Wednesday, December 30, 2009

He said what he meant and he meant what he said

Remember Professor "You-are-going-to-hell"? Well, I guess he really meant business when he told us [his beloved Counterpoint students] that we could only have one homework infraction the entire semester without having our grades subsequently (and dramatically, I might add) lowered: I just received a great big fat juicy 'B' on my transcript. Ew. It looks like a squashed bug.

But never fear! BYU loves me so much that my overall GPA didn't change one iota. Apprehension overtakes me, however, as I sense that I and my 166 credit hours' welcome is running thin. Which is why I tend to claim my degree in April [yes, yes, technically August] and fly away. Quite literally.

My Un-New Year's Resolution

I made a resolution. It is not a New Year's resolution, however. Reasons being: because my brain formulated it two weeks ago, AND because I think New Year's resolutions are for pansies. Pansies who need milestones to become motivated to do something, that is to say.

Anyhow. <--Bleh, that word is annoying. Why did I use it? ... I am quite excited about said resolution. Well, maybe 'quite excited' is a bit of an overstatement. In order to accomplish this resolution, I will have to have the following: more self-discipline, less wasting of time, and a tragic loss of a fraction of my already precious few hours of sleep. Sacrifice, ladies and gentlemen. Sacrifice.

My resolution shall commence on January 4th (no, it doesn't have anything to do with school, though that day does also happen to be the unfortunate date that time consumption resumes). If all goes well and the world still exists by June 12th, I will proudly announce to you my success. Until then, wish me luck, as I shall gladly accept it.


So. I went to bed at 9:00! This was an amazing feat, to be sure. As soon as I laid down, I was out like a light. Ah, sleeeeeep.

I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the new day. My alarm hadn't even gone off yet, so I laid in bed, savoring a rare moment of leisure relaxation beneath my warm, cozy blankets. After a minute or two, I decided I would quickly get up and ready for the day, make some yummy waffles for breakfast, and then head to the HFAC for a few hours of good, solid practicing before my dad picked me up at noon to take me home for the rest of the weekend.

I climbed out of bed. It occurred to me that I ought to check the time, so I grabbed my phone from the bedside table and glanced down at the glowing screen as I pressed a random button.




Ug ug.



Of COURSE I should have expected such a thing. What other time do I wake up feeling refreshed and motivated, except at an hour when all productive plans are useless and foiled?

I got back in bed and tried to fall asleep.

But to no avail, as you can tell by the time of day I am posting this.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lord of the Engagement Rings

Yesterday while browsing the 100 Hour Board, I came across some links to one of the most excellent spoofs I have ever seen in my life, performed by Divine Comedy at BYU about two years ago. May I just say that the BYU culture has never been better captured in a Tolkien/Jackson-flavored nutshell.

Lord of the Engagement Rings, Pt. 1
Lord of the Engagement Rings, Pt. 2

If you still haven't had enough:

The Deseret Towers, Pt. 1
The Deseret Towers, Pt. 2

And if you feel incomplete without watching the whole saga:

Return of the Missionary, Pt. 1
Return of the Missionary, Pt. 2

Saturday, December 19, 2009

And there was much rejoicing

as I waved auf wiedersehen to the dear old g-Pod. Oh joy, rapture, bliss! Ecstasy is mine! Good bye, garbage. Good bye, pit. Good bye, doom. Good bye, chances of an early death by toxic rubbish smotherization.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Is there anything more beautiful than a lavish castle nestled on a hilltop of the Bavarian Alps in Deutschland...the brilliant winter sun rising majestically over the craggy mountaintops after a peaceful, early-morning snowfall...the morning mists beginning to dispel, the snow crystals sparkling like billions of tiny diamonds...

I submit that there is not.


Introducing the

How Badly I Want To Go Back To Europe-O-Meter!


Sorry, even the Europe-O-Meter couldn't handle the intensity of my desire.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I liiiiiiiiiiiiive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So tell me what mortal needs my protection, Great Ancestor. You just say the word and I'm there. And let me say somethin'. Anybody who's foolish enough to threaten our family, vengeance will be miiiiiiiiiiiiiiine!

700 points extra credit if you can name that movie. (Yes, I'm a munificent extra credit point giver--munificence is just one part of my magnanimously marvelous personality.)

Psh! No, writing all those essays for my grad applications didn't give me a big head in the least. What are you even talking about?

Okay, soooooooooooo.

I officially submitted my last application at 10:55pm on Monday. (I'm not going to put any exclamation points after that sentence, because not even infinity would be sufficient.) This was such a long and grueling process (not to mention expensive--more than $600, to be exact) that now round one is over and the ball is no longer in my playing field (i.e. I'm waiting to hear back from each of the schools as to whether or not I am invited for a live audition and interview), there is an odd sort of contradictory void in my existence. Over the past few days, I have felt indestructible and free as a bird, though I have actually been buried alive by the things that were once deemed second-priority. Which was pretty much everything except grad applications. And yes, finals are next week. Eek. <---That's a word I don't use very often, so I hope you fully comprehend the gravity of my situation.

And to conclude my post, how about some random, joyous trivia?

Time remaining till I move out of the GPOD: 13 days and COUNTING.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I live in a g-Pod

You know the song "We all live in a yellow submarine" by the Beatles? Well, yesterday afternoon as I was strolling home to my apartment to teach a piano lesson, this particular music was pleasantly running through my head.

