Friday, August 31, 2012

"the thunder of summer is rumbling in"
(The Avett Brothers' new album)

Two and a half years ago, a group of us gathered in a basement late at night to listen to a newfound band, the Avett Brothers. Tucker rode his bike to the next town over to get the album (I and Love and You), and delivered the most beautiful love-letter for an album that any of us had ever heard before.

And then we sat in the dark and listened. I cried during "I and Love and You."

And now the Avetts have a new album again: The Carpenter. (You can listen to it in its entirety, courtesy of NPR's First Listen.) When a band puts out another album after huge success on their first, I listen for what's different. If it's just more of the same, I'm less impressed, and usually don't end up buying the second album. But if they can add something new, show the world they've got expansive skills, then I buy. Frinstance, after the compilation of one-hit miracles on X&Y, Coldplay's Viva La Vida was a storybook and an epic poem--the songs could stand on their own (as in X&Y), but they were also integrated into the arc of each other. Beirut's The Rip Tide showed a more crisp, driven Zach Condon than the warbling, wandering gypsy melodies (which I love just as much) of Gulag Orkestar. And after For Emma, Forever Ago, Justin Vernon actually sings notes in the bass clef on Bon Iver.

Here, in this "next" album, the Avetts are certainly putting on some new hats. The headline song, "The Once and Future Carpenter" is cedarn and valleyed like John Denver. "Live and Die"'s clippy rhythm and rhymes are reminiscent of some of Colin Meloy's work with the Decemberists. And "Paul Newman v. The Demons" is its own beast entirely.

They carry off this foray into new styles with a tentative (and endearing) curiosity, even if the poetics and melodies of these first few songs are a little more generic and predictable than their first album's. And this is where it gets sticky: I have mixed feelings about the Avetts trying on new hats. I and Love and You was a tender, incredibly intimate peek into two brothers' hearts. I fell as much in love with their purposeful, compassionate view of the world as I did with their voices and melodies.

So I came at The Carpenter waiting for the one song that would grab me around the throat and choke me, the way "I and Love and You" did the first time I heard it. The album takes a little while to get there--it isn't until "February Seven" that I start feeling like I'm really listening to the Avett Brothers--but by the time "Through my Prayers" and "A Father's First Spring" comes around, that familiar goodhearted, bright-eyed longing is back in full force: "I have been homesick for you since we met."

Best song on the album? The last one, "Life."
"We're not of this world for long."

And that's what I love most about the Avett Brothers--they remind me of the bigger things I was born for, of the bigger worlds that exist in honesty, in forgiveness, and in loving each other.

(P.S. What's your favorite Avett Brothers song?)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

i do weddings...

For a while now, I've been photographing weddings, graduation, lifestyle portraits, and other such special events for friends and family. That kind of photography takes time--significant time--and until now, I haven't had enough time to do anything other than stuff for friends and family. But the time has come, and I've decided to go big. Starting today, I am now open for taking pictures for the WORLD.

In other words, if you're looking for a photographer or if you know someone who is looking for one, I'd love your recommendation! You can check out my photographs over on my photography site.

And just for the fun of it, here are seven reasons you should let me do your photographs:
1. I am friendly.
2. I've got street cred (awards in various travel photography competitions, state fairs (yeeehaw!), and art shows, and I'm published in Inscape and Stowaway magazines)
3. I've got goooood prices.
4. I have freckles (who doesn't love a freckled photographer?)
5. I don't use profanity (your mom would like me).
6. You already read my blog, which must mean that you at least sorta like spending time with me, right? (wink wink)
7. If you recommend me to someone, something magical will happen to you within 7 days. If you don't, you will get in a really scary accident, will lose all your money and friends, and your grandma will disown you. Just sayin.

(In other words, hit that little "like" button and I'll love you forever. --->)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

{dating} how do I get you alone?!

Hearing this song makes me want to _____________.
A. Eat some tacos
B. Learn about hedgehogs
C. Go for a walk through the moonlit evening with a handsome man or beautiful woman and make jokes and laugh and then tell about our dreams and then stare magically into each other's eyes for a fleeting second and get butterflies.
D. Climb a ladder

If you answered A, B, or D, you are wrong.  If you answered C, you are right and you win a million points.  (Yes, this measure of right and wrong is totally subjective, but this is my blog so what I say goes.  And what I say is that C is the only correct answer.)

Here's the thing I've noticed: one-on-one time is a hard thing to come by these days, at least in the life of me.  Why this is I'm not sure.  I think it's partly because I avoid being one-on-one with people I don't want to be one-on-one with, and those who I do want to be one-on-one with are too busy avoiding me to be one-on-one with.  Following?

It seems like all anyone wants to do these days is be in large groups.  I feel stupid quite often for wanting to be alone with people.  I think, "What kind of a person wants to pull someone away from a group to talk alone with them?!"  And then I think, "Oh yeah, normal people."

Here's what I'm talking about: breaking away from the crowd of partyers for a little porch sit.  Not for the whole party, obviously, but just for a little while maybe. A little moment to connect, to tell secrets or share confidences. All my best friendships are strong because of such moments--because there are some things you share with only each other. There are some things that only you understand about each other.

Translation when someone pulls you aside to talk to you/sneaks out to be on the porch by you?: "Out of all these people, you are interesting and important enough to me that I want my own face-time with you."

And I'd say that's a pretty good feeling.

title for this post comes from this incredible song

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

let me be frank.

Current problems in my life:

Someone named Frank put my phone number on the internet. Dumb Frank. Now all week I've been getting phone calls for him.

"Hi, is this Frank?"
"Hi, is Frank at home?"
"Hello, I'm calling for..."
Lemme guess: FRANK.

So I've started messing with these telemarketers.
"Was that Frank Lloyd Wright you wanted, or Mr. Gehry?"
"Sorry, who? Frank who? What did you say? Who do you want to talk to? Frank? Frank who? What did you say?"
And my personal fave: "Yes, this is him."

Here's what I know about Frank:
He signed up to take online college courses.
He registered for job training online.
He has no last name (at least not that anyone knows of).

I picture Frank as a 43 year old man who is actually named Anthony. Two kids, avid cyclist, believes in freedom of speech but not gun rights. Probably got bored one day at work and on a whim started signing up for classes online, trying to boost his marketability. Not that he needed to be more marketable, what with his job as a court stenographer in Indiana.

Either that...or he's a 22 yr old young man in Utah who is trying to get back at me for The Most Brilliant Prank in the World.

This is to say nothing of someone signing me up for, which = me getting weekly emails for the past four months about how my pregnancy's coming along: "38 weeks and what that means for you," "Four more weeks to go!" I was informed this morning in an all-too-perky email that my "2-month-old" is now learning to talk:

Coos are your baby's way of expressing delight, as well as exercising his vocal cords. You can carry on a "conversation" with your baby now. When he gurgles or coos, say something brief or coo back at him. Then wait for him to "say" something back to you.

First of all, my baby is a her not a him. And her name is probably Frank, so...

Other notable subject lines brought to me by BabyCenter:
"What Your Food Cravings Mean"
"Win Cord Tissue and Cord Blood Banking " (I don't even know what this means.)
"Secrets to Raising a Bright Baby"

Secret number one: actually have a baby.

I figure it's karma.

Monday, August 27, 2012

music monday

1. "Kids" (Lady Danville)
2. "Dahl Parts" (The Theater Fire)
3. "Follow Me" (John Denver)

Friday, August 24, 2012

goodbye, best job in the world

(thanks go to one awesome Aussie for this photo)

Today I said goodbye to my summer internship. Everyday was more or less an adventure in doing the things I love most. In fact, I'm pretty convinced that every person in the world would be happy if they had my job. Frinstance, do you like:
  • Making photo galleries?
  • Riding public transportation into the city every morning?
  • Reading other people's most heartfelt stories about the the hardest times in their lives, the most hopeful times in their lives, the profound lessons they've learned?
  • Putting together lists of inspiring quotes?
  • Searching for cool videos, articles, and studies online?
  • Reading up on random countries' traditions, history, and recent news events?
  • Messing around on Google Translate to compose letters in foreign languages for contacts in far-away countries?
  • Reading the scriptures?
  • Having a security badge that you have to use to get in and out of the building?
  • Working at the top of a highrise?
  • Tweeting (on a much bigger scale though--30,000+ followers)?
  • Google-stalking people to find contact info?
  • Interviewing said-Google-stalked people?
  • Looking through pictures from the 1920s?
  • Looking through pictures from the 1970s (we're talking bouffantes and glowy vignettes)?
  • Taking pictures?
  • Going on film shoots?
  • Being an extra in said films?
  • Dressing fancy everyday?
  • Knowing what will be on a major website before it is actually published?
  • Writing stuff for a major website?
  • Talking with people all over the world?

If you answered "yes" to 10 or more of the above, then you would love my job.
If you answered "yes" to all of the above and happen to be male, then we are made for each other and should probably look into getting married.

In other words, my internship was all the things I love doing anyways, put into a job.

This says nothing of the incredible people I worked with--experts in their field and kind beyond belief (only 5 of whom are pictured here).
Well, onward onward! Let my "summer" begin! (60 hours until school starts.) But first, a celebratory chocolate croissant, in memoriam of all the mornings I ate one.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

the NPR Name Calculator

Now don't get me wrong--I'm all about NPR. It's one of my favorite things about driving to the bus stop every morning...nay, it is the only good thing about driving to the bus stop every morning.

But I mean, come on...are NPR correspondent names even real? Dee Dee Bridgewater? Lakshmi Singh? Starlee Kine? Yuki Noguchi? Vicki Valentine? Ira Glass? These names are too cool to be real. Everytime I start thinking, "Hey, I could work for NPR," Lakshmi Singh just has to say her name and all my fanciful aspirations come crashing down.

Either NPR only hires people with already awesome appellations (alliteration: intended), or there's something more sinister at work here....


(And yes, those eight ! marks are part of the patented title.)

See, I'm pretty certain that when NPR hires you, they take you into a back room (probably one with big world maps and pictures of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World on its walls), then they plug your name into said CALCULATOR!!!!!!!! and decide if your new name is good enough--if it's worthy of being broadcast on the same airwaves as their illustrious programmes.

Now some of you may be wondering why I haven't blogged since Monday. Well, people, this is why: because I've been too busy working out the algorithm for the CALCULATOR!!!!!!!! And this I will share with you, because I love you, and because I think everyone deserves to have a name as cool as Starlee Kine.


The last vowel in your first name 
+ the last consonant in your first name 
+ the first vowel in your first name 
*if a longer first name is desired, repeat the above using your middle name's vowels and consonants. Tack on to end of new first name.

The first verb that comes to mind 
- the last letter of the verb 
+ the first three letters of the city you are currently in 

I am now Yna Danchig.
(It's pronounced "I-na Dan-cheeg.")

NPR, I'm on to you. (And please note my excellent sleuthing skills--wouldn't I make a great correspondent?!) You'll be receiving my (I mean Yna's) job application shortly.

(What's your NPR name?)
photo via

Monday, August 20, 2012

music monday

1. "Early in the Morning" (James Vincent McMorrow)
2. "Mother to the Moon" (Jason Myles Goss)
3. "Sparrow and the Wolf" (James Vincent McMorrow)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


From a night of white lights, dancing, root beer, and lots and lots of pictures.

Monday, August 13, 2012

queen of none

In '96, I, like thousands of other girls nationwide, wanted to be a gymnast. If you're one of those thousands of other girls, you'll know why: it was the year of Kerri Strugg, Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, Dominique Daws, Amy Chow, Amanda Borden, and Jaycie Phelps--the Magnificent Seven.

