Friday, August 24, 2012

scenes from a week in utah

it's later than the time stamp on this post and i meant to be in bed, but once i start messing with photographs, it's best to just let me finish.

here are a few of my favorite pictures from my trip to utah...

mark's happy that he's married.
we're all sad that we're not.
(brooke is totally lying...)

if we'd had mark's party at gina's,
this sign would've gotten its wish.

good times.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


i met mark when i moved into the now-legendary 223rd ward; when i moved into 907 behind the red door. he was in the elder's quorum presidency or something and i thought he was 27. he was good-looking and cool and i imagined he worked at some important company.
actually, he was 22.

around the time that beej was moving out to get married, i started looking for a new roommate. i really don't remember what my relationship with mark was at that point, but i think i stopped him in the hall at church one day and asked if he'd be interested. that turned out to be one of the best choices i've ever made.

mark and i were just the right amount of different but still with enough common ground. he loves to watch football and eat chicken wings, then take naps on the couch. i'm... well, you know me. but he also possesses the great ability to be open to new things. he taught me how to shoot a gun and i taught him about the world of film outside of chris farley and jim carey.

i never really thought much of it until one day a friend texted me, asking what i was up to. "just getting home from the store with mark," i think i said. "you guys do EVERYTHING together," she replied. and i realized that she was right, we did. we didn't try to. we just did.

he learned the drums on rock band and with me on guitar, we'd play for hours. he loved to eat out and so i did more than i ever had in my life. at his suggestion, we started working ourselves through the golden era of the simpsons together. he was the ward executive secretary and i was the elder's quorum president, so we'd be in morning church meetings together (i think?) we would go give priesthood blessings together. we'd watch movies together and pause them to talk about what was happening. we'd go buy junk at d.i. then take it to the shooting range. we watched the entire series of 24 together, yelling at the t.v. and agonizing at every melodramatic cliffhanger. and we went through that fridge incident together.

mark is always a good sport about things, and his easy going personality made a good match for my mercurial artistic temperament. there would be days that he would bug the heck out of me, but even when i was grouchy and irritable towards him, he would shrug it off and we'd likely be out for thai food later that night.

while we lived together, mark went through three cars. i went through three tvs. he was the only constant movie night attendee through its... three(?) year run. the regular crowd turned over two or three times but he was there nearly every week, albeit often asleep by the end (especially in the early years.) but he grew to develop a taste for art films. in our discussions we'd have after the movie, he'd usually have insights to contribute. he recently confessed that, on the night that we watched last year at marienbad, he was trying to offer his interpretation of the movie in hopes of impressing a girl whom he'd invited that night. she's now his wife. (he was also the one to usually say, "so... rock band??") 

but he started coming to byu's international cinema with me more as time went on, and continued to go on his own after i moved away. he'd text me about what movies he was watching and i'd suggest others for him to check out. and i have to admit i felt some pride when he told me the list of movies he show if he decided to host his own movie night. i'd go seen them.

and we got in the habit of doing double dates together. one friend noted that it had the tendency to make it hard for the girl to get to know me individually, which is a noteworthy point, but it also let me be on my "home turf"; out with my friend, i was more relaxed and more able to be myself. together, we've gone to the circus and seen the elephants, to the slc hard rock cafe, to stoneground pizza, movie premieres, rodeos, and chicken and waffles. 

i've seen him on dates with just about every girl he's been interested in since he's been home from his mission. and i saw that some were better fits for him than others. so i liked it when he was with emily as i moved away from utah two years ago. but a month or two later, he told me that they just didn't feel right about it but still continued to be friends. i couldn't understand it and told him i thought he was being stupid to not be with her if he liked her so much. and, in his calm fashion, he said he could understand why i'd say that but he knew what he felt.

but things have a funny way of working out. in january he told me that he'd been thinking about emily some more, despite her living a time zone away and having a boyfriend. then, the next time i talked with him, they were talking about getting married.

while we, being guys, never said it when i lived in utah, he was my best friend.

