Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth

It's official!

And it's exciting!

I've got a published book of poetry. You can purchase it online here.

I'm also working on getting available for Amazon Kindle and a few other channels.

Thanks for supporting your friendly neighborhood blogger/poet! I'm so thrilled to share these poems with you.

Sneak peak:
Here's one poem from the collection. Enjoy!

Poem About Birds

There is a bird outside
that has no idea what time it is.
One in the morning and
I’m brushing my teeth to an ornithological serenade.

I wonder if birds develop
mental illnesses.
Bipolar barn owls.
Manic-depressive mockingbirds.
Autistic African Silverbills.
I’m brushing my teeth at one in the morning,
and there’s this bird
in the farthest corner of the backyard
singing itself into a frenzy.

Not a lullaby.
Not some haunting nightingale,
a loon calling lonely on a moonlit lake.
I’m talking Mickey Mouse club
Bozo the clown sing-along
1950’s cornflakes commercial.
One in the morning,
I’m brushing my teeth with tears in my eyes
and there’s a bird out there
who doesn’t give a damn.
Who’s just singing hallelujah to the good Lord
who made him.

Lissa said
there are things
that hurt so much that
it feels
like you don’t even have a heart.
An empty cage in your chest,
a vacuum in your ribs.
Anything that sang flown away.

One in the morning
and some bird doesn’t give a damn
that the sun set six hours ago.
Darkness already swallowed up everything,
started in the corners at 7:00 p.m.
and slowly ate its way to the open empty spaces.
At one in the morning
everything is desert places
Silence that sludges through your veins
like mud,
making empty places emptier.

And somewhere
invisible in a corner
there’s this bird
who doesn’t give a damn.
To hell with empty cages
and the darkness that will remain
for another five hours at least.
This insomniatic out-of-touch damn crazy bird
is just singing hallelujah
to the good Lord who made him.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Provident Living 101: How to Survive a Zombie Attack During Your English Class at BYU-I

Today, my English students' first essay was due, so to celebrate, we spent half of class just having fun. And by "having fun," I mean coming up with a plan of what to do if zombies attacked the Smith building while we were in class.

To specify, these are Romero zombies--slow and lumbering, destroyed by inflicting damage to the brain, infecting others through bite. In our hypothetical situation, roughly 300 of them are surrounding the Smith building, but they haven't breached it quite yet.

And let me tell you, if ever there's a zombie apocalypse in Rexburg, I'm sticking with my English students. They had some good ideas. Case in point:

The Honey Trap
Send the girls out, "Warm Bodies" style, to distract/seduce/cure the zombies. Either they'll entrap them for the men to kill, or they'll cure them with their virtuous smiles.

The ROTC Plan
Create weapons and fight our way through to a car, then drive to the National Guard Armory, where one student, who's in the army, can get us outfitted with vehicles, weaponry, etc. Then we battle.

The Brain Freeze
There are several ways we can use the cold of Rexburg to our advantage. One is to wait for nightfall, when the subzero temperatures will slow the zombies down even further, making them easier to target and kill. The other is to spread water around the building, wait for it to freeze, and wait for all the zombies to slip and dash their own brains out.

The Trojan Horse
Find and destroy one weak zombie (maybe two), then dismember it and cover ourselves in its entrails to mask our own smell. Practice our zombie walks and groans. Make our way to safety, lumbering among the zombies as if we're one of them.

The Trojan Teacher
A variation of the Trojan Horse plan is to use ME and my acting skills. One of the students suggested that my experience in theatre could be used to our advantage. I dress up like a zombie, go outside and tell the other zombies that I already ate everyone in the building and to just move on. I keep up the charade while the students escape, then they come back to rescue me.

Another Great Day at BYU-Idaho
Fight our way through the zombies, get to our cars, and drive to President Clark's house, where we can eat their food storage and safely wait behind bullet-proof glass for the zombie plague to be over.

Degree in Engineering
If we can get to the Austin Building, we've got it made. That's where all the engineering stuff is, including chemicals, which can be mixed to either create a cure or a weapon. We can also gain access to explosives, and if we can lure all the zombies into one building, we can blow them up.

