Friday, February 26, 2010
I think that sometimes people are afraid to love. Afraid that when they love, those people will abandon them. Afraid that if they show their love for others, they won't be strong. But strength is showing and expressing love. Strength is also letting others love you, accepting their help and friendship and love. Strength is hoping and knowing and accepting that people love you because you love others, and praying for the strength to continue loving everyone around you.
I didn't use to understand how you could love those people you don't know. I loved my family, my close friends. But soon, love got complicated, but not in a bad way.
Love expanded. Soon I loved even those who hurt me, because I knew that they were simply trying to live their lives. I loved those I spent great, epic experiences with, because somethings like hiking Styhead Pass in the fog or living in an auditorium for a week together or squeezing into a shower playing Sardines or having a great conversation until 2 a.m...experiences like that happen every day and braid the different colored threads of our lives together and there's no way not to love someone you laugh and cry and almost die with. I loved those I was only acquainted with, because their awesomeness exuded out of their eyes and their hair and their toes and their bellybuttons and every little piece of them. And the more I loved, the more I connected with people. And the more I connected with people, the more I loved. Love comes through practice, but after a while, it doesn't take any work at all. Love comes through prayer, and the Spirit. How else could I look around during Devotionals and be in awe of the beautiful, wonderful people I'm surrounded by and love them? How else could I love God's children I haven't even met and want to take them the gospel because I love them and haven't even met them? How else could I want to rush up and give someone I don't even know a hug when I hear their name as I'm doing their work in the temple? How else could I feel the love of people I barely even know when I first meet them--a love so strong that I feel like we're best friends, and I've known them for only 5 minutes? I can't do this by myself. But we're all programmed to love. And the Spirit enhances it, and helps us along to the happiness that comes just because, even if you don't know someone that well, or you don't even know their name.
Love just happens. There's no way to explain it, besides God. Love is crying when you leave your best mate for college, and then crying as you leave college to go back home. Love is deciding to go once more around the block because you're not done talking yet. Love is not judging, either for serious things or stupid, inconsequential things. Love is laughing your head off and having dance parties. Love is teaching the gospel. Love is holding hands and hugs and sunshine even when it's cloudy. Love is happy.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I like her. She's sitting next to me in the No-Shh Zone right now (I am refusing to call it the NOSH, something that I'd never heard before this semester, but keeps trying to pull me in). We like to party. We laugh together, we cry together, and are basically some of the bestest friends you will ever find. She's pretty cool like that.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Before the lesson started, when all the beautiful ladies were filing in from various Sunday School classes, some of my neighbors found out I was teaching. And then proceeded to tell me how excited they were because I was their favorite teacher. (Very unrelated side note: I felt a very strong urge to spell favorite the British way with a u just now: favourite...Anyway) I was--and still am--so touched. Just the thought that I am able to successfully convey my thoughts and, more importantly, the principles of the gospel and the Spirit to the wonderful girls in my ward is amazing. They teach me every Sunday with their comments so much more than I could ever hope to teach them, and yet somehow, I do.
But do you realize how terrifying that is? Although it was very flattering and humbling to have these girls I admire tell me how much they enjoy my lessons, it absolutely terrifies me. The sheer responsibility of my calling just hit me. Although the ladies in my ward already have strong testimonies of the Restored Church, I teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ. I testify of its truthfulness. My preparation, or lack thereof, can either make or break the Spirit in the meeting. It is my responsibility to be the instrument of the Lord, to convey the words and principles He wants His daughters to know to them. It is such a daunting task, but then I say a prayer in my heart that I can teach how and what He wants me to, and the opening prayer asks for a blessing upon the instructor and I know that even though she doesn't know me, she's going to have her heart open and be listening and that both of our prayers will be answered and I will have help.
When I teach, it's not me speaking. I think the closest I've ever been to the Spirit is when I'm giving my lessons. Preparing, I cover everything, learn so much. But teaching, I just jump-start the discussion and keep it on track, letting the comments, and the Spirit take the lesson where they will. I've noticed the same pattern in each lesson I've given. I'm fine, then I get nervous, start the lesson and the first ten minutes drag. I am so worried I won't be able to fill up the time, that I won't be able to bring the Spirit. Then girls start making comments and the lesson starts to flow and my order gets all jumbled, but that's what I was expecting, and I can actually figure out how all these different pieces I pulled are all going to tie together, and the Spirit leads. I don't remember what I said, because it wasn't me. I am not the teacher when I teach. I am the student. I learn from the comments given, by the overwhelming Spirit that guides my thoughts and my words for those 30 minutes. And all of a sudden, I look up at the clock, and I only have 5 minutes left, and I just want to stay there, sharing my testimony and listening to my girls share theirs, all learning and growing and being edified, not because of the lesson I have prepared, but because of our Heavenly Father's lesson that by some miracle I have the honor, joy and responsibility to be the mouthpiece for.
