Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I fear the wind

When I was in high school my family got cable for the first time, and to our delight as children, the Disney Channel.  One of the first things we watched was this weird movie about these aliens who lost their home planet and had to come live on earth.  On their old planet they were bubbles, and so they had some problems adjusting to human life.  Like the wind, for example.  Turns out wind is a scary thing if you're a bubble, but not such a big deal for a human.  Since that time, my family has often used a phrase for the movie, "I fear the wind!", to denote some ridiculous fear that one of us might be having.  Here is one such fear.

I fear people.  Actually, I'm sure most people have this fear to some degree.  We all more or less fear rejection from others, I'm sure.  But I think I sometimes express this fear in ridiculous ways.  For example, I hate cooking or cleaning in front of people.  For whatever reason, I always feel people will judge me and think I'm doing things wrong, and therefore inferior.  One time on my mission my companion and I were home for lunch, and she was cooking something up.  I knew that she wanted help, but I had such a great fear of helping that I sat at my desk, watching her do all the work, knowing the whole time she was getting angrier and angrier that I wasn't doing anything, yet being absolutely paralyzed with fear and unable to get up and help.  I have no idea where I developed this fear, I cooked and cleaned a ton at home with no problems.

This fear has also been more prevalent or less prevalent in certain apartments I've lived in with certain roommates.  Like I don't really remember this problem with my BDA peeps in Provo.  I remember having an extreme aversion to taking out the trash (my least favorite chore, for whatever reason), and therefore making my brother take out the trash every time he visited me.  Luckily he was over quite often, so there was rarely a problem.  In fact, it became such a habit that even my roommates knew that if my brother was coming over soon, they'd wait to take out the trash until he did it.  He may have even been on our little chore chart.  But other than that I don't remember being afraid of my roommates for anything.  But that hasn't always been the case in living situations.

I think a large part of this fear stems from my fear of conflict.  Conflict paralyzes me.  Another time on my mission, with a different companion, a couple we were teaching all of the sudden got into a huge argument.  My immediate, almost unconscious reflex-like reaction to situations like that is to ignore the people in conflict and pretend there is something else much more important going on.  In that particular situation I played with the little 4 year old in the room, and completely left my companion to stop the arguing couple by herself, much to her annoyance I'm sure.

In living situations in the 6 years since the mission, I've been chastised for arranging a fruit platter wrong when volunteering to help set up a roommate's party; I've been angrily accused over and over again of making messes that absolutely weren't mine; I've been yelled at for messes that I did make and didn't clean properly, but didn't realize it was such a big deal or just hadn't had the time to get back to yet.  I've probably gotten worse since brain damage, since I forget things more easily and become much more easily distracted by other things.  I think whenever someone  lashes out in anger like that, they expect to see visible results right away.  But due to my fear of conflict, I wait until there's no one around to see me clean, and then I'll fix the problem (even the ones that aren't mine that I get accused of making).  And if the person never leaves the kitchen, I never clean the mess because I'm scared of being around people when there's a chance of conflict, which of course just makes them more angry.  It's a brutal cycle, most of which stems from illogical fears on my part, but alas.   What can I do?  I fear the wind.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

