Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Saint + Loving Prankster=Friend.

Suddenly I'm voracious for writing, for filling the world with my words. making sense out of things.
I wrote a lot here in 2009.
I had a lot of stuff to write about. Not events, but big soul-searching stuff that was essential for me to move forward.

A lot of thinking and processing with fabulous friends about futures. Sometimes we may have included boys.
Now I'm married to one.
But last night as I was walking to my car from the Christmas concert with all the old ladies wearing Christmas red sweaters with appliques from 1982 I thought about one boy.
I never loved this boy in a romantic way.
But I loved him.
We had a relationship that I'll never have with another boy again--and that's not in a dramatic way, just a manifestation of what it meant to have something so unique and precious.

I've never been one of those girls that's always like, "oh-em-gee, I've always had more guy friends than girl friends. Girls are too much drama." Those girls are the girls I would like to shake and kick their teeth in, because what the heck? You are a girl. Anyway.

It started with pranks, like throwing water on us or turning off the power to our apartment. And I thought I was a good prankster, with my can of tuna fish under the couch. Child's play.

Somehow the pranks transitioned seamlessly into him being the big brother of our apartment, baking special cookies for us, taking us small 19-year-olds for rides in his car or inviting us to his fancy apartment for smoothie night, hot chocolate night, a special Valentine's Day dinner just for us friends. He was not usually in charge, but always the light bulb that all the people gathered around. He had quiet brilliance about him.
Intellectual brilliance, and emotional brilliance. He wrote neuroscience all over our whiteboard one night.

We asked his advice on everything. He joked with us and told us about the girls he was liking and we gave him wimpy know-it-all love advice back for good measure.

He was so wise, and I don't know what made that relationship flower in the first place because we were still a clump of teenage girls doing big soul searching while he'd been on the planet for ten years longer, loving and learning and sitting there with lots of things figured out for eons. I mean, we were just so freakin cool, I guess that must have been it.

I spent a lot of journal entries trying to convince myself to love him romantic-kind.
See? Clueless.
I especially have no idea why I did that since it wasn't like he loved me romantic-kind. Gosh I'm funny.

He cared for us that year, made sure we didn't do anything totally horrifying that would haunt us forever. We loved his playful sarcasm and his hilarious laugh and the way he would come over and talk for hours, as if we were his favorite people in the world.

I loved Ian Morris.
He is a saint and a real friend.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


It's sometimes hard for me to believe that God doesn't get sick of my prayers, which are mostly all the same. A whole lot of "please help me"--over and over again. Sometimes, I'm just amazed that He's not just like, "Oh, you need something again?" "This girl again?"

But when I get humbled and realize (again) that I can't do whatever I've been banging my head on brick thinking I can do, He is there, waiting and anxious for that moment. Never resentfully. Never tapping His foot and watching the clock and wondering when I'm going to get past my latest bout of dumbness. I guess I figure as the Maker of the universe He might have more important things to do than pay attention to my mood swings or the small happenings of day-to-day existence as Brooke Schultz, but the miraculous thing is: He considers that intimate care of His children the most important thing.

This is the point where I get frustrated: I want to use something besides the maddening word 'indescribable,' although it is. I'll try to tell you.

See, God isn't just some wispy ghosty existence out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of everywhere and all heavenly and inaccessible. He's in each of us raw human beings. He's near me when I do wonderful things and when I'm failing at trying to move past my mountainous weaknesses, whether I ask Him there or notice Him there. When I, like Peter, cry out for the Lord to save me because my faith falters, He comes to my aid immediately.

But He doesn't pull me out to a paradise with white sand and lead me to a pile of glittery faith, mine for the taking. He still requires a lot of steps into the darkness, darkness that seems so thick and powerful that I get afraid. But I only get afraid because I've forgotten the full extent of the light--how penetrating it is, how infinite and limitless.

I have a hard time getting my puny brain around 'infinite', when I spend a lot of money and time replenishing things that run out--groceries, patience, light bulbs. It's beyond me that someone's power and love and grace could all be bottomless pits of abundance, never scarce, enough to go around for me no matter how many times my prayers are lackluster or how many times I have to back up and ask for the desire to keep going instead of asking for opportunities to do incredible things.

I want to say that God has magnified my tiny efforts to nurture it and He has made faith bloom in me. Sometimes I neglect it and petals drop off; sometimes seasons of my life make it more susceptible to withering; Mostly I just try to keep going, while trying to avoid running faster than I've strength.

It's just amazing that God cares about that whole process and recognizes its hugeness, even if it's easy as pie for other people. It's amazing that He stands by me through my stupidity because He knows I can be better, and He supports me in attempts at progress even when those steps seem so baby I'm not sure if they count.

This all sounds like I'm going through something gargantuan and hard, but I'm not. In trying to live with greater awareness and presence I'm not always ready for what I find, and that's what this is about. I'm just amazed, constantly, that change is possible through a perfect being--a debt I will never be able to repay.

I want my life to be molded by Him.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Songs I Can't Stop Listening To

And yes, I understand the irony of that title because it's not proper grammar.

1. Baby--Bon Iver
2. Let Him Fly--Patti Griffin
3. Zorbing--Stonoway
4. Real Love--Regina Spektor
5. Us--Regina Spektor
6. Scar--Missy Higgins
7. Marathon--Tennis
8. This Is Not A Test--She & Him
9. Human Of The Year--Regina Spektor
10. Big White Room--Jessie J
11. I Take What I Want--Aretha Franklin
12. The Park--Feist
13. The Conquering Lion--Lauryn Hill
14. Lovin' You More Every Day--Etta James

Grooveshark it.
No rest at all in freedom
Of the choices we are given it's no choice at all
The proof is in the fire you touch before it moves away
You must always know how long to stay
and when to go.
Hope you find some new love.
Share your latest music adorations with me?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Where Improper Grammar Will Land You.

The prelude to this post is that I don't claim to be a grammar whiz, and the intricacies of perfect English sometimes fail me, BUT. I did go to fifth grade. Also middle school. Also high school. And while I felt a little gypped that in my world-class American education I didn't get more opportunities to actually write and be creative, I aced those hundreds upon hundreds of worksheets.
And actually it's very silly because I get very legitimately upset when I see these craplings.

My favorite grammar fails of late:
1. "I totally balled reading that just now." No, no you didn't.

2. "This is a picture of are house." F'real?

3. The ever present incorrect usage of "there" they're" and "their." I SWEAR we spent an entire month in each year of school on this topic.

4. The straw that broke this camel's back: an email that was sent to me from BYU, somewhat officially, begging me to take a survey as usual. I need to let the world of people who want me to take a survey know that I am much more likely to take your dang survey if you just ask nicely, once, without a littering of exclamation points and ALL CAPS WHEN NOTHING YOU'RE SAYING IS ACTUALLY THAT ESSENTIAL.

Sadly I think I deleted the email in a fit of rage, but here's what I remember:
"PLEASE take this survey! As user's of the library this effects you!!!!..."
I hate.
I am mostly very nice and I take those surveys.
Not today, Zurg.
Consider this your invitation to share your grammar horror stories.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Saga in which I whine.

I hate studying and I seriously considered changing my major yesterday. It was horrifying and exhilarating all in one, and in the end (as if this were a long saga) I chose to stick to my guns. The guns that have worked for countless hours on my vocal technique, music theory, the list of crappity crap goes on. The guns that are about to memorize every single part of the larynx which is full of all kinds of muscles and cartilage I will have you know.
School sucks. I want out.
I've never hated it this whole-heartedly before. I've never hated it much at all before. There was a time when it was invigorating and I spread my arms open wide and swallowed the sky every day.