Do You Hear the People Sing
We create a barricade with desks, chairs, and anything else we can find. We sing show tunes as we fight off the zombies using blunt weapons and broken fluorescent light bulbs. We use desks and cupboard doors as riot shields if we need to push through the zombies at any point.

The Running in Place Plan
Find a way to get to the Hart building. Then move all the treadmills to the entrances and exits, set on high speeds. If any zombies try to get in, they'll step onto the treadmills and fall, dashing their own brains out.

The Crusher
We use cables, clothing, ropes, wires and anything else we can find to connect several desks and tables together. Then we lower the contraption over the stairwell, using it as a zombie-crusher as they try to get up the stairs.

Death by Pop Music
Everyone gets out their iPods, computers, etc. We simultaneously play "Friday" by Rebecca Black out the windows, and the zombies either combust or commit Hari-Kiri.

Seriously. I think I'm going to put together a pamphlet or something. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Current Kicks

Hey everyone.

I took a bit of a blogging break, mostly because I just have another documentary post waiting to be published, and I felt like I had to write something else, but then I just kept watching documentaries.

Anyway. I still have those documentaries to recommend, but I gotta finish watching one of them, so in the meantime, here are some other things I've been enjoying lately.


Seriously. These things are straight up candy. I know the label says "mints," but I'm popping these babies like they're...well, candy.


Jacob and I now own all eight seasons on DVD, and we've been devouring them. We're almost done with Season 8 -- don't give anything away in the comments, or I'll freak.


I love this for two reasons. One, it's just plain hilarious. Two, seeing men do some of these moves really sheds light on how ridiculous some of those moves are. Third, damn, them military boys is HOT. Right? (Ok, that's three reasons. And the third almost invalidates the second, if you think about it long enough.)

I resisted for so long. But IT'S SO AWESOME! At least, most of it is. I'm still turned off by endless nail tutorials and "Pin now, read later" notes, but it's okay because Pinterest is such an awesome resource for creativity and food and decorating and inspiration.

Sometimes the mood just hits, you know? I'm especially digging Debussy and cello stuff by Bach.

What are you digging, lately?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Brain food

Hello everyone!

Need something to watch while you fold laundry/organize your filing cabinet/cross-stitch your favorite saying? Here are some enlightening and entertaining documentary recommendations for your viewing pleasure!

Note: I haven't done a documentary update in a while, so I hope I don't accidentally mix them up in my reviews somehow. I might also be forgetting some key thoughts, but whatever. Just watch.

How Does Your Memory Work? 
I think we all know by now how much I love the human brain, and this documentary was a good fix for my brain-junkie cravings. You don't realize how extraordinary your ability to remember things is until it's taken away from you, or until you meet someone who can't remember things. From the challenges of short-term memory loss to the possibility of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" becoming a reality, this documentary covers a whole range of awesome.

Battle of the Brains
So, the IQ test has been controversial for a long time. This documentary seeks to test different kinds of intelligence--mathematical, creative, emotional, etc.--by bringing together six extraordinary minds. A musical prodigy, a quantum physicist, an artist, a dramatist, an RAF fighter pilot, a chess grandmaster and a Wall Street trader all complete various tasks from a standard vocab test to a painting to solving puzzles. It seems intelligence comes in all shapes and sizes. =)

Why Do We Talk? 
So so so so so so awesome! Linguistics is so fascinating. Did you know that in experiments with making up languages, people will naturally begin to create linguistic rules? This documentary also talks about "the forbidden experiment"...raising a child from birth with no verbal or written communication, to see what happens. Will they develop language? How much of language is inherent? Of course, the ethical implications of this experiment are what make it "forbidden," so the way around it is studying feral children--children who were raised in the wild by animals. Which really happens. Very very rarely, and most reports are hoaxes, but it does happen, and it scares me so much I start to cry just thinking about it. This documentary contains a few seconds of video footage of a girl named Oxana Malaya, who was raised by dogs in the Ukraine until the age of 8. And it gave me nightmares for about two weeks. But the documentary is fascinating.

