Thursday, September 27, 2012


My friend Amanda just sent this video to me. Watching it made me want to pack up my backpack and fly to Europe again.

In the first watch, I caught the Louvre, the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park, and the escalators up to the Park Güell in Barcelona...and then I went through and paused it a million times so I could catch everything. What places did you catch watching it??

What's incredible to me about traveling is that once you've been to a place, even if for only a few days, it gets burned in your memory, and all you have to see is a split-second shot of it, and you know exactly where it is, and remember exactly what you did there. We waited in a huge line outside the Louvre to get in for free on student day, and one our last night in Paris, the air was cool and I was in my purple skirt, and we were alone in front of the Louvre and we climbed on pedestals and took pictures. I was alone in Hyde Park and the Albert Memorial was under construction and was draped in orange tape and orange barricades and I walked around it and around it and the sun was bright and warm. On our ride up to the Parc Güell, I wore the sunglasses I had just bought off a fat old man and his fat cheery wife at the bottom of the hill. I was thinking, "This is brilliant--an outdoor escalator up a hill that no one's gonna want to climb."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Autumn Leaves

Last weekend, the talented Andrea (partner in all things artsy and adventurous) and I went up the canyon for a little photo-play to capture this transient and fragile little phase we're in, before the leaves change and before our lives change. So, so happy to be friends with this girl.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Trees that Tower and an Album Called Babel

Last night found us wrapped in blankets beneath the big tree, hiding from errant raindrops, listening to Mumford and Sons, smiling like we have secrets, smiling like little kids.

The album is a family and every song afire with a passion all its own. There is no resolve like the kind in "Holland Road," no hope like that in "I Will Wait," and no love like "Not With Haste." They demand and they promise and then leave the believing and the loving and the rallying to you.

These are the songs of the prodigal son. These are the songs of the wandered. These are the songs of the ones who ride triumphant into love with hands open and brave hearts brave and unfailing.

Monday, September 24, 2012

On Getting Over It
(Or What I Wish I Could Have Told Carolyn Two Years Ago)

This is a story I'm telling because I feel like it needs to be told.

Two years ago, I was just starting my master's program. Two years ago I moved into a new house in a new neighborhood with new roommates. Two years ago I was still in love with somebody that I used to know. And two years ago, I was forcing myself not to be.

Let me tell you how that went: horribly.

I knew that the feelings I had were "ridiculous," that "it'd been a year for Pete's sake" since we'd broken up, and that any rational, mature person would have moved on by now. I knew the feelings I had were getting in the way of happiness and in the way of enjoying other relationships. I knew they were keeping me from moving on. And so I dealt with them the best I knew how: I pretended like they weren't there.

I threw myself into other relationships; I covered up my feelings with other emotions like frustration, anger, bitterness, ambivalence, pride, exasperation, exhaustion; I told myself all kinds of lies about how I was better off without him and blahblahblah.

And of course deep-down I believed none of it.

And worse yet, forcing myself to not be in love with him was a kind of self-betrayal. Not only was I not dealing with the fact that I was heartbroken enough about the situation, but I was adding to the heartbreak by lying to myself, by treating myself like I wasn't mature enough to take the truth (that I was still in love with him), by treating myself like my feelings didn't matter, by pretending my dreams for our future together were meaningless and silly. Because they weren't. They weren't meaningless and they weren't silly, and all this prattle about how weak I was for not being able to just let them all go at the drop of a hat was insulting the quality of my commitments, the promise I mean when I say "I love you."

See, the sneaky and horrible thing about forcing yourself not to love someone anymore is that love is one of the most pure, unselfish, beautiful things a human being can feel. And to tell myself I was weak for feeling that? To think less of myself because I had love in my heart for someone, especially when it was for someone who didn't love me back? I should have been celebrating my capacity to love, but instead I was rejecting it and abusing myself for feeling it.

So finally I gave up. I said, "You know what, I love him, alright? And right now, that may be a dead-end, but it is what it is and I'm tired of lying to myself."

And then, interestingly enough, my sadness morphed into something different. It became beautiful sadness, it became productive sadness, it became sadness that was enlarging my heart and adding to my sympathy and bringing me closer to people instead of dividing me from them.

So I let myself love him. For years. I let myself be okay with that.