Until, that is to say, I arrived at the front door of my apartment and pulled the keys out of my coat pocket. As I unlocked the deadbolt and pushed the door open, I despairingly gazed at the Garbage Pit (yes, with capital letters) that is my living room. Suddenly, the excellent song I had been rather enthusiastically humming to myself morphed into the following:

We all live in the Garbage Pit of DOOM,
Garbage Pit of DOOM,
Garbage Pit of DOOM

I won't give you all the dirty details of what may be found in this Garbage Pit of DOOM for fear of making you cough up your dinner, but suffice it to say that my apartment could easily be mistaken for the local landfill.

Now, I'll have you know that this is not due to a lack of attempts on my part to clean it--at least twice a week, in fact, as I cannot very well have students and their mothers wallowing in dirty socks, candy wrappers, used tissues, little bits of paper and cardboard, dirty dishes, cracker crumbs, and the like. Really and truly, the Halloween banner hanging haphazardly by a few pieces of Scotch tape in our front window says it all, (in blazing purple letters on a metallic silver background, no less):

"Beware! Enter if you dare!"

Of course, most people, upon knocking on our door, assume in blissful ignorance that this sign is, in fact, no more than a mere declaration of the apartment residents' festive spirit. What these innocent bystanders do not realize, however, is that they are actually standing at the brink of a black hole, and that if they set foot through the door, they may very well be sucked into a whirling vortex of death. Or perhaps a more appropriate wording for the latter part of the previous phrase would be "may very well become instantaneously smothered by a highly dangerous and toxic amount of rubbish."

Sadly, this condition in which the living room exists is not confined to that space alone. It spills into the kitchen and upstairs to the bathroom and bedrooms. I thought that at least my corner of the bedroom was safe from the onslaught of refuse, but alas, upon glancing under my bed, I found a pair of dirty...well, you can probably guess...that definitely wasn't my own. EW.

Yes, on a cleanliness scale of 1 to 10, my apartment ranks at approximately a 29,377. On a good day.

To use a new German phrase I learned today: Ach du Schande!!! [For crying out loud!] Pick up your trash, people. Pick up your trash.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yes, I am Special

Well, today, my being taller and weighing more than the average Joe (or should I say Josephine, as I am female) paid off for some poor person who doesn't even know it yet. Unlike a dear cousin of mine, I was not fiscally cunning enough to go to the place where they actually pay me to be poked with a needle and lie watching my blood float through a tube for 40 minutes, but oh well...more brownie points in heaven, right?

Because the stars were aligned just so, (i.e. my iron count was above 40%, my blood is O+ [it has to be O or B], my blood pressure was amazing [120/60--that's fantastic for my genes], and my height and weight meet whatever the Red Cross requirements are, they asked me to be a "Double Red Cell Donor."

The ability to perform this procedure apparently involves a fairly new bit of technology, and the latent student-who-was-once-going-to-be a-doctor in me woke up when I learned how it all works, so I thought I'd enlighten you:

A small needle (smaller than the one they use for regular blood donation) is inserted into the donor's arm. The whole blood is separated into red blood cells and plasma. The red blood cells are then drawn into two separate bags, while the plasma and a "volume replacer" (saline solution) are returned to the donor. The donor therefore has a lower total volume of blood loss and is also left more hydrated, while actually giving twice the amount of a regular "whole blood" donation. Cool, eh?

I also was interested to learn about the different blood types:

The most common blood type in the United States is O+, making up about 37% of the population, closely followed by A+, which makes up nearly 36%. The least common is AB-, consisting of barely half of one percent of the population.

Here is a table showing to and from whom one may give and receive blood. I cadged it (that's a new word I learned today, by the way) from a Red Cross website:

Type You Can Give Blood To You Can Receive Blood From
A+ A+ AB+ A+ A- O+ O-
O+ O+ A+ B+ AB+ O+ O-
B+ B+ AB+ B+ B- O+ O-
AB+ AB+ Everyone
A- A+ A- AB+ AB- A- O-
O- Everyone O-
B- B+ B- AB+ AB- B- O-
AB- AB+ AB- AB- A- B- O-

A few things I learned from this table:
**Life is unfair for O-.
**AB+ are moochers. (Just kidding, just kidding, I'm sure they can't help it.)

A few other interesting facts:
**Type O- blood is the preferred type for accident victims and babies needing exchange transfusions
**There is always a need for Type O donors because their blood may be transfused to a person of any blood type in an emergency
**Someone is in need of blood every two seconds
**Blood has a limited shelf-life. Red blood cells, the portion of blood most commonly used for trauma patients, are only good for 42 days, and platelets, commonly used for cancer patients, are only good for five days
**Only 5 percent of the eligible United States population donates blood
**It is safe for a healthy donor to donate plasma up to twice a week, a pint of blood every 56 days, or 2 pints of red cells every 112 days
**The average adult has about 10 to 12 pints of blood in his/her body. Roughly 1 pint is given during a donation
**One donation can help save the lives of up to 3 people
**Red Cross donors are 50% male, 50% female
**You must be at least 17 years old, weigh more than 110 pounds, and be in good general health to donate
**If you began donating blood at age 17 and donated every 56 days until you reached 76, you would have donated 48 gallons of blood, potentially helping save over 1,000 lives

More interesting facts:

Okay, that's my plug for the Red Cross. Go donate.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Concerning that place in which naughty people reside

Last night, I set my alarm for 5:30am so that I could rise bright and early--or should I say dark and early--to finish my Counterpoint* homework. I suppose that my alarm went off at the unholy time for which it was set, but alas, my unconscious self chose to ignore it and sleep on. My roommate's alarm began to go off at 7 (I say began because it was still going off forty-five minutes later, when I left for school...if there is such a diagnosis as Chronic Snoozer, this roommate is definitely a candidate for said disease). In any case, my point would be: I did not wake up in a timely fashion; therefore, my Counterpoint homework did not get done.