There's A Wall There

I'm a little like Yzma.  But I don't just have a wall, it's a 5 ft. thick, concrete wall with barbed wire on top, archers lining the wall, a moat full of crocodiles out front, and just in case, I have an intense squad of highly trained ninjas on the inside ready to take out any one who gets past the defenses.  Perhaps not the most friendly way to live life....It's not like I keep everyone out of my walls.  There are a select few people that I can sense quickly are uber trustworthy, and they get full access pretty quickly.  I also have levels to my walls.  There's an outer courtyard for those who I decide to associate with occasionally and probably aren't dangerous.  There's an inner courtyard as well, with a few more trust points, then the main castle, etc., etc.
However, with time and patience a person can eventually make it to the top.  I think I discovered this week the secret entrance to these walls that I didn't know about.  One of my best friends in Boston had a very large personal bubble, and would get uncomfortable if someone got inside.  I watched a funny episode once where another friend was testing to see if he started at a safe distance and got involved in a conversation, and slowly inched his way forward, perhaps he could eventually be standing right up next to her, shoulder to shoulder, without her noticing.  It didn't work, and it was funny to watch as he inched closer, she inched back.  With me however, it turns out I don't notice the people inching closer.  It's as if I looked over my walls one day and saw a suspicious figure standing next to the wall doing nothing.  As the figure does nothing for a while, I grow bored and turn my attention to the people politely knocking on the door that I'd rather throw water balloons at then let them enter.  Weeks or months later, I'll be relaxing in my keep, playing an intense game of cards and drinking juice, when I look up at the dude next to me and say: "Hey, weren't you that kid standing outside the wall a while ago?  Well, what do you know..... Can you pass me more juice?  And no, I don't have any 9's.  Go fish."
I definitely had this sort of experience this week with a couple people in different circles of my life.  While hanging out with them I would all of the sudden realize: "Hang on, I've forgotten to be scared of this person for a while now.  I guess it turns out they're not so scary or untrustworthy..."
Maybe this whole trusting people is easier than it looks.  Maybe I'll even make a New Year's Resolution to take down one of my barbed wires.  The ninjas stay though.  Just in case...

Friday, December 14, 2012

For Everything There is a Season: A Time to Vent

I've been a little stressed and over emotional the past week, and I just needed a place to emote.  What is it about the holidays that makes people's plates so suddenly full?  I've been stressing over the loss of an AMAZING co-worker whom I will miss greatly.  I've been stressing over the health of a good friend.  Not that I'm worried about her being able to recover, since I have the medical knowledge that I do, but having said medical knowledge also helps me to understand exactly what the recovery entails and I know it won't be fun.  I'm also overly emotional about my sister coming back from Australia.  I haven't missed her too dramatically for most of this semester, because I know she's off doing fabulous things and I want her out doing them, but now that I know I'll see her in a few days, it's almost impossible to be without her.  The fact I've been PMS-ing this entire week doesn't help either.  Luckily I managed to get my Christmas shopping done last week, or I'd never survive.  I'm mostly super sad for my co-worker leaving though.  She's off doing bigger and better things, that's for sure, and she's going to be great in grad school and in her future career, so I shouldn't mourn.  But I am losing my go-to for fashion advice, boy advice, yummy new recipes, help for making last minute lessons for my Monday night church meetings, help in decorating the office for holidays, my book buddy, the whole works.  I'm probably going to accidentely be mean to the rest of my co-workers next week as I mourn.  But así es la vida.  I've moved around enough that I should be used to goodbyes by now.  It really is a good thing I'm seeing my sister in 2 days, who really is my ultimate for all things friend and sister related.  If I'm losing one great friend, and least I'll be gaining my sister back.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lincoln: National Day of Prayer

Someone at church yesterday had this quote in Sunday school, and I loved it.  It was said by President Lincoln in April of 1863, setting apart a day for a National Day of Prayer.  I loved these words so much yesterday, that I thought I would pass it on.

By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.
And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

My Bi-Polar Personality: The Teeny-Bopper vs. The Granny

I had the realization today that most of the characteristics of my personality fit into two catagories:  Teeny-Bopper and Granny.  Rare is the part of my personality that actually fits into my real age bracket.  I had this realization as I was thinking about my favorite hobbies:  family history, crocheting, baking, drinking tea, crafting, traveling...the list could go on.  I sound like a grandma for sure.  An AWESOME grandma, of course.  As I was giggling over this coincidence, I also thought about how I feel mentally/emotionally so much more like a teenager.  Even though I technically got my drivers licence in high school, I rarely drove and never had a car all through college.  I've really only been driving for like 2 years, and all through college I felt so much younger than everyone else, just because everyone else had their own cars and had been driving for years.  I've also never had a boyfriend, never been kissed, etc, etc., so I feel very underdeveloped and maybe not even at teenage level as far as that aspect of  life is concerned.  The only books I read are young adult books or old classics.  While my music selection is much more complex and diverse that these two categories, I do have quite a few teeny-bopper songs (like JoBros, Tokio Hotel, Sonohra....) and a few granny songs (classical music, opera).  There are stuffed animals on my bed, like a teenager.  I also go to bed uber early, like a granny.  I'm no where near a real career yet, despite being a mere year away from my 30's.  Yet I've managed quite a few spectacular experiences in my life, like traveling to lots of amazing places, that usually only come to grannies.  I'm sure I could keep the examples coming, but it turns out it's past my granny bedtime!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Slovenia or Bust!!