I am quietly waiting for my music passion to come back. I'm waiting to get fired up about teaching again. In the meantime, I'm obsessed with anything but. Photography. Writing. Somebody switched the loop tape in my head and I'm all sorts of confused, but I've been waiting very nicely, not making any waves.
I've been waiting, still analyzing scores in ways I will never need to know, still rehearsing bands and orchestras when I refuse to ever teach them. I have still been doing my homework, going to all my classes, and arriving on time for meetings and group projects.
It makes me want to pull my hair out, scream, and split myself in half so at least one of us can be sane.
My major makes no sense most of the time.
I am going to have a few choice words when I graduate from this lovely institution that refuses to change its ways even if for good reason. Who makes these decisions? Who determines this crap? Why isn't it ME? I think I would know best what classes would prepare me best for the life course I'm considering.
But apparently I do not. Apparently I am good for only nitty gritty. Apparently I am only smart enough to follow someone else's prescribed plan. Apparently I am not intelligent enough to make adult decisions and still need to be coddled and publicly humiliated all in one when I don't know the answers in class.
Excuse the emotion infused into the above paragraphs. They are not intended to be factual statements.
Done with my rant.
WEllllll. Not quite.

I did a social experiment for a class tonight in which Jared and I went shopping for phones separately to see what differences in treatment we would receive because of our gender.
I was pretty disappointed. A little part of me hoped overt sexism was dead.
Jared came back reporting normalcy on all accounts. She was nice and friendly, showed him a lot of phones, and told him to avoid the crappy one on the far left.
When I walked in she was helping another guy, and didn't say anything to me. While I was still waiting, another man walked in. She said: "Hi, how are you? I'll be with you in just a second."
She helped me before she helped him, but my heart still sank.
I can't say it was because of my gender any more than my position in the room.
But it was still just FROWN.
She didn't tell me about the crappy one.

Monday, September 19, 2011


In Vocal Pedagogy today I had more important things to think about. I don't know how to concentrate on the parts of the larynx very well these days.
Even though this is heavy I want it known that I share for the hope that you can empathize because you've felt something similar, and nothing more than that.

Push from a swing I wear a bulky scarf it's life in motion
life that is far more complex than being a music education major at BYU
and being sick to death of it.

There is a difference between real faith
and praising the name of Jesus with lip service
confessing Him your Savior
I feel like puking at the hollowness of that,
just to fill it with SOMETHING.
motion makes me sick; call up a barf bag request;
this girl's gonna upchuck.

My feelings hurt and my eyes pricked with salt, overflowing over and over again.
I am patiently waiting with expectation and faith
In an awful dream I had last night I somehow knew
or kept telling myself something my mom told me
that has stuck in my mind and kept me floating in a lot of rough patches
She said
I know nothing can hurt me
because I have God.
And she said it with real knowledge, because it was really her truth and not just a nice catchphrase with a good ring to it.
In the dream I knew this
even though ones I loved were dead or worse

And now, awake
is where the rubber meets the road; where it becomes a matter of life and death
whether I really believe it.
Whether I join my faith with time and stand solid through any hurricane
Or just passively, passionately preach to the members of my Sunday school class
to pray and trust with might greater than they thought they could muster.

How do you trust when you have to keep stepping through the fog,
keep running at a snail's pace over snaking branches set up to trip you up
keep tromping through the thickness


Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Won't Ever Forget.

Ten years ago today I cried for people I didn’t know—people who lost their lives and people who watched others lose their lives. It was a confusing day because I didn’t know what the Twin Towers were, or the World Trade Center. Our student council advisor didn’t believe the girl who announced it in our early morning meeting. 

The rest of that school day we walked around dazed, sixth and seventh and eighth graders without a clue what all this meant for our country and our future. 

I sat in the hall with a popular girl who hardly ever talked to me, and she looked at me with worried eyes, but eyes that saw me, really saw me, for the first time.

“Are you scared?” She asked.
“Why would I be scared?”
“I don’t know, all the teachers are running around and some are crying and it’s scary.”
We haven't talked since then. She’s a bartender now, on the east coast. But in seventh grade we shared a thread of humanity on September 11th.  Observing, backs up against cold metal lockers taking in the bustling hallways full of uncertain, afraid people trying to make sense of the shambled lives they heard about on TV. I didn’t really know about terrorism. I didn’t really know about bodies and bodies buried under rubble and families left to wonder. I didn’t really know about pain on a scale grand enough to touch a whole nation.

Around the dinner table, my dad told a story from the attacks and cried hard. We all cried, too, and hugged a lot.

In pre-algebra for the next few days, we spent the time talking about the meaning of life and mourned with those who had lost distant family members on the other side of the country. People talked about the west coast being next on the list, Seattle, because it was another big city. We created stories to make it make sense. But in spite of fear, we stood united, America did, and we came out with all kinds of commercials and wrote a whole bunch of songs and built memorials. Everyone was concerned about the big picture, kissing their kids ten times the usual. But that kind of intensity is too much to keep up for ten years. It’s too much pressure when logistics have to be attended to; the country can only stop, pause in electrified repose for so long. So after a while those commercials didn’t make sense to run anymore, Hilary Duff went back to being Lizzy McGuire, the thousands of T-shirts with American flags printed on them went on clearance, and all that was left were a few bumper stickers about not forgetting.

Maybe we didn’t forget all the way, but we had to move on at some point, right? We had to resume normalcy—that was our proof to the terrorists that we were resilient. That and declaring war.
There was more than that left after those buildings fell down. Deep stuff America learned all together that can't be described very well in words. Even swimming through the politics and the hurt we knew we would make it.

I’m grateful for those few months of intensity, of kicking math lessons to the curb to discuss weightier matters of life and death and family and love. Even though the math had to be returned to, I am still thankful for that time of regroup and re-gluing. I'm grateful for time for a seventh grader to process compassionate pain and the healing of an entire nation.
Those moments of depth and incredible manifestations of human compassion anchored me;
I won't ever forget.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sometimes I write Poetry

This mess
is forsaken
Alabama is a state I've never seen
stab wound one I've never known
And the height of my non-experience frightens me
Like a lion instead of a hermit
I determine to fight
in a camisole turned inside out accidentally.

My nails are red the sky is blue sugar is sweet
and gives you cavities
such that you have to make an appointment with the dentist
your tooth aches and your bed is empty
love is asleep inside a hungry belly
and insatiable eyes.
The cup runneth o'er
with fountainous pens
piles of paper and shifts of notes
scratched helplessly on aluminum foil
this place is awash with helpless mess
scratched out bleached pumpkins and seeds unfit for eating
old abandoned and mildewing, what IS this place?
a dewy delight
a change of perspective
socks with crap stuck to the bottom of them
i hate that.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My glamorous life.

My life is not filled with red lipstick and scrumptious dinners on the table by 6:00 sharp. It's not bursting at the seams with glamorous walk-in dust-free closets and bi-weekly manicures. My life is not littered with fresh flowers, perfectly styled outfits, trips to Ireland, deep-dish cookies and two hour workouts.
These things all sound nice to me. But most of the time they are not my reality, nor anyone else's. Let's stop kidding ourselves.
Because the dishes in my sink are piled so high they've started to stink--or maybe it's the carpet still a little droopy from getting ripped up after that flood last week. The hair on my head is a little frizzy from a bike helmet; the clothes on my body are a little wrinkled; my nail polish is a little chipped; I'm over it.
We all have to live.
And I think that's just fine.
Not to say that these things aren't fun for me to look at and configure every now and again. Not to say that we should be proud of sloppiness or dirt. But just to say, I choose reality. It really is better.

