Friday, March 23, 2012

Are Mormons Christians? And Other Thoughts

Why, yes! Yes, we are! But there are some big differences between us and other Christians, and it just so happens that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland detailed them to a bunch of Harvard Law School students this week. (You can jump to the 11:45 mark to hear that part.)



I thought he gave an excellent account of what distinguishes Mormons from other Christians, and why wouldn't he? He is an apostle after all. I love hearing apostles speak to people other than Mormons. There is an entirely different tone to their speech than there is in General Conference, I think. It's smarter, succinct, and straightforward. This kind of communication is the perfect example to other Mormons on how to talk about what we believe to non-Mormon friends. Apostles are wholly unapologetic about what they believe, and I think that's how every Mormon should be. That's how I want to be, anyway. I know not everyone believes what I believe, and I think I am sensitive to that, but the bottom line is this: I believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is outlined by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of the principles and doctrine may seem odd or fantastical, but they are what I believe, and I'm not ashamed of that.

And here's something else: Elder Holland quoted a 19th-century Presbyterian pastor, Henry Martyn Field, to emphasize the effects of belief in God. I don't know that I've ever heard a better explanation, even from a Mormon.
The loss of respect for religion is the dry rot of social institutions. The idea of God as the Creator and Father of all mankind is to the moral world, what gravitation is in the natural; it holds everything else together and causes it to revolve around a common center. Take this away, and any ultimate significance to life falls apart; there is, then, no such thing as collective humanity, but only separate molecules of men and women drifting in the universe, with no more cohesion and no more meaning than so many grains of sand have meaning for the sea.

Thing I'm thankful for: The weekend! I have so many big plans: watching The Hunger Games, watching Breaking Away, archery lessons, paddleboarding, homework, etc., etc., etc.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Confession: On Boy Bands

I am not a fan of boy bands. Unless, of course, you classify The Jackson 5 and other Motown bands as boy bands. In that case, I am totally on board.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Confession: On Scarves

I don't like scarves as accessories. I like them for utility. I can think of only a few friends who don't wear scarves for fashion's sake, and I like them for it.


Note: I stole the "Confession" idea from my sister Lexia. Since she doesn't regularly post on her blog anymore, I thought it only right to resurrect the theme elsewhere on the Internet, and that elsewhere is here. (You really should check out Lexia's Confessions, though, as they are hilarious.)

2nd Note: I am not going to include a "Thing I'm thankful for" in my confession posts.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Raindrops on Roses

And whiskers on kittens . . . That's how the song goes for Maria, anyway. On this night of thunder and lightning and rain, let me tell you what some of my favorite things are:
  • Purple tulips
  • Talking to people I have never met and am unlikely to ever meet again
  • Slicing fruit by moving the knife blade toward my thumb
  • Eating Icee Pops with my sister Summer
  • Brushing my teeth with my eyes closed
  • Parallel parking
  • Sneakers
  • Walking through a crosswalk before everybody else
  • Using windshield wipers



Thing I'm thankful for: new bars of soap!

Friday, March 16, 2012

SXSW 2012, Part 2

Remember when I saw The Strokes for free last year at SXSW? Well, this year, the big free show featured The Shins! I loved it! I absolutely loved it; in fact, I didn't want the night to end. Let me tell you why: I was surrounded by some of my favorite Austin friends. Last year at this time, I felt quite lonely. Even The Strokes couldn't mask that. Gosh, it's amazing the difference a year makes. I am happy now, especially during SXSW. There are not many things better than a free outdoor concert during good weather, with friends you adore, for a band you love. It's truly a recipe for feeling carefree.

I was maybe a little bored while we waited for one of the opening bands to perform. So I took a picture of people's feet. I find shoes in Austin to be so fascinating. It seems everyone owns at least one pair of Toms or Converse. Boots are everywhere, and tennis shoes are of course, an American standard. (Or are they? Hipster shoes, at least, prevail in Central Texas.)


I think I basically went crazy when The Shins came on. I'm pretty quiet most of the time, so I think my friends were probably shocked or dismayed or disgusted with my screams and cheers. I mean, I was ridiculous. How could I not be, though? It was The Shins!


