Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I’d Friend Him.

An idea occurred to me as I taught Gospel Doctrine last week. We’re studying the Old Testament this year – which is kind of a challenge because I think, in general, we Mormons are more used to New Testament and Book of Mormon stories.

The lesson was about Abraham and Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Earlier in class we were talking about Facebook for some reason I can’t remember (I don’t remember half the things I talk about -- I might have summarized an episode of Leave it to Beaver as well).

I couldn’t help but think how fun it would be to follow Old Testament prophets on Facebook – and how much more I would learn -- granted the people who managed the profiles knew what they were doing. I could follow Moses and Abraham and Noah and their crazy adventures. Get updates on the flight into Egypt and see photos of how the big ark is coming along.

I'd enjoy reading the skeptics' comments (a.k.a. "murmerings") on their prophesies. Noah would invite me to become a fan of “there’s a flood coming so believe and repent of your sins” and Abraham would invite me to join the group “Help rescue Lot”.

Someone could set up a memorial page for poor Lot’s wife and we could all take surveys such as “would you have looked back?” to reveal our true personalities.

I’m sure the day to day updates would be a little dull. We’d hear about countless sheep dying and “more rain…still floating” but really, how less riveting is that then hearing about your forgotten high school friend’s youngest sleeping through the night three days in a row?

Clearly, the timeline would have to be altered to keep the story going. But I think I’m onto something here.

Forget “Living Scriptures”, if you really want the scriptures to come to life, put the people on your homepage every day. Think about how many of your “friends” you know way better than you intended, simply because snippets of their lives are broadcast to you several times a day. I guarantee you would learn a ton about the Old Testament without even thinking you were trying.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I have an airplane ritual:

I always request tomato juice – with a lime. And if I have a meal with it and there’s salt and pepper, I salt and pepper my tomato juice. This isn’t a normal drink for me – just an airplane drink. This has been my drink for the past 3 years or so. Before that, it was ginger ale. I looked forward to it like I couldn’t get ginger ale anywhere else. I think I moved to tomato juice when I became more health conscious. Sometimes, when in the mood, I'll revert back to ginger ale. But I don't think I've drunk anything else on a plane besides those two drinks.

Some people think rituals are constricting or a little obsessive-compulsive, but I love them. They give me comfort, balance and a sense of control. Devotion to my rituals somehow clarifies my relationship to myself. It’s not a superstition; it’s just a simple reminder that grounds me in a reassuring way. Participating in my tomato juice ritual makes me happy and optimistic when I travel and connects me to previous travel memories.

One ritual that has only recently become apparent to me is the music I listen to when preparing a talk for church. It’s usually a two-day activity (I put a lot of research, preparation and rewriting into my talks).

I wrote a talk several years ago about the hymn “Lead Kindly, Light.” I wrote that shortly after I purchased the soundtrack to The Painted Veil which I listened to the whole time I wrote.

A couple years ago I wrote a talk on “Mystery”. It was then that I finally realized listening to music while I write is a ritual for me – but it’s more than just listening to music.

As I began to write my Mystery talk, I was listening to my iTunes on shuffle but my focus just wasn’t there. I tried to listen to The Painted Veil music again, but it just brought back memories of my last talk. This is when it occurred to me: I needed new music. Something I’d never heard before – something I could devote this talk to. So I went to the iTunes store and looked up some of my favorite film music composers and decided on Alexandre Desplat’s Lust, Caution (never seen it, but I loved his score to The Painted Veil). Miraculously, I was able to relax, focus and write my talk.

I realized this ritual actually began way back in college when I would write art history papers. I had a tendency to designate certain music to the topic and I listened to that music over and over again as I did research, outlined and wrote until my paper was done.

It all started when I wrote a term paper on William Merritt Chase. I wrote this when I was a sophomore. My dad let me borrow the computer in his office to write my paper. I looked through the CDs on his shelf and chose Finzi’s Eclogue for Piano and Strings (go ahead, listen to it while you read the rest of this post). There’s more music on that CD but I had that 10 minute piece on repeat. It was pastoral and springy and I wrote my paper in April so it was fitting.

The next year I wrote a paper on Geertgen tot Sint Jans “Nativity” and for that paper I listened to the Little Women soundtrack over and over. Part of that story is Christmassy and I wrote that paper in November and December so it was fitting.

I actually love this ritual. I love it because having done this, I’ve assigned specific memories to specific music. I have a mental musical journal of my writing method and how I can escape ruts and blocks and come out with a product I am satisfied with and proud of. It gives me stability and continuity and helps me work more effectively. It gives me focus and control and shape to my process.

I love that simply believing this ritual will help, makes it help – which makes the ritual take on a power of its own. I find that when I have another writing project coming up, I actually look forward to it because I begin to plan for it – I plan for the music I will choose and that magically makes the task a lovable one.

I should develop more rituals – maybe they will make more tasks and projects lovable.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Things I Can't Seem to Remember

I pride myself on my long term memory. If I hear bits of information that I think will be useful for me in the future, I remember them. I always remember that I owe people money (uh…if I owe you money, now is a good time to remind me). I remember what people said, I remember how they reacted to what I said, I remember what their mood was and I remember my meetings and appointments.

However, there are certain things I can’t seem to remember. Whether it’s because I just can’t convince myself they’re true or I simply let them slip my mind, I don’t know. But as it took me 20 minutes to get from 1300 East to 400 West today, I made a list in my head.

  • Going down 300 S. takes twice as long as any other street.
  • Chinese food makes me sick.
  • The code to my parents’ garage door.
  • Scooter’s not there anymore.
  • How to feed the paper if I want to print on the other side.
  • Not one of the pens in my drawer here actually works.
  • My scissors are lost.
  • I can’t draw like I used to.
  • Blogger doesn't work so well in Firefox.
  • I don’t own a ladle.
  • The password to my Rocky Mountain Power online account.
  • I don’t have a yoga mat at home. Just the one in my office.
  • Maria closes down the restrooms in my building for 2 hours each morning.
  • Mucinex makes me crazy.
  • NyQuil makes me groggy.
  • Kool-Aid is good.
  • One Tree Hill is still on the air.
  • I have a good job.
  • The light bulb in the basement is burnt out.
  • I can’t keep potted trees alive.
  • Extreme Home Makeover makes me cry.
  • There’s ice cream in the freezer.
  • Where I keep my passport.
  • I don’t like the pastries at Gourmandise
  • I love the food at Gourmandise.