Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Right now, this song embodies my every thought and feeling...

Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol

We'll do it all
On our own

We don't need
Or anyone

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

I don't quite know
How to say
How I feel

Those three words
Are said too much
They're not enough

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we're told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that's bursting into life

Let's waste time
Chasing cars
Around our heads

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we’re told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that's bursting into life

All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes, they're all I can see

I don't know where
Confused about how as well
Just know that these things will never change for us at all

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

art source

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Dramas & Romantic Comedies

There are so many wonderful Christmas movies I consider my favorites. Watching them makes me excited to spend time with my family, brings me joy through laughter, and reminds me of the true spirit of Christmas.

Here are the dramas and romantic comedies that are at the top of my holiday movie list:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My first Chicago Thanksgiving...

Thanksgiving is such a happy holiday. Everyone seems a little more generous, a little more forgiving. Christmas is around the corner. Lights twinkle around town. Food drives make you grateful for your blessings. Leaves still clutter the ground.

This year Harper and I made our own mini Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing (stove top baby!), Martinelli's (which cost me $4.50 for one bottle, totally ridiculous), and double-layer pumpkin pie. When I got the turkey out Harper was very intrigued and jumped up on the table to help. She's always trying to help out her mamma.

Even though I'm over 2,000 miles away thanks to the wonders of technology I still got to have Thanksgiving dinner with my family via Skype. I ate my dinner while they ate theirs and we talked just like I was actually there.

Skype is one of the things I'm most grateful for this year. Spending $25 on a webcam for my family was money well spent. It makes being far away easier. The phone is great, but being able to see everyone at once and the dogs brawling in the background is comforting. Family feels tangible.

The list could go on and on but here are 10 things I'm grateful for this year:

1) Surviving my first quarter of grad school
2) My little muffin Harper
3) The amazing city of Chicago
4) Skype (such an amazing invention)
5) Pinterest (I could spend all day on there)
6) Five Guys (I could eat there everyday)
7) Diet Coke with lemon and lime (sooo good)
8) My awesome neighborhood and apartment
9) The fact that all of my girls are home from their missions!
10) Good books and compelling articles that inspire me to be a better writer

Saturday, November 19, 2011

O' Christmas Tree...

I think it's going to be a Charlie Brown Christmas this year. I really want to buy a real tree but it's just not practical with little Harper and the fact that I'm leaving for over a week to visit my family for Christmas. Plus, it's only $20 and you can't help but smile when you look at this sweet little tree. After does need some tender loving care.

Friday, November 18, 2011

November with Harper

Harper has been very good at keeping me company while I suffer through finals week. No matter what, she's always there to lend a helping hand. 

Every time I sit down to write she jumps on the table and flops on top of my keyboard. When I packed up all my summer clothes, she thought she'd help by jumping in the box and playing. 

She loves it when I swiffer the floor and makes sure to walk right through the piles of dirt and fluff. But no matter her antics, every night she jumps on my bed and snuggles with me all night. 

I may have to move all the way to the right, flat up against the bed frame, but this little muffin is worth it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ode to Cider...

Oh sweet caramel apple cider how you brighten my day.

I marvel at your ability to encase fall in a cup.

Life is better with you around.

Each year you come back to me without fail.

Your robust bouquet of flavor leaves me speechless.

I forget my every care as I sip you and watch people go by.

Hot chocolate may be my good friend, but you are my endless love.

Wednesday Wisdom...

"In its silence, a book is a challenge: it can’t lull you with surging music or deafen you with screeching laugh tracks or fire gunshots in your living room; you have to listen to it in your head. A book won’t move your eyes for you the way images on a screen do. It won’t move your mind unless you give it your mind, or your heart unless you put your heart in it. It won’t do the work for you.

To read a story well is to follow it, to act it, to feel it, to become it—everything short of writing it, in fact. Reading is not “interactive” with a set of rules or options, as games are; reading is actual collaboration with the writer’s mind. No wonder not everybody is up to it."

— Ursula K. Le Guin

artwork by Emma Kristina

Sunday, November 6, 2011

living a half-life...

I used to search incessantly for meaning in life. Work tirelessly to achieve, to be someone. Then, over the course of a year or so, my reality collapsed.

Now, I compartmentalize my life into two main parts: life up to my breakdown at 19 and my life thereafter. I’m not the girl I used to be and sometimes, I want to be. I wish I cared more, like I used to live.