While preparing the lesson I gave today and looking back on how it went and the previous lessons "I've" given, the other thoughts that have been weighing on my mind all clicked together. I love teaching and I know that I have been blessed with the ability to communicate and be a good teacher, especially in the gospel, and especially as I make good choices in my life. But that doesn't mean that I don't need the practice of teaching God's message to His children. And it most certainly does mean that I need to use those talents and live up to that completely daunting and overwhelming potential and responsibility I have, because EVERY SINGLE ONE of our Heavenly Father's children needs the gospel. They need to hear it and feel of His love for them. And while thinking upon all these things, I realized that the reason I am a Relief Society teacher this year, no matter how inadequate I feel--especially because of how inadequate I feel, is to help prepare me for my mission.
I think most of the people who read this blog know that I'm planning on serving a mission. Well, it's getting closer. And it's becoming more official. I've picked an availability date, which means I figured out when I can put my papers in, and when I should start working on them. I'll have my call beginning/middle of October. Considering that I've already signed a contract for next Fall (and put my name on the "sell" list for the Winter half), October doesn't seem too far away. Within the next year, I should be wearing one of these that says "Sister Ashby":
And doing this:
I am so excited and so scared to death (but mostly excited) and I can't wait. And although I feel like I am the least qualified and eloquent and adequate person to be sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world, I know that He will be with me, helping me, giving me the power of His Spirit. And I know that He is helping to prepare me now, with the abilities, knowledge, confidence, and love that I will need to bring His truth to the rest of God's children.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Also, I may or may not be slightly in love with a certain member of Vocal Point who I may or may not have actually never met in real life.
Monday, February 15, 2010
I have missed that boy so much. He's like my brother and the closer it got to seeing him, the more excited I got and the more I realized exactly how much I have missed him. :) But now he's back. And in 3 months, my very best friend in the entire world gets home and it will be the above picture times a million. And tomorrow I get to see Jen for the first time in two months and for the last time in a very long time before she leaves on her mission to Berlin. It's moments like this--old friends, best friends, hugs, returns, departures, love--that make life worth living.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Right now I'm working on the subject guides. We have to find ones compiled by our humanities librarians, pick two, and then pick two books off of the guides we pick and write annotations on them. Sounds kind of dry. EXCEPT! our floor has AWESOME reference books that make all your wildest dreams come true. There's a Shakespeare encyclopedia that is fabulous. There is a DISNEY encyclopedia. (Both of these I spent at least an hour looking at...) There's awesome art books, and awesome language books (and online resources. This is one of my new favorite sites). There's even a American Cartoon encylcopedia, which lists ALL the cartoons ever put on TV in the US of A EVER. I am deeply indebted to this encyclopeida, because yesterday it helped me discover the name of a show I used to watch every morning before school called...wait for it...PRINCESS GWENEVERE AND THE JEWEL RIDERS. Yes. I seem to be the only one who has ever watched this show, as I couldn't remember the name and no one I've ever talked to has ever remembered it. But now I know.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Here are ten moments/days I wish I could relive in my short life. Or I'd relive if I could? AKA my favorite memories? I guess? Maybe. These are also not in any particular order.
- Jive Night, 2005. My first, if you don't count Winter Showcase. The thrill of being on stage, especially during Mamma Mia...wow. I miss that. I want that adrenaline rush every day of my life. I miss choir--Jive and Chambers and just that feeling.
- Standing on top of Ben Lomond. I kept looking back on the way up whenever I was discouraged to keep reminding me to "BE ENCOURAGED!" And the top was so...stunning, filled with accomplishment. And if I was back on Ben Lomond, it would mean that the rest of the UK was lying at my feet. Also along with this one are that night when we all told stories in the lounge and then church that Sunday. Just being surrounded by those I loved, in a beautiful place, laughing and having fun and learning together.
- Seeing Big Ben for the first time. Interestingly enough, this is one of the moments I think of when I think of England. I was so excited, and definitely wasn't expecting it. Coming out of the tube and BAM! RIGHT THERE! So iconic, I know. And perhaps not representative of England for me, since I spent more time wandering the countryside in small towns and that's what's England to me (even though I LOVE LOVE LOVE London too, don't get me wrong). But Big Ben...I don't know that day I was so excited and trying to make the most of every moment I had left in England, and all of a sudden there were the Houses of Parliment right in front of me and I had to crane my neck to look at Big Ben and I couldn't stop smiling. That is England. The can't-stop-smiling part.