BBC: Modern Spies, Part 1 and Part 2
So awesome. And I walked around for a few days fairly certain that everyone around me was a spy. This documentary focuses on MI6 and British spying, although it does get in to American spy stuff. I partly watched it because I wasn't sure how they were going to do this documentary without endangering civilian safety, but I learned a lot of general info...just nothing specific enough to make me an insider. =) They talked about how real spying is different from the movies, about the risk of "entrapment," about whether or not spies ever have a "license to kill." Oh, and about the Russian spy Anna Chapman! She was arrested in 2010, along with NINE OTHER AGENTS who were part of a Russian sleeper cell in New Jersey, which had been working on gathering intelligence for like, TEN YEARS. (Is it getting "cold" in here?) So, the next time someone tells you you're being paranoid about something, tell them about this. Because the truth is stranger than fiction.

BBC: Nature's Weirdest Events, Part 1 and Part 2
This is more on the daytime-TV boring-ish side, but there was some crazy stuff, and I was entertained. And mouse plagues are the grossest, most terrifying things ever.

Tales From the Hive
BEES ARE AWESOME. I love them. They're so industrious and brave and smart. And they dance! And they do little trumpet-y noises while they dance. It's called a "wiggle dance." Did you know that? If you didn't, you should. This documentary has some INCREDIBLE footage. I mean, you could just mute the documentary, put on some Beethoven and just watch. But, don't mute it, because there's some amazing stuff here to learn about.

What Are Animals Thinking? 
Okay, the host of this documentary is kind of annoying. But that aside, this is a super-awesome documentary about animal behavior, and by extension, what it means to be human. For instance, do dogs really know what we're thinking? Is empathy a strictly human trait? The natural world is pretty incredible. And homing pigeons are awesome.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Porcelain in my bones

Remember how last winter was super-mild? I think this winter is taking revenge on the fact that it didn't get to happen last year. When I woke up this morning for church, it was -15 degrees.

Did you hear me?


That's instant-nose-hair-freezing, can't-start-your-car-at-all, makes-you-look-up-flights-to-Bermuda cold. And okay, okay, I know there are other places in the world--the United States even--that are colder. But the thing is that cold isn't really relative to me. Like, I'm not thinking, "Gee, this is chilly, but I was colder that one time in Nebraska." No. I'm just cold. Right here, and right now. So if you'll excuse me, I need to get another quilt from my closet. And call the grocery store to order food for the winter, because there's no way in hell I'm leaving this house.*

Also, I got this screenshot from, and I like how they're trying to join in on the social media world, with the little "Love!" and "Ugh!" buttons. Maybe if I press "Ugh!" enough times, they'll change the weather for me.

* Except for teaching tomorrow. And rehearsal. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The post where Liz gets domestic

I consider myself a pretty domestic person. Domestic like "look at pretty living rooms on pinterest" and a little less like "let's clean the bathroom," but between my husband and me, we have a pretty tasteful and tidy living space. And I've recently discovered that I really enjoy cooking, if I don't do it when I'm hungry. So today, I'm gonna share a recipe of a little dessert that Jacob and I usually eat all of in one sitting.

(For any new readers, just so you know what you're getting into, this isn't the kind of thing I usually post. But if you're interested in documentaries, smarts, and that time I went to Rome, stick around!)

Anyway, today, I threw an apron over my Star Trek t-shirt, put on Tom Waits' album "Swordfishtrombones,"* and documented making these amazing little apple tartlets.

You will need:
1 apple (your choice on what kind; I used a Braeburn)
1 canister Pillsbury crescent seamless dough sheet
some kind of brown sugar/cinnamon crumb topping (Okay, on this one, I kind of cheat. I use the cinnamon topping that comes with the Krusteaz Cinnamon Crumb Cake. There's always some left over, so I just use that. But there are dozens of crumb toppings you could use. Just google it or something.)

1. Peel, core, and dice the apple into bitty pieces.

2. Roll the dough out, thinking briefly of this:
...and then use a cookie cutter or large glass to make circles out of the dough, around 3 and 1/2 inches in diameter.

