6.16.2011

hip-hop?


A recent paper for my English class:

There is no question about the ubiquitous infiltration of hip-hop in American culture. We've all felt it bang at our car windows during stoplights, seen boxer shorts protruding from low-hanging, oversized jeans, watched graffiti tags creep onto local train cars and bridges, and witnessed grade school girls imitate sexy, Beyonce-style dance moves.

However, despite its undeniable popularity, many latter-day saints seek to shut it out. It is no secret that many popular hip-hop genres are steeped in the glorification of sex, violence, drugs, and misogyny. Two of hip-hop's legendary stars, Tupac and Biggie, were both gunned down in the 1990's. It is rare to find a top-selling hip-hop album devoid of words like “ho” or unaccompanied by a parental advisory sticker for the use of far cruder language. The New York Times op-ed writer, Brent Staples wrote in response to Lil’ Kim’s plans to release an album while serving prison time: “When it comes to rap music, what's poisonous for the culture - and dangerous for minority youth - tends to be great for album sales (par.15)”.

Despite the fact that hip-hop culture seems diametrically opposed to LDS values, why are so many of our faithful youth drawn to it? While some are surely seduced by its rugged sense of invincible carnality, peeling back a layer to examine its origins reveals something of greater interest.

Hip-hop was born in the Bronx in the shadows of the 1970's economic bust. Automobile manufacturing and steel mill jobs moved overseas for cheaper foreign labor; social services were cut with waning budgets. Public spaces in black communities became governed by lethal drug economies. It was in the face of this that hip-hop emerged, piece-by-piece, from the economical social event known as the block party. DJs competed in percussion break battles, cleverly employing the only instrument they had easy access to: existing vinyl records. Dancers judged the competitions, and MCs eventually started rhyming to the beats. In many cases, hip-hop became an alternative to gang violence as battle rapping substituted guns and knives. But above all, the greatest victory of hip-hop ingenuity lies in the fact that it provided a voice for a destitute and marginalized population (Dyson 180-182).

“When hip hop began in the South Bronx, it was the voice of the voiceless. Hip Hop artists spoke to the despair and pain of urban youth and the poor who were often without a voice...It was legendary hip hop pioneer Chuck D of Public Enemy who famously called hip hop the 'CNN of the ghetto' (Muhammad par. 1).”

As Mormons, we know that almost anything can be uttered over a pulpit. Alongside the dark and hedonistic, many hip-hop artists' work brims with positive messages from sources of great authenticity and sincerity, often offering advice about how to overcome difficult circumstances. They pay homage to their hometown, friends, family, and ancestors, often boasting of their self-determination, ingenuity, and luck in surviving along the way.

Grandmaster Flash's “White Lines (Don't Do it)” released in 1983, warned its underprivileged Bronx audience of the dangers of cocaine, addiction, and drug smuggling. The Gift of Gab cautions against average contemporary idleness in his 2001 album, Blazing Arrow: “No more of that sittin' in a slump/ No more of that coulda-woulda-shoulda junk/No more of that waiting for the inspiration, innovation or a green light--now begin/No more of that lettin' all your time pass/No more petty illusions of the mindless/It's time to expand, power from within, you're takin' over this dominion/Green light, now begin”

While hip-hop is often used to promote filth, can it also be utilized to instill personal integrity?

It is an unfortunate phenomenon that sensationalism sells. It is even more unfortunate that the white record executives who eventually marketed hip-hop to the American public knew that fact, pushing the most lewd and sexually charged hip-hop genre--gangsta rap--to a pop stature that has shadowed socially conscious hip-hop from the public view. The scholar Michael Eric Dyson wrote, “Much of gangsta rap makes voyeuristic whites and na├»ve blacks think they're getting a slice of authentic ghetto life when in reality they're being served a colorful exaggeration...[and] many critics argue that since gansta rap is often the only means by which many white Americans come into contact with black life, its pornographic representations and brutal stereotypes of black culture are especially harmful (180-181).”

Although fully loaded with a unique history and culture of its own, hip-hop is a medium for expressing thoughts and emotions. Our familiarity with mediums like paint, books, rock n' roll, country music, and the internet all demonstrate that mediums can become vehicles for the good or bad, depending on what the author intends.