Oh, and hey really gorgeous girl who keeps posting photos of ridiculously skinny and buff women couched in self-motivation? I feel sad about that. You deserve a cookie. Perhaps I'll make it deep-dish for you.
That's all.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I am From

In 9th grade I wrote one of these poems. At 21, I wrote another.
I am from music
It bubbled up inside me without my asking for it
from running through the sprinklers
fresh picked berries in the evergreen-laden fields of western Washington
I am from peace
scrumptious Sunday feasts, family bike rides, and 'love sandwich' as a code for the group hug we did
after family prayer each night.
I am from a sea of good looking people
who still had problems, fears, and sins
I am from a life without grandparents
who could play with me
They all meant well
and I didn't realize the value of that wisdom
until my grandmother was brimming with dementia,
neck deep in forgetting
and I longed for her to remember
the glorious life she had lived, the legacy
she couldn't recall.
I am from time alone
crafting a world full of books and made up names for colors and Celine Dion blasting through my ancient Walkman.
I am from the time before texts
when calling was the scariest prospect
and Star Shots from the mall with my friends crowded out my bedroom door.
I am from sleepovers, secrets, and curiosity
from homemade bread, steaming fresh from the oven
from cheating at babysitting
and popsicles in July
breaking bones on the trampoline, skinning knees on blacktops, quitting gymnastics
and declaring my life's mission into a sky full of night and promise
I am from simple things: the same bed, the same church, the same freezer jam
See, I am from the extraordinary squeezed from the mundane
like a ripe piece of Juicyfruit
a life milked for all it has been worth.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What Are You Optimistic About?

I started reading a book by that title, a compilation of essays by "today's best thinkers."
Today's best thinkers, apparently, are optimistic that religion will soon be eradicated, that people will realize God isn't real, and on, and on, and on. I got pretty fed up with it. I sent a scary email to one guy who is a fancy philosophy professor, at least one hundred years old, and actually not optimistic. He's actually quite crabby.

But I am optimistic, and I want to tell you about it.

I'm optimistic that someday women will revolutionize against unrealistic expectations and ridiculous media messages and demand a change. I picture riots in malls, clawing at the airbrushed Victoria's Secret signs demanding justice; writing in to Carl's Jr. and them pulling their awful ads; magazines losing subscribers by the billions because we've had enough. It makes my heart smile.
 I'm optimistic that I'll age gracefully, like my mother, my aunts, and my grandmother. I'm confident I'll embrace wrinkles when they come and still value age and wisdom over silicone boobs.

I'm optimistic that one day the education system will be reformed by a legislature who gets it, and that teachers will realize how foolish the unions are, and that somewhere and almost everywhere children will get a high quality education from K to 12 from caring professionals who love what they do. I'm hopeful that I will be a vehicle to such change, as a reformer and advocate for, ummm....reason and logic? Yeah, that's it.

How did things possibly get here? How is it possible that a big enough knot of people thought all this standardized crap was a good idea, when we believe in America as the melting pot of greatness in talents and abilities that can't even be described, let alone measured by fill-in-bubbles?
Well, back to optimism.

I'm optimistic that collectively we will realize how broken we are and use our collective genius to make repairs.
I'm optimistic about the creative capacity of humans everywhere in solving problems, pioneering innovation, and making the world more beautiful. I'm optimistic that the world will go in a positive direction, creatively at least, because of the innate nature of human beings. I'm optimistic that the hoards of folks working jobs they hate will eventually give voice to their dreams, follow their bliss and set fire to the system that claims money as the answer to that aching pit in your belly. I'm optimistic that the composite good of the world will outweigh and eventually stamp out more bad than can replenish itself.

Yes, I'm optimistic that the nature of human beings is inherently good, with potential broad and deep enough to stretch in all directions and blanket the world, shape it into an all-around wonderful place.

What about you? What are you optimistic about?

Friday, June 24, 2011


Sparks were flying from my blow dryer this morning--real, actual sparks that I saw.
They were tealish-blue.
I've had this blow dryer since I stole it from my little brothers. They would get goopy gel all over it when they fired it up to cement their 'dos, and I was the proud rescuer of the thing. Back in, probably, uh, 2007.
Before that, it was my mom's. For who knows how many years.
But getting a new blow dryer is just something you never think about. You take it for granted until one day, sparks are flying and the 'hot' setting is actually icy cold, and makes you feel like a wet dog in Antarctica. I should confess that this has been going on all week. And when the sparks fly I just do a little "AHH!" face to myself in the mirror and then I move on with it. I realized today that this is probably not the best course of action, as those sparks could very quickly be flying into my brain. And I try to make a habit of keeping my brain fire free, I dunno. Just a thought.

Sparks were also flying between me and the gigantic grapefruit I brought to eat (not actual sparks. Fake emotional ones.)
--it is enormous.  So large...that I have to show you. 

Behold, the grapefruit in relation to itself, and in relation to a very normal sized apple. The best part about this grapefruit is that I can tell it has a really thick peel that will send little grapefruit fuzzies into the atmosphere when I peel it. I love thick peels on fruit with a fervor that borders on romantic.

This is my "I'm so sorry you are not as privileged as I, to eat this lovely grapefruit" face.

I would like to thank my blow dryer for not catching my hair on fire and actually doing a very nice job today (see my bangs?), despite my very increased risk of electric shock.

P.S. Do you see my pitiful red eyes? I started wearing my contacts again, doc's recommendation, and they promptly returned to their bloodshot state. I'm thinking this doc probs doesn't know what he's talkin bout no more. He told me if I come in there one more time he's gonna have to put me on the Christmas card. I'm about to be famous.

I hope you have enjoyed this week's edition of extremely random and exaggerated tales from my morning. Heh.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Photography Blog

Alright, troops. Lately I've been up to a whole lot of stuff that's not writing. Mostly photographing. And I want you to see the project I've been working on because it is so supremely FUN!

So you should check out my new photography blog and you should follow it because the pictures are going to continue to be awesome and I want you in on it because I like you and you are great.

The end.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dear EFY girls.

Lately my days are filled with teenagers clawing at the windows and door of my office, acting as if it doesn’t exist, or waving vigorously at me in hopes of response, like I did when I was five to cars behind ours. Their hairs are perfectly coiffed and their lips are perfectly glossed. It annoys me. I wish to invite every single one of them in and have a heart to heart about all the life lessons they need to learn, and quick! Let the rest of your life get started, for heaven’s sake. For your sake. I am only annoyed with them because I used to be one of them and those threads still run through my blood and guts and I can’t get rid of them.

Teenagerism was such an unfortunate time. I’m so glad I’m past the waking up at unholy hours just to do my hair for boys who didn’t notice me. I’m glad I can say no to kisses I don’t want and parties I could care less about. This chunk of me aches for that chunk of me—she went through so much, and for no real reason. Self-inflicted torture that was absolutely purposeless. In the wee small hours of the morning she was mourning in journal pages about deep stuff and horrifically not-deep stuff, regular old boring teenage thoughts of the most lemming brand.