So the other week I started reading guidebooks about European countries in order to prepare myself mentally for all of the awesomeness I am going to see when I move to England in 10 months.  I went through the biggies, the British Iles, France, Germany/Austria/Switzerland, Scandenavia, etc. (Italy is PARADISE and I already know by heart, so no need to consult a guide book there...), and I finally found myself confronted with Eastern Europe.  I've heard Prague is the next big fad, and I have a roommate who served a mission in Poland and LOVES it, and I probably need to go to Romania to perfect my budding Romanian language skills, however I just wasn't getting excited over Eastern Europe.  There were interesting things to do mentioned in the guidebook, of course, but were they really worth choosing over another trip to Paradiso?  (Seriously, in my 2 years living in England, I plan to spend a SIGNIFICANT amount of time in my soul's birthplace--Italia).  So there I was, having thoughts only slightly more than apathetic in nature about Eastern Europe, when my guidebook turns to Slovenia.  Literally after about 3 sentences, I was hooked.  Apparently it is the perfect mixture of Austria, where so many of my ancestors come from and therefore I feel a particular connection to that country, and Italy (I think we've established my feelings on that subject).  For like 3 days I was envisioning great things that would come from a lovely little trip to this newly discovered delight.  And then a Most. Amazing. Thing. happened.
My mom was visiting over Thanksgiving break, and while she was here we delved into some family history research.  I've made the goal to find out which cities in Europe my ancestors have come from, so that I can visit these places while I'm living in Europe.  I had identified each of the countries (presumably) that my family came from, but I needed to dig deeper and find out which cities they were from.  There was one particular individual I was looking at, my great-great-grandmother Antonia Benegalia (married name Sperl), who was born in a "Borbek, Austria" which doesn't really exist.  This may reference a neighborhood in Oberhausen, Essen, Germany, however that part of Germany was never part of the Austria Empire so I don't even begin to know what Borbek, Austria might reference.  In order to try and solve this mystery, I looked at her Ellis Island immigration records.  On said records, I found another Benegalia family, also born in Borbek and traveling to Wyoming.  A quick search of the Ellis Island database led me to find 2 other Benegalia families born in Austria and traveling to Wyoming.  I learned that there were 3 brothers and 1 sister (Antonia).  The most astounding piece of information I learned though, was that despite the fact that these families put Austria as their birth country, many of them claimed their ethnicity as....SLOVENIAN!!  What are the odds??????  Technically at this point in history, Slovenia was a part of the Austrian Empire, so it totally makes sense!
I feel like I've inherited quite a bit of Slovenian in my gene pool.  For example, my guidebook talks about how Slovenians are excellent at learning multiple languages, even compared to the rest of Europe who all seem to be born speaking like 3 languages fluently.  That's definitely a talent I've inherited.  Also one of the brightest moments of Slovenian history was when Napoleon took them over and was setting up the capital city to be a big deal, so they look kindly on the world dominator that most people seem to regard as evil.  I also have had a long present secret fascination with Napoleon.  Slovenia has beautiful geography, and having grown up in Oregon there is nothing I appreciate more than decent nature (no California, you do not meet my standards, thank you for asking).  They have the Alps, and the famous Lake Bled, and some amazing caves, and they are part of the Adriatic Coast as well.  Did I mention that Slovenia was also once controlled by Venice, and that 15% of the population still speak Italian as their first language?  Yep, definitely my sort of country.  I have discovered my Motherland for sure.  Slovenia or Bust!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Great Debate: The Sunday Outfit