Before reading on, there are two things you must understand:

--one must always do one's homework for Counterpoint, or one may as well stick oneself with three hundred thousand needles as go to class

--my professor for Counterpoint is a very serious man who speaks German and plays the organ for a living

I got to the HFAC about five minutes to eight, so I whipped out my workbook and textbook and attempted to begin my homework that was due in 300 seconds. Needless to say, I did not get very far at all. My teacher, Dr. Bush, arrived, and I knew I was toast (I had been dangling onto the frayed thread of hope that class would suddenly and mysteriously be cancelled). We began class by singing some Bach chorales, during which I attempted to finish scribbling down a rough outline of the chapter we were supposed to have read (my "outline" basically consisting of the bolded titles of each section of the chapter, and a few lines I skimmed here and there), and hoping against hope that I wouldn't be called on to share any of my workbook exercises with the class, as I hadn't even started them.

Well, since my class size is only about 15 people, and of those 15 only eight or ten are brave enough to attend regularly, the odds of my deadly secret being discovered were inevitably stacked against me. And so, I now proceed to relate to you a short conversation, verbatim, that I would never have guessed I would have in my LIFE, let alone at BYU.

Dr. Bush: Okay, let's look at the workbook exercises. *pause* Britny, why don't you discuss the first exercise for us?

Me: (in tiny, ashamed voice, not looking him in the eye) I'm sorry...I didn't do my homework.

Dr. Bush: You're going to hell.


*a type of music theory/a really genius and complex way to compose music ('genius' as in you must BE a genius--like Bach--to have the capacity to write it)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A view of Mt. Rushmore...

...from the Canadian side.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

The dangers of small talk

So, yesterday I was at work in the music library here at the zoo. A lady came in and wanted to check out some scores that are kept in our Primrose International Viola Archive, so I led her back to a special place in a far corner of the library on the fourth floor and keyed in the secret code on the golden keypad (yes, it really is golden). I then led her inside the archive, which is a large room with green, luscious carpet, dark, stained wood, dim, recessed lighting, original paintings, three rare violas, and a couple of statues to boot (oh, and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of actual music). I asked her if she was a violist, but it turned out she was a pianist. Having chosen such a worthy occupation, I trusted that she could handle herself maturely amongst all the splendor, and I left the room, closed the golden keypadded door with a soft clank, and headed back to the main desk, where I was supposed to be working.

A while later, she made her way back to my desk with a big stack of scores she wanted to check out. One thing you've got to understand: sometimes it can get pretty awkward checking out books to someone if both of you are just standing there in dead silence, except for the part where the computer says "beep" twenty times while you scan the books through and then deactivate the tattle strip in all the spines. So, naturally, I try to make a little small talk with patrons while I'm getting their stuff checked out. I know, I know, sometimes I'm such an overachiever. Hahahaha. Ha.

Anyway, since she had said that she was a pianist but she was checking out viola scores, I asked her if she was a professional accompanist. She thought about it for a second and kind of cocked her head and then said, "Well, yes, I guess I am." I then replied, "Wow, that's great! Did you by any chance attend the piano program here at BYU?"

Lady: "Yes, actually, I did!"

Me: "Cool. I'm a piano major here right now. When did you graduate?"

And then of course, while she was trying to think what year she had graduated, my big mouth had to tack on what my brain was thinking, as if to help her along in the remembering process...

Me: "a really long...."

*biting tongue*

Yes, I almost said, "a really long time ago?"

I quickly attempted to cover my blunder by distracting her and asking with whom she had studied. It sort of worked. But it made me feel like such a hostile, inconsiderate manipulater. And seriously, she wasn't even old. She was probably in her mid- to late forties. Why, of all things, was THAT particular phrase the one that my brain had to come up with first? Maybe this is a sign that I need to spend a little less time practicing and a little more time working on my spontaneous conversation skills...

I can just imagine tomorrow's headlines:


Cataclysmic events that would most likely follow:




And so on, until:


Yeah, I should definitely work on those conversation skills.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Feeling guilty. Must clear conscience.

I promise I am not a dog-hater, though my previous post would probably lead you to believe otherwise.

If I was offered a $20,000 allergen-free, sweet, fluffy, cute little showdog (aka a Gracie or Eclair) along with the means to take care of it (aka enough money to bathe it in Noni everyday and feed it special organic food and distilled water), I wouldn't say no.

Mostly because then I could sell it and buy my first Steinway.


Monday, September 7, 2009

A phew theengs I lurnd thiss we-kend*

I spent my weekend (the last weekend during which I could allow myself to even approach entertaining the dream of a wisp of a thought of a few moments of freedom this semester) at my friend's grandma's cabin an hour or two away from Yellowstone in the tiny town of Swan Valley, Idaho (I saw no swans, and I was in the middle of a forest on top of a mountain...go figure). The area is absolutely beeeeeautiful, and being there was very relaxing. I loved it. The cabin was built in the 70s, and though I took my camera, I did not take the time to actually use said camera. This fact is very unfortunate, as the aforementioned cabin decor didn't just stop at the wood paneling and brown/green/orange color scheme for carpet and furniture. No, there were even BEADS hanging in the kitchen window. Dude. It was groooovy. Seriously. Awesome.

In a nutshell, I was afforded several interesting experiences this weekend. Here are a few things I learned, organized by category:


...are crazy.