How, how did we come out unscathed from the pit of poop that was early high school?

And now I can say that, of course, because I’m above it and out of it and can wrap my brain around it. When you’re swimming in that tar, it doesn’t seem toxic and stupid. It’s just your life. No one is around to tell you otherwise.


Dear EFY girls,

I hope this week is wonderful for you. Don’t feel obligated to answer when people ask you who your COW is. Please focus on the spiritual nourishment you are receiving and not the boys who are escorting you. You don’t have to be in charge of their salvation. Don’t pick up project boys. They do not change. It is silly and you are far too smart for that; also, don’t worry if boys don’t ask you to slow dance all that often. You’ll never see them again, plus they are sweaty so you don’t even want that so bad, do you?

I lied about the never seeing him again part. He might be in your BYU ward later on, where he is still the heartthrob of the universe. It still doesn’t matter. Just be in charge of your own life and keep your sweat to yourself. Expect others to do the same.

My, how your life would be different if you focused on your gifts instead of how everyone else is digesting your outfit.



Friday, May 27, 2011

Harry Potter meets Judge Judy

In what ways has your life turned out differently than you expected?


It’s obvious actually—and I make a point of writing not about the obvious.

The plain answer is in the bathroom, devouring Harry Potter about seven years late.

He may be late to Harry Potter, but he came too early into my life.

Right about here you’re expecting me to go into landscaping, painting the scene of our first encounter: blustery November day, wearing a black shirt he later confided he didn’t like, and dinner with my future mother-in-law.

I won’t talk about it. No can do, tiger.

What I will confide is that even though it was too early for marriage, it was way past due for a boyfriend.

And that’s how God snuck up on me.

He planted this idea deep inside my mind, an idea that grew like a cancer until I was considering folks that should have never been considered. (Names withheld to protect the current/future spouses of my excursions.) It was a foolish time.

Coy as a cat I texted my newfound mouse soon-to-be-husband and we decided to play.

I just wasn’t thinking. The chemicals in my brain were altered by one love potion #9 and suddenly my biological clock was ticking without warning. I wanted to marry.

The cool academic nonconformist in me calmly insisted we play it safe and jump promptly off the matrimony train,

but soon I just realized I was done for. Because all I wanted was to be one of those hopeless girls married at 19 (At least I made it to 20). Really, the last thing I wanted was to be one of them. I wanted to be married without having to reduce myself to that category.

This is the lesson. Are you listening? Because I’m just going to tell it to you flat out in a regular sentence and that’s not something I do every day.

You cannot figure out another person’s life. You cannot say what they should have done unless you are a fool, and love being incorrect on top of ignorant. You don’t get her. She’s living life the best she knows how, just like you. So even if that’s waiting tables or being a prostitute or (no!) a stay-at-home mom, just know: she wakes up every morning a human being the same way you do. She goes to bed every night planning how to improve her future, just like you, sister. So go on then. Be a sister to her. Pity her situation, but not her intelligence. Empathize with her decisions and her vulnerability, knowing full well that you don’t know. She’s pieces of you blown up poster size is all.

So what was different about my life than I anticipated? Having to explain to myself that I was just like everyone else.

Monday, May 23, 2011


My purse hasn’t been the same since it was dumped upon with a Cafe Rio burrito plus burrito juicies after my little brother’s piano recital. I’ve wiped it with disinfectant wipes a multiplicity of times, and yet, that staled pico de gallo aura remains every time I reach in to re-vaseline my lips.

It’s troubling because I love both Vaseline and Cafe Rio and my purse (light purply/gray and snakeskinny, a glorious gift from my mother-in-law). So why not combine all these things together for a gigantic bout of love and adoration? Perhaps the reasons are obvious.

When the burrito spillage happened, Brennon was already quite upset about his piano recital. He played a Star Wars song (I can never recall the different names of all those tunes…) but was rudely interrupted by a few mistakes, after which he would stop, flush, and bury his woebegone head in his hands. He would look embarrassedly out at us in the audience, at his teacher, begging us to let him just quit and come sit back down. Well, at least those are the thoughts I injected in his head with my imagination, because there were whole lotta times when I felt that way. About piano. About singing. About being in a bathing suit.

The 7th grade talent show comes to mind. I sang Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby,” of course, because not only was Mariah Carey the most amazing female singer I had discovered to date, I knew it would win me the vast affection of my peers (it didn’t.) I went with my parents to pick it up on karaoke and I practiced with the TV in my parents’ bedroom, gettin a little crazy with my dance moves when I was feeling confident.

This was how it would always go—I’d get up my nerve to even audition for whatever thing it was, then I would practice, worry about practicing, worry more about performing, practice, feel supremely confident, and…

biff it.

On the day of the seventh grade talent show I was wearing: a jean skirt (remember those? Wow. WOW.); one of those red thick cotton polo-ish shirts, clearly obtained from some un-cool place like TJ Maxx or Ross, maybe Old Navy if I was lucky; platform-ish strappy sandal things, trying to be stylish but…

falling just short.

I got nervous looking at the crowd of middle-schoolers crammed into the bleachers and felt my heart pumping double time beneath the not-cool-enough shirt. It was always like this. I’d be clam-cool up until the moment of truth when that microphone was in my hand and every insecurity decided to migrate to my vocal chords. Then, my voice would start shaking, I’d pray through the remainder of the song, and try to relinquish some ounce of pride as I walked off the stage/gym floor/athletic field. See, I knew I was a good singer. I knew I had a voice. And I freaking loved to sing. So why not? But after each performance, I would realize precisely why not.

I could never take people’s compliments very well, because I always wanted them to know that I knew I’d done poorly.

My method for letting the crowd know that I knew my performance was crap at the 7th grade talent show was to stomp back to the streamer-curtain the student council had made and flick it open with as much evident disdain as possible.

So all these memories came whooshing back on the day of Brennon’s piano recital, and I just realized: none of us care about each other’s pride. We’re all just on the same side. We all only want to hear beautiful music; we want to hear what you have to say.

Performing highlights insecurity and brings it right smack dab in front of your eyes, so you have to address it, one way or another. No more surface living, it demands. It obscures your vision to that crippling point when your heart is in your stomach and your logic is out the window and your head is in your toes. All of it is so mixed up, so what can you even do!! You have to share a piece of your precious, fragile, vulnerable soul with an audience full of somebodys, when you worry as you lie awake at night that you are a nobody. These thoughts haven’t occurred to you while you were practicing with the karaoke CD and polishing your dance moves. Practicing alone in that room with the TV feeding you the words with the little highlighter, you were safe.

The other problem is that performing brings all the junk to the surface you didn’t even know was there. SMACK! Blindsided by a crop of new fear that’s fresh and bloody how, how can you concentrate on notes or poise or, for heaven’s sake, dance moves? Because you thought, you thought you weren’t affected at all by all those somebodys’ opinions. You thought you were letting those nasty blog comments roll right off your mature shoulders. You thought you were totally nonplussed by the demanding, awful letters they wrote to President Samuelson about you. You thought you didn’t care one lick about that boy who dumped you via email. But it turns out you’re just the same as everybody else. Turns out you wanted to be a nobody because you were afraid of being a somebody. 

Performing is about getting past your own humanity and being present in your own vulnerability. You have to embrace it with grace, even joy, for the fears to stop beating down your door while you’re trying to keep your voice steady.

Feigned cockiness won’t be a thick enough cover for you. Right in the middle of that your heart will bust open and all your demons will let themselves out.