Monday, August 20, 2012

i wanna rock and roll all night and party like it's 2009

friday, august 10, 2012

my day began with me getting only four hours of sleep, being late for byu's graduation, and explaining to my patient host why there was a girl asleep on her couch.
nothing like being back in utah.

it happened that kristin's graduation from byu was the same weekend as mark's wedding, so i agreed to take some pictures for her when she walked across the stage, even though the darn thing started at 8:30 a.m. what kind of a school does that?

no school does, it turns out: i walked up to the dejong concert hall and realized that i was not ten minutes early, but twenty minutes late (something that is becoming a recurring theme on this trip.) thankfully, her mom had saved me a seat and passed the camera bag down the row to me (she had also conveniently chosen to sit on the right side of the auditorium, giving me a good angle to shoot from, for which i was very grateful.) when they finally called her name, i snapped enough pictures to make eadweard muybridge proud. and because me and kristin and a camera create a sort of artistic chain reaction, we were still running around the building taking pictures long after everyone else had left. ...well, almost everyone else. apparently we looked somewhat legitimate, since someone else asked me to take a few pictures of his graduated sister. i thought that was kind of cool. i refused the money but did accept the mint brownie from kristin's dad, which he informed me was just about the highest honor he can bestow.

being that this was mark's wedding weekend, i wasn't sure how much time i'd be able to see him, since, if he did have some down time, he'd probably want to spend it with emily. but he had some free time and so he picked me up at byu and we did what we always do: head to ihop and then watch the simpsons. and that may sound pretty trivial, but that was what mark and i did together, so to do it one last time together really meant a lot. (i guess we just have really trivial lives.)

we were having a sort of "a girl-allowed bachelor party" that evening, so while mark headed home to get some rest before that, i walked up to kristin's for her small, pseudo-official graduation party. mostly it was a welcomed excuse to see her pictures from her trip to europe and get the accompanying stories. i also managed to get enough of her friend together to give her the graduation present we'd gotten for her, and that was a fun moment for me.

being mark's best friend, i guess it was my duty to throw a party for him. i never really asked him, i just did it. and i did it how i wanted to do it, which was to have a rock band party with the old gang (sans tim and katy and a few others.) brooke offered her parents' house--complete with surround sound--and cheryl agreed to provide the rock band equipment. i've learned that you can never "recreate" the good moments of the past, that you can force them to happen again, but it was worth a shot anyway.

and here's the deal: this wasn't one of those times. this was as good as our best rock band nights. in fact, it was absolutely awesome. enough people commented that they felt like we should be watching some black and white foreign movie first that i regretted not bringing something, but this was mark's party, not mine.
whomever's party it was, it was perfect. the core movie night gang was there, we had the whole house to ourselves to be as loud as we wanted, and everyone got into it. we were all a little rusty (just ask tom sawyer), but that did stop us from taking risks. brooke grabbed the mic whenever i wasn't using it, cheryl's husband bravely sang "poker face", and i danced in the background. of course, we played all of our favorites: "won't get fooled again" (with president sam stepping in on bass since katy was two time zones away), the whole room singing along with "livin' on a prayer", and singing "foreplay/long time" let me once again be the rock star i've always wanted to be.

because we were doing this night right, once we were rocked out we ended up at ihop with an awesomely surly waiter. disaster almost seemed upon when president sam couldn't find "nutella crepes" on the menu, but our mojo was on a roll and the liverpudlian taking our orders assured him that, yes, he could still get them. we laughed, we talked, we discussed the british film institute's ranking of vertigo as the new "best movie ever."

through all of this, mark was a great sport. it'd been a busy weekend for him, what with planning a wedding and getting sealed for time and all eternity that next morning. and because of the time zone difference, we had him up four hours past his usual bedtime. but neither of us regretted it for a moment. this night was everything i'd dared hope it would be. my whole trip to utah was already worth it. we got to go back and be "us" one last time.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

park ridge

i've had some very good talks with some very good friends over the past few days, leaving me with more to think about than i unfortunately have time to write down and also leaving me quite tired.
but i took some time this evening to walk around the neighborhood and think for a bit.

