25 December 2011

Our Regular Programming Will Likely Resume After the Break

Merry Christmas, world.

I hope you've had a beautiful day.


I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th'unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
'There is no peace on earth,' I said
'For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.'

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.'

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  
XO
Love always,
Ashley

22 December 2011

Not Even a Real Post...

I found this quote saved on my computer today. 'Tis pretty awesome.

"So avoid using the word 'very' because it is lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don't use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys--to woo women--and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won't do in your essays."

--John Keating, Dead Poet's Society

Love always,
Ashley

14 December 2011

Music Wednesday and a Funny Story

Funny story first. Yay!

On Monday afternoon, I was at the store. Once I was thoroughly tired of being at the store, I went to the check-out lane to make my purchases--four skeins of yarn, and a bottle of prenatal vitamins.

I chose the bottle of prenatal vitamins after spending a good half-hour in the vitamin aisle comparing all the different types of vitamins and the levels of everything they contained. For my price range, the prenatal ones had the most ideal levels of the things I was looking for. Besides, the pharmacy people were starting to give me funny looks, and I thought it would be best to leave before they came and asked me what I wanted.

Anyway, so I set it all down on the conveyor belt thingy, and waited patiently for my turn to hand over my precious money to corporate america.

The checker was a lady who was probably about fifty-five or so. She scanned all my yarn, scanned the vitamins, and then looked me up and down, paying particular attention to my conspicuously wedding ring-less left hand, and made a *tsk, tsk* noise. She put the vitamins in the bag, sighing, then looked at me and shook her head. "Congratulations," she said, sounding as though she would much rather be saying the opposite.

Maybe I should have said, "Oh, I'm not pregnant. I'm just buying those for the iron and B12 content." But being judged makes me snarky.

I smiled. "Thank you," I said, as genuinely as I could. "We couldn't be happier. We're hoping for a boy." And then I took my bag and walked out of the store, with my head held high.

Yeah, that's not incredibly snarky. I know. But it was the best I could come up with on the fly. I felt like saying "Just a minute" and going back and picking up a pregnancy test and condoms, to buy with my vitamins and yarn, but I didn't. Because, really, what would I do with a pregnancy test and condoms? Nothing. And condoms are expensive, and I don't have any extra money to go spending on things I won't use.

I wanted to be all, "Where do you get off, making comments about what you assume my life to be by the vitamins I buy? Even if I was unmarried and knocked up, I don't need you to get on your moral high horse and lecture me about it. And not all married women wear rings, anyway. Blah!" But I didn't say anything like that, either.

Stupid cashier. Anyway, the whole experience totally made my day. I was extremely amused for a long time.

And, the bottle of prenatal vitamins says they are for women "before, during, and after pregnancy". That's me, solidly in the before-pregnancy slot. I need folic acid and zinc too, thank you.

~

On a side note, at my local drugstore, the condoms, pregnancy tests, baby diapers, and Tylenol are all on the same aisle. That is one-stop shopping.

~

Now for music!

Ray LaMontagne - 'Hannah'





Oasis - 'Wonderwall'


I have no idea what a 'wonderwall' is, or how someone can be one, but I like this song.


Majandra Defino - 'Hell and Bliss'




Middle Class Rut - 'New Low'







Marie Digby - 'Love Hurts'


I have always loved this song, and it has a shocking lack of cover versions. This one comes close to doing it justice, but nothing tops the original.



The Cranberries - 'Zombie'


* Sigh * I cannot express to you how much fun this song is. It would be even better if I could sing along, but, alas, I cannot make my voice do that. * Sigh *



VAST - 'Turquoise'


~

I need to go home now and study for my last final.

Love always,
Ashley

11 December 2011

Huh?


So... Proctor and Gamble sent me a 'birthday present' for my eighteenth a few weeks ago. To my parents' house. One of these:


Yes, that's right. A men's razor.

I have a number of questions--

  1. What?
  2. Do they think I am a male?
  3. If so, does turning eighteen suddenly make me eligible to shave? Were I male, I hopefully would have been shaving long before now.
  4. How did they get my name?
  5. How did they get my parents' address? I haven't put their address down on anything with my name for at least six months.
  6. How did they know when my birthday was? And finally,
  7. How am I possibly their target demographic? Though it looks mighty fine and razory, really, I have no reason to favor a man's razor over the 600 disposable women's razors I have somehow mysteriously acquired from various sources over the past year or so (Seriously, I have a five-year supply of disposable razors. Anybody want a few?). At barely eighteen, I'm not even married to their target demographic. I don't understand.
Addressing a man's razor to a "Ashley Schaffer" seems counterintuitive. Nearly all Ashleys have been female for, like, thirty+ years.