They played a good mix of old and new stuff. I was surprised by how many songs they played from "Chutes Too Narrow," actually. I only recall one song from "Oh, Inverted World." There were some songs from "Wincing the Night Away" as well, though I didn't recognize those as easily (as evidenced by my un-screams).


They played a lot of new songs as well. The album, "Port of Morrow" will be released sometime this year, and although it's sort of psychedelic and trippy, it's still fun. Not The Shins I love, but still good music.


The obligatory arms-against-bright-lights shot. I love those.


It was such a good night. In fact, I'd say it was the best night of 2012 so far. It's gonna be a tough one to beat!


Thing I'm thankful for: Heather's awesome parking skillz

SXSW 2012, Part 1



This is fun.. The band fun.. fun. Such a confusing name, no? They would punctuate their name like that, though, because they're Brooklyn hipsters. I think. I know they are from New York City, and by the way the singer ran his fingers through his hair every two minutes, I'm guessing they hale most recently from Williamsburg. ;)

Despite Nate Ruess's dramatic and affective singing, though, I like fun. They play the increasingly popular We Are Young. The first time I heard it, I loved it, so when I discovered they were playing for free this year at SXSW, I jumped at the chance to go. It was my first show of the week, and the band did not disappoint. They have a good, clean sound that is more upbeat and rockin' than so many bands these days. I'm getting tired of mellow music lately. Maybe it's me, maybe it's the weather, or maybe it's both. Whatever it is, I just want to get up and dance or sing at the top of my lungs, and you can't really do that with mellow music.


Thing I'm thankful for: sunny days in Austin

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Paddleboarding!


The first time I kayaked on Town Lake in Austin last spring, I saw a guy doing what you see pictured above.* It's called paddleboarding or stand-up paddleboarding, otherwise known as supping.** (S.U.P.-ing?) I was intrigued and awed and positive I would never, ever do it.

There's not a first time for everything, but there was for me and paddleboarding. I went this week with a group of friends, and it was wonderful. I was so nervous I wouldn't be able to stand or keep my balance on the board. (In hindsight, those are ridiculous things to be nervous about because if you fall, you just fall into water. But I get nervous a lot, so it's really no surprise that my anxiety levels were high.) I did alright, though. I stayed on my knees for a while before I worked up the courage to stand, and I only fell once, when I tried to turn my board around and paddle against the wind. Not too shabby, I think. (Though I did almost fall about a dozen times.)

Anyway, it was so much fun, and I am going to try it again soon!


*That's a picture of the Austin skyline, by the way.
**If you are reading this and you don't live in Austin, feel sorry for yourself. OR visit me and paddleboard with me! You will love it! I'll pay for your return flight home, if you don't!


Thing I'm thankful for: Spring Break! (I'm having too much fun!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Movie Review: The Artist


Before I actually review this movie, I feel obligated to tell you what I think of the Academy Awards. That is, I used to watch them religiously with my mom and sister. I kept up with Hollywood so much as a teenager and young adult. (See Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.) I watched old movies and contemporary movies, and I kept up with A-list actors and actresses. I knew who wore what and which acceptance speech was the best (Roberto Benigni for "Life is Beautiful" ). Looking back, I can see what a ridiculous waste of time it all was, but it really became a waste of time in 2002, when "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" didn't win best picture. I was getting irritated with "The Academy's" best picture choices in 2000, but I still watched for tradition's sake. It must've been 2004 when I called it quits for good. After Johnny Depp didn't win the award for best actor in "Pirates of the Caribbean," I decided "The Academy" couldn't be trusted anymore. I felt like I had invested so much time into something that was self-aggrandizing and quite frankly, morally corrupt. I quit watching and haven't watched them since.

It's difficult to be an American, though, and not hear rumblings about the Oscars. So I knew going into The Artist that it had won the award for best picture this year. That was enough to lower my expectations significantly. Additionally, one of my friends told me she wasn't that impressed with it, which lowered my expectations further. So perhaps the reason I ended up liking "The Artist" so much is because my expectations were abysmally low, and we all know that low expectations are the key to happiness in life.