Roger Ebert wrote: “Rap has a bad reputation in white circles, where many people believe it consists of obscene and violent anti-white and anti-female guttural. Some of it does. Most does not. Most white listeners don't care; they hear black voices in a litany of discontent, and tune out (par. 8).”

Of course hip-hop music doesn't appeal to everyone. We certainly don't need to login to iTunes and hurriedly purchase the latest socially conscious hip-hop album to display our support. But as latter-day saints, we view ourselves as culturally open and diverse. We teach our missionaries to speak numerous foreign languages in an attempt to provide the greatest amount of respect and fluidity within numerous cultures covering the earth. We seek to reach out in love to people of all backgrounds whether inside or outside of our faith for the cause of a greater good. As much as our efforts for diversity extend overseas, a quick dismissal of hip-hop culture could cause us to overlook our immediate neighbors. It's a lose-lose situation. Like most marginalized groups—early American colonizers, concentration camp survivors, and our very own pioneers—hip-hop's survivors of urban devastation reveal inspiring stories of principled persistence and hope.

I think we can all agree with Mos Def in his song, “Sunshine”: “[I don't care] what type of brand you are/I'm concerned what type of man you are/What your principles and standards are.”

5.19.2011

never enough.


Somehow I became obsessed with running. It's so weird. After 27 years of sedentary art creation/appreciation seated comfortably at desks and cushions, I suddenly decided to run so much that I injured my Achilles tendons. And every day during the three weeks that I swam or biked as I waited for my tendons to man up, I missed it.

My simple secret is this:
1. Use a treadmill, it keeps you going like a cheerleader.
2. Listen to hip hop. It doesn't matter what kind; it doesn't matter how misogynistic it is. All that matters is that it has a beat.

I promise you'll be able to run endlessly. The only thing that that will stand in the way are your underdeveloped, art-appreciating tendons. I've had to cut back to only 3 miles a day and have resorted to lifting weights with the other half-hour of my scheduled workout.

My sister was recently promoted at a job where she'd been previously rock-solid certain that they hated her. They pay her in dirt, make her beg for vacation, guard her timecard like Natzis, and slap her with frequent verbal reprimands for harmless mistakes. But, surprise, surprise, she discovered she'd been performing as one of their best employees. When spreading the good news to my mother she explained, "I just can't help but to try to do well."

So maybe that explains it better than the hip hop and the endorphin rushes. Maybe I was bred into this pack of neurotic people who have no real hobbies except to do well at things; even painful things. Because the one way that design really doesn't enrich my life is by forcing my butt into an office chair all day and coaxing me into eating snacks to stay awake all night as I wrestle with my projects. I had to combat it somehow; conquer it before it conquered me. And you can't really do well at anything until you love it.

5.08.2011

the cloth i'm cut from.

Dorothea Lange's photography currently on display in BYU's Museum of Art exhibition, "3 Mormon Towns" will not leave my mind although I first saw it first over two months ago. It was shot in 1953 in the towns of Gunlock, St. George, and Toquerville, Utah. She and Ansel Adams set out to create a photo essay to be published in Life Magazine (although they weren't on assignment.) Lange never informed her photographic subjects of the end goal of the photos, and they were subsequently shocked when it was published. Ansel Adams felt she'd betrayed and disrespected them; neither were satisfied with the end result.

Although commentary on this exhibition includes thoughts on a culture defined by hard work, religion, and small numbers, there are also statements about its documentation of post-war industrialization as the highways gradually encroached on these settlements.

Here are some images from the exhibit:











Lange's skillful command of composition and light powerfully invites you in, but collectively, the exhibition initially left me feeling a little like a stranger stooping to peer through a peephole onto a portion of my own history. Although I don't descend directly from any one of these communities, my own grandparents lived in a nearby and equally rural Escalante, Utah sometime not long after these photographs were taken.