 3. Grease a muffin tin, then use your hands to smoosh the circles into each cup. (I spent like 5 minutes trying to figure out how to phrase this particular instruction. I finally gave up. And the spellcheck isn't recognizing the word "smoosh." Or the word "spellcheck.")

4. Fill the cups with the apple pieces, and add a little dab of butter to each one.

5. Sprinkle each tartlet with crumb topping.

6. Bake at 300 degrees for 15 - 18 minutes, or until the visible dough edges are golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Or just eat. All at once.


*That song "Trouble's Braids"** from Swordfishtrombones? I want to choreograph a modern dance number to that song. If someone else wants to do it, go ahead. But you have to put it on youtube, and it has to look the way it does in my head.
** I think this "music video" is silly. But the song is awesome.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Next chapter

Hey, I graduated from college. I have a Bachelor's degree. I even have a JOB.

Okay, so it's a temporary job. I teach freshmen English at BYU-I. Just two classes. And just for this semester. But it's totally related to my degree and it's AWESOME!

For all of you people who are still on the long and dusty road to a college degree, I thought I'd give you a glimpse into life as a college graduate. Just to, you know, inspire you. Give you an image to work toward.

Here is what college graduates do. They:
- Watch House MD in 4 to 8-episode binges
- Wear pajamas whenever possible
-  Occasionally stay up really really late doing something pointless like cruising facebook and then get up really early the next day
- Don't clean very often
- Eat out of tupperware because the dishes are dirty
- Carpool
- Eat Golden Grahams straight out of the box
- Only splurge on Golden Grahams once a year because the food budget is around $40 per week

So really, it's not too different from being a college student.

On a totally different note, here's something else to check out. You will scream and then laugh. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Buon Natale!

At long last, I bring you the highlights of the trip! My sister Beckah gives a much more in depth look into her experience, so feel free to check that out here.

And okay, so I couldn't narrow the pictures down enough for this blog entry, so I just created a Flickr album of them. Check that out here. (And sorry, I didn't add captions. That's like, 180 photos, and I already captioned them on facebook, and I got stuff to do, okay?)

I don't know if I ever mentioned this, but our stop in Egypt was cancelled because of security reasons. =( And I cried. But our final itinerary (that took me like 8 tries to spell) was still pretty cool.

Wed, Dec 12 - Board the Norwegian Jade in Civitavecchia, Italy
Thurs, Dec 13 - At sea (Happy birthday, Melissa)
Fri, Dec 14 - Olympia, Greece
Sat, Dec 15 - Athens, Greece
Sun, Dec 16 - Ephesus, Turkey
Mon, Dec 17 - Tues, Dec 18 - Istanbul, Turkey
Wed, Dec 19 - Thurs, Dec 20 - At sea
Fri, Dec 21 - Naples, Italy (survived the end of the world!)
Sat, Dec 22 - Return to Civitavecchia, Italy and disembark
Sun, Dec 23 - Tues, Dec 25 - Rome, Italy
Wed, Dec 26 - Florence, Italy
Thurs, Dec 27 - Return to the US

And let me just make something clear...this is not a normal family vacation. We ain't got this kinda money all the time. My parents just decided to splurge like crazy, and this trip has gotta last us the next 20 years or so. Jacob and I are all kinds of poor, and we saved for a while to have spending money for this trip. But it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we are so so so grateful to my parents for providing it.

I also had a blast creating a special "to-do" list for the trip:
- Pretend you're an Olympian athlete at the original Olympic games site
(Check: ran a foot race with my siblings at the original track, although we kept our clothes on)
- Recite part of Oedipus at the Theatre Dionysius in Athens
(Check: with Jacob, and with no rehearsal)
- Have a philosophical discussion at the ancient Agora in Athens, where Sophocles walked and talked
(Check: Women wearing pants to church)
- Read from the Book of Acts at the Grand Theatre in Ephesus
(Check: Acts 19, verse 23 or so)
- Sing "Istanbul" while in Istanbul
(Check: While walking around downtown. Beckah and I struggled with the harmonies for a bit, but we got it eventually)
- Eat pizza in Naples
(Check: And I still dream about it...)
- Eat gelato in Rome
(Check: And I still dream about that too...)
- Rent a Vespa in Italy
(Didn't do it...I was way too cold and poor)
- See lots of art
(Check: Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, Pieta, and David; Leonardo da Vinci's & Verrocchio's Baptism of Christ; Botticelli's Primavera and Birth of name just a few...)