Nope, you can’t do it. You have to name and cradle each one of those insecure demons and let them live inside you until they disseminate into the rest of your organs, absolve into your beating heart and melt into your overworked brain.

So it didn’t matter that Brennon accidentally slopped his beans and tortilla over my purse. I figured I’d let it go—he’s got a long road ahead of him. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


The best sandwich I ever had: turkey with pesto and tomatoes and a fancy cheese, way down in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Me and my freshly wed husband shared it at the deli downstairs from our resort. One day on the way back the sky dislodged all its pent up water and our sandwich-filled bellies got drenched.

But back inside the deli--red adobe tiles, cheap souvenirs, freshly baked bread, a little internet cafe for way too much cash. All of the Mexicans looked down their noses just a little bit at us Americans, and I just braced myself to be scammed or something.

In true Jared Schultz fashion, we were frugal as grannies on our honeymoon. We grocery shopped, for heaven's sake, at the local store that included a mall and lots of overpriced pizza. We didn't eat the produce, and instead filled up on homemade smoothies, breakfast cereal and daily made pastries. Gosh, those pastries! The donuts and the buttery breads so soft and chewy--you just stick them on a tray with the little tongs, whatever you want, and get ten or so pastries for a couple hundred pesos.

That sandwich was another Mexican luxury--and maybe I felt some twinge of remorse because I wanted to be pampered on our honeymoon--but there was something so down to earth simple and free about sharing that sandwich with my husband. It meant: I'm always gonna take care of you. And when I wanted the same sandwich the second day: I'm gonna indulge you whenever I can, because you're worth it.

Sharing that sandwich was just the pinnacle of for rich or for poor, sickness and health and life and death--there, in the tomato seeds, we were sowing our future. A future of frugality but simple joy, simple love, pure essence of bliss.

Walking--well, running--through the torrential rain after Sandwich #2 I looked at that husband and I knew, I just KNEW--it was all going to be alright, even if we never had another dime.

Monday, May 16, 2011

eating is an option.

1. There is a little red ring around each of my eyes that has been there since December. I’ve been to the eye doc inside his Walmart cubicle three or four times, but the red ring is still there. I wear thick black glasses every day. Maybe I am hiding. But I am seeing—I’m blind as a bat without those lenses, you know. Plus the Walmart eye guy creeps me out.

2. A couple weeks ago we went to the Tulip Festival, me and my mom. We whirled and ran all around with our winter jackets and our souls on fire—I LOVE THIS WOMAN. She fills me up whole. We talked about the temple, addiction, God, marriage, getting a job after 23 years of full-time motherhood. My mom is so dang comfortable with who she is, she simultaneously gives other people permission just to be comfortable. And who else can do that for you? She hates shopping and her makeup bag consists of three or four tubes, the same kinds as always. She always looks fabulous. My mother lives alone now, with four other boy-men, and doesn’t complain. She just sets boundaries. She is assertive and never overbearing. She is so down to earth and sensible I wonder often how she birthed a wild-child crazy woman like me. I sure miss her a lot.

3. We painted everything white on Saturday—front door cabinets closet doors. EEEEEEEEEEEEEk I love paint with a fervor undying.

4. I started a little writing group. It was very scary because I didn’t know if any of them would want to commit to it and it was a big idea brewing inside my head. But we make each other feel safe and we take risks. And we write! It’s amazing! Something about just scribbling away with people you know will care about you no matter if your writing is dirt or gold is so freeing and just absolutely thrilling. Tuesday nights give me jitters of creativity bugs, flying around in my area like uncaged birds. I have a very firm testimony about creating. It’s the lifeblood of us, even though it’s hard to pay attention sometimes. It’s easier not to create, because we’re functioning well enough in the world as is, working our day jobs and watching TV and getting worked up talking pop culture every once in a while. And adding one more thing to that overflowing plate sounds like an emotional explosion. Plus writing makes everything more complicated, at first, and who in the planet wants that? No. My life is worth complicating to get lifted. I re-decide this fact every time I pick up my pen and paper.

5. I am going to be a real biker person. I’m getting a bike soon. Jared’s is in Florida in the mail. Then we’re gonna bike all over this state, pro, yo.

6. I bake stuff this summer. Yesterday I baked lemon almond pull-aparts and homemade wheat bread. Two days before that: magic coconut squares. Two days before that: brownies with nutmeg and banana and raspberry-chocolate frosting. Four days before that: oatmeal raspberry bars. I’m feeling like I should get into cooking instead of baking. But alas! No I will not until I am good and ready BECAUSE:

6a. Intuitive Eating. Is a book that every woman should read up and down and all over. BECAUSE IT IS REVOLUTIONARY THAT IS WHY! Here’s what you do: you give yourself unconditional permission to eat. Whatever you want, whenever you want. You don’t feel guilty when you’re hungry. You don’t put off eating as long as possible. You don’t tell yourself you don’t deserve to eat this or that because you didn’t exercise. (And now that I’m enumerating these unwritten rules of womanhood, how silly do they seem? Sometimes, I want to quit this whole female world because it is just downright weird.) You listen to your body and you don’t keep eating when you’re already full because you know that you can eat again whenever you want! And never, never do you go on a diet. You just listen to yourself and eat normally. Eat when hungry. Stop when full. No scales or calorie counting or points or grams of what-the-freak ever. YOU JUST EAT. So right now, when I’m baking up a storm, I’m just experimenting with my unconditional permission to eat. I don’t restrict foods and I don’t label foods ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ I focus on how each food makes me feel, and I eat whatever sounds good right that minute. I eat mindfully and taste my food so that I don’t eat a ton and then feel overstuffed and uncomfortable and grumpy and mean.

Gracious, I can’t even talk about it any more because I’m just getting too worked up because I am just frustrated that nobody ever told me that this was an option. that JUST EATING was an option. Here goes: EATING IS AN OPTION. Let yourself be free. The end.

7. I hate tangled sheets almost as much as I hate cold feet and, ironically, socks.


I needed to say all that. kthanksbye.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

P.S., C.S.

“You never know how much you believe anything until its truth or its falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you...only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.”

C.S. Lewis said that.

I feel you, C.S.

You know what you’re talking about, that’s for sure. Because I believe in a lot of things—the essential nature of the family, of music education in public schools, and in God. But which of these have I tested to the limit prescribed by my dear friend C.S. Lewis? Which of these have I made a matter of life and death, or has circumstance dictated I do such?

And, on which of my beliefs am I willing to take a real risk? 

In those unbearable life moments of grief and pain and pressure when no choice seems possible, let alone beneficial, what belief is the one I will choose as my lifeline to uphold me through the treachery?

It is God. I am young and sometimes I kid myself and think my life has been hard—it hasn’t. Especially in relation to many, many others. But my willingness to sacrifice for God has shown up—and yes, the truth or falsehood of it has been both a literal and emotional matter of life and death.

There have been times when my prayers have been met with aching silence. I have cried on my knees and wondered if the God I thought I loved so well knew me at all. Some of these times I have anguished for hours over whatever problem was present, some times I have given up in my own disappointment and crawled under the covers.

In Alma 18 Ammon asks King Lamoni, “What wilt thou that I should do for thee, O king?” and the king doesn’t answer him for an hour because he doesn’t know what to say. Then, Ammon asks: “What desirest thou of me?” And again, the king doesn’t answer him. This is when Ammon gets filled with the Spirit and is able to read Lamoni’s thoughts and talk to him about it.