My whole goal in life used to be to “live life to the fullest”. Now, I am afraid perhaps I don’t know how to live at all. I lived in fear but faced it. I found solace in blood, sweat, and tears. And yet, was I happy? My older self--after careful examination--says to my younger self, “no”. But, am I happy now? Do I even know what “happy” means?

I often feel I am meant to live a life half awake; half aware of the world outside me and halfway trapped inside my own brain. I experience emotional highs and lows, of that I am certain. But when it comes down to it, I wonder what I really feel at all. I am uninspired. Collapsible. Educated. Relenting rather than relentless. Flat. Aware of what I must do yet plagued by the possibility that I cannot do it.

I am a writer who does not write. A reader who struggles to read. An artist that looks rather than creates art. A member who does not pray or read her scriptures regularly.

I find solace in others’ words rather than finding my own. I search for inspiration rather than choosing to be inspired. Sometimes all of the words seem like crap. Nothing more. Vain dreams of the ignorant.

Even when I know I’ll be worse off if I do or not do something, I make the wrong choice anyway. I think sometimes it’s because I used to never give myself a choice at all.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Then and Now....

In honor of Halloween 2011, check out this great photo gallery put together by LIFE. I love all of the vintage images. I don't know why, but they just do not compare to today's photographers. My nostalgia seems to get the better of me when it comes to photographs. Enjoy!

LIFE Halloween Then and Now photo gallery

Friday, October 28, 2011

Kate Voegele at Park West...

While my mom was in Chicago visiting me, we did something we've been wanting to do for a long time. We saw Kate Voegele in concert! The show was absolutely amazing. Kate sounds even better in person. Her voice is rich and smoky, which I absolutely love. She is also an equally gifted songwriter. Kate's lyrics make me feel as if she can see into my soul. Sarah and I have listened to her songs in so many places and for so many reasons. We've laughed. We've cried. One memory that plays over in my mind is our many drives through the canyon at all hours of the night and day.

Oddly enough, my mom was the one who introduced me to Kate Voegele. That's rather unique because my dad and I are the music buffs in the family. She first heard Kate during my sister's One Tree Hill phase. Kate had a recurring role as a singer on the show shortly before she released her first album. My mom doesn't buy much music, but she bought Kate's album. We played it on repeat. Over and Over. We were hooked. I've bought both of her following albums and loved each one for its insightful lyrics and real-life messages. Her songs have gotten me through so many hard times.

The venue where we saw Kate was called Park West. It was a fabulous setup. Park West reminded me of  an old night club with a "dance" floor and then tiers of intimate, comfy booths and tables with chairs. Mom and I sat in a booth, were comfortable the entire time, and had a great view. I definitely want to go to another concert at Park West.

Funny story of the night was how I managed to meet Kate after the show. Before the show started, I waited in line to buy a poster. When I finally got up to the front to buy it, I gave my money to the guy and waited for him to give me my change. He gave me my change and said to hold on a sec. Naturally, I waited. He grabbed a wristband and put it on me with a big grin saying, "You get to meet Kate after the show." I was excited and perplexed. A sign on the merchandise table clearly stated that only the first 75 people to buy a sweatshirt or CD would get to meet Kate after the show. I hadn't bought either item. Not wanting my mom to miss out on the action, I smiled and asked if I could get a second wristband for my mom. He said, "Oh yeah, of course". I guess that's what I get for being a cute girl. :-)

We waited in line for about 10 minutes after the concert and were one of the first people to meet Kate. I told her how much I enjoyed her music and that it's gotten me and my friends through so many things. She was so sweet and cute. She gave me a hug and my mom took a picture of us (my cell phone doesn't have a flash so the picture is kind of crappy).

Seeing Kate Voegele at Park West was well worth the wait. My mom and I couldn't have had a better night!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom...

In light of Steve Jobs' passing last Wednesday, I thought it appropriate to dedicate this week's Wednesday Wisdom post to him and the insightful, provoking comments he made during his now famous, 2005 Stanford University commencement address. The first quote about connecting the dots spoke to me the most.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Steve Jobs.

"Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."

"Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new."

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Click here to read the entire text of Steve Jobs' profound Stanford University 2005 commencement address. Photo from Apple's website.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Feeling Vacant...