But I also did a few things that I hadn't put on my list, but that made the experience all the better:
- Pretended to be Caesar being stabbed by everyone at the Roman forum (which we actually did in the wrong place...we thought we were there, but later we went on a tour, and like 2 miles away, they were all "And here's where Caesar was stabbed.")
- Pretended to cheer on gladiators at the Colosseum (given the history of the place, maybe this is cold-hearted, but consider it a coping mechanism)
- Explored ancient Pompeii
- Wandered a Turkish grand bazaar
- Had that day of exploring Rome on my own
- Visited a Grecian olive oil press, where we ate fresh olive oil with bread and feta and herbs

Good trip, right? 

In conclusion, and in no particular order, here are some of my favorite memories of our trip:
- That first magical morning in own "Enchanted April" come to life, complete with sunshine and tidal pools
- Videos for karaoke on the ship (for example, naked headless Barbies singing "Bohemian Rhapsodies" and scantily clad women on beaches)
- How awesome our Grecian tour guide was (Niki, we love ya!)
- Beckah and I dancing with Maksym (a "tower of jello") on fifties night on the ship 
- Jacob sleeping all the time, and how Beckah forcefully rolled him out of bed one evening because nothing I did to wake him up worked
- Both Beckah and Jacob accidentally grinding/groping strangers on the dance floor in the ship's nightclub
- Mary "gobbling" like a turkey at dinner on the cruise, and being self-conscious about her technique, but doing it anyway
- Playing Egyptian Ratscrew in the card room on the ship (which Dad later called "Screwing the Egyptian Rat or Whatever")
- Beckah and I playing word games on her iPad
- That first morning in Civitavecchia
- How Beckah mispronounced the word "Caucasian" on a museum placard, reading it as "Kaw-Cah-Zee-En" and then just leaning her head on the glass in shame when I pointed it out
- How Isha accidentally got a Botox consultation instead of the Chinese medicine consultation she had signed up for at the ship's spa
- How Jacob won every single round of Blackjack when we played it
- Our "z" language, where the first sound of every word is replaced with a "z" (zere ze zirst zound zof zevery zord zis zeplaced zith za z)
- Jacob's panicked "nonononono!" when he was naked and thought someone was coming in
- Spiky bras in the Istanbul bazaar ("Come! We have your size! Big size! For be more sexy!")
- A miscommunication that resulted in the word "binoculars" being a synonym for miscommunications
- The quote, "Well, there's Italian, and then there's abusive." (referring to the owner of a restaurant near our guesthouse in Rome, who made really good food, but was always hitting his employees)
- Isha pointing commandingly at cars/the street in Rome as she crossed the street, as if daring them to hit her
- Trying to sneak through a barrier at the Vatican Museum gift shop, knocking it over by accident, then running away while the people behind us got blamed for it (as in, in trouble with the museum security guard and a warning from a cop)
- listening to the bells in churches all over Rome ring out at midnight on Christmas
- how all our attempts at Italian turned into Spanish
- Mary demonstrating her neck strengthening exercises after dinner on Christmas
- How Jacob and I kept breaking the window panels in our guesthouse in Rome
- Jacob's unadulterated joy at dinner on Christmas Eve ("This was made by angels!")
- How Italy made me miss the set of "Enchanted April" as much as the experience of that show
- Isha's frequent cries of "Buon Natale!"
- The way the Tuscan countryside between Rome and Florence looked exactly how you might imagine it
- How Isha got the hiccups in Naples and started using their violent nature to warn away peddlers
- How the Hop-On-Hop-Off tour bus in Rome was actually the knight bus from Harry Potter, defying the laws of physics at every turn
- Isha's excitement over nun sightings
- The way Italians are always whistling
- The enormous thunderstorm on our last night in Rome
- Flying over Greenland on our way home, with iceburgs beneath us, the moon on our right, and the sun on our left for hours and hours

Seriously. Really good trip, right?