Ammon didn’t know how long that hour was going to last. If I were him, I would have been shifting and pacing all over the place in that tension. It’s only when Ammon asks again that he gets filled with the Spirit. Only when he exerted the faith to put forth another effort after waiting so long.

So sometimes I’m Ammon, and instead of waiting and patiently exerting more faith and effort, I just bang on God’s door and try to convince Him to answer.

A girl bore her testimony in my new ward on Sunday and she was talking about dressing her 18 month old son. She said, "I just looked at him and said, ‘Ryan! We do this every day. This would be so much easier if you wouldn’t fight me on it!’ And I just thought, ‘Wow. God is just right in my face here!’ How often is He trying to say to me, ‘This would be so much easier if you wouldn’t fight me.’”

P.S., C.S. Lewis: I love you.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sunburns and Miracles.

I’m sitting sunburnt and happy while Jared builds a couch in the other room.

(We had to dismantle it in order to get it out of the room it was in, in order to fit in our brand spankin’ new sectional which is actually not brand new, but from the KSL classifieds.)

I’m sitting sunburnt and happy because we just whirled home from a 5 day eating excursion to California. Boy oh boy did we eat. And it was delicious. Oh how my heart longs for a delicious sushi joint here that has happy hour every day, and for a pizza place which sells gigantic gooey cookies in silver tins with ice cream heaped atop (so impeccable they have their own name, the glamorous pizookie), and for my mother in-law’s Martha Stewart-worthy lemon bars to magically appear on my counter. Yes, this was a very delicious trip indeed.

The sunburn came from falling asleep in the heavenly weather—imagine my dismay when I stepped outside this morning to SNOW. I hate that trick Utah plays every year. Quite nasty of it to always do that.

Pre-sunburn and pre-eating excursion, I was standing pale and unhappy at the globs of paint on our bathroom wall. Obnoxious Easter egg lilac. Crappy brownish pink. We finally decided on a glorious purple that is divine, and makes my bathrooming far more pleasant these days.

Our free time is spent at Lowe’s, dreaming about wood flooring and sconces and white doors. (You had better go kiss your white doors on the lips, for you are a lucky duck. We’ve had about enough of our poop brown ones.)

So that was April. Oh, and finals. Oh, and my best friend turned 22 and blessed her baby on the same day. Oh, and our ward is now on hold on account of realigning the boundaries of the whole world. Oh, and A MIRACE FROM GOD THAT I HAVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT RIGHT NOW.

We filed our taxes and those jokesters rejected them. THREE times. So we were flailing around, trying to figure out how to make them accept our filing thing so we could get our return so we could pay Jared’s tuition on time. Turns out the only way to make them accept the thing was to mail it in regular, like, with stamps and things of that nature. But snail mail means snail pace moolah—too late to pay tuition at all.

On this night that this is all hitting the fan, I am very whining and poo-pooing everything thinking about all the grimy possibilities to make this summer happen while I go in to brush my teeth in a huff.


Jared called me into the big room. “Hey, babe, I think you should come in here.”

“Ughhh, whaaat.” (I wish there were an accurate way to type what I said. It was so self-pitying and moanful and type cannot express.)

We looked at his financial aid and there, on the screen, was sitting more than enough money for his tuition. From those same federal jokesters and I wanted to wrap them all in a loving embrace I tell you! Because guess what now we didn’t even need that silly tax return because his tuition was already paid for!

I am just letting you know that God is for real.

He knows what’s up and He works miracles for us. Sometimes we notice because we’re already in so much need, and sometimes I think He does it just for the fun of it, like someone ding-dong ditcing cookies on your doorstep.

He ding-dong ditched a thousand dollars on my doorstep this time.  Gosh, I can’t wait to see what He does next.

But God is not a vending machine. He didn’t give us that miracle because we earned it with obedience wages or something. We do the very very best we can and He accepts our meager offerings every time. He never rolls His eyes at our embarrassing attempts to give to Him. He blesses us so profusely that we don’t even have room to receive all the good stuff He’s got for us—we just can’t think of it in an “I-do-this-I-get-that” kind of way. Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to people who are making really dumb choices. Here’s what I know: when I choose to make my life good and I put every effort in to being as good as I can, He helps me with all kinds of miracles. Miracles like this one, yeah, but ALSO THE MIRACLE OF KNOWING HE IS THERE.

The point is, miracles can happen in any circumstance. And they do! Oh, my, they do!

My quest is just keeping my eyes peeled.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sappy workout music.

When I run, I don’t pick pump-you-up music. I select the sappiest, most orchestrated inspirational nostalgic music on my ‘pod; because, to me, running has become this crazy yogic body-mind-soul thing that has to be an experience.

It started evolving that way when running was essential to my functioning about this time last year when I was broken up with Jared who I am now married to.

I would run creepily in his parking lot every single day and listen to the same John Mayer song. Over and over, for as long as I would run. Every day I would ask God if I could please just take back this thing I had done and knock on his door and beg him to take me back, sweaty and red-faced and nose-dripping in my electric blue shorts. And every day, God would gently let me know to please not do that.

After this, I would  come home and whip out my scrips and journ and read and ponder and write my life with pens I had spent far too long picking out at the bookstore. I filled up two or three journals that month.

I wrote in my journal the day we went to the Festival of Colors together. He had tried so desperately to get people to come with us and they all backed out. We were going alone. I wrote about how I was excited and afraid and I just didn’t know what was going to happen but I felt so good but I really hoped I wouldn’t do something impulsive and terrible that I wouldn’t be able to back up like kiss him.

Which is precisely what I did.

See, now it’s hard to remember all the detailing, but I had all these reservations about wanting to spend eternity with this man. On this day, the Festival day—I still wasn’t sure. I still had a lot of journal pages filled up with question marks and affirmations all rolled up in one giant mothball. I desperately didn’t want to show my longing and feeling for him without being able to stand up for permanent and say YES I AM COMMITTED NOW.

But before the kissing business happened,

I got into the car I’d gotten into at least a million times before—red mazda which I still wouldn’t recognize except on account of the orange coconut car freshener on the mirror. Back then, it was peachypeach. I slid into the passenger seat and back into the life of Jared Schultz and as I watched him eat his peanut butter and banana sandwich it felt so wrong not to be holding his hand.

I sat on mine to constrain myself.

We were so distracted that instead of going to Spanish Fork we went to Springville, and ended up at a very lovely garage sale at which point Jared bought several Navajo pictures with cheap goldy frames for $.25 and a Michael Jackson holographic card thing and injured himself on a pogo stick contraption.  I just felt awkward and antsy and clammy but giddy all rolled up in another giant mothball.

So when we were sitting in the car waiting to go to this chalk-throwing fest, I thought that kissing him would be the last thing I’d do. I thought sitting on my hands was working very nicely. And then we told each other honestly that we were just so dang glad to be together again. His blue eyes melted my mothball into a puddle and I got all weak in the knees for serious.

(ALRIGHT. It’s all very sappy and soggy. You love it.)

And my face flushed with seven different kinds of heat and before my brain knew it I just kissed him. He held me and it felt so good. Have you had holding like this? The kind that makes you feel contained in a wonderful bubble of nothing but validation and happiness? It still feels that way when this man hugs me.


Last night he held me in bed and said, “I can’t believe we’re married!”