And you know what I learned? I learned that it's okay to love someone who doesn't love you back. It's okay to let yourself feel that, it's okay to be heartbroken,

But your heart, it is a sacred place, a place where you should be safe, a place where you can be honest, a place where you can find truth. Of all people, don't lie to yourself. Your heart is too good to you to treat it that way. It’s fine to put on a front for the sake of social niceties and your dignity and such, but in the quiet moments, when you’re alone with your heart and your fears and your dreams, you need to be honest. You need know that that is a place you can always rely on and return to to get your bearings, to muster courage, to heal. Let it be a refuge, where you alone can look your feelings squarely in the face, accept them, and make peace with them. Then you will have the tools you need to overcome.

And always listen to your deep-down. You cannot slay the dragons in your life by pretending they don't exist. Face the dragon. Accept the facts. The way to cross an ocean isn't to climb on the first log or hunk of flotsam you can find and push off. You will only drown. The way to cross an ocean is to look it squarely in the face--to know its deceptions and its dangers and its Bermuda triangles and its benevolences--to know all of it--to study the stars, learn the maps, memorize the tide charts, accept it for what it is, love it for what it is, and then one bright morning, when it has become part of you, the sea will call and you can finally shove off the shore into the brave and open waters.

And so here I am, two years later, peacefully, gratefully, and happily on the other side of that ocean. Finally. Finally.

And you know what was the final piece to my healing? It was this:

I remembered who I am. I remembered that my dreams were beautiful, that the courage I'd mustered to love him was incredible, and that whatever else was lost when we broke up, those things--the beauty and the courage and the love--were not lost. I remembered that those are things inside me and they are things I will carry with me wherever I go,

and best of all, those are things I will carry with me to whoever I go.

music monday (mumford & sons edition)

All Mumford. Their new album comes out tomorrow. Can you blame me?

1. "Home"
2. "Ghosts That We Knew"
3. "Below My Feet"

Queen of the Sink (and Other Stories)

And today I learned how to disassemble a sink.

(Carrot peels + our disposal = no good. Hence, an opportunity for me to learn how to unscrew pipes and fish out food and force myself not to throw up when warm and carrot-chunky water comes gushing out the pipes, over my hands, and splatters in the pan and onto the cupboard walls under the sink. Just this much closer to being a steel-stomach mom someday.)

Other things I'm proud of from this week:
1. Getting gas last night instead of putting it off again. I always put off getting gas. I've never yet run out of gas, which is why I perpetuate this unsavory habit, but I live in constant fear that one of these needle-on-E days, my gas tank will revolt and say, "We've had enough of your bad habits."
2. And I went to get gas attired in black stretchy pants and socks. I was already in my car, it was late at night, I was comfy, and I knew if I stopped at home to "make myself presentable" before foraying out into the world to fill said gas tank, that what would actually happen is me crawling in bed and going to sleep. Hence, in my stockinged feet and stretchypantlegs, I went to the gas station. No shame. And apparently no fear about my socks touching gas station concrete ew.



Wow, five minutes later, I can't think of anything else to add to the "proud of" list. Things I'm not so proud of though? Eating that whole pan of brownies (what the?!), watching reality t.v. with the roomies (I don't regret the roommate part, just the reality t.v.), staying up 2+ hours too late every night (serious problem people)...(what is this, confessional? I seriously need a theme for this blog or else this is what it inevitably denegrates to: Carolyn's Confessions. I guess you've gotta say them somewhere.)


Tomorrow is Mumford & Sons' new album. (Here's stuff I've written before about this band that I love so much.) You better believe there's gonna be a celebratory Music Monday tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Poems, via Google Translate which I take things in other languages, stick them in Google translate, and turn them into a poem. Sometimes I take drastic artistic license. Sometimes I do nothing at all.

Fighting the Current
(Or, The Drowned)

You're going adrift.
(Remember the river!)
And I, running on the shore,
cry back
But slowly you walk away
And in this frantic race,

I regain
A little lost ground.

From time to time, you darken 

in the liquid black and moving
Or, brushing some brambles,
You hesitate and wait for me,
Your hiding face
In your gown tucked up,

All shame and regret.

You are no longer a poor wreck 

adrift over water,
And I am yet your slave.
I plunge into the stream,
Halt at the memory,
At oblivion's ocean,
And once more 

smash our hearts and our heads
and never us reunite.

Monday, September 17, 2012

music monday

1. "Come Back Down" (Greg Laswell & Sara Bareilles)
2. "Runaways" (Elle Lefant)
3. "Lovers' Carvings" (Bibio)

racing mind

What do you do when it's after one in the morning and you're mind's racing so much that you can't sleep?

Racing Racing Racing I have to edit pictures x 4 work out a budget take magazine over to featured artist assign photo series to photographers i know find photographers i know edit thesis email thesis chair back fix fritzing computer write on europe blog again oops finish laundry register car take in drycleaning submit some essays photograph the cover image ah ah ah and all the while, not writing enough, not reading enough, not photographing enough, and never ever flossing enough.



