ode to miriam.

I'll begin by saying that Miriam in ingenious. She's a P.h.d. in Antibiotic Resistance performing research at UC Merced, but refuses to allow us to call her "Dr. Barlow." She attends large science conferences abroad and furiously writes grants.
Put plainly, Miriam is engaged in unlocking some of the mysteries of the world with hopes to make it a better place for others. But even with such weighty things on her mind, she finds time to single-handedly remodel her modest home, maintain her yard, grow oranges, make strawberry freezer jam, cook dinner for the neighbors, play with children, and maintain deep and meaningful connections with her family members and close friends.

There is no way that I would ever know Miriam through personal interests alone. We lead very different lives. Sometimes I imagine myself as a student in her class (although that would never happen because I'm not even smart enough to be in her class) and think about what it would be like to have a professional relationship with her. I imagine admiring her and wondering what she did in her free time.

And here is the amazing thing about life: I am Miriam's free time. Not only do I get to marvel at what she does in her professional life, but I get the opportunity to know the inner workings of her whole life in general. I get to talk work and research and philosophy and boys with this person and then I think to myself, "Who am I? How lucky am I to have this intimate relationship with someone this remarkable?"

I am not kidding. I cannot believe how blessed I am.


knew i was right.

"I'm headed up to Provo."
"You mean DOWN to Provo?"
Whitney is a drafter and this mistake cannot go uncorrected. In her mind north is up and south is down. The notion of going "down" to Salt Lake is likewise deemed ridiculous.
But after years of being corrected on this issue (ever since the mint house days) I discovered that I am right.

Salt Lake City: 4,226 ft. above sea level

Provo: 4,549 ft. above sea level



There is an Indian girl in my tennis class. I'm not certain how to spell her name, but she taught me to pronounce it "nup-tee." She speaks with a strong Hindi accent and transforms into an absolute noodle when playing tennis. Her wrists and arms are all bendy and and form all sorts of unusual arcs that send the ball flying almost everywhere except for the green court space behind the net.
It sounds cruel, but sometimes it's hard not to laugh; simply because the visuals of her tennis strokes strike me as entirely comedic. It's like maybe she's actually good at tennis and just playing around to make us laugh or teach us a lesson abut how to be kind to people who are different. I've noticed fellow classmates' subtle dodges from pairing up with her for doubles.
Maybe it's cliche, but this girl is my new hero. She is persistent, sincere and never makes excuses for her ball that just flew over the fence. As someone who has herself been terrible at playing team sports, her gutsy-ness astounds me. It's something I seek to emulate.

To use a cliche that will package all of these thoughts into one blog entry, graphic design often feels like a "whole new ball game" to me.

I met with Adrian Pulfer, the head of the graphic design program at BYU, yesterday. He reviewed my portfolio to make suggestions about how to improve it before the BFA application process in August. He said this is my strongest piece. In all honesty, it frustrates me just a little bit. The whole thing is hand drawn; composed on paper. It makes me feel like a fake graphic designer, like that one piece is a genuine "Laura" that happens to overlap into the world of graphic design. He said I should redo a lot of my computer generated work and asked me to set up weekly appointments with him so that he could help me during my process; to help walk me through and offer regular feedback. A good sign, right?

May I go forward in the spirit of Nupti. I've got a lot of work to do.


foamy q&a.

I apologize for my absence. I promise I've had plenty to say and no time to get it out.

I started a new job on BYU campus. I am now a custodian in the chemistry building. The shift is 5 days a week, 4:30a-8:00a.

I'm on the bathroom crew. Surprisingly, this is the coveted position because I get to work with other people. I clean the sinks and mirrors while someone else cleans the toilets.

There is a certain intimacy in spending such tired hours with another person in a bathroom setting.

"I don't think that art majors should date other art majors. I dated a physics major once and it was all good for a while, but it got really boring. We were too similar; I knew it was never going anywhere."

This is Travis, the electrical engineering major that scrubs the toilets while I shine the mirrors. Dating, periods, and restroom hygiene are all typical topics of conversation during a given shift. I've seen his butt crack on numerous occasions and told him to his face. "Yeah, you're one of many girls," was his reply. He insists that I'm a "drama queen" on a regular basis.

Then there's the other bathroom team composed of Trace and Kyle. They clean the mens' bathrooms while we're doing the womens'. (We rotate bathroom gender on a weekly basis.) These guys save me in these early hours, but mostly Trace.

He's dubbed our bathroom crew as "Team Awesome." My nickname is Amphibiawesome, Travis's is Null Space, and Kyle's is Admiral Retriever who owns an adorable imaginary puppy, First Mate. Trace often imagines that the application of cleaning chemicals on bathroom surfaces is actually exploding bombs in a comic book war zone and articulates it in a dramatic action movie narration voice.
"On Thursdays...we CONSUME!"

The names of the chemicals we use are ridiculous enough to add to the drama of our fantasy cleaning world (These are the actual names):
Foamy Q&A
(really harsh, we have to pour it down the floor drains every Thursday)
Bio Bowl
(often pronounced "nab see")

On Friday, we started a new game.

"Wait Travis, I've gotta use the bathroom before we start."
I kick the door stop out and roll the cleaning cart away.

"No way, you can't do that right before he's gonna start cleaning the toilets! I think if you use a toilet right now that you have to take responsibility and clean them yourself," Trace pipes in.

"Nuh uh! It's totally the same. It's not like he's gonna be able to tell which one I used anyway."

"I bet I can!" Travis exclaims.

"Whatev." I enter the door and take care of business. When I get out, it's all arranged and the other three are poised for game time.

"Okay Laura, come and show us which one you used. Travis will stay out here."

Me, Trace, and Kyle all enter the womens' bathroom together and I silently point to the stall.

"Okay Travis, we're ready..."

He walks in contemplating with a finger near his mouth.

"Hmmmm...This one!"

Don't ask me how he got it right.


liverpool exchange.

I went camping this last weekend with a group from Liverpool that came to BYU for a book arts exchange. I was asked to write my thoughts about our camping trip together to post on their blog (I will post that link when I get it):

I overheard a conversation as I sat sketching in the cold air at the base of Calf Creek Falls.

"This sort of stuff; realistic sketches; they're mostly just for fun. They help me clear my head...I like to do more conceptual pieces."

Caroline, from Liverpool, just asked my professor, Joe Ostraff about his artwork. I found myself wanting to blurt out my own responses in place of his own modesty:

"The fact that you are here is proof of Joe's artwork!" (I said it out loud only the friend seated beside me.)

I can't think of a better way to put it. I consider Joe to be more an organizer of people than a painter. His projects mostly involve placing people in situations where they can share their own sories and listen to those of others. I esteem his art with the highest respect.(If only he had a website I could link you to here; I regret that he doesn't have one.)

I believe that the best art is educational, helps you question your own beliefs and way of of life, leads you to consider the beliefs and lives of others, and/or helps you further appreciate the beauty of the most basic things around you.

I've experienced all of this during the Liverpool exchange. The redrock cliffs, my ease with breathing at high altitudes, my body's natural adjustment to the desert heat, the religion I practice on a daily basis, and the accent with which I speak my native language all began to feel exotic in the company of my British camping companions.

Having never traveled to England, it's been educational to see others celebrate their own places of origin and to discuss and imagine their own trajectories. Exploring both our similarities and differences help me to see outside myself and remember that millions of others share this world in their own, very real experiences.

my sketch: