Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Something to hold you until I write for real:

These are fabulous every year.

And I have to admit: the science fiction one is my favorite. Hahaha! Pickles...

Friday, October 26, 2007

I'll take the hairy one, thank you.

So, I just watched a 1983 version of The Pirates of Penzance and I realized something about myself: I've been in love with The Pirate King for years.

You know how some kids love certain movies to death? As in they love them so much that they watch them approximately 257 times per day (the rules of time and space do NOT apply when a kid is on a movie-watching kick), resulting in the death of any parents or guardians who are subjected to the noise of Barney singing that one song for the NOT KIDDING YOU TWENTY MILLIONTH TIME??!??!?!???

I have been that kid.

But instead of watching Barney (which was not around when I was a youngster) or Disney videos (well...maybe Sleeping Beauty), the videos I remember watching over and over (and also: over) were, I kid you not, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and The Pirates of Penzance.

I realize now that somewhere in my pre-preadolescent self, there were the seeds of something that would germinate into what I now reluctantly acknowledge as my adult...erm...inclinations, otherwise known as the fact that I kind of think hairy men are sexy.

There. I said it.

Which is why, watching The Pirates of Penzance at 3 o'clock in the morning, I felt all wrapped up in comfortable nostalgia and uncomfortable realizations that the reason I loved Pirates so much as a little girl was both that it has catchy music and a crazy zany plot, and also because it has some seriously beautiful men, one of whom has a seriously hairy chest and is the ONE example of a man with a mustache whom I have ever, ever found attractive.

Which makes me feel all weird about myself.

But there you go.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I just had a momentary longing for you, you 'you's that are rather far awayish, I suppose.

And each of you is my favorite.

Just so you know.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Talk a lot, pick a little more

Okay. So, this time, not in keeping with my usual method of preparing talks, I pretty much wrote out everything I was going to say beforehand. While the actual talk I gave was different in some ways from what you'll read below, (mainly due to time constraints), this is pretty much the original talk I came up with. If you'd like, go ahead and read it. For me, I think it was an appropriate exercise in reminding myself of things I personally need to hear again & again.

Which perhaps is the real point of talks after all.

I’m going to talk a little bit today about some of the things I feel deeply, not in a desire to expose my soul to you to some uncomfortable degree, but in the hope that some of the things I relate will speak to the deep inner part of your own souls. Because I think we all tend to feel the same sorts of things.

Personally, I tend to feel discouraged rather a lot. This discouragement doesn’t always come on Sunday, but sometimes it does. I don’t feel it continuously, but I feel it often, usually when I’ve failed to live up to my expectations in some way, or the expectations of other people. It’s when I’ve ignored someone who needed help, or withheld the truth about something, or felt angry at someone, or have done one of the myriad of things which causes us to feel guilty and cut off from God. And so I distance myself from Him.

I think that’s how it starts.

And then I get a wedding invitation in the mail, or hear from an ex-boyfriend, or see that my sister has blogged about her wonderfully adorable children, and I begin to feel that I’m going to be alone and unloved forever and ever. And I try not to wonder, but I really do in my heart of hearts, how God can possibly love me if He hasn’t gotten a spouse for me yet. (Don’t deny it; you do it too.)

And that’s how it escalates. (And that’s also how chocolate binges begin.)

And then, naturally, I feel guilty about having such thoughts, and I distance myself from God a little bit more, because I don’t think He’d want to hear from such a disobedient, faithless daughter.

And I feel alone and sad, cut off and distant, my soul grated down and raw, sensitive and stinging.

Some of you may be feeling this way right now. I know I have, often, sitting where you’re sitting now, trying for all the world to appear normal and happy, but feeling this internal, unshakable darkness inside.

I wish I could reach in and pluck out of my insides this knowledge and feeling of the love God has for you, for each of us, and give it to you, whole and untranslated. I wish I could give it to myself a week from now, or in a month or 100 days, when I’ll need it again. And then again. And then again.

We so often forget the love God has for us, the infinite value He places on us. But God is merciful and will remind us again and again, each time we need it, if we can just get ourselves to the point where we can feel it, just hear the message that He’s trying to give us.

My mother loves to find pennies on the sidewalk. It’s not that she has a thing for copper; it’s not even that she loves to add to her change jar. She loves finding pennies because, to her, finding a penny on the ground is a little indicator that God loves her and wants to remind her of that. I love that. I know another woman from my home ward who loves finding feathers for the same reason. She says that she always seems to find a feather on the ground when she’s feeling particularly lonely or discouraged.