I think of London, of her cobblestone streets under my shoesoles and of the clipclop of the morning horse guards past my Queen's Gate window.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

On Fear and Faith and Living a Life that Isn't At All What You'd Planned

I am here, utterly and sublimely happy, with some beautiful news:

I have been called to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'll leave in February and will serve for 18 months. (You can read about what a mission is here.)


and I'm going to France...Southern France to be precise. (!!!!!!!!!!!) Southern France to learn French, and to eat crepes, and to serve the God I love.

This thing is so beautiful to me that I can hardly think about it.

This mission may come as a shock to a lot of people. I'm 26 ("old" for girl-missionary standards), I am just finishing my graduate degree, and I'm dating like a million guys (joke. I'm not.). In seriousness though, I've kept it pretty quiet, this decision to go. But it's actually been in the works for quite some time now--"officially" since March, but secretly (meaning heaven only knew about it, not even me) for quite some years. So when I finally decided to go, I kept these things close, and thought about them, and prayed about them, and felt the kind of peace that only comes when you are making the best decision you have ever made in your life.

So I want to share some of the thoughts I've had in this process. Maybe it will help someone who is making a similar decision. Mostly I share this, though, because it is beautiful to me, and I want you people that I love to know about it.

....................How I Decided to Go....................
I resisted going on a mission for a really long time. It wasn't in my life plan for myself. I'd never had any desire to serve. In fact, I'd go as far as to say I had anti-desire to serve a mission. Growing up, I remember some of my friends would talk about how much they wanted to be missionaries, and I remember thinking, "Please don't let that be what happens in my life." (This may or may not have everything to do with the fact that I have control-issues when it comes to my life plan. This also has to do with a mean little thing we call pride.)

I recognize that this aversion is a bit strange. I love the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love studying my religion and talking about it with others and teaching it. All the sweetest moments and truths in my life have come because of this gospel, because of my faith. It is who I am. So naturally you'd think I'd be readyreadyready to apply to serve a mission as soon as I turned 21.

And yet I had no desire to. I just felt like it wasn't something I wanted or needed to do.

But again and again the feeling would come, almost naggingly, that I needed to be open to serving a mission. And again and again, I'd smother it with thoughts that I didn't need to, that it was my choice, that what I really wanted to do was get married, etc., etc., etc.

But I felt that there was something out of place in my life, that there was a greater happiness that was eluding me because I was holding back parts of myself, that there was some purpose that I wasn't yet filling. So I decided to face it.

I knew that because I'd already decided that I wasn't going to go, my prayers inquiring what God wanted me to do were getting me nowhere. I knew that I would only be able to get clear direction from God once I could honestly say in my heart that I was willing to go if that's the answer I got.

And then came one of the biggest battles thus far in the inner-life of Carolyn: getting my stubborn little heart to a place where I was willing to be open to possibilities that weren't what I'd mapped out for myself. In the Book of Mormon, there's a story of a man named Enos who goes into the woods to pray to God. He says he wrestled before God, before he was able to receive forgiveness for his sins, before he was able to really communicate with God. I wrestled a lot. I cried a lot. The closest metaphor I can think of is a metalsmith hammering out a piece of steel.

But here's what I finally realized: me having thoughts to serve a mission was only because that choice would open me up to greater happiness. God directs us in paths towards happiness, so so gently. Those thoughts I kept having weren't demands from a God intent on controlling my life and forcing me to do things I don't want to do. Instead, they were promptings, nudgings, from an infinitely kind and infinitely patient God, who was trying to show me a higher path for my life than the one I would have chosen to go down.

When I realized this and was able to hand my will over, not just in my head but in my heart, that's when things began to take shape.

I won't go into the details of the myriad (seriously. myriad) of tender kindnesses that were poured over me in this decision process. In the time I was making the decision, there were lots of moments when the anxiety and fear would bubble up in my throat and nearly choke me, and I'd have to force myself to not think about it. But in every one of those moments, there was someone or something (even if it was just a thought or a prayer) there to give me a hand up, to encourage me, to quiet my fears. 

And eventually all that fear passed. Thank heavens it passed. And it has been replaced with the sweetest of peace, about my life, about my decision, and best of all, about myself.

And you know all that stuff about not wanting to go? Let me tell you how I feel now: 180 degree turn. Now it’s all I want. A year ago, it would have been literally impossible for me to imagine myself saying that and meaning it. But I do. And isn't that the miracle of it all? That our hearts can change?