Some days I feel as if happiness will always have a vacancy in my life. That I am destined to struggle every day in my pursuit to live beyond necessity.

I am in Chicago. In theory, I am "living the dream". But most of the time it doesn't feel like it. An underlying layer of depression plagues my existence. Even though, right now, I wouldn't necessarily say I'm "depressed". My body seems to be telling me otherwise.

This week I've found myself wishing I could be the girl I knew in high school. Naive and head strong. Unwilling to believe that dreams were impossible. I may not have let all of my success in, but at least I believed it was possible. I didn't know any better. Any scars I had were surface wounds, only to become deep when adolescent life ended.

I want to embrace the life I'm living. It's why I came here. Yet, it's so hard to do. An intense paradox. Why is that living life gets int the way of really living? Every time I talk to some people who are close to me I feel like I have to give a report about this fabulous life I'm living. When I don't feel I can report favorably, I don't call. I'm tempted to lie. To create a facade that everything is fine because it's not acceptable if it isn't.

I've always struggled to "get out there" and make friends. I'm good at being alone. Social anxiety is too good of a friend to me. I don't want to make excuses or make things more complicated than they are, but what if they are complicated? At least for me, it's not that simple. Why isn't that ok? Even if I give myself permission, it seems wrong to acknowledge my greatest flaws.

Rip off the band-aid. Take the plunge. Go big or go home. So much of the pain I've experienced in my life, I've blamed myself for. The results were because of my own depth, mistakes, who I am as a person. I care too much, so when I get hurt it's bigger than it may be for other people. So it's not the person's fault who hurt me that I'm damaged; it is my own.

I know I am my own form of dramatic. That I future trip and psyche myself out. I look at people from my past. People with whom I dreamed about life in the future. Now, they're all in places I'd thought I'd be. And somehow, I feel like I've always known that it would be that way. Like it's no surprise. Because that's just how it works for me. I can handle not always getting a happy ending, so that's the story I live.

I wrote this at 2:30 am the other night when I couldn't sleep. I wasn't going to post it but after reading my friend Megan's blog I thought that maybe somebody else out there would be able to relate and know that they're not alone. While this post is rather depressing and raw, it's how I felt and I think honesty is what gets you somewhere in this life. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

From Wobbles to Harper...

A week and a half ago I visited The Anti-Cruelty Society and picked up this sweet little miss. I'd been thinking about getting a cat for a week or so and after much deliberation and counsel with my mom and aunt, I decided...ah what the heck?

Several cats had caught my eye on the Anti-Cruelty website but when I went in and started looking around, a small cat in the back reached her paw out to me and made eye contact. As cheesy as it sounds, I think she was saying, "Look at me! Pick me!". Her name, according to the paper chart on her cage, was Wobbles. Strange name for a cat.

I held Wobbles, pet her, and let her walk around in the designated area. She instantly liked me and I liked her too. I looked at several other ginormous cats but when it came down to it, I knew I needed to take this dainty muffin home.

I went through "pet counseling", signed the papers, paid the fee, and Wobbles officially became my little Harper. How did I come up with the name? Well, earlier this year David and Victoria Beckham welcomed a baby girl into their family; a girl they decided to name Harper. When I read the announcement on I fell in love with the name. Although I am indifferent about "The Beckhams", I am grateful for their inspiration. Who knew these international stars could influence my life so profoundly. I applaud you David and Victoria. Here, here.

After spending some time with Harper I quickly learned why her name was "Wobbles". Her gait is slightly off and at times she appears to be slightly under the influence. Not drunk. Just buzzed. I took her to the vet today for her checkup and apparently it's some kind of condition. The vet said most likely her mom contracted a virus while she was pregnant which affected the development of Harper's brain that controls her balance. Something like that. The important thing is that she's a "mild case" and it's not at all life threatening.

Harper is a wonderful addition to my life here in Chicago. The first few days I had her I kept saying to myself: what have I done? I got a cat, what? Why? Can I take her back? Now, I'm so happy I got her. I talk to her in baby talk and everything. Not sure why animals and babies bring that out in humans. Some type of weird phenomenon.

