Sunday, March 29, 2009

it feels good

it feels good to preach a lesson by the Spirit
it feels good to eat at in-n-out burger

it feels good to go hometeaching

it feels good to hold caleb

it feels good to get a text message

it feels good to go shopping with my brother

it feels good to be from minnesota

it feels good to play the bass part to boston's "long time" with my friends on rock band 2

it feels good to sleep in my bed

it feels good to go on an awesome date

it feels good to listen

it feels good to get comments on my blog

it feels good to laugh at a buster keaton movie

it feels good to hear how the fargo-moorhead ward (and community) is working together to fight the flood.

it feels good to drink apple beer from a bottle

it feels good to be in the temple

it feels good to hold a cat

it feels good to have jack steal my cinnamon toast crunch when i'm praying in apt. 104

it feels good to dance to tally hall

it feels good to be home for Christmas

it feels good to be inside during a thunderstorm

it feels good to stand up when the prophet walks in before general conference

it feels good to snowboard

it feels good to be clean

it feels good to make chocolate chip cookies with my sister

what makes you feel good?

Friday, March 27, 2009

so that's me

i've been cutting together a new demo reel over the past month. at first, i replaced only a few shots, but now that it's done, it's almost entirely new footage.
at the end of a photography class, we displayed all of our work for the semester, and it was very enlightening to see certain themes that naturally come out in a person's work. i've always been wary of making my shots look too "flat", which explains why so many of these are very shadowy. i had to go back and find some brighter ones to add in.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

show off

i may have misunderstood the assignment, but i noticed a comment on em's blog about "showing off your clutter" around your home and i really liked the idea. i remember noticing several times during college how cool my desk looked covered in papers and scores of other evidences of my life.
i generally think i keep my house clean, but sometimes i look around and it seems like i'm very wrong.  as i wandered around with my camera, it seemed a bit the opposite.  yes, there's plenty of work to do, but it's nothing to condemn.

as i was waiting for these pictures to upload, i decided to continue attacking this clutter and, in pile #1, found a state farm magazine with an article on how to control the clutter in you house.
author alyson mcnutt english established the drama of clutter by interviewing the president of the home safety council, meri-k appy, who sounds like she could be one of dick van dyke's chimney sweeps.  the greatest threat of clutter is tripping and falling, although confused adults taking the wrong medicine from a cluttered medicine cabinet was also a growing threat.
call me calloused, but i wasn't too afraid yet.
like i said, i kind of like the look of the clutter.

granted, my dresser top isn't as aesthetically pleasing as some of the other areas.
it's random junk, things that don't really have any place to go: the candle warmer that's too small for the candle i bought, leftover screws from either an ikea shelf or my desk, a card with all serial numbers for kodak film stock, a comic book a friend loaned me.  do i need the assistance of a certified professional de-clutter-er like the article suggested?  no, because then she (or he, with fabulous hair) would insist i also get rid of my purple cow that i won at the fair in high and my costa rican ocarina, and those are staying.  they just need a home.

a few nights ago, i discovered a secret.  around midnight, i picked up something.  and i put it away.  then i picked up something else and put it away.  the whole pile was formidable, but taking things that definitely had a place to go (and the trash can was not uncommon) slowly and surely cut the monsters down to size.  i went to bed at 2:30 with a great sense of accomplishment.

when i was 16, i cleaned my room one day, and it generally stayed clean for the remainder of my teenage years.  i did alright in 104; the rooms were small enough that there wasn't much room to clutter up anyway (can any roommates confirm or deny this fuzzy memory?).
but since i've moved here, it seems that i've never been able to get it "clean."  there's always been clutter.  occasionally it gets pushed to the sides, but if you don't eliminate it entirely, it grows back pretty soon.

clutter exists all around.
when my mom comes to visit, i usually ask her to help me attack some part of the house, and when she leaves, the room looks complete different and much better.  it's just nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of, or to help me stay on task.  recently, i've been asking becky and caleb to come over.  my sister hangs out in my room and is a mom to her boy, but it's enough that i can talk and stay focused and actually get a lot done.
without someone, i leave through a few papers, throw one away, then check and see if criterion's updated their site in the last fifteen minutes.

i hardly consider this clutter.  i think stacks of books just look cool.

there's no space to neatly store the rock band toys, but the trade-off for fun and joy is so great it's not even a sacrifice.