Another story (my favorite, actually) from the Book of Mormon, in one of the most beautiful metaphors I have ever known, talks about how hearts change. A man named Jared and his family are driven from their homeland. God directs them that there is a land "choice above all the lands of the earth" that He wants to carry them to. To get there though, they have to cross the ocean. So they build boats that are water-tight, top and bottom. They make airholes so when they "suffer for air" they can unstop the holes and breathe for a while. But they have a problem--no light in the vessels. 

So Jared's brother (who's spearheading this whole project) cries to the Lord and says, "I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behond there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?" 

And the Lord responds, "What will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?" 

So the brother of Jared goes up to the mountain and makes 16 small, white, clear stones. And the scripture says, "he did carry them in his hands upon the top of the mount, and cried again unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. ...Behold these things which I have molten out of the rock. And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea."

So there the brother of Jared is, praying, with these 16 little stones in his hands, asking for God to touch them and make them shine with light.

And the Lord stretches out his hand and touches the stones one by one, and they shine. And Jared and his family make it across the ocean and reach the land of their inheritance, the land "choice above all other lands."


I guess what I'm saying is that we are all each of us on a journey to a new land, to becoming the people we were meant to be. And that journey sometimes takes us right through the heart of great and terrible tempests, of fierce and furious winds, of mountain waves, even to the very depths of the ocean. And we start this journey by bringing 16 roughhewn stones to the mountaintop and praying that they will be made light and holy, that they will carry us across this ocean to our "promised land." 

I guess what I'm saying is that I know that Jesus Christ can do that. I know He can change hearts. I know He can bring light to questions and doubts and fears that previously darkened our lives.

And that's why serving a mission for Him is the best decision I have ever made--because I will get to teach that message of hope to those who are looking for light in their journeys.

.....And Now a Word on What I've Learned and What I Believe.....
I've learned (yet again) that God is patient. I am slow to come around sometimes, slow to realize what the best paths for my life are, and then slow to get the guts to actually do them. But God is patient. He blesses all our attempts at goodness. He makes our tiny efforts overflow in benevolence and plenty.

There are no obstacles--on land, sea, or heart--that we cannot overcome through the divine and tender kindnesses of God.

I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I believe the record that he translated, the Book of Mormon, is a true account, another witness of the divinity of the Savior, of his love for all people. I believe that it is through Jesus Christ that all wounds are healed. I believe that it is through Him that we become like Heavenly Father--pure as He is pure.

Learning of Jesus Christ fills me with love for others, with joy, and with solid peace in who I am and in who I am becoming.

I want to serve a mission because there are questions of the soul--the kind that keep you up at night, the kind that gnaw at who you are and call into question everything about this whole “life” thing. I have had these questions, and I have found answers to them through learning and living the gospel of Jesus Christ. And as I grow up, I realize how many people have these kinds of questions. I realize that these questions only grow deeper with age. I want to find those people who are looking for answers but don't know where to find them. I want to share what I know, in the hope that it will resonate with them and help them, as it has me.

For instance, these are some questions that the gospel of Jesus Christ has helped me answer:

  • Why should I get out of bed today?
  • How do I get over incapacitating heartbreak?
  • How do I forgive someone?
  • How do I forgive myself?
  • How do I get over xyz bad habit?
  • How come on some days I feel good about myself and on others I feel the opposite? How can I feel good about myself more consistently?
  • In this crazy over-scheduled world, what would be the best thing(s) for me to invest my time and energy in?
  • How do I know which messages (from media, friends, authority figures, and myself) I can trust and which I shouldn’t?
  • How will I measure success?
  • What lifestyle will bring me the deepest, longest-lasting joy?
  • What’s going to happen to all these beautiful relationships I have once we all die?
  • What kind of a person do I want to be?
  • How do I renew hope when all darkness gathers in around me?
  • What is the purpose of all my striving?
  • What is most important to teach my (someday) children?
  • How can I repair broken relationships?
  • Is there a God?
  • Who is He?

And now as I write this, I realize how many of you I’ve been friends with for so many years and yet have never “officially” invited to learn about these incredible things. I guess I figured if you were curious, you’d ask. So here’s my official invitation. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe this gospel was restored to the earth, for us to learn and live and love and prepare to meet Him again.

Yep. Best decision I've ever made.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

movies i still wanna see

Yeah so I'm lame and never go to the movie theatre. But here are five movies I'm still dying to watch.
  1. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
  2. Sleepwalk with Me
  3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  4. Moonrise Kingdom
  5. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Any takers? And any other suggestions for good recent movies?