Ha. Whatever.

I discovered it last night, when I came back to the house for the first time in a few weeks, and gave it to Tall One as an early Christmas Present--hoping against hope that he would show immediate interest in using it (as if the 'you need to shave' comments from nearly everyone he comes across, the razors my grandmother bought him the other day, and mine and Dad's constant picking on him wasn't hint enough). No such luck, yet.

:)

Love always,
Ashley

P.S. - I did give him a haircut though, so now he looks (almost) human.

08 December 2011

A Manifesto

-->
Cat Power - 'Satisfaction'


Can it really be considered 'coming out' when everybody already knows?

I don't care.

I am a feminist.

People know. My family knows, my friends know, random strangers can tell. One once told me that I “wear lipstick with the irony that only a feminist can.” Whatever that was supposed to mean.

It's interesting to have people know. I'm the go-to for questions, as if I were a member of some sort of exotic club that people are sort of curious about, sort of scared of, but are still convinced that it's weird and wrong and... well... crazy.

Basically, being a feminist is a lot like being a homeschooler,
or a Mormon,
or a home birth advocate,
except that even fewer people like you.

There are a lot of negative connotations involved with feminism.
-We hate men.
-We hate children, especially babies. In fact, we hate babies so much that we go out of our way to kill them when we get the chance.
-We hate families. And everything else wholesome, probably.
-We all secretly wish we were Hillary Clinton.
-We don't like religion, or God. Not only do we not believe in God, but we probably hate Him, too. 'Cause we're haters.

Yes, there are some women out there like that. All of that. They sound scary to me, too.

But dig around a little and actually meet some of us. We're nice people, for the most part. Friendly. Accepting. Big on tolerance and respect for human dignity.

The bra-burning thing mostly stayed in the '70s. Mostly.

We don't all believe in the same things, but here are the basics of what I believe:
-No one, ever, should feel that being female is less than being male. Or vice versa.
-No one should be considered the property of another.
-All thought and action should be evaluated on merit, and not on gender.
-No one should be harmed or be taken advantage of because they are weaker than someone else, or different from someone else.
-Submission is not a gender role.

That's only skimming the surface, but it's enough for now. It's enough for a start.

People get hung-up on the term feminist. I did too, for years. But I like it, and I see no reason to drop it in the near future. It creates a frame of reference, and provides a slight sense of community.

And when almost everyone disagrees with you, you take a community anywhere you can find one.

~

Sadness.
Pain.
Disappointment.
Anger.
Rage.
Despair.

I know what all of these feel like. I feel them every day.

And sometimes, like today, I just feel tired.

I'm tired of always walking uphill, without an end in sight.

I'm tired of the verbal (or literal) pats on the head. Patronizing me will not make me go away. (“Now Dearie, I know you're upset, but...”)

I'm tired of my emotions and opinions beings ascribed to PMS. (“Everyone knows women are irrational; they can't help it—it's all those *hormones*.”)

I'm tired of constantly having to defend my position, even from the people I love. Especially from the people I love.

I'm tired of my questions being answered with “We don't know; that's just the way God wants it to be.” Seriously? Seriously? Yeah, that's why I left before, why it took so long to come back. No God I can believe in would roll His eyes at me and elbow me in the side to shut me up. Do we not believe in the admonition to “ask in faith” anymore? Funny, I thought the reason we were all here was because someone was brave enough to question the way things were. But, you know, I could be wrong. Maybe they took that part out of the book when I wasn't looking.

I'm tired of being told that it's all in my head. That's what we tell schizophrenics. Do I look mentally ill to you?

I don't need you to agree with me. It would be nice if you did, sure; but you don't have to. All I need is for you to concede that just because you disagree doesn't mean I'm completely wrong. I know I'm not absolutely right. But I'm as close as I know how to be.

I refuse to ask for forgiveness, to apologize. I refuse to feel shame for following my conscience to the best of my ability and interpretation.

This is not something you're indulging me in, a phase I'll grow out of eventually. This is my response to a broken system, a broken culture, a broken world.