I say this sentence at least every other day. There is no way I could ever convince myself that God does not work miracles. The evidence just sits right in front of my face every single day! Sometimes, even, this evidence kisses me. And, do you know? It feels just as fabulous as it did that day in March last year.

I’m gonna keep my sappy workout music.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Is the world just falling down around my ankles or what?

While people in Japan are suffering on the tailwinds of a tsunami and on the brink of a nuclear crisis, the kid in my adolescent development class was praying for the basketball team to play well in their first March Madness game.

I didn’t say amen.

I wish it was that simple to show my non-support for all the other things that are exploding in the world.

While Women’s Services is providing incredible events like ones with Alex Boye that bring tears to your eyes and change your life, the BYU homepage sports this newsworthy bit: “Vote for Your Favorite Jimmer Signs”—which is great news, because we don’t have enough people running around campus wearing his T-shirt or his jersey or his face.

No complaints about basketball. No complaints about Jimmer. No complaints that we rally around great talent and great fun.

Just a complaint that we do it at the expense of greater things.

Did you see the Daily Universe front page all about planning your wedding? Have you seen the insane amount of blogs that have thousands of followers for no reason other than that they post other people’s pretty pictures full of anorexic models draped in .2 oz of fabric? Have you been irked by the number of things/groups/companies/people trying to get you to “like” them on facebook?

Have you been annoyed at the amount of time-wasting crap for which we pay hundreds of dollars to spend our precious mortal probation in isolation?

Me too.

No complaints about weddings, pretty pictures, blogs, or technology. Just an aching for depth.

For reading real books, not electronic ones. I don’t care how lightweight it is.

For spending real time with your loved ones, not something with an ‘i’ in front of it.

For good old fashioned fun without a TV.

Without Jimmer.

For bodies that run and bike and camp and vacation and canoe!

Without a couch.

For soulful singing that’s going to happen behind Dance Ensemble tonight and tomorrow night, if you want to come hear me. I’ve got something to say.

Friday, March 4, 2011


On Thursday nights we stay with my Grandpa. We drive over in our pajamas and pillows and sweatpants, and there he is on the couch with the TV blaring, wearing no pants (He hates wearing pants, and when you’re 93 you can do whatever you want about pants. Finally.)

We say hello and he always calls me Brooke Darling. We help him to his walker. Then we fill up two liter pop bottles with hot water to go in Grandpa’s bed. He’s had hot bottles in his bed for as long as I can remember—even on the one night in the summer when I was nine and my family spent the night and the house was so boiling hot we all woke up and put cold, wet rags on our foreheads. Grandpa and Grandma snoozed away with the covers pulled up to their chins and the hot bottles cozying up their legs.

After the hot bottles are done we sleep while Grandpa sleeps, with a little camera by our bed so we can see if he needs anything. He doesn’t, usually. I think he just likes knowing we’re there. We listen to him talk in his sleep, occasionally snore. Then, we wake up and go to our regular lives.

Ever since my grandma died he’s been gathering the house into boxes. The old books, blueprints, model airplanes, and a bunch of one-of-a-kind things, like the chair massage pad, his American flag robe, and his collection of baseball hats. Probably he would call them caps?

My Grandpa loves the city of Kanab. He aches to live there. So he’s going to. For two months at least, and then, who knows.

It feels very sad to see all the boxes. It feels so arbitrary and cold—my grandparents and all their stuff breathed life into that house. Grandma’s chair by the bay window is gone. Grandpa’s plans to save the political universe are stashed away.

Unknowingly, we compass ourselves around things that seem very permanent, like our families and how they act. Like where our grandparents live and the things we will see when we visit. Like the family reunions that happen once every three years. Like the way the sun is supposed to rise in the morning.

The boxes just make me feel like the proverbial rug of stability is yanking itself out from under me.

Friday, February 18, 2011

getting your act together.

Women’s Chorus has been a drag lately. Sister Applonie has been barking at us about our intonation, our blend (for good reason), and I’ve been standing there with my arms crossed uppit-ily blocking everyone and why can’t all these people just get their act together.

Today, we sang Psalm 96, arranged by a young composer man who I assume went to BYU at some point and dreamed of being associated with Jean Applonie like every other reasonable human being does at one point or another. It was hard to learn. Because it changes meter, like, every other measure. For serious. Today we sang it all the way through, and there in the Madsen Recital Hall where I have stood every day, being uppity and arms-crossed, I bawled.

Music making me cry is no new sitch. There was a magical period where it happened literally every single day. But today, my barriers to God got broken down. They were ashes at my feet and I just kicked them behind me, away out into the air and down to the center of the earth to be absorbed by boiling bubbles of magna.

And He was there inside me. He was enveloping me in familiar wooshes of chills and wonder and beauty and just shouting in the most loving way: I’M HERE! EVERYTHING’S GONNA BE OKAY! DIDN’T YOU KNOW I WOULD COME BACK LIKE THIS?


Maybe I didn’t tell you,

I’ve been in a rut lately. I’ve been a rolling snowball of negative karma shwooshing through every element of my life. I’ve been selfish and sniveling and pretty rotten all around—so today, this song was nothing short of a miracle for my soul.

Just don’t stop doing the things you know are good for you. Not just like eating your veggies and sleeping, but the things you know are vital to your vitals. Writing. Reading wonderful words. Listening to the loveliest, most beautiful music. Uplifting yourself.

Choosing to wake up every day inspired.

So even when these things seem blank and bland, keep raising your hand to participate. Uncross your arms, and God will be there one day.

Then you feel sheepish for not trusting that He would infuse Himself into your life strong and big again.

Today, I’m choosing to be inspired.

Monday, February 7, 2011

the empty chair

I felt inspired to write today,

until I remembered that my grandma died last week and my words are all stuck up, globbed in grief and steeped in sorrow, like all the composite bad stuff of my life got conglomerated into one big ball and broken open by this event.

I’m still going to try to get something out, because all this stuff is important right now. Not in five years when all of it is past, but right smack dab in the middle of things when tears are fresh.

Her 90th birthday would have been in just a week. She was so frail and old and really, we all told ourselves that death for this woman would have been a blessing a long time ago.

So why doesn’t that make things easy?

She had a stroke on Monday morning: bleeding into her brain, not a candidate for surgery. 30% of people with this type of stroke? They die within a couple weeks. 40%, within three months. But that’s just normal-person statistic; not 90-year-old-my-grandmother statistic.

“I can’t think of anyone on this earth more precious than her,” my mom said. It’s true; this lady was full of sugar but genuinely sweet compliments every time you saw her—a hundred rounds of “I love you!” and, “you’re marvelous!” Every time I would wake up with her in the night and help her to the bathroom, seven exclamations of, “you’re wonderful!” would spill from her mouth.

We passed the people in scrubs, the gift shop where you can buy stuffed animals and balloons, the hallways with giant posters of friendly looking doctor men.

And there she was, in the hospital, dying in the arms of those children she raised—the last of which, my dear mother.

By the time we made it, she was already gone; we were too late.

Seeing her body, I felt so immediately that she wasn’t there anymore. It was so arbitrary—a cheek, a shoulder, a mouth—not my grandma. I had this wonderful image of her as a younger woman—her spirit gliding and hopping around the room; I felt so happy that she was free!! The wounds and hard things of life wouldn’t hold her for one second longer. If air could be classified like this, the air in that hospital room was peaceful. It was sad. The air was heavy but it knew what had just happened, in all the glory of the reality of the Plan of Salvation.