--They tell dirty jokes.

--They go to China a lot.

My friend's grandma and step-grandpa came to stay while we were there. I was warned beforehand that her step-grandpa (Keith) was "interesting" and "unusual." It turns out he is a rich 75-year-old retired brine fisherman who basically has no inhibitions whatsoever. I'll let your imagination fill in the rest.


--I passionately despise (i.e. find extremely disgusting) being licked profusely--or even a little bit--by large dogs.

--I will never let a dog live in my house. Dogs are hair-shedding fiends, and they smell. The dogs that do not fall into this category (i.e. the diamond-collar wearing type) are much too spoiled and expensive for my taste.

--Never again will a dog have the opportunity to urinate on my foot. Now I have to throw away a pair of my dear flip-flops. No amount of sterilization will take away my heebie-jeebies.

--I know panting is just one of a dog's necessary bodily functions, but I do not like it all the same.

--I do not enjoy riding for five hours while sharing the back seat of a Honda Civic with a hyperactive sheepdog. (Though in all fairness, he was on pretty good behavior most of the time, especially considering being cooped up for so long.)

Both my friend and her grandma have sheepdogs. Both dogs were allowed to run loose throughout the cabin during our entire stay. Though everyone else at the cabin viewed them as "cute, cuddly, fun-loving protectors," I saw right through that furry facade. In fact, I have it on good authority that one of them was planning to eat me. I was laying in the dark one night around 2:00am when I began to hear strange sounds very, very, very near my bed. It was really dark, (and I'm blind anyway), so I couldn't see what it was, and I couldn't quite tell whether the sound was actually coming from inside my room, from the attic (about two feet above me, due to the sloped ceiling), the wall (behind me), or outside through the open window. Possible danger on all sides. Finally, I couldn't take the agony of suspense any longer and reached over and plugged in the lamp. As soon as light flooded the room, my stalker was revealed to be none other than one of the ginormous sheepdogs (okay maybe 'ginormous' is an exaggeration...but he definitely isn't small, either). He had been standing about a foot away from my face, staring at me with all the creepiness he could muster. But you'll be proud to know, I didn't scream. No, I didn't even tremble. I just stared him down until he turned around and left my room and headed straight down the stairs. That's right. I showed him who is really the alpha dog.

As for the other dog, we came to find out that he is a spoiled indoor pet through and through. He would probably faint if he actually saw a sheep. Keith and my friend's husband took him with them in the truck when they went to gather some driftwood. On the way back, Keith let the dog run along beside the truck. However, since the dog had basically never run farther in his entire life than the distance from his food dish to the back door, he soon was having much trouble. After a couple of minutes, they actually had to stop, get out of the truck, and pick him up. And when they got back to the cabin, the poor, exhausted dog couldn't even climb out of the truck by himself. I know it's evil of me to say so, but I really, really wanted to laugh.

SQUARE ICE-CREAM (which we bought at a small gas station on our way home--supposedly world-famous)

...unfortunately looks much better than it tastes.

...ought to be served in square cones.

PINOCHLE (pronounced pea-knuckle) awesome. an incredibly complicated card game, the rules of which may (and almost certainly will, inevitably) cause extreme dissension. I wouldn't doubt that this game could have caused an ancient civilization to go extinct. Maybe that's what Shiz and Coriantumr were fighting about...


There was a reservoir and a dam near where our cabin was. As you can see, the locals have eagerly taken advantage of the available pun. This particular store's slogan: "When you cuss, think of us."

*Yes, I realize I am making generalizations based on a few specific experiences. Too bad, so sad.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Europe indigestion

I think my brain is still trying to digest Europe. I just woke up from a nap in which I dreamed that Dr. Thornock (a theory/composition teacher here at BYU) was awarded the world's first-ever deportable statue of a cow standing on a canon with wheels, located in a cathedral with a huge organ backlighted by pastel colors on which (according to my dream) Liszt once famously played Wagner. Good thing I'm not taking the graduate entrance exam right now, or I'd probably say John Cage and Palestrina were contemporaries and that Bach's main instrument was the ukelele.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I am officially ancient

I am experiencing a new sensation. I'm old. My roommates are all younger than me. It's a crazy feeling, I tell you. From the time I entered first grade until just now, I have never, ever been the oldest in any sort of setting that had anything to do with my secular education. Huh, I guess maybe this is a hint that I should be earning my bachelor's degree sometime soon and getting on with grad school...

In other news, I think my new room roomie (Hailee) and I will be getting along quite nicely. I like her a lot. We had a little heart-to-heart over some DiGiorno pizza tonight, which, incidentally, we both happen to love. She can certainly make me laugh. And...I can see that she might be more than "occasionally boisterous" once in a while, but not in the shrill, obnoxious, twittery, fake, girly "look at me, boys! Look at me!" kind of way that I find extremely annoying after being exposed to more than five seconds of it. Another of my roommates, Melissa, also seems pretty sweet. Plus, she brought home brownies from her softball game for Hailee and me tonight, and that *definitely* makes the "How to make Britny think you're awesome" list.