I remembered a quote I'd seen on Luke's blog over 6 months ago:
"If you’re fifteen or so, today, I suspect that you inhabit a sort of endless digital Now, a state of atemporality enabled by our increasingly efficient communal prosthetic memory. I also suspect that you don’t know it, because, as anthropologists tell us, one cannot know one’s own culture."
BEA talk, William Gibson. 2010.
Fascinating as this quote is, it wasn't the concept of the "digital Now", but the simple reminder that "one cannot know one's own culture" that resonated with me in relation to this exhibit. If I'd been viewing images of 1950's Mormon settlements photographed by Mormon photographers, it wouldn't have provided the same experience. I imagine I would've glossed over them with perhaps a few canned thoughts about their impressive work ethic and the ease of technology we enjoy today. I love that this exhibit provides Mormons the opportunity to gaze upon a piece of their own culture through the lens of a foreigner. It points at their startling strength of conviction through their conscious isolation and rugged lifestyle. It demonstrates their ignorance of cultures outside their own as well as their will to preserve that tiny, hallowed sphere in the face of industrialized growth. These are people living on the edge of the civilization because their religious leader instructed them to do so. I think these are all valuable points to consider.

But even still, and despite the accusatory tone Lange may have felt the very moment her shutter snapped open, there is an overwhelming humanity in the people that carries a familiar sense of comfort. Her skill in capturing portraits astounds me. And admittedly, upon examining the human appeal of these images, I wonder if my insider bias as a Mormon blocks that valuable outsider's view. I know the structure of these faces and bodies. (And maybe it's because Utah Mormons are often of scandinavian descent.) They could just as well be ward members I knew growing up. They remind me of the woman my mother visited for years, who lived in the farmhouse just down our road and lived to be 102. They remind me of the elders in the ward who raised horses for a living and rode them with their kids past our house. They remind me of collecting eggs in the cousin's goat shed next door, climbing trees in bare feet, jumping ditches, and how my mom can't stop canning chicken. They make me feel like a simultaneous stranger and friend, and cause me to wonder what part I have yet to carve out in this peculiar, enduring legacy.

4.19.2011

why we're better than you.

Designers often carry a reputation of snobbery around with them whether they like it or not. (And how unfortunate that some really do like it.) I'm happy to announce that I've figured it out and that it's certainly not unjustified. I've had to think about it a lot though. I don't like being labeled as a snob, but, admittedly, my perspectives on design and how it fits in with other visually-based disciplines has served as a source of conflict in the past; namely in romantic relationships. I've dated two painters and a photographer in the past couple of years and in each of these cases, aesthetic philosophies ran deep. It wasn't so much that we squabbled over theoretical specifics; it came down to a matter of respect.

For those of you completely unfamiliar with art culture, I'll spell out the basics:

First, some definitions as I'll be using them:

studio artists- People who typically sell work in galleries, or show it in museums; the traditional role that you think of when you hear the word "artist." Painters, sculptors, performance artists, etc.

designers- people who plan and produce everyday objects for specific clients: shopping bags, cereal boxes, water bottles, magazines, wedding invitations, books, web sites, movie credits, brochures, annual reports, etc.

So here's the rub:

Studio artists think designers are snobby (because they are; I'll explain) and think of themselves as artistically superior (in many cases) because they have the courage to actually make the stuff they want. They are free to pursue the personal, the unconventional, the idealistic, the academic. They often hope to establish a gallery clientele large enough to sustain them so they don't have to teach. (Of course some of them want to teach too.)

Designers think of themselves as superior to studio artists because often the artistic, political or social statements made by studio artists are seen only by a tiny crowd composed of peers, critics, or the extremely wealthy who may be in the market for a painting. Designers believe that because we have access to such a large audiences with budgets to back us up, we have the power to change the world.

The best example of this justification for design snobbery lives in the example of Alexandr Rodchenko, a Russian artist born in 1891. Rodchenko was making it on the Moscow art scene as a painter. He was palling around with Malevich and all of these famous artists who were producing some deeply philosophical and groundbreaking work. But when the October Revolution broke in 1917 with a peasant uprising and the Bolsheviks took power, Rodchenko vowed to harness his artwork to promote their cause. By 1921, he'd tossed away his brushes and palette altogether and created this manifesto:

“Construction is the demand of our age for organization and the utilitarian use of materials. Constructive life is the art of the future. Art that fails to become part of life will be catalogued in the museum of archeological antiquities. It is time for art to organize itself and become a part of life…Away with art that is a form of escape from a life that is not worth living. Contemporary art is a conscious and organized life that is able to see and build. Any person who has organized his life, his work, and himself is a genuine artist. Work for life, and not for palaces, churches, graveyards, and museums. Work amongst all, for all, and with all, away with monasteries, institutes, studios, studies, and islands. Awareness, experience, purpose, construction, technology, and mathematics-these are the brothers of contemporary art.”

