Newness for a New Year

Thursday, June 26, 2008

For Scott

Some people would say that I have experienced a lot of loss over the past eight months. And, in light of the events of yesterday, I would say that yes, I have experienced severe loss. But, in thinking about it, I would say I have learned more about love than loss. When you lose something that means so much to you, perhaps you begin to realize your full capacity to love.

I received word last night that a dear friend, Scott Ross, died in a car accident in Provo Canyon yesterday morning. This is one of my favorite pictures of him. We met in grad school here at BYU. He was the guy always dressed well and carrying his leather satchel everywhere. We really became close our second year because our offices were next door to each other. We often grabbed lunch or just sat and talked about our lives. He always told me about the women in his life, and he always listened as I talked about all the boys in mine. We had the kind of friendship that could always pick up where it left off. He was in Glasgow this past year, embarking on the fullness of his creative writing career. His dream had been to study there and to really dedicate time to his writing. He was on the cusp of fullness. He came to Provo to fulfill a class for his degree here and to be close to his girlfriend. It appeared he was finally seeing a fulfillment of so many of his long-term goals.

A couple of weeks ago we had the chance to catch up from the past year. He sat in my office, as he had so many times, and we talked about everything. He told me about the peace he was feeling toward his life. He felt assured that he was doing what God would have him do and he felt such happiness with life and circumstances. As we discussed my life and happenings, he told me to trust my heart, no matter what. He was so quick to believe in me and all my abilities, always encouraging me to follow what I was feeling. I will be sure to be so kind to others when they share their souls with me. Follow the Spirit and trust your heart--even when it doesn't make any sense outside your soul.

Scott called me Tuesday to go get lunch sometime. I can still hear his voice.

He is one of the kindest people I know. He was always looking out for others and taking the time to listen to what others had to say. He was comfortable with who he had become and all the experiences that had shaped him into such a great man. He taught me about genuinely caring for other people and letting them know how you care.

I could go on and on about him because he was the type of person who lived a life worthy of praise and admiration. Even with his death, he is teaching me about how to live a full, deliberate life. Scott would probably be happy I am writing about him. He was always writing.

One of his favorite and most influential authors is James Joyce. He particularly enjoyed The Dubliners and "The Dead." The main character in"The Dead" is Gabriel Conroy. A conflicted man who is well intentioned but rather paralyzed within his intellect and apparent lack of passion. I am glad to know that although Scott loved this story, he was the opposite of Gabriel. Scott was determined and aware of who he was. He lived his life with passion and hope. He was fully optimistic about his future and he sought to be a good person. I believe he attained that. He lived a beautiful life and always managed to make life pleasant for those around him.

So, in losing again, I understand more of love. I can live life with more purpose and cherish even the seemingly inconsequential moments because they combine to make the larger picture. And, you never know when there will be loss, so you must love and appreciate while you can.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The First Day of School

If your first day of school was anything like my first day of school growing up, then you might have pictures that look like these.
This is me. I think I look quite ready for 1st grade. I love the outfit Emily has on as she is walking out of the picture, by the way.

Here is my first day of 2nd grade.
I was thinking about these photos as I was getting ready for my first day back to class yesterday. Although I am the instructor, and I have done it many times, I still get nervous for the first day. I plan out my outfit more than I usually do, I give myself plenty of time to get to class, and I go over everything multiple times. Once I am at school I try to calm myself before walking into the class and having the students wonder if I am the teacher or an impostor.

And yet there is something invigorating about standing up in front of a new group of students and introducing a course. Since I have had a bit of a break from teaching the past month, I ended up losing my voice by the end of the first day because I am not used to talking so much. But, it somehow is part of the thrill.

The first day for the instructor is so different. As a student, you are wondering if you will know anyone in the class or if you will make friends. As the instructor, I am always trying to come off professional and a bit demanding. I want them to take me seriously but to enjoy the course. I still sense a bit of "faking it" as I stand there, but it is amazing how quickly I slip back into the role I have to love.

I guess I was also a little sad yesterday because it will be my last "first day" for a while. I won't be teaching this fall semester. Still don't know what I will be doing, but I know I won't be "faking it" in front of students.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I find books very comforting. I realized that today as I walked into the Harold B. Library at BYU. I was in search of Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I've wanted to read it for a while, and I finally decided to find it.

Searching for a book is part of the pleasure in a library. I love walking the long aisles and counting the numbers as I approach the right stack. Sometimes it takes me longer than it should, but the process is always pleasant. On my way to Bel Canto, I meandered down an aisle of beautiful, old books. I couldn't read any of the titles because they were in a different language, but it didn't matter. Just looking at the bindings is an experience. Of course, the distraction of finding many other books en route is part of why I enjoy libraries. Today, I passed My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok--another book on my to-read list. So, I picked it up as well.

On one aisle there were books that enclosed the letters of Katherine Mansfield. I couldn't help but wonder who she was and to whom she wrote letters. Why are they significant enough to put in a book?

The BYU library also holds countless memories of my four years in Provo. As I walk along, my mind saunters through study groups, long hours working on my thesis, conversations, boys, friends, stress, and so many other moments that hang about the stacks like the books. Sometimes, my memories provide as much entertainment as the books I find because I marvel at how so many things feel so important at the moment and then somehow fade into amusement as they are stretched against time.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Anything is possible with duct tape

I found this as I was checking the news today. There is evidently a scholarship competition for a couple who can make the best duct tape outfits for prom. Here is the link. There is a couple from Utah, which is how I heard about it. The picture here is of them.