Pennies and feathers are certainly not the only way we can feel God’s love for us, but they show that Heavenly Father seeks to bless our lives often in small ways that we simply don’t see. Like the fact that you just barely caught the T that one time you were running late, or when the shape of that cloud caught your eye and you wondered at the great gift of being able to see beauty in the natural world, or you found that perfect red leaf on the ground, or your best friend emailed you to tell you how much she loves you, or when Elder Holland addressed in his talk something you’d been worrying about for some time.

Sometimes the reassurance of God’s love for us comes through the scriptures. The scriptures are littered with references of His love for all mankind.
-3 Nephi 17. Read it. And then reread it. And read it again.
-1 John 4. Let’s look specifically at verse 16: “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”
And sometimes His love is manifest to us in quiet, intensely personal moments of prayer, when we kneel before him with our broken souls open and vulnerable and aching and raw, and He pours into our wounded souls the conviction that He cares for us, that we are infinitely valuable to Him.

Why is it so important for us to feel God’s love for us? Why does it heal us when we finally feel it? I think, for myself, I tend to place too much value on the way other people see me. I worry that I’m too awkward or too ugly for anyone to love. And so, when my sense of awkwardness or unattractiveness feels confirmed by interactions I have with others, I then feel I don’t have value at all.

But when I feel, really feel Heavenly Father’s love for me, carried with it is also the conviction that if in all the world only God valued me, what value that would be! And is!

But does Heavenly Father want us to feel His love simply to make us feel better? In part, yes! He is our Father, which means that He. Is. Your. Father. You are His immediate descendant; He is not your grandfather, or your great-grandfather, or your uncle. He is your Father. And He loves you and wants you to be happy because you. Are. His. Child.

But I think the Love of God does serve another purpose: it motivates us, both to be better people and also to love others and seek to serve them.
-1 John 4:11 – “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
-Mosiah 4:21 – “And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.”

And I would even go on to say, “And if that God, who has shown you his great mercy, doth fill your soul with his love, to such an extent that you cannot feel the greatness and power of it, O then, how ye ought to love one another.”

Brothers and sisters, I guarantee that the same method that can fill our hearts with the love God has for us can also fill us with the love He has for others, that earnest prayer and longing will enable the Spirit to flow charity and compassion into your souls, as great and overwhelming as the flow of Heavenly Father’s love for you.

We are all equal in the sight of God.
-2 Nephi 26:33 – “For none of these iniquities [murder, stealing, whoredoms, etc.] come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”

It is my belief that as we come to feel the great love our Father in Heaven has for us, we will begin to see both ourselves and others as He sees us: as precious beings, each individual of infinite and eternal value.

I know I have only felt a small part of the infinite value and love God holds for me. And yet that small part overwhelms me.

I pray that I, that each of us, will feel His love more fully, both for ourselves and for all those around us; as we do, we will find ourselves becoming more and more as our Father would have us be: like Himself.

Deary Dirigible

I highly recommend doing a Google search on dirigibles.

If you'd like, you can try out my own image search.

And why, you may ask, am I writing about dirigibles?

Why, simply because they are perhaps one of the mostest awesomest things ever.

So, what odd things do you like to search on Google?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Aha! Poetry!

It's been awhile since I've written any, but I just wrote two today. The first one's no good, but I kind of like this one:

Post-it notes from the desk of God
Yellow brown leaves drop
all zigzag in the
yellow green light,
falling like Post-it
notes from the desk
of God.

If you read the lines
right you’ll find His
scrawled handwriting
(like a doctor’s,
barely decipherable).

On this, “Dinner with the
Matsons on Thursday,”
or another: “Prompt Pope
about reforms,” and half-
hidden between the
roots of a tree:

But that one that
“Remind her that I’m
thinking of her
and sending

(My apologies to those who've already read my post on that one writing blog.)

Anyway, I hope your autumnal days were all glorious!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Singing for the Queen, Reading Letters, and Other Forms of Polished Society

Today was good for several reasons.

Firstly, I did not sing for the Queen of England, but I got to listen to the group that does. Sing for the Queen, I mean. (And is that "The Queen" or "the queen" or "the Queen?") The Choir of St. George's Chapel (at Windsor Castle) performed in Boston's Trinity Church at Copley Square this afternoon.