Many Sunday mornings right before I head out the door, I look in the mirror and think to myself:  "Daaannnggg, I look AMAZING!"  And this is not me giving myself a pep talk, trying to boost my self-esteem, I actually do think this about myself.  However, 3 hours later as I come home from church, my thoughts are usually more along the lines of "What the heezy?  Why does no one else even know that I exist and am ridiculously attractive???  I should have gotten at LEAST 50 compliments today on my overwhelming beauty..."  This actually probably says quite a few things about my pride level, but we'll leave that topic for a different day.
So the debate every Sunday is this:  sleep in an extra hour and arrive to church only decent looking, or get up that extra hour and look Fabulous, with a capital F.  The problem probably stems from the fact that at this particular moment in life, there is no one worth dressing up for (though honestly, I'm much more of the camp from the Mormon Pride & Prejudice where in the end the one crazy girl ends up writing a book titled something akin to "I Look Good for Me and My Girls", as in boys don't notice all of the ridiculous things girls do to make themselves look uber beautiful, so when one dresses up it should be for your own benefit, and not for a guy).  So, I have no real motivation to look gorgeous each Sunday morning, yet every Saturday night I set the alarm one hour early, just in case it will finally be the Sunday I get compliments from the opposite gender.  (Once in my 2 1/2 years here in Paly I did get a compliment from a guy on my hair.  It was lovely.  It wasn't like I was fishing for a compliment from him either since a) he's already dating someone and b) in the past I spent quite a few years secretly, madly in love with his younger brother in another state, so that would be awkward to be attracted to him as well.  But it is always lovely to have a guy compliment you, no matter who he is.  Coincidentally, this same guy is probably the only guy in my ward that I think of as intelligent and able to recognize things that are virtuous, lovely or of good report).
I've noted of late that our society is losing the habit of compliments (Relief Society is the one exception to that, girls always notice how awesome we all look and we all let each other know).   I suppose in this singles ward it can be intimidating to just throw out compliments willy-nilly, because people are so over-reactionary and obsessed when it comes to dating, and someone might take a compliment to an extreme and think the other person is ready to marry them if they happen to like the necklace they are wearing that day (not that any opinion I have about dating should be taken seriously.  In the past 13 years since I was 16 and therefore eligible to date, I have been asked out on a total of 3 dates, never once a second date.  So any statement I make about dating should probably automatically be taken as the wrong opinion).  But seriously.  Why can't we just say more nice things to each other?
Even if the words themselves are hard to say, perhaps we could do better at letting our actions or body language convey the message.  I have a friend who is ever so excellent at that.  Probably because he is British, and the British have a dislike of expressing their feelings.  So instead of saying things like "You're beautiful, you are an amazing baker and I am so glad we are friends," he instead will take the time to shower after a long day of herding llamas and speed to my place of work in his convertible Porsche right before we close  just to pick up an extra cookie from a batch I made for my coworkers, with the decency to give a shy smile and blush when I see him walk in.  Just because he unfortunately isn't secretly, madly in love with me and therefore will never ask me out doesn't mean he can't make me feel great about myself, and act like it is an honor to be able to associate with me.
Not that I can really complain about the mote in others' eyes, because I'm definitely in the antisocial camp at church, and should take my own advice about talking to more people.  Well, boys at least.  I think I do a pretty good job at telling other girls in my ward how nice they look, and if I am super envious of their amazing skirt or shoes, and how I with I could do whatever they did with their hair too.  I can get better about complimenting guys' tie choice for the day.  Or how awesome they polished their shoes.  I hate when boys get haircuts, so I probably won't compliment that.  But I should get better at noticing nice things about people, and letting them know.  In the wise words of the great Josh Groban, "And all these words you were meant to say, Held in silence day after day, Words of kindness that our poor hearts crave, Please don't keep them hidden away."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Stanford Cantor Art Museum