Her favorite place to sleep is my laundry basket. She loves to eat and is a complete spastic when it comes to the litter box. She digs like crazy and litter goes absolutely everywhere! A litter box with walls is currently in route from She sleeps with me for a part of the night and then usually retreats to the laundry basket, only to come back in a few hours later when I wake up. Often times she sits in the bathroom while I get ready in the morning. Oh, and she's a little cry baby. That's pretty much my second name for her.

While I still look forward to finally owning a dog, Harper is exactly what I need right now. She couldn't be any cuter or more wonderful. Definitely a good choice.

Wednesday Wisdom...

 These days, more than anything, I'm trying to believe. Some days are better than others.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Weekend Moments...

Memorable moments from my first weekend in October:
  • Listening to General Conference...Elder Uchtdorf's talk was my favorite
  • Attending a discussion about the arts and social media at the Ravenswood Arts Walk
  • Talking to people after the discussion and asking them questions to use as quotes in my beat report
  • Buying a pumpkin and walking down the street like Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail
  • Eating Dreyer's pumpkin ice cream
  • Harper playing with my cotton balls and q-tips while I painted my nails
  • Having a nice long chat with my high school bestie Miss Keely Coxon
  • Watching While You Were Sleeping
  • Watching my Aggies play BYU on ESPN3 (this moment would have been A LOT better if we'd won)
  • Remembering to take a deep breath and enjoy my surroundings
Plus, I've officially been in Chicago for 1 month!! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom...

For this Wednesday's Wisdom I bring you these words from Almond Tree Designs
I need to remember and own these words right now. Well, really forever.

The Last Friends...

I just finished watching the last episode of Friends. I couldn't keep myself from crying. I've been watching all the seasons again since I got them for Christmas.

Tonight I made "better than mhhm cookies"; burnt the first batch because I didn't set a timer. They don't taste the same. I don't have my good Guittard chocolate chips, just like I don't have my good friends here to share them with me. There's no good in eating cookies alone.

Chadly and Josh aren't here to pretend to worry about their manly waistlines and then proceed to eat at least 4-5 cookies a piece. Sarah isn't here for me to put my head on her shoulder. Amy isn't here in her cute socks and sweatshirt. Emilee is far away in the Philippines and Cassie is back at school.

We are all spread apart now; moved on from our Brooklane days. I'm the furthest away and tonight I'm feeling it. All alone in my studio apartment with only the company of Harper, the cat I got on Saturday. Still trying to decide if that was a good choice or not. Listening to "The Freshman" by The Verve Pipe on repeat. Left a voicemail for Sarah. And now, I'm writing this sentimental blog post.

I don't know how we got here. How I got here. So far away from anything I ever imagined. It's where I'm supposed to be, but I'm scared. I wonder if I have what it takes; wonder if I'll ever feel like a grownup.

For the first time in my life I'm not afraid of failure, but I need to make sure I give it my best shot.  Right now I'm struggling to navigate all of the changes in my life. To fully embrace all of the opportunities laid before me.

I can do it. Just keep telling yourself that Clarissa...

Friends photo source

Finding Newberry Academy...

This morning I got up. Harper, my new cat, was sleeping under my bed. I ate breakfast and took a deep breath. Today was third time's the charm. Time to go to church and start making friends. After I showered, Harper came out of hiding and attentively rubbed against my leg the entire time I was straightening my hair. She didn't want me to leave when I closed the door to head off to the train.

It was sprinkling when I left my apartment. By the time I got to the train it was full on raining. At an unfamiliar stop I moved west, grateful that I'd lived in Utah so long that I figured out how to have a sense of direction. The rain poured harder the more I walked. So much for straightening my hair. Moisture is my hair's enemy. Of course, I walked to far and had to pull up the church's address on my phone, attempting to locate Willow St. It was nowhere to be found. I was about ready to get back on the train, get my car, and drive back for sacrament meeting. Instead, I headed south on Orchard St praying I would find Newberry Academy, the school where church is held. I chose the right street. A white sign with the familiar Church logo welcomed me to my destination. Hooray!

Inside I found a family ward meeting in the school auditorium and heard voices upstairs that sounded like they might be coming from young single adults. As I walked down the hallway, my ankle gave out as it sometimes does, and I fell flat on my knees. More than anything I was scared someone had seen me. It would be such a perfect story if they typical.