Monday, September 10, 2012

dear world,

"The shower was now over, and a rainbow above the eastern woods promised a fair evening; so I took my departure."
(Henry David Thoreau, "Baker Farm," Walden)

I'm having a really hard time writing at all right now in my life. My once computer musings have introverted themselves into pages of a journal I keep by my bed. Last night I turned all the lights out and laid down to sleep, but my hot-wired brain kept going so I switched on my lamp and wrote and wrote until I ran out of lines on the page and then could finally sleep. I always intend to type those pre-snooze thoughts the next morning, clean them up for general consumption, share them here maybe, but then the selfish devil inside me says, "No, those are for the paper only" and I have to relent.

I wonder what kinds of things are nurtured when you bottle thoughts like jams and jellies and store them to open later. I'll tell you one thing that happens: shelves and shelves of journals. "And I could write a song a hundred miles long."

I will say this: I am content beyond belief right now. I am happy with who I am. I am happy with the direction my life is taking. I am happy with the decisions I am making day-to-day and the decisions I've made year-to-year, especially the ones I didn't understand in the moment but that have somehow grown important and kind things inside my heart. I am happy with my relationships. I am happy with how I spend my time.

I am happy that today two people talked to me about doing their wedding photography.


And tomorrow is another clean white page, and I get to punch holes in it and turn it into lace. And this hope for the morning brings me cozy thoughts when right now I nestle in my bed with Henry David and a cup of water and ponder the night away.

Seredipitously yours.

music monday: fall mix

Three songs to listen to while you watch the leaves change:
1.) "Amazing Eyes" (Good Old War)
2.) "Clean White Love" (Lisa Mitchell)
3.) "Lady Percy" (King Charles) I have no idea what is going on in this video, but I kinda love it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

fugitive summer

The summer slipped through my open-hearted fingers, 
but I learned to let go,
and I learned to love the world again.

Today was familiar.
Today was new.
I ate two tacos before ten thirty in the morning,
I seriously considered joining the medieval club on campus,
I sat on my stoop and listened to the thunderstorm and read Thoreau and waited for people to walk by smiling at me on the stoop listening to the thunderstorm and reading Thoreau.
I ate with the family I love,
then drove up the canyon in the rain,
lovelily alone.
(The leaves haven't yet started smelling earthy.)

I talked politics with girls who care about the world and care about others
and I was grateful again that there are still places in this world where people want to sit on park benches, around tables, on living room floors, to talk about politics and morals and lofty ideals and the best within people.

And then under a monster tree we drank our hot chocolate.

Every day seems thus an exercise in gratitude,
when with blessings sweet my life bubbles over the brim.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

what Henry says

"We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts."

--Henry David Thoreau, "What I Lived For," Walden

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

get on the roof

16 Reasons to Get Yourself on the Roof(top Concert Series) this Friday:
  1. It's outside. On top of a parking garage. In the summer. #epic
  2. It's F R E E .
  3. There will most likely be white lanterns strung all over the place.
  4. Black Sheep Cafe's sweet potato fries.
  5. India Palace's curry stand.
  6. New Electric Sound is playing. (Need proof for their coolness? Watch here:
  7. Oh yeah, and Fictionist will be there too (!).
  8. It's easy to get to the front of the stage if you want.
  9. It's easy to get far away from the stage if you want.
  10. You can sit or stand.
  11. Sammy's shakes are a mere stone's throw away.
  12. Chances are you'll run into at least five people that you know and like.
  13. Always great trend spotting here--pompadours, stars and stripes denim pants, suspenders, teal name it, Rooftop Concerts has it.
  14. FlyProvo sponsors the Concert Series. Here's why this counts as a reason to go to the concert: If you haven't flown out of Provo yet, it's pretty much all-caps COOL. Super-convenient, super-close, they give you a warm cookie on the flight, annnnnd you get to walk out on the tarmac like you're in a 1940's film. (If you're missing my logic here, if FlyProvo=COOL and FlyProvo=Rooftop Concerts, then Rooftop Concerts=COOL.)
  15. 3BYoga also sponsors it. Anything these people do turns to gold, so you know these concerts have to be good.
  16. I'm going to be there, so duh it's a good idea.
In other words,
Provo Rooftop Concert Series.
7.30 on September 7.
Seriously, though.

Monday, September 3, 2012

music monday

I'm only doing one song today because putting any other music next to this makes all other songs look pitiful. Incredible. I could listen to her voice every second of the day and never get tired of it.

1. "Skinny Love" (Birdy)