Thursday, May 26, 2016

ode to piano

I started taking piano lessons again about a year and a half ago from a girl who lived in my apartment complex and also happened to have a bachelor's degree in piano performance and could come to my apartment for lessons. It was a great set up.

I stopped taking lessons when I was 16, but played the piano and organ in church and for choirs, so it was still a part of my life. But taking lessons forces you to practice harder than casual once-a-week piano sessions and to have accountability to someone for your practice.

I love music and I love the piano. I am a big music nerd and if I could switch places with anyone, it would probably be John Williams, although I would miss Brett. But at least I could see the Star Wars movies before they came out! But I digress.

Not to sound cheesy, but taking lessons again opened a space in my mind and heart that was dormant. Music is a giant emotional outlet for me, and I loved being able to express myself on the 88 keys once again.

And I practiced A LOT. I tried to play at least an hour a day, which was quite a full workload for someone working full-time and marathon training, husband, church callings, blah blah. My piano (with the left hand G sharp/A flat broken) was in our bonus room in our cinder-block wall apartment on the University of Utah campus where Brett was getting his master's in finance. The piano shared a wall with the bedroom of the apartment next door. Our next door neighbor, Anna, a nice Hungarian girl completing her master's as a nurse practitioner, could 10000000% hear every single note loud and clear as it ricocheted off the cheap walls but she never complained. She's a saint. I can just imagine her rolling her eyes and ringing her hands every time I messed up on the same spot in the same @#$% song every @#$% time!

My teacher, Karina, challenged me to dive into theory and memorize songs (scary as crack) and overall made me want to be a better pianist. 

I know you want to hear me play now (sarcasm if you didn't catch it)! I'm no prodigy (although I wish I was. Why can't I be Mozart??!).

The first two videos are from my summer recital. My mom flew out to celebrate my birthday and listen to me play and two of my aunts, my uncle, my cousin Mia and my friend Arielle came to cheer me on. It was lovely to have support, but also nerve-wracking. Does anyone else forget how to read notes when they play in front of people?

This first video is Sonata (L. 104) by Domenico Scarlatti (I majorly botched this song)
Mazurka in A Minor, Op. 7, No. 2 by Frederic Chopin
and a rendition of The Spirit of God


The first and third song from Claude Debussy's Suite Bergamasque 
Prelude
Clair de lune

My second recital was in February right before Brett and I went to Italy and moved to San Francisco. Brett was able to come to this one because he wasn't out of the state and I invited my friend Arielle and her husband Phil. I didn't even tell anyone else. My friend Jennica started taking piano lessons from the same teacher and she played in this recital and did a wonderful job despite distractions from her adorable baby boy. 


Tempo Di Menuetto, Finale from Sonata No. 22 by Joseph Haydn


Waltz in C# Minor, Op. 64, No. 2 by Frederic Chopin (I botched this one)


The fourth and last song of Claude Debussy's Suite Bergamasque, Passepied (which is a French court dance)


Song Without Words, Op. 102, No. 4 by Felix Mendelssohn - Bartholdy. I made a story to this song like the dork I am and played it as if it were the score to a Pixar animated short. It's about a man living in Poland on his evening commute home at the train station in the dead of winter (circa 1930s). He is complacently sad and everything is gray around him. Then he spots a beautiful woman searching for her lost glove. He picks up her glove from the ground, hands it to her and their eyes meet for a brief second and it's bliss. She gets on a train not going to his destination and he watches her board. He has this urge to get on the train with her and attempts to do so, but it's too late. The train has started and he starts running after it, but to no avail. He then submits to the mundanity of his life and boards his own train, back to the cold apartment he shares with no one. It's a sad story, but it fits the song so well! 


Thanks for listening to my sub-par piano skills! I love to celebrate my mediocrity. As Tituss Burgess says, I'm fierciocre. If only I were Rachmaninoff. Sigh. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

hiking the narrows

My family and I—with many of my cousins and aunts and uncles—got to hike the Narrows down in Zion National Park this summer.