Last but not least: do ancient people lose their sense of smell? Well, even if they do, hopefully my loss of the ability to smell things is due mostly to the nasty cold which I am in the process of heroically conquering, and not to the fact that I am now the oldest living being inhabiting my apartment. Anyway, I came home from work today to teach piano lessons; the apartment was a little messy, so I tidied up the living room a bit while I was waiting for my first student to arrive. His mom dropped him off (a cute little nine-year-old boy) and he came and knocked on the front door. I let him in, and as he walked inside, he said very bluntly, "It SMELLS in here." I was horrified, but I couldn't smell a thing. Then, he elaborated: "It smells like garlic favorite!" Yes, the apartment reeked of garlic, and I couldn't smell it. Ayayayayay.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A gash, a rash, and purple bumps

In honor of my having lain in bed all day being deathly ill (or at least suffering from a very sudden and nasty cold that makes me feel deathly ill), here is one of my favorite poems from Shel Silverstein:

"I cannot go to school today"
Said little Peggy Ann Mckay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash, and purple bumps.

My mouth is wet, my throat is dry.
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox.

And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue,
It might be instamatic flu.

I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke.
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in.

My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My toes are cold, my toes are numb,
I have a sliver in my thumb.

My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.

My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There's a hole inside my ear.

I have a hangnail, and my heart is...
What? What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is...Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Let it be known:

I just edited my first bit of HTML, and I'm extremely proud of myself.

That is all.

Worry and angst and dread, oh my

The conversation I overheard my two new roommates having as I walked through the living room and up the stairs a few minutes ago:

Roommate #1: This is getting boring.

Roommate #2: Well, maybe because we've been sitting here watching TV for the past six straight hours.


And they continue watching.

Same scenario yesterday--they didn't stop watching until nearly 2:00 (yes, in the a.m.). Our apartment is littered with all sorts of boxes and random "stuff," which I would think (and hope) they would want to get put away, having been here since Saturday. But apparently old reruns of America's Next Top Model and Reba are much more enticing. *sigh* The kitchen is a disaster area, in every sense of the word. There are dishes and containers and silverware and you-name-it toppled EVERYwhere. Seriously, there is a tiny little spot on the kitchen table and one chair available in which to sit, and that's only because I cleared it off yesterday so that I could have a spot to eat my dinner. I have a feeling I should kiss good-bye my preference for cleanliness, not to mention peace and quiet. My two roommates who are here have already warned me (repetitively) that my room roommate who will shortly be moving in (the day after tomorrow) is "really loud and messy. She's a really nice girl, though. But definitely loud. And really messy. We can all be loud sometimes, of course. We're girls, right? But...well, she's really loud. And messy."


Well, I hope I'm just overanalyzing and that, really, things are still in a chaotic state merely because we have so little space in the apartment and it's hard to find a place to put things away. And maybe my roommates are just watching as much television as they can this week so as to be all stocked up when school starts so that they don't have to waste time watching it then. And maybe "really loud and really messy" just means "occasionally boisterous and not quite as neat as a pin."

We shall see.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Oh textbook with thine fine facade...

...of cheap binding and recycled paper, why art thou so exceedingly costly?

I whineth when I suppose I really should be rejoicing that my textbooks are only costing me two appendages this semester, as opposed to the usual four or five the bookstore sees fit to ever-so-cruelly hack off (yes, you should be amazed that I am still a piano major, though I am lacking more than eight semesters' worth of body parts). I've been purchasing books in increments over the past few weeks so that my bank account doesn't suffer too much shock all at once. But today, after the cashier wrestled my debit card from me with an evil cackle and swiped it through the money-gulping machine to pay for "This is my God" for the Judaism class I will be taking, I decided to look up my German book online, just to get an idea of what I was in for with my next purchase. Having taken plenty of language classes at BYU, I was prepared for a pricy piece of petooie. And, unfortunately, that is exactly what I found. *sigh* Even Amazon isn't going to save me on this one. Anyone know a good prosthetist?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I really should be practicing

Have you ever been uber-productive for three straight weeks in a row? Never slacking off, never choosing comfort or convenience over what you really ought to be doing?

Well, that's okay. Neither have I.

And so, I shall proceed to write this blog post, though I really should be practicing.

I've been back in the U.S. for about three weeks now--good gracious, how time has flown. I stayed with my family for a few days, a goodly portion of which I slept, and then my kind and generous brother drove me back to my apartment in Provo on his way to school one morning. (And he didn't even charge me, though both I and my luggage were weighing his truck down, thus causing his gas mileage to be worse than usual.) Anyhow, I found that Provo was pretty much the same as I had left it, though I did suffer a few minor shocks upon returning to campus: one, a building that I used to walk past everyday on my way to and from the HFAC is now completely decimated (this is rather inconvenient, as it means that my only option that does not involve climbing the Stairs of Death to get up to campus is now closed off and being occupied by a giant backhoe); two, when I entered Dr. Holden's office to practice, his piano was completely gutted (the keyboard and action--yes, that's a noun, not a verb--of the piano was gone); three, the music library (where I work) is currently going through the equivalent of Revolutionary War the Second (explaining this deserves its own post). Somehow, though, I survived these environmental stressors and returned to my normal routine of work, practice, and teaching.

After a few days, however, I started going through withdrawals. Ironically enough, though surrounded by roommates, people at work, a few other music majors who also haunt the HFAC even during the summer, etc., I was feeling really and truly lonely. I suppose that this loneliness might have been instigated by the fact that, while in Europe, I always had somewhere exciting to go, someone to go with, plans to make, things to do. Of course, here in Provo, should I ever run out of things with which to busy myself, I can always practice. But practicing...well, it is, to be honest, a very lonely business. And sometimes even (or especially) Mr. A. Steinway can't comfort me and provide the companionship I need. Now, don't get me wrong; I love my quiet time, my me-time. I couldn't survive without it. I am a very introvert person, meaning I draw energy and rejuvenation from the time I am alone. (Sidenote: I always thought that the synonyms for "introvert" were "shy" and "quiet" until a couple of years ago, when I discovered that, in fact, this is not the case at all! Introverts can be very outgoing, social people--just as much as extroverts. The words "introvert" and "extrovert" simply refer to where one directs one's thoughts and feelings, and from whence one draws strength and energy.)