I feel like a crazy Bolshevik saying this, but I find myself agreeing with him. I love that he touches on sustainability (a big topic for designers, as the bulk of our work meets its end in the trashcan.) To me, this concept expands the idea of art to something certainly more design-centric, but also toward a greater awareness of regular people living out their regular lives.

Viewing Rodchenko's work speaks even more loudly to this idea. The beautiful composition and typography of the poster at the top of this entry imbues a timeless quality to this simple piece. It has been reinvented to advertise for Franz Ferdinand and hand bags; there is even a cute rendition involving a cat. But this poster serves a functional purpose equally well as it's aesthetic one. It translates: "BOOKS: FOR ALL INDUSTRIES OF KNOWLEDGE." It advertises reading in a simple, exciting way for a largely illiterate audience comprised of Russian peasants.

What I love about design is that we share in a responsibility to make access to information easier, directions simpler, usability of regular objects more enjoyable, all the while (hopefully) making beauty more common for the everyday person.

Rodchenko spoke of commodities as comrades in building up their new nation: meaning that the intent and purpose of every object could be designed to lift society upward, hand-in hand with the efforts of the people.

Maybe I'm a snob; maybe I'm a crazy Bolshevik. Regardless of the labels that come attached, I am so happy to be a designer.

3.12.2011

hakuna matata.


All there is to do on a ParTy Bus that's broken down with a bad alternator is drink the free beer. Sorry Annie.

The bus battery light came on in front of the Taco Time in Nephi, or at least that's what we were told. We were headed down to see Greg Caldwell's art show at the Central Utah Art Center Friday night and never made it. Thank goodness for that Taco Time.

"We were the only ones tacky enough to actually run across the street and get it! ...I feel bad about smelling up the bus."

"Don't worry Annie, we're fine. I have no regrets anyway."

While we shared a veggie burrito and empanada, the bus driver decided to continue on and try for Ephraim anyway. Our ascent up Nephi Canyon lasted about 15 minutes and ended in a lurch that left us on side of the snowy highway. We stopped right in front of a large stone and mortar memorial honoring two men and a married couple who were murdered by native americans as they attempted to settle Sanpete County in the 1800's. Far worse luck was sitting directly behind Stacey.

The minute the bus came to a complete hault she broke out the show tunes. And somehow the gay guy sitting across the aisle from her knew all the words to every song she chose. They started out with "OOOOOOOOOOOk-la-homa!" At first, it seemed fun. Me and Annie even joined it. We sang along with "Doe, a deer, a female deer", "Don't cry for me Argentina", and "Eidelweiss". There were some 80's pop and country songs in between that we weren't as familiar with; but by the time they got to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" it was a bellowing drunken mess.

"Ok Stacey! That's enough! I think that's all we can take!", shouted some people at the back of the bus. And they were 20 rows away.

As the general state of these fellow passengers graduated from tipsy to inebriated, I couldn't help but think of my mom once when we were stranded on the side of the road. We were headed to Disneyland: a real family vacation long before any of us were married or divorced or disenfranchised. We held enthusiasm, anticipation; surety that the long drive would prove well worth it. But the white hippie van with floral olive green and teal print curtains, (that smelled like a combination of cat hair and febreeze) died just as we passed Beaver. Devastation. It was really dead. The engine had blown. We didn't own another car.

While dad got a ride into Beaver and the rest of us stayed stranded, my mom pulled a lemon & lime shasta out of the cooler. I think it started out with all of us making fun of the hippie van.
"How did we think this thing could ever get us to California? Check out the plaid upholstery on these seats!"
"Hahahaha!"
"Of course it couldn't make it past the black hole of I-15! I know at least five different people who've been stranded or pulled over here."
"Really?! Hahahaha!"

