Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Tonight I watched a home in my neighborhood burn and was overcome with a sense of helplessness that brought tears to my eyes as I walked home. I arrived at the scene, which was marked by a huge, black smoke cloud, before the firefighters did. I heard explosions from the fully engulfed carport and watched beams collapse to the ground as dozens of neighbors and drivers stopped to witness the disaster. The gardener in me noticed the backyard trees in flames as the fire spread across the dry weeds on the property. It was a little surreal to see neighbors running to the scene while firefighters arrived and calmly walked about their business, which, incidentally, was to first put out the yard flames before the fire could spread to other homes.

The sense of tragedy for me was amplified by the fact that this home is only a few houses up the street from the home of the family in my ward who lost their wife and mother in a plane crash at Mt. Everest a week ago. Both incidents left me feeling deep sorrow for the families and completely at a loss for any help I could offer. My friend Mindy expressed my helplessness well when discussing our friend's passing: "How can my life be essentially unchanged when only a few yards away, their lives are forever altered?"

I do know the power of prayer and united faith. However, in the midst of witnessing tragedy, I don't know what I expect my prayers and faith to do. All I can think to ask of God is to comfort these families as they work through their losses, and to help me see any small need I can fill. I am reminded how blessed my own family is, and I don't want to take my blessings for granted. Life as any of us know it can all change in an instant.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Outdoor Concerts

In the last two weeks, Kent and I attended two outdoor concerts. Two very contrasting concerts. I just wish the audience behavior contrasted as much as the music did.

We joined some friends at the Scera Shell in Orem for the Utah Symphony's outdoor concert. I haven't heard the symphony perform since 2008, and it was wonderful to hear their precision and clarity. Attending only middle school and other amateur performances had really "dumbed down" my ears.

Sadly, too many audience members were also dumbed down on concert etiquette. Several times a handful of people clapped in the middle of a piece, which I've come to expect at all concerts now. But seriously, how difficult is it to watch the conductor's baton come down before slapping one's hands together? What bothered me more was the couple behind us who couldn't stop talking. I think when a concert is moved out of the hall and into the outdoors, the audience gets very casual in their behavior. I have no problem with people wearing jeans and T-shirts to an outdoor concert. However, I do have a problem with those who act as if the symphony is there to just provide nice background music for their romantic evening. And when that romantic evening leads to making out on a blanket in the middle of a huge crowd of people, as did the couple in front of us, it makes me want to gag.

I also noticed a new trend. At least one quarter of the audience distracted themselves by playing games on their phones during the concert. I will admit to playing a game through one piece as well. It seemed harmless enough; the sound was turned off and the game doesn't bother anyone else. But those few minutes I spent concentrating on the tiny screen proved to me how much of the show I was missing. I couldn't pay close attention to the swells and melodies of the piece or pick out the bass fiddle or horn parts with my ear. And most of all I missed the dance of the conductor. David Cho was the conductor that night, and it was thrilling to watch his movements. I could barely follow the beat he was setting because his body was so busy acting out the motion of the music. Most interesting to me was that many times he seemed to be out of sync with the instruments, almost as he were giving clues as to what was just about to follow. The symphony played a piece with a western theme (I can't remember it's name!), and as Cho bent his knees in rhythm, I kept hoping he would really get into it and do a full squat. He didn't disappoint! I loved it!!

The second concert was more Kent's choice of music. We went to the final performances of the Salt Lake Summer Concert Series to hear Dum Dum Girls and She & Him, which has Zooey Deschanel as the lead singer. You would know her from "Elf" and "100 Days of Summer". I liked She & Him's music okay, but I've finally decided those concert scenes are just not for me. I did enjoy the company of the friends we went with, and I really had fun people watching. I caught myself staring at a dyed platinum blonde with a spiky pixie cut whose eyes seemed to be smiling; I determined it was because of the way she drew her thick black eyeliner, and it made her pretty in an in-your-face kind of way. I spent most of the concert trying not to get separated from our group as the crowd continually stirred around us. I found it fascinating that even with the masses pressed into a tight, standing mob, we each had a small amount of personal space. At any given time I had a dozen people within arm's reach of me, yet everyone was careful to not actually touch anyone else. I was also fascinated by the group of drunk college boys in front of me. I finally put Kent between us, which meant I couldn't see the stage, because I was afraid one of them might fall on me and I would end up smelling like him. I found myself seriously questioning the admissions decisions of universities, and then wondering if these people would actually grow up to be a contributing member of society. What part of our economy rests on these young men's shoulders? Scary!