You really need to check these out--they are amazing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Prince Caspian

I can't say enough about this movie. It is brilliant. Joanie, Mary-Kathryn, and I went to the late movie last night, which we never do. But, I am so glad we did. The cinematography was stunning, the characters believable and well developed, and the pace kept me awake at 11 p.m. More than anything, I believe they captured the power of the imagery and Christian doctrine. I was impressed with the writing and the strength of the message.

Please go see this in the theater if you haven't yet. It is well worth the full-price ticket--or go see a matinée.

I am ashamed to admit that I haven't read all the books, but I am going to. When I was a freshman in college and a history major, I had to read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for a children's lit class I was taking. It was during that read that my desire to switch to be an English major reached its climax. I walked to the administration building and changed before I finished reading the book. And, I am amazed at the path my life has taken since then.

I am grateful for the beauty and power in literature--and movies, when adapted well.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Smattering of Catch-up

Do you ever talk to yourself? I find that when I seem to be talking to myself, I am actually writing to myself. I frequently think about life in terms of how I would write about it. Now that I also blog, in addition to writing in my books, I also think in terms of how I would blog about something. I am not sure if the desire is really fulfilled in the writing or in the hoping that it will be read. So, sometimes I think, How should I put this so that people would like to read it? I don't think I always succeed, but I hope that you can appreciate my attempt to make thoughts tangible.

5 stents and a bowl of oatmeal

I can honestly say I am deeply grateful for the miracle of modern medicine. My father had 5 stents put in his heart last Wednesday morning through a catheter and was able to go home the next day. It truly is amazing. He was awake during the procedure and was in his room after a few hours. He is back at work today.

Last weekend, my mother and I went shopping for some food that will better fit his newly acquired diet. I have never been so aware of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium in my life. Such an experience makes me even more dedicated to good health and nutritious eating. I am not sure if heart disease is as genetic as Diabetes, but I am not taking any chances. I have too much of both in my family to ever play with my health.

I learned that a good place to start for cholesterol could be as easy as a bowl of oatmeal every day. I am not quite there on the every day bit, but now my dad is. Thank you all for your support through yet another hospital visit.

BYU vs. Miami in 1990

I love watching college football, especially when I know who wins. I am so glad that BYU TV replays the classic games. Last week, I caught the 1990 Ty Detmer win against Miami. I was 10 years old when the game was played, and I probably appreciated it more last week. Although I remember it being played--seeing how it was such an upset and all. Miami was ranked #1 from the previous season and they got beat in their first game. It was beautiful--even 18 years later.

Even though I knew who would win, I still got nervous about how it would play out. I also love that it is just continuous play--it makes it go so much faster. I believe this is the real way to watch sports. Go Cougars!

Antiques Roadshow

I love this show. Where else can you see a guy come in with plate given to him by a neighbor that ends up being a Romanov plate worth $65,000? Or you happen to discover that you have a Ming dynasty bowl?

I can watch this for hours on end, and I never get bored. I always wonder two things: if I have anything of any value and what I could buy now that could be worth something in a few decades or centuries?

As you can tell, I am such a public television fan. I will watch almost any documentary, and last week I watched an interested show about a restaurant in California that cooks with local produce. They took us to the various farms and stores. It was very interesting and made me so glad that farmer's markets are in full swing again. They are everywhere. Check out your local market--you won't be disappointed.

Jane Eyre

A week or so ago, I rented the first version of Jane Eyre that I ever saw. It had Timothy Dalton in it--is this ringing a bell for anyone? Well, after viewing the newer version last fall, I believe this 1983 version a bit disappointing--imagine that. So, I watched the newest version again. It is stunning. The characterizations are so much more believable and you actually look at them as people with passions and a depth of feeling.

If you haven't seen the new Masterpiece Theatre version, please watch it soon. Jane resonated with me so much more than the earlier versions. She was much more human and easy to connect with. I tend to skip some of her early life (just like I did when I first read it in 10th grade) but once she is at Thornfield, I am fully engrossed. I don't even skip ahead when she is with her cousins. It has a bit of the Bronte darkness about it (which is part of the beauty of it) but not enough to pull you away from the real story of discovery, trust, and love that remains at the core.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I think I have said this before, but right after my Nana passed away a friend told me, "At least your life can get back to normal." I laughed at the thought of normalcy in my life. I don't know what that is anymore. If anything, my normal is that nothing in my life is normal. Today is no exception. About 2 a.m. this morning, my brother took my father to the ER because he was having severe chest pains that led into his arm. After a day of tests and a hospital relocation , it has been determined that his heart isn't pumping at full capacity. It is at a 45 when normal is 80-90. They will do a catheter tomorrow that will check out the damage in his heart to determine if a stint is needed.


It is a waiting game right now. But, we feel optimistic. For never having been in the hospital for any real amount of time, I am getting fairly accustomed to these places. We are in the new IHC hospital in Murray. I must say, it is a really nice hospital.

It is strange to see my father in a hospital gown and in a hospital bed. For those who don't know him, he is a really tough ex-green beret who never likes to show pain. So, even the fact that he opted to go to the ER made us a little nervous. But, he is a fighter.

But, we are all in good spirits. Keep us in your prayers. I will keep you updated.