This was my first exposure to gymnastics of the Olympic sort, and I was completely and totally mesmerized by how weightless they looked. I wanted to know what that felt like.

So I daydreamed about floor exercises, I practiced flipping my arms up for my finish, I dressed up as a gymnast for Halloween (that's how you know when I'm really serious about something), and I remember actually praying several times before bed that I could please just dream about doing flips on the uneven bars, just to feel what that must be like. (Me as a gymnast for Halloween '96:

This is all, of course, not to mention that every recess that year I spent with one leggin-covered knee looped up over a metal hangbar in the playground, flipping over and over it.

As if thinking about it every hour wasn't enough, images of the Olympic gymnasts were everywhere. A particularly triumphant-looking Kerri Mulligan cardboard cutout smiled at you as you ordered your Olympic happy meal at McDonald's, for one.

In case it's not obvious, it is totally and entirely unrealistic for me to ever be a gymnast. (I was 5'8'' by seventh grade.) But I think we all know how the Olympics can make you dream beautiful (if utterly impossible) dreams.

Which, apparently, they still make me do. While watching the volleyball gold medalists interview, in which Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh revealed themselves as being 35 and 33 (respectively), I actually had the thought, "Oh, perfect, if I wanted to become an Olympic volleyball player, I've still got time."

See, the problem is this: I have an over-active desire to possess beautiful things: I see a painting in a museum and I cry because it's so beautiful. I hear a song like this and I have to sit down because it's so beautiful. I sometimes have to not look at certain photographer's work because it makes me ache, it's so beautiful. Now, this wouldn't be a problem, necessarily, if it wasn't for the second part: I also have an unhealthy belief in the "you can do anything you set your heart to" adage. I believe Malcolm Gladwell when he says that 10,000 hours will make you a master at anything, that if I really got to work on learning a given skill, I could be the world's best ____(fill in the blank)____. (This is also, of course, because of a naive view of my own abilities and of just how long 10,000 hours is.) I see that painting in the museum and I'm overcome by a desire to paint something similar. I hear "La Noyee" and I recommit myself to becoming masterful on the piano. You get the picture.

Compound this with my inability to let go of things, especially when they're beautiful, and you've got a real mess.

The result is that my life is filled with hundreds of tiny pieces of beautiful things, but mastery in none.

Here is a list of some things I've had delusions of grandeur about, but have since relegated to "things I sorta know about." You could also call these phases.
harmonica (a very brief stint)
Arabic (don't ask)
and the latest delusion of grandeur: fly-fishing

I, like this annoying little girl, can wholeheartedly sing, "I want the world! I want the whole world!"

What I lack is FOCUS.

I've done quite a bit of thinking about the above predicament over the last year. I figure there are two approaches to life. One: I try my hand at hundreds of things, just to experience a little bit of their beauty, but never dedicate myself to any of them long enough to fully master. Two: I focus on only one or two things, let go of all else, and become master at it. I assume if I did so, I'd experience a completely different kind of beauty--the beauty of expertise, of intimately knowing a subject. Of making it your life. (I say assume because I've obviously never tried this way of living before.)

I just want to know which one I'll regret the least, at the end of my days.

Either way, I need to consciously choose one of these two approaches to living pretty soon here or I'm going to drive myself nuts. Either stop wanting to try everything, or stop wanting to become a master. Because trying to live both ways leads to constant dissatisfaction and the feeling you are never doing enough.

Jack of all trades, or queen of just one? Which is the better way to live?

(Seriously though, I want your thoughts, all you wonderful, inspiring people out there.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

how to get what you want

I'm not really one for breaking rules. I'm the girl who follows the recipe word for word. I worry about all sorts of imagined calamities: Are the coals completely extinguished? Is the water deep enough to jump from this bridge? Am I standing far enough away from the bottle rockets? Bottle rockets whaaaat?! I'm outta here!