In contrast to the symphony's audience, most of the rocker audience was very tuned into the show and didn't distract themselves with cell phones (probably to avoid dropping them in the crowd). I found it slightly humorous that the crowd constantly pushed closer to the stage, yet they could have heard each "intricacy" of the music from a block away what with the huge speakers amplifying every twang of the guitar. I left with my ears ringing and a determination that this just isn't my cup of tea. I hope Kent has fun at The Black Crowes concert tomorrow, and I'm glad he has lots of friends who like those sort of venues. I look forward to an evening with a quiet book. I'm sure sure we'll both love our choice of entertainment.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Deluge of Posts Soon To Follow

Hello to my four blog followers!

I know my posts this summer have been quite scanty. That fact speaks to a busy summer. I've had plenty to post about, both as a participant of events and as a thinker of random, and sometimes deep, thoughts.

I'm just taking a minute here to commit to recording some of the posts that have been floating around inside my skull. In fact, I'll take a moment to record one that just came to me.

On the subject of deep and random thoughts...

During my two summers in Oregon when I was a teenager, I had a group of friends that loved to quote Jack Handy. One of my favorites, and it has stuck with me for 20 years, goes as follows:

"The face of a child can say so much. Especially the mouth part of the face."


As my children mature, they don't say so many quirky things. However, a recent funny from #5 is based in his current propensity for assigning number values to things. When I told him that google is the biggest number there is, I had no idea how his little mind would clamp onto that concept. For the past month he has introduced google into at least google conversations each day. Earlier this week he asked, "If we had google of something, we could reach up to Jesus, because he lives in outer space, huh?" I could only agree (rather than introduce any other mind-bending concepts to him.

But that's not the quote I planned to share. The funnier one was when we were boating with my relatives at our family reunion two weeks ago. My dad was in the process of taking off his life jacket and replacing it with a shirt. In the middle of that transfer, #5 pointed to his grandpa and proclaimed (because he says nothing in an appropriately quiet voice), "Gross!! You have zero shirt on!"

It's really hard not to laugh at Jack Handy's deep thoughts or the real-life proof of their validty.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Where Is the Real Me?

Caveat: I did not major in philosophy, so the following bumbling mess of words and thoughts might annoy you deep thinkers out there. I offer you my apology in advance.

A couple nights ago I was talking with two friends; both are full-time moms. One recently returned from a cruise. She mentioned how wonderful it was to relax, enjoy being with her husband, and rediscover part of her real self again. The other commented on recently gaining some discretionary income with her husband's new job. Less restrained by their budget, she is enjoying the process of discovering her tastes in clothing and color, and looks forward to finally owning a home that she can decorate as she wishes. She compared herself to a butterfly who wants to be a dragonfly.

I've been mulling over these comments since our conversation. Both women expressed having found or rediscovered a part of themselves that has been MIA for a long time. I'm pretty sure I, too, have talents waiting to be discovered that will reveal tastes I don't know I have; or maybe personality traits that don't currently find a sufficient outlet in the day-to-day running of my household. What bothers me is whether now is the time to look for parts of me that are hidden, or whether I wait for an impetus to reveal those things, as happened with my friends. They each had a change to their routine that uncovered exciting parts of themselves. I don't forecast any change for my near future. I don't even think my schedule allows me time to search for new pieces of me.

Or maybe I'm just not seeing the change because it is subtle.

I can definitely say I am not the same person I was 15 years ago, and I am happy about that. I am now more patient and kind. I have thrown off the shyness that for years hid my personality from all but my family members. I still have my competitive nature and stubbornness intact, both of which serve me well at times in various roles I take on. But has my routine as mother squelched part of me that I should miss? I don't remember.

Kent often says he wishes I let others see the person I am with him. Maybe I still carry a little reserve or shyness around. Or maybe it is the short time between the children's bedtime and ours that I can set down my other concerns and be myself a little. What holds me back? What part of me have I put away to be a mother? What part of me would emerge if I set my routine aside, even for just a few days?

I don't have answers for these questions, other than to say I am quite content with the person I am in general. Sure, I have flaw as well as relationships I want to improve, and that will require changes on my part. I guess I can at least look forward to always changing and discovering new interests as I mature.

What are your thoughts/experiences? I'm going to bed--one part of me that is always consistent is that I'm still a morning person!