Friday, August 10, 2012

who says you can't go home?

transcript excerpted from wednesday, august 8, 2012:
1:14 p.m. 
mark: what's your itinerary for getting to utah today?  
jeff: i'm scheduled to land at 11:10 tonight.  
mark: i'm landing at 10:51 :-) which airline are you on?
1:24 p.m. 
jeff: dang. i'm on frontier. your girl picking you up? 
mark: i'm on frontier, too! i'll hang out in the terminal for a few minutes. yeah, em's picking me up. who's getting you? 
1:38 p.m. 
jeff: dang, crazy. my friend marin is giving me a ride, since it's probably the only way i'd get to see her. 
mark: gotcha. well, see ya soon, bro :-) 
jeff: aye. : ) 
1:48 p.m. 
jeff: wait... i get in at 10:50, too... do you go through denver?? 
1:51 p.m. 
mark: yes. yes i do. 
mark: oh boy oh boy oh boy!! 
jeff: : D see you in denver!
my plane from aus to den had
a fox on the tail
and that was how my trip to utah for mark's wedding started off.
we had a joyful reunion in the denver airport and i gave up my beautiful 6A seat to sit with him in the very back with on the way to slc. we found a restaurant not too far from our gate and got caught up. he told me the story of how he and emily went from "we just don't feel like we're supposed to be together" to "she moved back to missouri and has a boyfriend" to, a few weeks later, "so... me and emily are getting married."

as i was thinking about his experience and how i should apply some of those lessons into my own life, he was watching the time and said that our flight would be boarding soon. walking the short distance to our gate, he asked me which number we were, since there seemed to be no one there. an urgent gate attendant rushed up to us and told us to hurry, that everyone had boarded they were looking for us: mark had the "departure time" mixed up with the "boarding time" and, since they close the door ten minutes prior to departure, we weren't ten minutes early but seconds from missing our flight.

being that most of my friends have legitimate jobs or were busy convocating, i spent thursday enjoying some quiet time, taking care of financial aid for the fall and finalizing some plans for the rest of my trip. in a truly characteristic story, sariah suddenly ended up also in town on a very impromptu trip. and she, like me, had no car, so we spent the day alone in our respective guest houses. for a while, my evening was threatening to become a sort of disaster that occasionally happens when i visit: several "it would be fun to do something"s all converge into one evening, creating truncated activities and crammed schedules.

thankfully that smoothed out and i ended up having thai food with jaime, despite severe text delays and resulting confusion. dinner with jaime was great not only because i didn't get to see her last time and we had a great discussion at dinner, but because of the food itself. we went out for thai and there are NO thai restaurants in college station. and while my pad thai was alright, the pumpkin curry that she ordered was amazing.

not to be dissuaded, sariah and i finally met up later that evening. we were waiting to meet up with mark and spent the time with gina, watching the olympics and debating about which countries to cheer for. because any time with sariah is destined to end up as some sort of adventure, the remainder of the night included a miscommunication about church clothes, showing up a sleeping friend's house (sorry...), me agreeing to watch just go with it against my better judgment, and staying up much later than i should have.

the adventure continues....

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

loss of innocence

i was on the phone for a long time last night, talking with a friend i don't talk with as much as i'd like. she's a movie person like me, so a good part of our conversation was rapid-fire exchanges of our opinions on summer blockbusters and classic french horror films. i love those conversations.

but after a while i asked how she was doing. her young marriage has been disintegrating for almost a year now. she has done everything possible to save it and make things work, but it seems that there might be very little left she can do. it's the most painful thing i can imagine going through, especially when she seems to be at no fault of her own (and i have no reason to suspect otherwise.) near the end of our conversation, she said, "i would never wish this experience on you or anyone."

it wasn't the first time i've had a friend say that to me.

while i was making dinner this evening, i thought about that. i know some people who would say that their lives have turned out better than they'd ever hoped and i have good friends who, while they have had their share of trials, have had things turn out pretty well for them. and i have other friends who seem to have gone through a lifetime's worth of hurt and disappointment, despite still having many years left to go.