It's one thing to look forward to Zion, to contemplate and prepare for the Millennial rule and structure and joy. But in the meantime, we live here. Now. And here and now, there are major problems. And until it's time to Kumbayah with Jesus, I refuse to stand down. I refuse to sit and wait meekly in a corner while everything goes to hell in a hand-basket around me.

We're at war with the world, are we not? And in a war different soldiers have different responsibilities, based on their specialties and abilities. This is mine.

Because in God's army, women are allowed in combat zones.

Without hope, where would any of us be?

Love always,
Ashley

07 December 2011

Things I Have Learned in the Past Five Days

...More specifically, in the past forty-eight hours or so.

1) Try as I might, I cannot manage to gnaw a hole through my bottom lip. Barely.

When I was little, I would chew on things when I was stressed. Pencils, mostly. I would also grind my teeth. Thankfully, I broke both those habits years ago. But last night I came to the realization that the reason my lip was sore and slightly swollen was because I'd been chewing on it for 12+ hours (give or take).  Ow.

2) It is indeed possible to read three obscurely philosophic articles and crank out seven double-spaced pages of meaningful text about them in two hours. *Sigh*. If only creating original thoughts were that easy; I could have finished my term paper weeks ago.

3) When you ingest caffeine in the middle of the night and then go to bed at 3:30 only to have to get up again at 6:00, you will be beyond jittery in the morning. Maybe it's just me. I'm better now, I think. *Twitch*

4) The correlation between insomnia and several philosophies I seriously considered a year ago has been solidified in my mind. Nihilism makes perfect sense to me when I'm sleep-deprived. Ug. I need a nap.

5) I get snarky, even to myself, when I'm fed up with something. To write my term paper for my political parties class I read about six hundred (slight approximation, but whatever) long scholarly articles on the subject. In the beginning my notes summarizing each article were constructive: "Emergence of Evangelical Christians shifting toward the GOP; Lincoln quote on p. 346." By the last few articles... "Nifty quotes, but no real point," and "I don't know what the hell this one says."

Thankfully, the rushed portion of finals is over. Half of one tomorrow, two and a small paper next week. I can handle that. I can totally handle that. Provided I get some sleep.

The End.

Love always,
Ashley

P.S. - Here is a song. Happy day. Joy-inducing background riff. If you turn the volume up a little on your earphones, your skull will vibrate. Cool.


Muse - 'Supermassive Black Hole'



30 November 2011

Today

Today I sold my soul to the devil and registered to vote.

I hate political parties. I don't agree with any of them, and checking the box next to one of them seems like betraying my ideology. It's not. It fits right nicely in my ideology of pragmatism. But... damn it, I am not a Republican. I don't want to be a Republican. I disagree with so much of the party platform it's not even funny. But I don't agree with anyone else either, and when in Rome...

Rome, Utah, same thing. Blah.

Can I be a self-proclaimed RINO? I hope so.

Because, for the time being, that's what I am.

~

Today was good, though, in that I successfully gave two presentations, got some happy news, and didn't fall asleep during my liberalism class.

Yeah. The end.

Love always,
Ashley

27 November 2011

Wild Geese

Every so often (pretty regularly, actually) I go on a poetry kick.

You know.

When I start reading Walt Whitman and Maya Angelou and Edgar Allen Poe and Metallica lyrics, and religiously avoid anything Robert Frost or Alfred Tennyson--that is a poetry kick.

I like my poetry rare.

Like steak.

I don't eat steak, but I do eat poetry.

Poetry is best when it is raw, and full of naked emotion. Form, grammar, fancy ideas--none of them can compare to words that capture a heart on paper and preserve it so that others can find it and become a little less alone.

And with poetry kicks, I discover new poems. Here is my latest find, a poem that made me stop and think and reread and find comfort.

Wild Geese
(by Mary Oliver)

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

I like that. "Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine."

Anyway...

Yeah. Poetry is good for the soul.

Love always,
Ashley

16 November 2011

Music Wednesday!

Posting has been sparse lately because I'm in the thought stages of a mega-post. A really good one. It's taking awhile, but we'll get there.

On a random side note, I spent yesterday afternoon (when there were any number of things I should have been doing) watching WW2 documentaries with my grandfather. 'Twas awesome. :)

On to the music!