On metros and planes, I read every "Warning," "Attention!", and "Instructions" sign posted, often multiple times to ensure that--should we have to make a water landing--I know exactly what to do. When the teacher says "Put your pencils down," I do it. In fact, in middle school I took Ms. Ventura so seriously when she said, "I don't want any wandering eyes" that sometimes my eyes ached after a test from making sure they stayed on that paper the entire time. And above all, I never never never trespass.

Such is my approach to life.

Yeah so maybe I don't like to have "fun." Whatever. My fun is just a tamer, less arrest- and fatal injury-seeking kind of fun.

Anyways, lately, I've decided to live the form of asking people for stuff that there's no way they're going to give to me.

Thus far it has yielded $75.00, four months of unlimited yoga, and the use of one bathroom in downtown Salt Lake.

And better than that, I'm noticing some pretty common trends across the board of requests that are granted. Which means getting what you want is more than just dumb luck. It's more than just eyelash-batting ability. It's actually an art form.

And this is what I've learned:
  1. Context is key. Don't start your phone call or email with all of your demands. Instead, start by asking an unrelated question. Maybe you're calling to pause your service with X company while you're out of town, maybe you're writing to inquire about something. Make the primary purpose of your inquest something other than "I'm writing because I want XYZ from you." 
  2. Then, almost as an afterthought to your "primary purpose", attach your request, "Oh, by the way" style.
  3. Acknowledge the forces that oppose you getting what you want. This might be owning up to being in the wrong, recognizing that it would be out of their way to do XYZ for you, conceding that there are good reasons for the rules being what they are.
  4. Then explain your situation. Plead your case. It helps if you are honest about your emotions here. For instance, saying "I'm so embarrassed--I can't believe I made this mistake..." can do wonders for breaking down walls.
  5. Politely state your request. Keep it short.
  6. Close by saying something kind. "Thanks for all you guys are doing for the community!" or "Thank you for all the time you've put into helping me out with problem A." Even closing with "Kind regards" can do a lot to fight your battle for you.
Now, an imploration to do benevolently with this knowledge. I share these not so we can manipulate each other, not so we can "pull one over" on people we owe things to. Instead, I think that everyone deep down wants to help other people. I think deep down, when people see your real intentions--that you aren't trying to manipulate or pull one over on them--they want to help you out, because they've been in your shoes before.

So here's to having more transparent hearts!

Give it a shot, then give me a shout-out. I'm curious what awesome things people will give and forgive when we use a little kindness and tact.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

tiny bird, mountain clouds

Tonight we found a baby quail. Maybe its mom lost it, or maybe it lost her, but either way, we found it in a cat's mouth, so under a heat lamp in our garage it went.

It was still shivering an hour later, so I held it for a long time, cupped in my hands. The tiny wings, the tiny beak, the tiny down...the thing was perfect. And after thirty minutes it had stopped shaking.

Amazing that something so tiny can be so perfect.

There were big storm clouds tonight too, and the kind of monstrous thunder that rumbles (as opposed to the kind that crashes). We wrapped ourselves in heavy quilts and slept out under the storm clouds, the whole family. When I woke up, the mountains were tiny against the currents of clouds. Parts of the sky looked like paint-by-number.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

givin blood like a BOSS

One thing's for dang sure: I will never forget my blood type.

Here's why.  Because every time I get near a needle (either in real life or just in my mind), I pass out.  Not exaggerating, people.  All blood rushes out of my face, I turn green, I go clammy, I think, "Aw crap" and then I'm gone.

Sometimes vomiting accompanies said passing out.

But today, oh no. Today I gave blood like a BOSS.

I had to get my blood typed. (Deep breath.)

So I stopped by Wendy's for a little natural-cut fries with sea salt (really Wendy's? Are all six of those words necessary?) and a frosty to get my blood sugar to a non-fainting level.

Drove myself to the clinic.

Waltzed right past the huge blood-red sign on the wall: BLOOD DRAW STATION.  (Really clinic? And was the red really necessary? How 'bout the all-caps? How bout the words "blood" and "draw" and "station"?? Might as well just write "Bloody Hell" which is what such a station is to me. Surely "A Helpful Place" would suffice. Or maybe "Land of Rainbows" with a metallic, sparkly rainbow background cerca the pencils I had in fourth grade. All of these options would be better than "BLOOD. DRAW. STATION. (OF DEATH.)".)