And also, yesterday, I stood right next to a group of boys from the choir while riding the T into the Fenway. (I had noticed their fabulous British accents, up to and including one chaperone's frequent use of the term 'pencil case,' which unfortunately just doesn't get used too much in the U.S., and had wondered if they were from the choir. It was confirmed when I saw a particular red-headed boy I had noticed singing with the choir this afternoon. Awesome, non?)

The music was sublime. If you like religious music performed by all-male choirs (in surprisingly appealing ankle-length scarlet robes) accompanied by a magnificent organ, you are probably sitting at the computer envying me right now. (Unless, of course, you're my fabulous roommate who happened to invite me to come to this particular concert with her. Er, 'you,' I mean. Or...somethingorother. In which case you don't envy me, because you were there yourself. Yep.)

The other thing that made today particularly enjoyable was that I got a letter from my little sister after getting home from this fabulous concert. She had--get this--written it on parchment paper with a quill and sealed it with sealing wax. How. Blasted. Cool. Is. That.

And I realized what a surprisingly civilized and elegant thing it is to read a letter that has been sealed with sealing wax that was sent through the mail to you from your sister. I felt as if I'd stepped into an Austen novel and was Lizzie, reading about the tribulations of my poor mama. (Except that the letter was about my sister's experiences at college, not my mama's tribulations. But anyway.)

So. Life is good.

And I'll try to take some pictures of the leaves soon; things are surprisingly still quite green here, which is why I haven't snapped any photos yet. But as the weather stays cold, more trees are starting to go up in flame-like displays, so I'll get those images to you yet.

-Lizardbreath McGee

Thursday, October 18, 2007

When librarians get embarrassed:

When we find ourselves mouthing the 'ABCs' song under our breath, trying to remember whether K comes before or after L.

For some reason, I can never remember that one.

At least I've got the numbers straight.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Um. Erm.

I found out last night that I'll be giving a talk on Sunday.


Am I the only person who gets a talk assignment, all excited about the topic, and then I start to write it and I realize I'm not sure at all which direction I want to go with it?

And also I'm not sure

GROSS! A huge fly just went by my head!

How on EARTH did a huge fly get in here?


And also I'm easily distracted?

Um. So, seriously--any thoughts on how you normally approach talk creation?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Grad school equations

3 Hours of Sleep + Paper Due at 2:30 + No Groceries = Peanut Butter Sandwiches for Breakfast.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

As balm to the raw soul

This morning, as part of the conclusion of a weekend-long regional LDS single adult conference, Elder Holland came and spoke to a large gathering of people (mainly those afore-mentioned single adults) on MIT campus.

Because this basically replaced our church services for this morning, and also because--gracious--it's Elder Holland, I went this morning and listened to speakers from all three young single adult wards in the Boston area, along with our area seventy and another speaker & his wife whose connection to the conference I unfortunately missed. Maybe he was from CES?

The last two speakers were Sister and then Elder Holland. I must confess: during the majority of the morning I sat, mostly doodling a little bit, writing an occasional sentence in my notebook as thoughts (rarely) struck me.

The truth was, I was hurting this morning. I felt sad and raw, almost on the verge of tears. I wasn't sure why, which was perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of the feeling, although I suspect it had something to do with this, although not specifically; it was more a sensation of general aloneness, of being cut off from people, of feeling strongly dissatisfied with myself.

In short, I was unhappy, unsettled, raw.

Elder Holland's words were balm to my soul.

He spoke about what 13 Nephi 7 tells us of the way mercy operates, that it stands between us and justice the way Christ's compassion stood between his blessing of the Nephite saints and the duties He had to fulfill elsewhere. Elder Holland taught that mercy and compassion (particularly as personified by deity) respond to tears, respond to longing, even when there are other important things to do.

There's something about feeling this great Godly yearning of love for us that always moves me to tears, at least when I really feel it. And I really felt it this morning. I felt what Christ meant when He said, "Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you." And I felt it for me.

At the end of my notes, I reflected a little on this morning's experience: "You come wounded, hurting and aching, raw, and find cool balm, soothing, sweet peaceful, restful. That is the great message here, that where there is pain, God provides relief and easing and comfort."