- That one infamous Clue game with Mom and Dad and Matt and Uncle Scott and Aunt Darlene, where everyone except Uncle Scott and me guessed wrong and it was hilarious and so funny and I would have won because I knew it first, but my turn was after Uncle Scott's. That's okay. I'd still relive it anyway, even if I still don't win. Also: multiple Rook and Settlers games with the fam and that Ashby family reunion at Bear Lake.
- Finding out my ACT score. I mean, the time I was in Washington and checked my score early while babysitting my cousins and screamed and dropped the phone because I was so excited.
- Thanksgiving Time, 2007. Smith cousins and Camille at our house in Twin. BYU vs. Utah Football game with Matt with the 4th-and-18 and jumping up and down hugging the girl next to me that I didn't know and haven't seen since and rushing the field. Dance party in front of the Canc. Other events from that weekend that I wouldn't really like to share on a blog but that were fabulous.
- Last Week of Freshman Year. Parties in Periodicals. Taking about 50 times longer to do homework because I was really talking to Sterling James Mason on MSN and making Angry Eyes at him and watching Katelyn sleep in the chair next to me and laughing at others watching West Wing and just whatever. Being obnoxious freshmen. Sardines and 15 people in a shower. Movie nights. Martinelli's. IHOP. Commandoes. Some of my best friends, who became my family.
- Going through the Twin Falls Temple open house. Um. Beautiful in perhaps every way imaginable. Whether it was that first time with my family where we walked into the Celestial Room and Leah had this huge smile on her face and said "Wow!" probably a little bit louder than she should have, even though she was just 4, or the time I went on my birthday, or the time after I volunteered and met Sister Lameroux where I was with all my Stake Leaders I have grown up loving and looking up to. I love the temple and this basically counts with my really great baptisms experiences, especially Twin with my sisters and London with England people.
- Being on the beach that one Sunday night in Weymouth. See this post here.
- Girls Camp 2007. Okay, definitely had it's not-so-great moments, but Julie, Julie Bastian; Harry, Harry Potter; Oozing Spleeniness; and good times with my best mate and Chip...this essentially encapsulates our friendship. I love them.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Post-colonialist literature battles with the conflict of language—of who it belongs to and who belongs to it. It asks questions of how to express ideas and stories: in a native tongue, or in English. How do you decide? How do you give up part of yourself once you pick one side of the war? I ask myself, how it’s possible to gain power over something so powerful as language.
The Mayans believe that words have tremendous power--that words are so powerful that if you speak the name of someone, they are there, that when retelling an event, it is happening anew. And words do have power. Writing is such a release because when letting the words spill onto the page (or screen, as is in this case) it is essentially allowing my essence to overflow out of me. Using my fingers as a tool, the words just come. It is the same when singing, except more so. Combining two of the greatest powers in the world, music and language, allows the calamity inside to be set free and released upon the world in a much saner way. So I suppose words do have great force. They are my thoughts and feelings, my testimony, my words, my very soul--ME.
But if this is true, why do words fail me so often? Have I just not been blessed with the talent of words? There are times when I feel that certain words in a certain order have been brought to my mind. Everything just meshes into place and not only do the written or spoken letters appropriately propel my message to the heart, but they sound, look, FEEL beautiful. Right. There are these few times when the words are right. Yet it seems like so much more often I find myself struggling to convey my deepest thoughts and feelings to others. Somehow I think and my mind will be whirling, but these ideas in my head are somehow not words. I do not know what else they could be--in my mind I seem to think in words, but this must be a mirage. My thoughts cannot be words, for as soon as I attempt to let them go, something happens and I don't have the capability to express myself. And when I manage to eke out the barest essentials of my main train of thought, all the beauty, grace, tact, form, strength, eloquence has escaped. My words are instead weak and lame, limping off my tongue into the ears of those listening.
It is at times like this that words frustrate me, and I question them: how can these letters and sounds form anything of meaning even, let alone carry all these concepts and thoughts in my head to others. Somehow what is inside me needs to be carried to others. There are specific times when I feel this so strongly, or when I don't necessarily need to but all of me just aches and yearns to. And, of course, it is in these instances when words abandon me, and I stutter alone, wondering how I can translate what weighs in my heart and mind.