Still, I like to think the movie was good in and of itself. It was a bit odd to watch a black-and-white silent movie in such high-definition, but after I got past that, I was able to enjoy the whole delightful story. The lead actors had magnificent facial expressions, and the set details were . . . perfect. I'm still trying to work out the story in my mind because I think it can be read as an extended metaphor for old-age and youthfulness, but that is perhaps a post for another day. At any rate, it was lovely. It made me think, and it made me laugh. It made me feel some serious respect for the people who made the movie, and it made me think for just a second that maybe "The Academy" is getting off its high horse.


Thing I'm thankful for: glorious weather

Friday, March 09, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day?

Do you remember when I said I wanted a box of chocolates for Valentine's Day? Well, take a look at this! It came in the mail yesterday.


It was sent by my dear friends Jamie and Jeff. All the way from Atlanta. Weeks ago. I don't mind that it was late getting here, though, because it was a nice little surprise to get from my apartment leasing office this morning. I mean, how can I have a subpar day now? (And yes, I definitely took one bite of each chocolate. I can do that because it's MY box!)

Let me tell you something about Jamie and Jeff. They are quite possibly one of the handsomest couples of my acquaintance. I am also happy to say they had what I call an Anne-and-Gilbert romance. That is, they were very good friends for a long time before they ever dated, and I think that's spectacular.


Thing I'm thankful for: big umbrellas!

Thursday, March 08, 2012

God is Good

I have half a dozen posts in mind, and I don't know which one to write first. So I'll leave you with this verse I was thinking about today (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi: 4:20):
My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.

And so He has. I had been ignoring some blessingsnay, miraclesfor quite some time because I haven't gotten the miracle I've wanted since I was 23. (Why 23 was the magic marriage number to me is inexplicable.) As an imperfect being, I suppose I'll fall into the negative-thinking trap again at some point, but for now, I want to tell the world that God is good. He has helped me carve out a happy little path in life that is full of wonder. Here are some specific things I'm thankful for lately:

Life is beautiful indeed.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Archery!

Just call me Katniss Everdeen. But not really, 'cause I had a love of archery before The Hunger Games. Yes, it was a love that began in middle school, when we had an archery unit in gym class. I probably loved it then because a) It's not a team sport, and b) It was one of the only activities I didn't completely stink at in P.E.

I forgot about it for a long, long time, and then "Lord of the Rings" happened. Who didn't want to be Legolas? I just never did anything about it, though. Until Saturday.

My friend Gretchen and I signed up for a beginner archery class. We used recurve bows and started shooting from 15 feet. Take a look at what I accomplished:

This is Take 1, the first five shots of my adult life. Before you say, "But Sara, you weren't even close to the bullseye," let me tell you that I was still pretty dang good. My teacher said the best thing to be in the beginning is consistent, and if those arrows aren't consistent, I don't know what is!


More consistency. I was so consistent, in fact, that my teacher gave me tips to work on accuracy.


This, for example, is what happens when you move your anchor point up. Accuracy! (The anchor point is the place on an archer’s face where the hand and the bowstring come to rest consistently at full draw.) But check out that precision, too!


I started getting a little sloppy on consistency . . .


This was my last set for the day. I think we were about 25 feet away at that point.


Let me tell you something about archery and me. I love it. And I am good at it. When I have a bow and arrow in my hands, I am sure of myself. That doesn't happen very often, so I'll revel in it for the next four Saturdays. :)

Here's Gretchen looking ridiculously cool. I'll add that she was good as well, especially given that she was shooting with her left hand, even though she's not a lefty. (Gretchen is right-handed, but her left eye is dominant, so she shoots with her left hand.)


After the beginner class, I'll take the intermediate class, and then who knows? I may be killing orcs by year's end. :)


Thing I'm thankful for: discovering new interests!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Adagio for Strings

Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings is perhaps my favorite musical composition of all time:



I first heard it in college. I was driving to class and flipping through the radio, when I heard these glorious notes. They made me feel sad and happy, grateful, thoughtful, and holy. Just listen to it; I dare you not to feel something deep in your soul. :)


Thing I'm thankful for: invigorating discussions