The last post I have about museums I've been to is the Cantor Art Museum on Stanford Campus.  It didn't have anything famous (minus the MASSIVE Rodin collection, of course), but it was a lovely little museum.  My favorite part is that it had a tiny bit from every culture, so I got to see a lot of Native American, African and Oceanic art that I had never been exposed to before, so that was really cool.  I also really liked the section dedicated to the Stanford family.  I hadn't heard before the story of the family and how the school was founded, and I thought that section of the museum was really cool.  The only painting I remember really loving was a Napoleon painting, but I don't remember what it was called, and as I looked through the online collections I couldn't find it.  But here are some other cool things from the museum:

Rodin--Gates of Hell

Gericault--Passage du Saint Bernard

House post from Native Americans in Canada

Rodin--Bust of Victor Hugo

Rodin--Iris Awakening a Nymph

Rodin--The Kiss

Emile Auguste Carolus-Duran--Leland Stanford, Jr.

Medallion of General Bonapart

Rodin--Three Shades

China tea pot

Friday, November 9, 2012

Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Me and Julia stopped by this museum when we were out visiting Boston together.  I think at this point in our day we were pretty tired, and weren't super interested in a lot of the stuff, though it is pretty neat.  I think we enjoyed other Boston-y things a lot more than the museum, but it's still cool.

Here's the good stuff:

Bishandas--Birth of a Prince

Head of King Tut

 Renoir--Dance at Bougival

Sully--Passage of Delaware


Head of Aphrodite

Cezanne--Madame Cezanne in Red Armchair

Van Gogh--Portrait of a Post Man

Emperor Huizong--Ladies Making Silk

Dragon Ascending the Heavens

Under the Wave off Kanagawa

Monday, November 5, 2012

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Buenos Aires

I went to this museum on P-Day on my mission.  Honestly the only thing that I actually remember from the museum was Rodin's Kiss, which from that instant became my favorite sculpture of all time.

The rest of the paintings though didn't really impact me all that much.  I do remember seeing a lot of famous names, and being awed by the fact that I was actually seeing stuff by famous people, but I can't say I loved the paintings all that much.  I did like a lot of nature pieces, which I found out later where mostly done by Pueyrredon:

Bosque de Palermo

Costa del Rio de la Plata

Paisaje (Suiza)

Paisaje de la Costa (San Isidro)

Manuelita Rosas

Malharro also had some nature scenes that were enjoyable, Paisaje and Las Parvas

The rest of these are by famous people that I probably should have cared more about:

Degas--Deux dauseuses jaunes et rosa

Courbet--Julieta Courbet a la edad de 10 anos

Van Gogh--Le Moulin de la Galette

Pisano--Santa Conversacion

Gauguin--Woman by the Sea

Rubens--Sagrada Familia con Santa Isabel

Manet--Surprised Nymph

Carcova--Naturaleza en silencio

Gallaria Dell'Accademia in Venice

This was one of my favorite museums!  It actually didn't have any really famous pieces or anything, but there were so many amazing paintings in this museum.  I actually can't even remember most of my favorites, and because they weren't big or important I can't find them on the internet.  But here are a few things I could find on the internet that I did see:

Tintoretto--Miracolo di San Marco


Da Vinci--Study for Madonna with Yarnwinder

Da Vinci--Vetruvian Man

Memling--Portrait of a Young Man

Mantegna--San Giorgio

Veronese--Cena nella Casa di Levi

Brera Museum in Milan and Capitoline Museum in Rome

The Brera Museum in Milan was really quite lovely.  Not a big name museum necessarily, but it had quite a few great pieces:

Caravaggio--Supper at Emmaus

Raphael--Marriage of the Virgin

Mantegna--Lamentation of Christ

Hayez--The Kiss

Rubens--Last Supper

The Capitoline Museum in Rome had mostly sculptures, but they were great!


She Wolf of Rome

Dying Gual


Head of Augustus

Marcus Aurelius