Inside the air filled with all those things, my brother and I talked to her. We talked to the spirit we knew was close as we held the empty body, both sobbing and hugging our mother, who now has no mother of her own in this world.

Grandma, do you remember the time you made the kids walk all the way to Ream’s when milk was on sale? Dad asks.

We laugh through our crying because when I was four and Garrett was six and Grandma was seventy something she babysat us and we walked what felt like eighteen hundred miles to the grocery store and fumbled back with jugs of on-sale milk. She was not one of those plump, baking grandmas who sits around all day. She knew about sales and coupons and hard work and sewing and God and raising twelve kids. She knew about walking when you had no car and getting through tough times. She was strong and smart but kept her sweetness all the time.

We said our goodbyes and there was hugging that was essential for healing, crying that was essential for understanding.

Together—me, my brother, my dad, my mom and my husband—we walked out of the room forever,

past the mortician and the white boards with bright dry-erase marker.


On the way out there was a picture of a house and a porch and a chair—an empty chair. It felt perfect to accompany that moment.

You go, grandma. You can get off your porch and leave your house and go home.

Her dementia was severe and getting worse; she was adamant the last time I was there that she had to wake up and get ready for school. She’d wash her face at least four times a night because she couldn’t remember that she’d already done it. She’s slept with two liter pop bottles filled with water in her bed for as long as I can remember, and ate brown rice for breakfast every day for probably all of those ninety years.

All of that seems like such a distant memory, faded into some fabric—mashed up with all the other things I knew of this incredible lady.

I want to know her for real.

I want to know her independent of life in an old, decaying body, laced with the frailties of mortality.

I want to know that gliding, hopping spirit.

It’s so indescribably wonderful to know I will.

Because someday I, too, will be a hopping spirit inside an old, decaying body. I’m excited for the day to come—the day when I get to get up out of my porch chair, too!

and go home.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Surprise, surprise!

Remember the surprise that was happening yesterday?

Me too.

After gospel choir he picks me up and we kiss because we love each other a lot. I put on the iPod, he drives. We bypass the game traffic and soon, we’re on a foggy road that feels like it’s suspended in midair—I love this road, because, we went on part of our honeymoon to the place it leads to.

“Park City!” I shout.

This surprise is my 8-month-early birthday present.


We wind up the road and wind up at Park City High school, where we take a bus that is free to a part of Main Street I’ve never seen before. The cold is biting my face and feet off but I’m giddy and 14. Or 5.

I really, really love surprises.

Especially ones as well kept as this one.

But we’ve brought my expired license (agh!) and get to ride the bus back to our car and get my paper one that’s real and come back to wait in line.

It’s just starting to dawn on me that I need to be 21 to go into this place and there are sketchy peeps creepin all around, smoking and swearing.

I’m still 14 slash 5 though, so I don’t mind. Jared makes me take off my glasses so I can’t see the posters as we approach. The guy ID-ing me asks me all this questions because he thinks my picture doesn’t look like me. Silly man!

I realize: this is a bar.


We get up to the front (YES, THE FRONT. JUST REMEMBER THAT WE ARE IN THE FRONT ABOUT TO SEE SOMETHING THAT I LOVE EXTREMELY DEARLY) and stare at the empty stage to wait. 10 minutes, 20 minutes.

A girl behind me shouts out the name of my surprise: “I just can’t believe I’m here,” she gushes, “seeing LAURYN HILL!”

asdfjasfjdalfjd are you kidding me is this for realnoitcan’t be i just adfjajdiwi? i just screamed and shouted and thrust myself into jared’s arms and then i prompty burst into tears.

Those people didn’t care because they were already drunk, drunk, drunk.

See, Lauryn Hill is my favorite artist in ALL of time and space, tied with Aretha Franklin. Possibly a titch ahead.

FAVORITE. Okay so I guessed it was a concert and I was trying to think of anyone and everyone it could possibly be but not once did this lady cross my mind—maybe because, oh, she hasn’t come out with new music in like 10 years and she’s dropped off the face of the music planet.


Well, she wasn’t there for a while.

Three hours, to be exact. Three hours of standing in the squished crowd and enduring the security guard who was at least 7 feet tall and whose ponytail kept whipping me in the face. Also I was forced to touch his bum more times than I would like to count. Three hours of watching people whose lives I know absolutely nothing about drink themselves slamming drunk, plaster themselves all over any other person they could find. Three hours of waitresses in the most ridiculous getups waddle (it’s the only means of transportation when your skirt is skin tight and your heels are a hundred inches high) back and forth with shots of STUFF. Three hours of asking the security man, PLEASE WHEN DOES IT START? he had no idea every single time.

But after those three hours, SHE WAS THERE. In this ludicrous fur coat and seventy other layers and twenty five bangles on each arm and gargantuan earrings and Native American makeup. She was there! And she SANG! And she was amazing.

It was so amazing. I wanted more singing from her and less noise from the band and drunk folks but I just sat there with my mouth hanging open and didn’t even sing along.

See, I can describe what happened up until then. But when she started singing I just have to stop because I can’t put words to it other than AMAZING.

It was amazing.


We arrive home at three in the morning and I missed a bit of class but srsly? Once in a lifetime thing here. And that man, that beautiful, gorgeous man who made it happen? Well, dontcha know, he’s my husband. And we are married to each other and it is incredible because that’s who he is.

Gosh. What an adventure for a random Wednesday night in January.

I love Lauryn Hill.

I love my husband for taking me to her.

WHAAAAT is my life? Wonderful.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

still fighting it.

How did I ever get by? Leaning into the wind, letting life take me where it wished? Now I feel this incredible sense of HUGEness—a strength. Not a bitter, battling the-world-is-out-to-get-me, but a simple knowledge that I will not be that person again. I will not be wishy-washy again.

I know what I want out of this life partially because I feel divinely encouraged…even commanded. Hey, Brooke: thou shalt not hide.

Letting myself be known means fighting against the natural current that would push me aside, leave a flaky facade devoid of soul. (And we know how I feel about that.)

The fighting mentality comes out unnecessarily, despite effort to let it be when that’s the right answer.


December 15, 2010

I went through all this trouble to find a pen, tonight, so, this better be good.

My how I overuse commas.

Maybe I’m afraid to write what I want to say tonight. I think, I will get over it. I think I will get over it. I probably will.

So what’s the point of writing it down, giving a name to the faceless monster?

It does feel good to write again, to feel my hand cramp up again. It’s like, Natalie Goldberg says, meeting a very old, pleasant friend. Sometimes she is crinkled and lined and very old for real. Mostly, though, she’s slippery and mysterious and without form. Does she sing, dance? I only picture her simply existing. Taking up space, but with purpose. She still walks and runs and rollumps.

Rollumps. Wow.

It’s been far too long since I have let myself get lost in paper and ink. Far too long, even, since I have let myself get lost in iPod music, regular music, Brooke music—not drilling classical into my sullied brains for [an apparently insufficient number of] hours.

Why are there always slits of complete insanity in your otherwise perfectly fabricated, sewed-up life? They keep rearing their heads, teasing, taunting scratching at the door as if to say, Look what I can do!

Slits of complete insanity.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

People are so good at helping other people.

Just look here and you will know.

I sent one nice man an email and he posted it on his famous blog! I love him forever for this! He is my hero and I will kiss his feet if I ever meet him. Bob, you are an angel. You made me gasp out in a grateful cry because through this little thing you did for me I knew God was watching over my efforts to spread His love.