Anyhow, one particular night, this feeling of loneliness was really eating at me. I got out of bed around two in the morning and just went downstairs and sat on the floor next to the couch and cried my heart out. Quietly, that is; I would have been mortally embarassed if any of my roommates had heard me (and yet, here I am, paradoxically posting this personal experience in cyberspace). If I hadn't been afraid of some weirdo attacking me out on the streets, I would have gone for a walk. But anyway, that's beside the point.

After a half hour or so, I finally calmed down. I decided to say a prayer. And so I prayed, more sincerely and thoroughly than I have in a long, long time. I talked things out, and though I sound cliche for saying this, I felt so peaceful. I came back up and went to bed.

The following few days were incredible. One of the things I had asked for in my prayer was, plain and simply, to be shown that I wasn't actually alone. I had no idea how I would be answered, but I kept my eyes open. The very next day, one of my good friends got a hold of me, and she and I ended up hanging out all afternoon. We went for a three-hour swim, during which we played the world's most elaborate game of "Horse," not to mention the great conversation we had while sitting in the middle of the pool on rubber balls and foam noodles. Seriously, does life get any better? Following our swim, we grabbed a pizza with her brother and had a lively debate about the housing market. After that afternoon's experience, I realized how important it is for me to recognize little things like this in life that wouldn't happen if I was truly alone. However, to my unsuspecting astonishment, there was still much more prayer-answering to come.

The next day, which happened to be Sunday, I went to church (of course). I love my student ward--I've never lived in a better one--and that's saying something, because I've lived in several. Anyway, while I was at church that day, I had not two or three, not five or six, but nine different random people come to me and start up a genuine conversation. These were not the "quickie-compliment" type conversations like "Hey! Your piano skills are awesome. Thanks for playing today." or "I love your hair. It's sooo long." but actual conversations! It was incredible. Then, to top church off, during Sunday School, the inspired teacher had us listen to part of Elder Holland's talk on Christ's atonement. We listened to the part where he talks about the fact that Christ was completely abandoned and alone during his atonement--he experienced the most thorough sense of loneliness possible for a human being to experience, emotionally and spiritually. W. O. W. I hope you--yes, YOU--have heard this talk. Not just read it, but heard it, from Elder Holland's own mouth. And even if you have, please please please take the time to go watch the last four minutes of his talk here right now.

So. After church, you can imagine that I was pretty convinced of my non-loneliness. But Heavenly Father still had more to say to me. My visiting teachers came over that night. One of them--the Relief Society president, no less--mentioned how she has always struggled a bit with studying the scriptures consistently and sincerely. Interestingly enough, I have also grappled with this, off and on, basically ever since I began seminary. That night, I decided to dive in and see what I could find. The past few nights, I had been reading in Mormon. I had recently watched something on the History channel about ancient civilizations in the Americas, and that had gotten me interested in the connection between them and the civilizations mentioned in the Book of Mormon, which had therefore randomly led me to read in Mormon. Or so I thought. That Sunday night, I opened my scriptures to my bookmark, and this is what was staring me in the face:

"And now it came to pass that after the great and tremendous battle at Cumorah, behold, the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites, until they were all destroyed.

And my father also was killed by them, and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father. And whether they will slay me, I know not.

Therefore I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not."

-Mormon 8:2-4, emphasis added

No friends, no family, commanded to record the destruction of your entire civilization. I think that qualifies as loneliness.

Why in the world am I sharing this? Well, I don't really know. Maybe someone will read this sometime who is feeling the same way I was. Maybe I just needed to write this all out to fully realize and appreciate how incredibly and thoroughly my prayers were answered, and how much my Heavenly Father cares for me as one child in a vast, ever-expanding universe. Whatever the reason may be, I would like you to know that I know that Jesus really lives and knows exactly what each and every one of us is going through, that Heavenly Father is truly there for us as our deeply loving Father, and that He is always, always listening.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Once upon a time, I viewed German as a harsh language that I had no inclination or desire to learn except for its usefulness in the business (and music) world. Now, however, it has climbed to the very top of my list of languages I muchly desire to speak (aside from French, which I have yet to truly master). Why the sudden change of mind? Well, someday I am going to live in the German countryside, right near the Alps.

Perhaps if I marry well, I will even be able to afford a house like this:

with a view like this:

not to mention my own private lake (swans included):

My heart is still unofficially residing in Schwangau, which means I'll need to return soon to fetch it.

Picture 1: A small town we drove through on our way to Schwangau, the city in (or more correctly, above) which the castle Neuschwanstein is built. The mountains in the background are part of the Bavarian Alps.
Pictures 2 and 3: More gorgeous German countryside, snapped out the car window. Pictures do not adequately depict how many shades of green there are.
Picture 4: Hohenschwangau Castle ("Castle of the High Swan County")
Picture 5: Looking through a window in Neuschwanstein castle. What a view, eh?!
Picture 6: The lake below Neuschwanstein castle. Soooo pristine.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ahoj and Hallo

My most humble and sincere apologies for the inconsiderate neglecting of my blog that has taken place while I have been basking* in the European sunshine.