Universally, i guess the best thing to do on the sides of roads is get ridiculously happy with what you've got. As my mom laughed, she crushed her now empty pop can in her hands and gave it a final smash against the top of her head. She then starts passing out cans of pop to each of us and repeating the phrase, "HAKUNA MATATA! Drink a can of POP and SMASH it on your head!" As her children, we were mystified. A seemingly coordinated pause preceded our individual fits of laughter that erupted into crying spells of joy.

3.10.2011

bookends.


I finally realized why I stopped blogging. It took a lot longer than I thought it would. I used to reward myself with it, taking homework breaks to type, sometimes in text edit if no internet, and paper and pen if no computer. The funny thing is that I laid it all out before myself from the beginning and still couldn't figure it out.

"Socialexplosion." Duh. I started writing after 3 years of working in a factory, isolated in that little box where my married life kept me away from my family and friends and school and normalcy. I had so much to say when I was finally free. Vomiting my thoughts out to everyone, to cyberspace, to friends as well as strangers provided me a beautiful liberation that I basked in so eagerly. I wanted to write everything; personal things, edgy things; to show that I could get away with it and that I didn't care who got offended or thought it was inappropriate. I aimed to prove myself; to the people who'd only seen me as a trapped girl with a sad demeanor, to those who'd ever shut me down and made me feel small. Something about the public nature of it all made it more real, more concrete, more healing. It reminded me over and over again that I have nothing to hide, not really.

Tonight I attended the wedding reception of an old coworker from my factory days at Beehive Clothing. (I am so happy for her!) I saw a few more of the old Beehive girls there. We gave one another strong hugs and caught up and reminisced. They all seemed a little shocked by me, by my demeanor, by my face and hair and shoes. It took them a second to recognize me at first glance. I left the gathering feeling a certain warm nostalgia coupled with an understanding that I must look younger now at 27 than I did at 23. I think I feel younger now too.

I went straight from the wedding reception to an art reception at the HFAC on campus. It was an epic collision of past v. future. Four of the kids from my class had their BFA shows tonight in the main gallery. They're all graduating in April. Can you believe it? I AM GRADUATING. Soon. I was accepted to BYU and to the graphic design program and we've all worked so hard and it's almost over. The internship in New York, the publication design and motion graphics classes, Kenji's BFA show; they're all over.

I don't write here anymore because I have nothing to prove anymore. Not to anyone but myself. I think I've done it all. I can swim and snowboard and think and write and work my brains out and not sleep for days and look at myself straight in the eyes standing naked in front of a mirror and design magazines and comics and use complicated software and date tons of guys and opt to be alone and love my friends and my life and family and religion and value it and respect it and try to be a better person against all kinds of odds and situations. This chapter of my life is quickly coming to a close and I cannot fully express the nervous anticipation that accompanies that fact.

For this blog to survive, I have to repurpose it: recycle it and put it to better use. We'll see how it goes. I can't just retire it because I constantly yearn to be a writer.

I'll try to come up with something.

2.16.2011

my life will not end in a corner.

I'll admit it seems very inconsiderate and disrespectful to even an anonymous person to post their personal correspondence with me so publicly.

But when I first read his email over, a sick feeling of tumult chilled my bones. It is shocking, of course, that such a near stranger would rise to so many conclusions regarding my life and faith and then seek to offer criticism and guidance on such matters. But even more than that, there is something repulsive in the tone; one part inflated, another manipulative, another blind.

I first considered not responding at all, so that he couldn't enjoy even a spiteful reply. But that tumultuous feeling did not diminish. It resonated with all the times I'd been backed into corners by controlling men, both literally and emotionally, and it amplified them in my memory throughout the day.

The way to take back my own ground was so simple, no mud-slinging required. I decided to let it speak for itself.
I wish I would've taken such measures in the past.

Far worse than being lonely and single is living your life in a corner; I think I may know that better than most.

2.15.2011

got to leave provo.

I received this email today after going out with a guy on one date, whom I met at stake conference:
Laura,

I looked over your blog again Sunday to try and figure out what to do with you:) I read an entry that I had skipped over the first time. It was the results of your dating quiz.
I found it astonishing. I don't think I or anyone else could have come up with a more accurate description of me, so I saved a copy for future reference.