This was my first time in Zion and it was stunning. The Narrows is a narrow (go figure) canyon with a winding river inside, flanked by the deep red rock Utah is famous for mixed with green shrubbery and waterfalls and pure beauty. The whole hike is about 16 miles (I think), but we couldn't get permits so we did 10.

Since it was less than a week after I ran a marathon, I was a-okay with that choice.






We started at around 6:30 a.m. to beat the crowd and, though it was cold, we're glad we did. We had the canyon almost entirely to ourselves the 5 miles in. We were able to explore and enjoy the exquisite nature without people messin' with our vibes.

But hiking for hours without sun in cold river water can certainly chill your core temperature. My mom, who is a fitness champion and probably has the body fat percentage of The Rock, nearly got hypothermia but was able to recover thanks to a kind backpacker who literally gave her his sweatshirt from off his back.

There were also times when the water was super deep—like chest or neck deep—and we had to swim in it to press on. Lots of laughs, bruises and goose bumps.

Needless to say, we were delighted when we finally found some sun, as pictured below. We basked in it for a while and ate our lunch. And a few of us dunked ourselves in the nippy water just for fun.






As you can tell, we really loved putting our hiking sticks up in the air.




On the way back, we were actually glad for the cold water, because the air temp was rising well past 100. 


We spent the rest of the day devouring food and playing games at the camp site.

This summer has been so fun. I love my fun, fit family.


Monday, August 3, 2015

utah valley marathon

I need to be better about this blogging thing. Not that you as the reader care, but because I as the writer care.

Often I have cool ideas or thoughts or events happen and I think, "Oh, I can't wait to blog about that!" And then I never do. I have schemes of grandeur that one day this blog will be awesome and tons of people old and young will flock to it because I'm just a really clever but accessible writer who talks about real crap instead of the 115th dress she got from J-Crew and paired with Louboutins, a bright lip and a leopard hang bag. I mean so original, my jaw is dropping. Most fashion bloggers have absolutely zero originality and get paid because they're skinny and pretty. Just my two cents.

Anyway, total tangent, like most of my writing.

I did do something cool, in fact, I ran another marathon. And fairly un-well trained.

I ran the Utah Valley Marathon in June, which made my marathon count an overwhelming two. I have a lofty goal of hitting 10 marathons by the time I'm 30, but since I just turned 24 and I should start growing my family soon, I doubt it will happen. But we can dream, right?


I slept over at my sister's house the night before the marathon. Just a note: you never actually sleep the night before a race. I tossed and turned for about four hours and then woke up at 3:15 a.m. to get ready. I had a moment of weakness when I woke up: I could just go back to sleep and not run it and nobody would care.

And then I thought of my running partner Arielle and how much soul-sucking guilt she would rain on me if I was a no-show on her first marathon. So I got up.

On my way there I forced myself to eat food (I'm a human and I eat before I exercise. If you don't, I'm sorry but your parents adopted you from Mars). I was so nervous that I almost threw up my banana, ha!

At the starting line, Arielle and I were talking to other people around the bonfires. Per usual, there were the show-offs. One guy said that this marathon was just a training run for his 40 miler the next weekend. Whatever and an eye-roll to that.





My goal was to get a 4 hour time (it didn't happen), but I got to run the first 7 miles with my Instagram role model and hero @triandrungirl who was pacing the 4 hour time. She's a mom, yoga instructor, Ironman and runner, and I want to be just like her. I told her that I follow her and she commented on my marathon Instagram photo and it made my running life.

I lost Arielle at like mile 0.5 and lost my pacers at mile 7 due to the stupid hills I wasn't expecting, so I ran almost all the marathon by myself. Running a marathon by yourself SUCKS. #NeverAgain. I lost all motivation at mile 16. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that once it was over, I would be able to take a nap and watch movies all day and order pizza.

I ran the first half decently fast, at a 2:04 pace, and then the 4:15 pacers passed me at mile 21 and it was all down from there. I basically walked the last 6 miles of the marathon. I finished in 4:27. Whatever and an eye-roll to that too!