In the time since my last post, I have nearly quadrupled the number of countries--not to mention culture and history--to which I have been exposed (oh dear, I think my English is going down the drain--being '"exposed" to a country' that even possible?). My European tally is now (in order of visitation): France, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Switzerland. I've got lots of pictures to show and stories to tell, but for now, here are a few tantalizing tidbits to tide you over until I find time to record in detail the full awesomeness of said happenings:

Instead of buying souvenirs in all the countries I've been visiting, I've been going all out with the food. I have now had everything from goulash to fried cheese to wiener schnitzel, and even tried a "Nurnberger" last night in Nurnberg (i.e. Bratwurst inside of a bun, with mustard). In Hungary, my two comrades and I spent over 11,000 florints one night at dinner. And about three-quarters of that was mine. Oops. In Vienna last weekend, I spent a good 30 euros on lunch at a CAFE. Yes, a cafe. But it was worth it, because I tried Viennese sausage (served with pickles and tomatoes), Viennese chicken, and the infamous sachertorte (chocolate cake, the same cake once reserved for the emperor himself). The location of said cafe could not have been better: across the street form University of Vienna, kiddy-korner from Parliament, next to the Burgtheater (pictured below), and on the same block as Hofsburg Palace and Volksgarten.

Speaking of food, yesterday in Zurich (Switzerland), I tried cheese fondue. What is cheese fondue, you ask? The most delicious stuff ever, I reply. We ordered four huge pots of it, and ginormous bowls of small pieces of bread (dashing around Zurich all day has a way of making one hungry). But a TRAGEDY occurred: we forgot to tell our waiter to make our fondue alcohol-free. So by the time we realized our mistake, all but one of our fondue pots had already arrived, and three of the four of us (thankfully, myself not included) had already begun to eat it. So in the end, we paid 80 francs (the equivalent of about 80 dollars) for the one super-delicious pot of fondue that we saved from being filled with alcohol, and which we devoured more quickly than the current world-record time for the mile (which as far as I can tell is 3:43, by the way).

More to come.

Dobrou noc.

*Well, more like burning...the color of my skin at the moment would make me blend quite well in a flower shop on Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Top 5 Bubble-Popping Experiences of the Week (so far...)

Okay, maybe Top 5 is the wrong header, but you get the point (haha, no pun intended).

1. As my fifth year at BYU is dawning, I am living* in the freshman dorms for a first, last, and thankfully short time.**

Who knew there are so many buildings?! And this is only *Heritage* Halls. Freshmen are apparently more abundant than rabbits.

2. Eating at the Morris Center. May I simply say: Bleh, indigestion. Apartments with kitchens were invented for a reason.

3. Going to a 2-hour dance with 350 tweenagers, and realizing just how old I really am: I knew two--yes, TWO--songs that were played the ENTIRE night. Granted, I suppose part of that is my own fault, since they *did* play half the soundtrack from Hannah Montana:The Movie, which, if I were cultured, I would most certainly have recognized on my own (as it was, the 18-year-old counselor who just graduated from high school had to inform me).

Sending one of my 15-year-old girls to the Emergency Room after she somehow poked a hole in her finger (almost right to the bone) with a folding chair.

5. Finishing my second semester of teaching a real college course. Woowoo! And I even got a nice two-page, hand-written thank-you letter from one of the students in my class this semester. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Tonight is sure to be chock full of delights--a silent movie (actually, I'm excited for that), and then I get to entertain my girls for two and a half hours until bedtime. I told them I would take them on a fieldtrip to the Creamery. [insert squeals of excitement here] Don't you wish I was your counselor? Yeah, thought so.

*in Horne, smack dab in the middle of it all. At least I don't have to live in E. Richards where we have our daily counselor meetings amidst reeking smells of...well, I won't elaborate. (Yep, it's a guy building.)
**I am a Summerfest (sort of like EFY for music students) counselor this week, Sunday through Saturday.

Monday, June 1, 2009

5 Quick Steps to Being "Taken"

I finally watched "Taken." And yeah, I guess I agree with my parents--this movie is very, very realistic.


--I lied to my dad and told him I was visiting a few museums in Paris when in reality I was planning a tour of the entire European continent, following a rock band

--my only partner for the trip was a ditzy 19-year-old who thinks that "caution" is a brand name

--the first thing I did after disembarking an airplane in a foreign country is make friends with a strange man, let him take my picture, share a taxi with him, and show him the exact apartment in which I will be living, adding that my friend and I will be staying there ALONE for a whole month

--I agreed to attend a "party" with said man, knowing nothing about him except that his name is "Peter"

--as I hid under the bed from my evil kidnappers, I said, "Whew, they're leaving" when they hadn't even gotten both feet out the bedroom door

Genius! Pure genius.

Disclaimer: I am not by any means denying the existence of kidnapping/slave-trafficking, which is a very real and dangerous thing. But with proper precautions and a dash of COMMON SENSE, I firmly believe that encountering such a situation can usually be avoided altogether.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nice People

What makes the world go 'round? Yes, scientists may give us explanations about planetary relationships and gravitational forces and blah blah blah, but when the day is over and all's said and done, you've got to admit that the world still exists because nice people still live in it.

Saturday night* a little after 9:00, I was sitting in Dr. Holden's office with my dear, dear friend Mr. A. Steinway (of course). I had stopped playing for a minute and was just sitting there, thinking and staring into space, as will sometimes happen when I've had a long bout of practicing or when I am just plain tired. As I was vegging, there came a knock at the door. Whenever people knock on Dr. Holden's door, I can never really tell who it is because the window in the door is too small, and the lighting in the hall outside is too dark. So I got up to open the door. After pulling it open, accompanied by the protesting sounds equal to those of a door of a several hundred-year-old sealed vault (if you've ever tried to open that door, you know what I mean) my visitor was revealed to be one of the voice faculty, who happened to be passing by.