And this is in my native language. It is even more of a struggle in German. The frustrating part is not just that I am limited in my communication ability, but that I have worked for years studying my own language and working on communicating through it. When I was little I devoured books and then spat up my own imitations of stories and poems. As an English major, my life is reading and writing and trying to find ways to best say what I want. And, despite the inadequacy I feel, at least I realize that I can usually communicate at a level appropriate for my age. But in German, I just feel like I’m two. It’s frustrating when I want to say something with complex sentence structure in a certain way, speak and write like I can in English, and all I can think of is something like “Ich bin gut.” Or when the teacher says something that I know is important and I should understand, but I really just heard, “Du solltest…machen…was…jetzt” with a bunch of sounds in between but no comprehension. I need to do something now. But what? Having the verbal and aural skills of a second grader, even though it’s not your original language, is just as humiliating as not having control over your own language. I think anyone who has learned a language can connect with this struggle to some extent.
Yet, despite this, I love Deutsch. I love the way it sounds, the way it feels on your tongue when you speak it. Most people don’t think of German as a beautiful language, but the sounds are onomatopoeia. And Deutsch has taught me a lot about my own language and the power of words in general. As I learn a second language, appreciation for my first language, and this new one, overwhelms me.
Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o was born in Kenya. Living in a post-colonial world, he works to fight against the loss of his native language, Gĩkũyũ, to English. Growing up, he “learnt to value words for their meaning and nuances. Language was not a mere string of words. It had a suggestive power well beyond the immediate and lexical meaning.” To him, language is music, not just content, which gives “a view of the world, but [has] a beauty of its own.” It took being placed in situations where I did not know the meaning of the word to understand that perhaps part of the meaning of language is just the way it sounds and feels. In some ways, it is primitive. There is no comprehension-barrier. It is just the words and your senses and emotions. There is no meaning to taint your opinion of the way the words sound. Deutsch allowed me to step outside of language and just listen and feel, to sometimes just appreciate words for the way they sound and not what they mean, both in English and German.
German has also invented a new language for me, and many others. Denglish. It’s kind of like how Salman Rushdie spoke about post-colonial Indian taking the English language and making it its own. Denglish is how American German-learners make Deutsch (and English) their own. They simply mesh the two languages into one, broadly understood by all, and perhaps only completely understood by the one speaking. Although mostly used in the German class, I find myself using it often. Perhaps I don’t know how to say something in German, or I do know the German word and it just fits so much better than what I can think of in English. Insert Denglish! Deutsch constantly gives me new insights into the meanings sometimes hidden in English, or allows me to twist things in new ways to get at the meaning I want.
As I left my apartment this morning, I didn’t think in English. My mind turned to those lines, from a poem I’d be tested on during an oral exam later. “It’s freezing!” or “The snow is pretty” or “Yay, Christmas is almost here!” just didn’t seem to fit the situation. The bitter-but-exhilarating chill and beautiful snow covering the mountains called for the alliteration, assonance and explosive consonants of those two lines. And even though my Deutsch skills may not be where I wish they were, I knew that I could recite the beautiful sounds and apply them to my life. I knew that I could do the same thing in my own language, English, and add the next dimension of music with meaning to it as well.
It may be hard for me to connect with a post-colonial world on some levels. But although I’m not giving up a native language, adding a new one to it has proved difficult. But despite this, it has pushed me to a new appreciation of language and its power. Sometimes it’s okay to just give in to it, let the words take control in a primitive sense. And other times searching for the right word and working hard to force language the way you want it to go to craft something beautiful is the way to do it. But either way, words live. They breathe, and they fashion the way we see the world. It is through our language that we discover and explore and formulate thoughts and, most importantly, share these experiences with those around us. It is part of one’s identity—both on a national level and on an individual level, which is why I love German. Not only does it connect me with others, but it defines a new part of me that is growing. It’s why I love writing. My language is mine, and as I make it my own, it becomes part of me, and eventually, we—words and I—will work together.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Someday I'll have time to actually make myself real food and not be disgusted with myself and maybe even go running/walking/whatever every once in a while.
Someday I'll be good at Deutsch.
Someday, when classes (mostly said Deutsch) aren't consuming my life, I'll actually have time to maybe post on my blog and see people for longer than 5 minutes in between classes.
Someday I won't be really emotional for no reason for, like, oh hey, months on end.
I'm not stupid enough to think that these all will happen at the same time, or that I'll ever really have time to do everything I want to, or that I'll ever get enough sleep two nights in a row (10.5 hours last night was heavenly and just the right amount...I usually like around 8-9, but since I was so deprived earlier in the week...unfortunately, it'll be back to something like 5 for tonight. My body can't take this anymore), because the more I get into life the crazier and more wonderful and more stressful it gets.
But someday, maybe I'll conquer 2 or 3 of these at once. Maybe. I hope?