My sister and my friend Laurel, who both ran my first marathon with me, swooped me up in their arms as soon as I crossed the finish line. Laurel gave me my medal. I actually started crying, not out of the feeling of accomplishment, but because it was the hardest thing I have yet done physically. It was so nice to have their support as I weary-cried.



And it of course was wonderful to have Arielle to run with during training, who mapped out all of our runs and let me mooch off her Camelbak water. 

Ok, I should finish this post with a disclaimer. The reasons why I was thoroughly un-well trained for this race were because I had peroneal tendonitis in my feet for six weeks and I went to Thailand for two weeks right before the marathon. So, those are my excuses. 


The Utah Valley Marathon is a GORGEOUS course, and I definitely recommend it. I learned some things from this one: train, run with people, and don't expect a Lulu Lemon shirt to hold your gear.

Don't get me wrong: I still love running. It's changed my life and I'm so grateful for the ability to push my strong, healthy body.

I'm training for another marathon, and this time I best not be hitting the wall at mile 16.

RUNNING ROCKS MY SOCKS!


This song reminds me of the marathon. Enjoy.






Monday, July 6, 2015

Thailand: Bangkok

Well, let's just say that a hunking amount of stuff has happened since I last blogged. A lot of un-important, uneventful days spent working and then reading the Wall Street Journal and playing the piano at night like the 75-year-old man that I am, and some really cool, blog-worthy events that I will remember for years to come.

For one, Brett and I went to Thailand.

Now I'm going to get all weird and philosophical, partly because I'm reading The Goldfinch and Donna Tartt delves into the deeper nuances of human existence like a 1,000-year-old medicine man. And partly because I've been thinking about the fleetingness of life, the blink-of-an-eye quality of planned future, then dreamlike present and then memory past.

So I read The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown some time ago, and though he makes ridiculous arguments like the Bible was written not about God but about the potential of mortal men, he does make an interesting case about the tangible quality of thoughts. Like thoughts can be measured, quantified, weighed and awesome science stuff like that. This is a scientific field actually being explored today.

And I just listened to an NPR podcast (once again, because I'm a 75-year-old man) called Invisibilia (so so so good, listen to it now!), and in one of the episodes they discussed how blind people are blind/disabled because of our thoughts about their blindness/capabilities. The thoughts we think can actually alter other entities apart from ourselves.

But what if memories (which are a type of thought I guess) have tangible, changing qualities also? Ok, so I went to Thailand and that is done. But does my memory of it somehow change Thailand or change me or change the person I'm telling about my vacation? Do memories hold some form of matter that bounces from me to you until we're all full of each other's memory atoms and thought atoms when we share told experiences? Is that why stories bind cultures together more than anything else?

I went to Thailand, and since it's over does it not exist anywhere else except in my mind? Or do I shave off some Thailand atoms when I shave my legs or wash my hair.

Or are there more dimensions to time and memory... Just where does my trip to Thailand exist apart from my mind? I planned it, I went, and now it's over in this dimension. But is there a parallel Star-trekian universe where I'm still there riding elephants? Someone tell me! ;)

I'm sorry if this is sounding off-the-rocker, but I write what I want!


I'll actually blog about Bangkok tomorrow. For now I wanted to get that off my chest, and give you food for thought (get it — because thoughts are tangible things??!!)

I am officially going insane. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Joyce Delight








































My beloved grandma passed away at 11:11 pm on Tuesday, April 28, 2015.

This quote always reminds me of her:
"When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time. The women of God know this." —Neil A. Maxwell

Words cannot express how much our grandmother meant to our family. My grandma was truly the matriarch of our family. She was the essence of charity and the epitome of a mother. I am excited for her reunion in heaven with her sisters (she was one of six sisters) and her parents and her best friends. I am also excited to introduce my children to her when we meet again.


God be with you till we meet again, Joyce Delight. I will love you forever.