Professor (with a British accent, I might add): Hello, Britny. How are you?

I won't relate the rest of the conversation because it will make me sound like a fathead. And really, the thing that made these ten minutes so impressionable to me was not that this professor knocked to say something nice and then leave, but that we actually had a real conversation. He asked me about grad school, and audition plans, and told me about the first time he set foot in the U.S. (in Manhattan, no less)--he was encouraging, helpful, and interesting, all at once. And he's not some (pardon my adjective) old fogie professor who's about to retire and has nothing better to do on a Saturday night anyway, and...well, it was just nice. It renewed my faith in nice people. Someday when I am a professor, I will pay it forward. And in the meantime, I'll do what I can as a measly undergraduate.

*I wrote this post a couple weeks ago, but never got around to posting it until today...

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Simmering Stasis

If I am shortly arrested and thrown into prison, the reason will be: I STILL haven't filed my taxes. This unpleasant job has been simmering on the backburner for nearly three weeks. By now, the overcooked unpleasantness of those irksome federal fees is beginning to exude quite the repulsive aroma. My sixth sense tells me that the concoction is going to implode at any moment, and FBI agents will suddenly burst into the music library, or violate the sacred silence of the deserted HFAC in search of me. My life will turn into a tale of hobbit vs. Black Rider--even my bedroom won't be safe, although to reenact the bed-stabbing, mattress-demolishing, feather-flying scene, my apartment would have to be a lot bigger. My room is so tiny that two FBI agents of smallish stature would barely be able to stand over my bed if they squeezed.

In other news, I had a fabulous, long weekend: I went--thanks to Mati's generosity, and her sinuses--and saw a certain mutant movie at midnight with some excellent cousin companions, (I totally didn't even plan that alliteration); Friday night I went to the best Thai restaurant EVER ("Simply Thai" in Sandy) and ate some amazingly delicious food (not to mention the fact that I had enough leftovers for TWO additional meals, which = YAY in college student's life), after which I watched the edited version of The Pianist (oh my goodness, I am infinitely glad it was not my lot in life to live through the Holocaust) with my dear piano friends. Saturday night after work, I watched a rather weird documentary about Glenn Gould with another of my piano friends--seriously, I wish I could remember some of the quotes from that movie--even non-musicians would be amused. I know you're probably thinking that I must be crazy if I think watching a documentary on a Saturday night makes a weekend great, but, well...sometimes it does! Sunday, this same piano friend came with me to church, and then brought me home to her house for an authentic Mexican meal (her entire family immigrated to the US from Mexico when she was 11ish.) Then we went to Elder Bednar's CES Fireside, which was excellent, though I will admit that I got a lot more out of the second half, as I spent the first half in a rather soporific state. And Elder Bednar's comments now bring me to my third and seemingly unrelated topic for the day: practicing.

Elder Bednar talked about how much time we spend/waste out in cyberspace, and how, if we're not careful, it can take over our lives. He told us to ask ourselves some questions about what we do out here, including something along the lines of, "Is something good coming from what I'm doing?" Interestingly enough, just a few days ago, I read a link that someone (I think it was you, Spencer, if you ever happen to read this) had posted regarding how much time we waste watching TV, and how much it is hurting us in the long run. Aha, I think this is it. Anyway, I've decided to turn my blog into a good tool for motivating me to practice, even when I'm tired and just want to go home, or when I'm at home, and don't want to come back to campus to practice. I seem to be having a little trouble with the balancing of work vs. practicing: I've been going to town on the go-to-work-make-money-so-I-can-go-to-Prague thing, but not so much on the whole learn-my-new-repertoire-so-I-have-something-to-actually-perform-in-Prague. So from this day forward, I must practice at least five productive hours per day before I can go to bed each night. And you shall be my witness that this feat is accomplished. So far today, I've done about 2 1/2, so I'm halfway there. Yay.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Smashing the Bubble

Once upon a time, (as in last June) I bagged all logic and sanity, said good-bye to my dad at the security entrance of the SLC International Airport, and proceeded to make my way to a machine that would, within 3 hours of flight, take me further away from my family and "the bubble" than I had ever been (well, at least in my mortal existence). Was I nervous? Yeah, a little. Was I excited? Yep, you'd better believe it. Did I know I was in for an adventure? Yes, definitely. In fact, I basically felt like Indiana Jones. I was popping my "bubble," and not just with my finger or a needle or even a harpoon. I was doing the job with a sledgehammer.

The happy adventure of which I speak took me first to Paris, where, with the help of big yellow arrows and my, shall we say, "developing" French-speaking skills, I harmlessly navigated the Charles de Gualle airport and boarded my connecting flight to the beautiful country in which I would spend the next month of my life--the Czech Republic.

This is a picture I took in Praha (Prague), standing in the castle courtyard, which directly overlooks St. George's Monastery. Ah, heaven.

Anyhow. During my stay, I had a goodly portion of...interesting...experiences, many of which will most likely become the subjects of future posts. However, for the time being, let it be known that I not only successfully navigated my way to Eastern Europe (and back, which involved much stress: delayed flights, lost baggage, and a refusal of several hundred euros) studied at a real European conservatory, made friends from several different countries (and continents, for that matter), and returned the better for it, but also learned a life lesson: venturing out of the "bubble" of familiarity, predictability, obviousness, and comfort is the only way to truly find oneself and one's potential.