my quest for clean is not for fear or death or injury or to entertain guests (i do tidy up the main floor before movie nights), but much more of a zen basis. when my room is clean (genuinely), i can breathe better, i can move better. my chi is more in harmony and i can go forth and be awesome.
so perhaps it is a life or death situation, but in much more of a cosmic sense.  someday, i will achieve my domestic nirvana.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

jen's tag: five things

a number of months ago, jaime tagged me to list six little-known things about myself.  i did it and it was fun.
then jen tagged me.  it took me a while to know that i was actually tagged, because she often refers to me as "goose".
so, here's round 2:

the zero: the tag said five things, but, as i just mentioned "goose", i may as well explain that.  in japanese, the best way i could adapt "gustafson" was "gu-su-ta-fu-son."  what was once cumbersome enough with three syllables was now a mouthful of five, and it very soon became a nuisance.  so, it was soon shortened to "gu-su", i.e. "goose."  not the coolest animal name in the world (that goes to "lazar wolf" from fiddler on the roof), but i came to love it.  the name became so established that one missionary was surprised to learn that my name was not actually "jeff goose."
in situations where there are multiple "jeffs" (usually on film shoots) i revert back to "goose".  thus, the only people who call me "goose" anymore are either rooted in the mission or a few select movie projects. but i still like it.

the first: i have an "old man leg."  as in, "i can predict the weather."  actually, it's just the seasonal change from winter to spring and from summer to fall; from hot to cold or vice versa.  it started when i was around the end of high school, and the basic idea is that my right tibia (my shin bone) feels like it's rotting from the inside out.  depending on how i step on it, it can really hurt.  so much that my mom sent me to the hospital for x-rays because, when i suggested that maybe it's like an old man leg, she astutely noted that i was too young for an old man leg.  nevertheless, the tests came back negative and it still hurts twice a year.  i've never charted it to see how long after the "rotting" does the season generally change; though i may not know the date, i know it's coming.  and i'm guessing i'll start feeling it soon...

the second: i quite enjoy going to the grocery store.  there's an inherent excitement about a grocery store for me that i've had ever since i was a little kid.  i like the freshness of all the vegetables, all the different cuts of meats, the chill of the dairy section.  it seems i mostly like the perimeter of the store (which, as em recently noted, is the healthiest part anyway).  i like stopping to notice and try new things i usually pass by (alton brown noted that the modern grocery store has over 10,000 different items, yet most shoppers rarely deviate from a list of about 100 items).  yes, it's just a grocery store, but part of me sees it like an exciting library, stocked full of new, undiscovered adventures.

the third:  i like being one on one with people.  there's a different shift when it's just two people.  people seem to be more trusting, and conversations become more honest and meaningful.  for some reason, no matter how good of friends people are, when the numbers go down to two, it's different.  not always, but often.  and, usually, i like that.

the fourth:  i held the unofficial world record for the longest snow tube chain.  we were at a ward tubing activity at soldier hollow.  one of the workers said that a group that was there the week before asked about such a world record.  they called the guiness book and there was no established entry yet, so, technically, what they did would be the longest.  i think they linked sixty-some tubes together and went down.
well, that was challenge enough for us.  a group of us gathered about a third the way down the hill and established ourselves there and began calling at others as they were arriving at the top of the hill.  it took us two tries, as the front lines broke once and sent us down the hill before we could get set, but, on our second run, i think we had about 85 people in on it.  there was no representative from guiness there to certify our work, but, in our hearts, we were the champions.
that monday, why my photography teacher asked if anyone did anything cool over the weekend, i announced our accomplishment.  "now that's the kind of 'excitement' i'm talking about!" he said.

the fifth: i was "tape man."  tape man didn't really catch on, but that's beside the point.  
in the early years of the new millennium, byu's student film council once hatched a unique promotional idea for the annual student film festival: a giant vhs tape mascot.  the details leading up to the day allude me, and i don't remember if i was ever consulted beforehand, but i somehow ended up being the one inside the amateur mascot.  cosmo the cougar jumps on trampolines, rides a skateboard down arena stairs, and shoots a t-shirt cannon.  the tape man costume was a heavy, blocky foam contraption with a face-screen that sat at about my throat and two arm holes in the front.  the way the costume rode on me, i could only extend my forearms, bent at the elbows, leaving me with less mobility than the earliest incarnations of r2-d2.
with my identity safely concealed, i waddled out into the byu quad, guided by a few other film students, to hand out "final cut" flyers.  because the face-screen was four inches below my mouth, no one could hear me, and so i wasn't much different than a vending machine with t-rex arms, handing out information for yet another student activity.  
at one point, someone slapped all of the flyers from my hands onto the ground.  i couldn't see in front of me, but realized that, if they were still within range, i could just fall forward, letting the practical joker be body-slammed by a giant vhs cassette.  as i was pondering how i would get up and what would happen to my protruding arms in the process, i heard one of the film student girls come over and yell at my attacker.  with nothing else to do, i struck the best "jazz hands" i could muster and did a little dance.

as these are five little-known things about me, i suppose i should establish five things i presume you know about me:
a. i can sing, but i can't dance
b. i'm fascinated with the old testament
c. i'm a sucker for the criterion collection
d. i love dark chocolate, swiss cheese, and salt and vinegar chips (not all together)
e. i love san dimas

i tag brady, tim, mark, and em.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

i hearted today

selected reasons why today was awesome:

*i went running.  my nike+ipod thinger wouldn't sync with my shoe, but it still played music, and i ran down the provo river trail.  felt great.