1. Shy
2. Religious
3. Practical
4. Intellectual
5. Traditional
6. Adventurous
7. Big-Hearted
8. Athletic
9. Wealthy/Ambitious
10. Stylish

What makes it more significant and not random in my mind at least is the latest entry in social explosions. Your entry ended with a beautiful heartfelt prayer. The next day God sent me to you.

I never go to stake conference at my ward. I do things with my BYU ward( With permission. It's a long story). But that morning I had the clear impression to go to that building. When I sat down I had the unmistakable impression to talk to you.
There is a little more to the story but I think that will suffice in reminding you that Heavenly Father answers your prayers and cares for you. I was moved by your writing about God's answers being the most valuable and penetrating. You are an excellent writer.

My other purpose in writing is to explain to you my concerns. This is definitely not something I would do if it weren't for the circumstances already mentioned. And if I weren't interested in you. Maybe my perspective can help you. I hope you won't be offended or find it pretentious.

When your friends say that they can't understand why you're still Mormon, doesn't that send chills down your spine? From the other side, I have the same confusion that they do. I don't see how you can still be Mormon either. With all the gravity of the world pulling at you, you will not be able to stay in two worlds. NPR is not a problem, it is a symptom. My NPR roommate was torn apart for the same reasons. He was also a perfect 'What White People Like' fit. That book is funny for a reason, and that is because it is an honest description of people puffed up in pride and self absorption and who delight in being different for the sake of being superior. He talked about how he struggled with his testimony and how he wanted to start living as a secular Mormon, but in reality he was just a coward for clinging to his religion . He just moved to Seattle, and I have very little hope that he'll stay true to his covenants. Oh and he loved hip hop and rap. He said he wasn't liberal, just more moderate than the typical Utahan. He passionately supported minorities in their victimization paradigm. Hip hop culture is corrupt. Just look at the cover of the KWest's albumn. I think looking for artistry there like looking for diamonds in the sewer. Your ex liked hip hop. What did it do for him?

Why am I saying this? Because I want to be with someone who flees the darkness and seeks the light. Who is willing to sacrifice things that have merit if they chase away the Spirit. Who listens to conference talks as regularly as NPR podcasts. And partly because I have my own weaknesses toward the things of the world and I need all the support I can get. At this point I can't get myself to pursue something with you. I felt our date was fun but it seemed like it was all about you.

So there it is, if nothing else this may help you to empathize with those judgmental guys. If you are blaming them I hope it will encourage you to look inward. I think you are a giving person, intelligent and beautiful. I wouldn't presume that you would even want to pursue something with me but if you still thought after reading this that we could be compatible, I would be open to going snowboarding.

Your friend,
xxxxxxxxxx

1.29.2011

heartsick.


I have no crushes right now. Not one. Only regrets over past relationships and interactions that I wish would've waxed into relationships. I've married myself to design and the podcasts and music that keep me company while work in isolation. And I've been doing a lot better work.

Because I realized something weird about myself. I MUST work in a fairly isolated situation to get anything accomplished. Sure, I can execute orders or plans in company, but my brain work must be done alone. It's funny that I realized so late. I think my insistance to work among friends stifled some progress that could've been realized while I've been in the BFA program.

Socializing is so enjoyable to me that it causes a sort of automatic ADD. There is nothing I enjoy in life more than an engaging conversation and it always feels like a worthy distraction.

But as I've spent so much more time alone than usual, the less frequent engaging conversations I share with my closest friends all echo a taste of the same sadness. Everyone wants to get married; all of us are lonely. Maybe it's just because we're getting a little older. So we're trying everything. We're all growing our hair, doing our makeup faithfully, losing weight, and reading dating books.

I'm telling you, it's breaking my heart. They are all the kind of people where it makes you sick to ever imagine that they might feel desperate because they really never should. And these aren't the kind of girls who sit around waiting. They are educated (with graduate degrees for the most part) and they're doing work they enjoy. But careers are a poor substitute for love; the big, deep-down kind you imagine where every part of you is safe with somebody else. Success holds such a cold uncertainty.

It is one of my deepest prayers and hopes that this sadness meets its solutions soon.

1.21.2011

james victore.