Looked the nurse squarely in the face and said, "I pass out every time needles go in my body," to which she said, "... Really?  Like...every time?"  "Yes lady.  Every time."

Followed her to a paper-covered cot where I would lie and probably go vagal.

And guess what happened:

I gave that blood like a pro.

Didn't pass out, didn't go clammy, didn't throw up.

Blood Draw Station: 0
Carolyn: 1

rooftop concert: 16 good things

This week's been a bit of a case of the mean reds, I'm afraid. I almost stayed home tonight to get some sleep and some rest and maybe do some laundry or read a book or be responsible like a real-adult is. But then some very influential people called (and by "very influential" I mean they have the power to talk little me into anything, not necessarily "influential" like Mitt Romney or Oprah or Mr. Darcy) and before I knew it, I was driving down to a little thing we call the Rooftop Concert Series.

And boy am I glad I went, because the night bubbled over in benevolence, old friends, new introductions, and lots of good tunes.

The list of good things is as follows:

  1. listened to Blessid Union of Souls all the drive down. (They actually have some amazing songs.  Remember this?)
  2. found the haircut I've been dreaming of.  I'll explain: there's a haircut that exists in my mind but that I can't find any pictures of or examples of anywhere.  This makes requesting said-haircut difficult and risky. (Not to be confused with "risque," which my nine yr. old sister did this afternoon.) So where's the best place to find awesome haircuts?  The Rooftop Concert Series.  I asked the girl that was sporting it if I could take a picture, and she was so obliging, she even explained to me the ins and outs of the haircut.
  3. was introduced to the charming sounds of Book on Tape Worm.
  4. saw a whole slew of people I really like. (Can you use the word "slew" when talking about people? I'm not so sure...)
  5. met Danielle, a girl with very much kindness and very amazing hair. I think we'll be friends now. Especially because we see each other sometimes at the milkshake place.
  6. saw a new side of Brandon tonight--the "fightin' words" side.  this = exciting because it means we've crossed into a new realm of friendship.  which i like a lot.
  7. saw Miss Liz (yep, apparently these concerts are the place to go). She is tall and stately and elegant and beautiful and every time I see her I feel better about who I am because that's the effect she has on people. Sigh.
  8. stood on an elevated curb, held onto a railing, and swung out so I could see the concert better. I don't know what it is about holding onto railings and swinging out, but I find it particularly wonderful and want to do it all the time. (One time doing so almost got me hit by a bus in Scotland. Sheesh, remember that time?)
  9. got to go up close for the last band
  10. realized the last band is actually a band that I LOVE. He headlined under the name "Isaac Russell" (which I didn't recognize) but when I knew every single song by heart, I started trying to figure out where I knew the music from. It was like music from a dream. Then on the last song it hit me--RURU, a band I fell in love with years ago when my friend Marci introduced me to them. (At least I think it was Marci...sorry if I'm giving credit to the wrong person.  There is nothing worse than when someone else gets credit for finding a band that you love :)
  11. sat on the concrete for a while with my amigos. There is something singularly enjoyable about sitting on concrete with nowhere to go on a summer night.
  12. saw Daniel (an old, old friend who I haven't seen in years) and met his wife, who was darling and who I think I want to be friends with because she's starting a publishing company and likes good music and was otherwise just generally really delightful to talk to.
  13. saw Joshua James, long-time musician idol. He was wearing reeeeeally short shorts.
  14. saw lots of handsomely trimmed beards and shirts buttoned up to the top button--all things I find endearing.
  15. drank some dang good grape soda.
  16. drove home with the windows rolled down, doing that wavy thing with my arm out the window (you know what i'm talking about), listening to "Time after Time" and I didn't roll them up until I was parked in my driveway. I need more of those summer moments in my life.