I'm continually frustrated with myself because of my inability to remember this truth. But the thing is, we will always experience pain in this life, for multitudinous reasons. And each time we do, each time, particularly as we turn to Him, God reaches out in yearning towards us, His bowels filled with mercy, to apply the soothing balm of his love to our raw and wounded souls.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Because I'm all about appearances.

So. You maybe just got to this page and noticed that--hey--your (it's true!) favorite blog has up and got a makeover! And actually you just barely noticed while you were reading that last sentence that--hey--your (don't even deny it) favorite blog now looks even more fantastically schnazzy than ever. And wait; what's that? While pondering on the ephemerality of electronic forms of communication and how the changing of one's blog template reflects and relates to the internal changes that take place daily in our own lives you realized that--hey--your (not even kidding) favorite blog has become this wonderful place where you just want to comment and comment and also never leave.

Because it just looks so good.

And is also your favorite.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I embrace my identity

Today, I purchased a Simmons hoodie.

This is me wearing that hoodie:

Nice, eh?

And this is me wearing the hoodie while reflecting on my own image (mirrorly):

And also, I PhotoShopped this image so that 'Simmons' would read left to right.

And also, I did not do my hair today. Nor really have I done it for the past couple of weeks. Nor am I likely to do it anytime in the near future.

But I likes my new sweatshirt.

Which is really great, 'cause it's gettin' COOOOLD in Boston!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Slightly dampened spirits

You know those oldish cartoons (Disney? Had Goofy?) where drivers would run through puddles on the side of the road, drenching harmless pedestrians nearby?

Well, tonight, walking back to the T stop after my triumphant finishing of the technology requirement and celebratory YouTube watching, I was that pedestrian, and a bus was that Goofy. Or. You know. Whoever.

In short, I got soaked, and soaked darn good.

And then my umbrella turned inside out.

I think the universe was just trying to balance things a little.

Yay! I don't stink as a graduate student!

Remember last week? The week I thought was terrible and awful and really high-stress, and that the products thereof were mostly mangled masses of text-flesh that I managed to cobble together between midnight and 4am?

Well, I got them all back, and got As (or an A equivalent) for each of them.

Hah! Triumph, I tell you! Sagacity! Pamplemousse! (And other words generally expressive (not really) of joy!)

And now I just have to get cracking on making a (really simple) website for the GSLIS technology requirement due tomorrow, writing another paper due Tuesday and starting to think about & working on a presentation I'll be giving in two weeks and another paper due in about two weeks as well.

There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the grad student. Or something.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Why love is like chocolate cake:

Cake is spongy. And is also covered in buttercream frosting.

So is love.

Cake is great for special occasions, like birthdays or retirements.

So is love.

Cake is a delicious combination of eggs, flour, sugar, shortening, baking powder and sometimes vanilla.

So is love.

Also, I want some.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Blinking at the surprising sunlight

This past week has been, to put it mildly, a little intense. Basically, I had a paper due in every class, and my thinking that I had been managing my time pretty well was pretty much confirmed as the worst of self-delusions.

In short, I have spent the past week working desperately to finish one assignment (usually tinkering with it up to 10 minutes before class), turning it in, then working like mad to finish the next paper, which was generally due within the next two days.

So now, suddenly left with nothing looming over me (at least nothing looming closely in a breathing-down-my-neck, whispering-menacing-things-in-my-ear type of way; I still have plenty of things skulking across the street Giving Me The Eye), I'm amazed at the half-unbelieving sense of newfound freedom I seem to feel.

I think I may celebrate my return to the land of the living by finishing my delicious spaghetti. And then becoming unconscious. For a very long time. Cheers!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

And also, this is awesome:

Hahaha! Ah, that crazy folk-parody duo, Flight of the Conchords.

I shoulda believed Murphy all along.

It would have been a firm belief in Murphy's Law that could have warned me that a few minutes after we were supposed to have closed the library (at 1:00am) the computer lab printer would have a major meltdown and would therefore make me late enough (as I scurried to print the student's document elsewhere and leave a note for the supervisor to look into the problem in the morning) to just barely miss my cab, which pulled away from the curb and left about 20 seconds before I was able to get outside, leaving me stranded, waiting for another cab for a good 15 minutes more, standing alone on a well-lit but emptyish street, fearing for my life every time a jogger came by.

If only I had listened to Murphy; I could have planned for such an event. Alas that I did not. For it is late. And I am more awearied than I would otherwise have been.