Without drawing any attention to my little stumble I made it upstairs and found Relief Society. We meet in the school library. I sat in a row by myself but one of the girls quickly came over and introduced herself. She was super nice and we chatted for awhile. During our lesson Tiff, our teacher, had us talk to the people next to us to get to know each other. Sandy and Mariah, seated behind me, enthusiastically asked, "Can we meet you?". We chatted for several minutes. They were very friendly and smiley. Sandy is a flight attendant for SkyWest and Mariah is a fashion writer. Since I'm the new girl they found out more about me than I found out about them, but it felt good to connect with people.

One of the girls sitting in front of me, Katie, instantly befriended me. After Relief Society she let me be her shadow and went around introducing me to people. By the time we were ready to go to sacrament meeting I actually new the names of some people and Katie and I exchanged phone numbers. I also met my branch president. He seems really personable and nice. After church I met up with two of the girls I had met at the social activity for new members a few weeks ago. They introduced me to there other roommate and we all walked to the train together.

My first day of church in Chicago couldn't have been better. I can't wait to get to know the branch members and really make some friends. No more being alone in the big city!

Photo of Newberry Academy by John Knox

Monday, September 19, 2011

A rainy Sunday...

It's been a picturesque day for writing. Rain falling at varying speeds. My studio apartment void of silence thanks to cars surfing along wet pavement. The familiar scent of moist air filling my hungry lungs. Despite it all, this day has not brought the promise it possessed.

This weekend my hours were all backwards. Not being able to fall asleep until 2:00 am and not waking until noon. Missed church for the second week in a row.

This time it wasn't by conscious choice. Last week I didn't want to go. I was overwhelmed and scared. Slept through the day on purpose.

Today I was excited and ready to take it all on. No depression or anxiety to get the better of me.  I got up early, moved my car to a different parking spot, ate breakfast, and started to read my scriptures on my bed. Next thing I knew I was waking up at 1 pm. Church was over. I'd slept through the whole thing. So much for feeling the spirit and making new friends. Hello "epic fail".

Next week has to be third time's the charm. No excuses or mishaps allowed.
(photo source)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom...

I've been in Chicago for over a week. All of my IKEA furniture is assembled. I've been to both of my classes once. Yesterday I got my first Chicago parking ticket. I started a new job today. My new life is slowly starting to take shape.

As I contemplate this major transition, a quote from the movie How Do You Know keeps coming to mind:

"I don't know if I have what it takes for everybody's regular plan."

Reese Witherspoon's character Lisa makes this comment while talking to George (Paul Rudd) about figuring out the next stage of her life. Everyone has their own journey. We know that. No one's life follows the same formula.

I'm serious. I feel things deeply. I'm not happy-go-lucky. I know I'm not invincible. I'm good at being alone. I've always been good at it. I feel like I'm always going away; that I don't get to stay in one comfortable place. Yes, many times that is my choice but it doesn't always feel like it.

This probably isn't making a whole lot of sense. That's what Reese's words are for...they embody what I'm feeling right now. A feeling that's been with me most of my life; one I'm still trying to figure out.

On another note, here's one more piece of Wednesday Wisdom from How Do You Know:

"We are all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work."

In more ways than one, I will continue adjusting until I get it right.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Trying to get out of the corner...

This is a rather odd first post for my Chicago blog, but right now the reality of this big change in my life is hitting me. I'm excited, but I'm scared. I'm alone. My dad is back home and it's just me.

Everything I've ever wanted and everything I've ever been of afraid of are staying me in the face.

Today was an "I'm scared and can't handle this" day. I didn't fulfill one of the goals I had for this week. I chickened out. Retreated into my corner...something I'm learning how not to do. I guess it's fitting my blog about my life up until this point is called "around my corner". Now, every day, I'm reaching out to see what's beyond safe borders. Already, some days are better than others. It's a struggle to always be up for the task. One step at a time. Successes along with failures.

So, as I embark on this life-changing journey, here are a few ideas I've come up with for things I can do when all I want to do is hide in a corner of fear:

Listen to uplifting music

Get OUT of bed

ANSWER my phone

CALL a friend

Read a good book

Find 1 reason to be happy

Pick 1 thing that's scary and do it anyway

Make a green smoothie

Take a walk

Put on lipstick

Try a new place to eat

Find something to take a cool picture of

Read my scriptures

Get on my KNEES and pray

Remember, one day is just one day...if I fail there is always tomorrow