charity I show and give.

After this experience no one in our group said a word. For twenty minutes all I heard was the scratching of pens as we wrote in our journals.

Dear Munich,


My love for you can be summarized in three pictures:

1) Great art. My favorite was the Neue Pinakothek Museum (New Picture Gallery)

2) Talented street musicians. We walked your streets at night for this reason alone.

3) Is a caption necessary? (Please note those are two half-gallons of Nutella)

Dear U.S.A.,

I love you even though you took my Nutella at customs.

I enjoyed and appreciated every place in Europe, but I am glad you are my home.

Love, Ande