*i ran around town with tim, just having fun being brothers.  beautiful weather and the windows down, we discussed the importance of zombie defense preparations, mused the myriad of good and not-so-good movies for sale at f.y.e., and wondered why only wal-mart carries the excellent crunchy natural skippy peanut butter.

*celebrating pi day at the village inn.  what was initially conceived as a few friends before stake conference easily blossomed into a big group of great people.  last year i got [the last slice of] pecan pie.  this year i got caramel silk pecan supreme.  mark got pecan (since he didn't get it last year), and i think he made the better choice.

*heard prairie home companion on the radio on the way to stake conference.  it was delightful and funny.  my love for garrison keillor grows with my age.

*stake conference.  the first line on my page of notes says, "it is good for us to be here."

*excellent jazz on npr while waiting at the stoplight.  savoring the little sublime moments.

*and i'm loving my new stacey kent cd as i write.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

the 18th man

just have the courage to stand up, walk away
change the channel, refuse to stay
--the chorus to the "choose good media" song from the "for the strength of youth" musical tape that i discovered on my mission.  i had a dance that went along with it.

i went to see the sacrifice by andrei tarkovsky last night at the international cinema.  he makes long, slow movies; i know that.  i've seen three of his movies (and he only made seven or eight in all), and love two of them.  but they do require a lot of thought and effort on the part of the viewer.  summed up, his movies center around ponderous, pensive people discussing and debating grand philosophical questions of life.  not much else happens.  and, in my experience, it usually works.

i liked that the movie had only four shots in the first fifteen minutes.  i liked the discussions and questions.  i loved the sudden shot of the little boy jumping out of nowhere.  and it was interesting that the film was actually made (and spoken) in sweden.  and that a lot of ingmar bergman's crew worked on it.
but it soon became very slow and despairing, with a small group of people sitting around an empty, isolated house bemoaning that tragic state of the world.  and not in the good, bergman's seventh seal way, but more in the depressing bergman's through a glass darkly way.  and i was barely an hour into this two and a half hour movie.  and i wasn't pretty sure it wasn't going to "pick up."

soon, it became a battle of pride.  i noticed a few people walk out after twenty minutes.  "amatuers," i thought to myself.  i refused to look at the clock; that just makes it go slower.  maybe i could get sucked into the movie.  despite it violating a serious code of the darkened theater, i checked my phone, hoping to text someone to share the boredom.  i didn't want to leave because even if i didn't want to see the movie, i wanted to have seen the movie.  i'm interested in tarkovsky, i presumed that the ending would payoff.  i wanted to see what other people appreciated about this.

during the first hour and a half, i counted seventeen people leave.
i was the eighteenth.

[natalie, you're right: it's hard to get in the habit of writing again]

Sunday, March 01, 2009

no man is an island

i bore my testimony today in church.  i usually don't, because i teach sunday school every other week and people hear my testimony at the end of the lesson.  twice a month is more often that if i got up every fast sunday, and that seemed like enough "jeff" for the ward.
at least, it did until a few months ago, when a girl came to the pulpit and shared the similar feeling of not wanting to be a "regular" up there.  then she noted that if she did get up every month to bear her testimony, that would only be twelve times in a year.  pretty sad, really.

walking home along 900 east many years ago, my friend and i stopped at the stoplight, waiting to cross.  as missionaries, our testimony was kept exercised and polished, able to come forth at a moment's notice.  now that the black tag was off, we didn't do it as much, yet didn't see a reason why we shouldn't.  in the twilight of the evening, on the corner of the sidewalk, dane and i bore our testimonies of what we knew to be true.  

our testimony needs to be continually used, stretched, and shared.  president harold b. lee noted that it is as fragile as a moonbeam, and needs to be recaptured each day.  president boyd k. packer told us to bear testimony not only of things we know are true, but of things that we hope are true.  bearing our testimony is a wonderful way to repent ourselves, as our words can save another and erase our own sins.

i once heard of a rabbi speaking at byu.  he said that many people there probably looked at him felt bad that he couldn't eat pork.  rather than being upset that he couldn't enjoy a delicious pork chop, the rabbi observed that God was so interested and concerned with him and his life that he even cared about what the man ate.
God is concerned with us and watches us.  He not only sees what we do or don't eat, but the decisions we make.  He knows the choices we make in our hearts, the battles we fight and the hard choices we make that no one sees.  He sees our sacrifices, our extended kindnesses, and the invisible acts of service and love that we give to those that seem to go unnoticed.

heck, you can bare your testimony over a text message.