James Victore. Hilarious, honest, entertaining, brilliant, crude? Yes. Yes oh yes. I saw him speak last night for AIGA. I laughed a lot.
I woke up this morning and realized something about him though. Something that apparently had to be processed in my subconscious overnight. He referred to women in only two different contexts:

1. He used live chicks on a project once and ordered them in from Iowa to his studio in Brooklyn. He said he told his female intern to figure out what chicks eat to prepare for their arrival.

2. He said things a few times about how he likes naked women and how they like him back. He showed us a few sexy pictures as proof where he'd painted all over their skin.

Here is the clincher for me. He brought up his son multiple times. He referred to his son as being the most important thing in the world to him, his favorite and best work he's ever created. He wore a wedding ring on the correct hand and finger, but never mentioned his wife, not once, not even in passing.

Another big-time graphic designer visited BYU and spoke to our class a few months ago. He referred to his wife only as his "business partner" (they run a studio together) and later told us a story about flirting with a younger woman on the subway.

It is disheartening coming from these men whom I admire in so many other contexts.

One last thing. Radiolab. I just love it. I could gulp it up and swallow and listen for hours on end. Public radio is a lovely thing. It is an education for those who aren't in school, a friend to the friendless, a lover to the loveless. It wants to tell you stories and keep you laughing as well as informed. I have a new celebrity crush on Jad Abumrad.

1.12.2011

no image could do this justice.

The most beautiful girl in the world was in my high school figure drawing class. I remember trying to describe her after the first day.
"She's so beautiful the air around her stops moving."

I can't really think of how to describe her features. I'm satisfied to say that a photograph could scarcely do her justice because her posture was equally captivating. She did have: long, thick, blonde hair, full lips, an angular nose with a satisfyingly smooth point, high cheek bones, a thin, yet curvy frame. She didn't wear too much makeup. She was from a wealthy family in Alpine too. I was intimidated out of talking to her although she was a grade beneath me.

My drawings of her in class when it was her turn to model failed consistently. I was always confronted with my utter lack of capacity to capture any portion of what it was like to look at her.

In that height of all of my insecurities concerning physical appearance, I often wondered what it would be like to be that beautiful.
"Bad." I thought out of jealousy. "Probably that much boy attention would be annoying. Probably all girls would hate you."
I told myself that nobody would ever regard her personality because the overwhelming beauty would overtake whatever item of real interest there was sleeping beneath it. That obviously happened with me. The only question I ever imagined asking her was what it was like to be that attractive.

She died last November; age 26. Although she'd only been briefly ill, her health suffered from drug and alcohol abuse, is the story I was told. And to make things much worse for her family, her father died less than a month later from cancer or something like that.

I guess I don't really know what to say. I feel like I could wrap this all up with some sort of trite ending that doesn't feel fully honest.

I still want to know how it is to be that beautiful; I really do wish I could watch some version of her life unfold in a movie or a book so I could understand how things stretched toward that tragic end.

And how strange it is that I'm writing about some girl I never even really knew just because she was unbelievably gorgeous. I'm as superficial as anyone, I guess.

1.03.2011

blasting in the new year.

A collaborative piece I did with my 2 yr old niece, Mattie:
I guess it's time for some goal-making:

1. Figure out how to wear fake eye lashes.

2. Convince myself i'm getting better by kissing some boys (not too many) and feeling like I really mean it.

3. Graduate.

4. Blog at least once a month just so that the stuff i did last summer and the boys I dated 2 years ago look further away than they do right now.

5. Read even just one verse of scripture every day.

6. Lose weight by eating less and having it always be healthy ( i think i still won't have tons of time to exercise beyond riding my bike around.)

(I have listened to Joni Mitchell's "Blue" so many times I don't even have to stop it to write this because I know it so well I don't have to listen.)

Is it strange to feel so inspired by funerals? I attended the funeral of Whitney's grandmother I guess mostly because I believe in going to funerals and most especially because Whitney was asked to speak. She did a fantastic job. I wish I would've recorded it. She illustrated so clearly all the ways this woman I'd never met had had such a positive and profound influence on her life. Whitney Joy would've never been Whitney Joy without her grandmother, Joy Whitney.

Maybe the strangest thing about funerals is that I always just feel like I need to have kids afterward. I never really feel like having kids. It's always something I want for the future, but never for the present. Maybe the two will meet up some day. Maybe after somebody's funeral. Maybe I'll name her Joy.