as i was looking for wherever my new roommate put the colander, i thought of how there's that time when everything seems to be falling apart so horribly in your life that it can't possibly be happening. that you just know that now the angel has to come and stop the knife.

and then you realize that the angel doesn't always come.

that can be very difficult. it's one thing to have made dumb choices and to realize that they've led you to a bad spot. but when you've done everything right and been faithful and good and the unthinkable still happens to you, what then? what do you do when you find out that living faithfully, even valiantly, doesn't mean that you'll be protected from excruciating hurt?

the line that stood out to me the most from april's general conference was president eyring's sharing an exclamation of his friend: "when i have tried all my life to be good, why has this happened to me?"

pouring the hot water out of the pot, i was thinking that this was beginning to sound like a very jaded and grizzled view of life: "God doesn't always come. deal with it." and you can look at it like that. it can be easy to fall into that.

but while we like to tell the story of the red sea parting as moses walked into the water, or the sun setting but the night not getting dark just before the believers were to be put to death, theirs aren't the only experiences in the scriptures.

one of my favorite scripture stories is that of shadrach, meshach, and abed-nego. and while, yeah, they were delivered, that was actually irrelevant. "but if not," they said.
sometimes really horrible things happen and there's no one there to stop them. that doesn't mean we've done anything wrong or that we deserve it or that God is ignoring us. it's just how things go sometimes. and it really rots, but it's ok.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

the classics

one night while wandering through the music aisles at media play during high school, i picked up a cd called classical jukebox. i wanted to be cultured and knew that i should probably know more about classical music, and this seemed like a good place to start, a sort of "stuff you likely will recognize from somewhere" collection. to this day, it still has my favorite recording of strauss's "blue danube waltz."

sometime during college, we were shooting at someone's house and i remember seeing a shelf full of what looked to be all classical music cds (rca victor spines all have a distinctively boring look to them.) that was pretty cool, i thought, and hoped that someday i would have enough money to afford that much culture in my life.

thankfully, modern technology and new media formats made that much more practical and sooner than i expected.

with rare exception, i have bought a compact disc in a while. instead of browsing the used cd store with my roommates on a saturday morning, i now browse amazon's mp3 store, refusing to pay more than $5 for an album, and often finding treasures for $3 or less.

but classical music has really flourished in this environment. it began when amazon started selling collections of 99 tracks by a particular composer. the cover art featured a white bust of the artist and they were $5. that's five cents a track, a long cry from the $12 i was paying for the 16 songs on classical jukebox. with these, i saturated my itunes with the staples of mozart, beethoven, and bach, and could afford to expand into liszt, dvorak, and schumann as well.
plus, there were compilations: the 99 most essential pieces of classical musicthe 99 most essential pieces of classical music for you mindthe 99 most relaxing pieces of classical musicthe 99 most essential pieces of classical music for spring, and more that i didn't buy. but there was enough that didn't overlap between the collections that, again, at $5, it was a crime against culture to not buy them.

after a few months, it got even better. amazon started selling a series called "rise of the masters", where the cover art replaced a marble bust with an actual dude dressed up like the composer. and instead of 99 tracks for $5, it became 100 tracks.
for $3.

my library is flooded with more of my favorites like mozart and bach, as well as discovering that brahams write so much more that just that lullaby. i even added chopin and grieg, although i haven't really caught on to them yet.

so for the price of a couple of compact discs, i have 6.8 days' worth of classical music.

in no particular order, some of my favorites are:

Friday, August 03, 2012

unfinished symphonies

i have eight "drafts" on my post list from the last three weeks. more than a week's worth of posts, half-written but not ready to be published. and i like their ideas, but they all come out mushy, needing to be back in the oven for a little longer still. i tried working on one of the ideas that stuck with me the most over the past few weeks this evening. but no matter how many david bowie albums i've gone through, nope. it's like low water pressure.

and i miss writing.