Rihanna - 'Breakin' Dishes'


I will freely admit to having been a Rihanna fan for, like, five years now. I know the words. I sing along. All that. She's just about my only foray into the R&B-pop world, just like Eminem is the only rap worth spending time with. And that preposition hanging there is really bothering me, but I don't want to re-word.

Here's another one, just for fun.


Rihanna - 'Rehab'



Lily Allen - 'Never Gonna Happen'


Sorry. I really couldn't help myself. It's the accordion. I'm got a weakness for accordions in popular music. * Sigh *

Illustration:

Edward Maya - 'Stereo Love'


This used to come on all the time while I was driving, and I'd have to make this awkward little squealing sound and hum along with the accordion part in the chorus. It drove Tall One nuts.

Moving to real music now, after that little dip in auto-tune madness.



Maroon 5 - 'This Love'


Tall One and I can never come to agreement on whether this is a breakup song, a let's-get-back-together song, a I'm-not-letting-you-break-up-with-me-again song, or just one very confused man.

I'm disappointed with Maroon 5's recent work. 'Never Gonna Leave this Bed'? Come on. Talk about a recipe for muscle deterioration and all sorts of icky boils or something. Ug. And then 'Moves Like Jagger'? Ew. Just ew. It's some kind of horrible sell out. I refuse to believe it's true.


The Beatles - 'I Want to Hold Your Hand'


 The Beatles do things that one one else can.


Snow Patrol - 'Set the Fire to the Third Bar'



This song gets majorly stuck in my head. Watch the music video. It's nice. Very artsy.

Only about half of Snow Patrol's stuff is worth listening to. The other half is cliche and boring.

And on that note (hehe), I've got to get to class.

Love always,
Ashley

11 November 2011

Veteran's Day

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
- John Stuart Mill


Thank you, all those who are and have been willing to risk their lives and their safety and their convenience in order to stand for this country.

God Bless,
Ashley

03 November 2011

Feet, Feet, Feet... How Many, Many Feet You Meet

Not quite. Though I do love this book--and the rest of Dr. Seuss--dearly.
Today I am going to talk about feet. Kind of aimlessly, but that's okay. I have a need to avoid thesis statements at all costs this evening.

I have large feet. Not horrendously huge, mind you, but large. Above average.

It runs in the family. My mother, with nines, and my father, with twelves, got together and created me, with tens (well, sometimes they're only 9 1/2 W, but only sometimes, and those are practically impossible to find anyway). Tall One caught up with Dad a while ago and will probably out-pace him him soon, if he hasn't already.

I grew up with small-footed friends. Their feet were always smaller than mine. Their feet are still smaller than mine (there was one friend with bigger feet as we were children, but I think we're about even now). Some friends share shoes, I understand. That seems kind of weird, to me, but even if I had wanted too I couldn't have.

Some people are selfconscious about their feet. Apparently there are all sorts of hangups about how large feet are masculine and small feet are feminine. I don't get that, but whatever. I haven't spent my life trying to be especially feminine, so people out there are free to think whatever they want. I will proudly don my hefty hiking boots (which I purchased from the men's department, by the way, because the women's boots at Walmart were too wimpy for my taste) and clomp around the world. They keep my feet warm. And they can crush things.

As I was growing up, it seemed like my feet always grew in bursts. They were never the same size long enough for me to get used to them. As a result, I was probably the clumsiest person on the block. Actually... that may not entirely be my feet's fault. But I know for certain that approximately 70% of the falling I did was a result of misinterpreting my foot size and tripping over things.

I like my feet. They match the rest of me. I have larger hands than the female average, too. Long arms, long legs... having big feet just seems like it should follow along in there. The only thing I dislike about having big feet is how hard it is to find shoes. Stores either don't carry many styles of size ten women's shoes; or shoes that are perfectly wonderful in, say, a size 6, look awkward in a larger size.

My question is, how do people with small feet function? I use my feet as a balancing system, a way to keep upright, and as a means of locomotion. I'm really just barely succeeding at all those things, too. So how do the small-footed people of the world do it?

~

Anyway, I should probably go home now. Trying to avoid the cold by holing up in the library only serves to make my future journey, at a later and darker time, that much colder. Although... I could stay. The library is open 24 hours. But that would be stupid, and I would get really hungry, and eventually I would need to shower and change my clothes and brush my teeth. No go.

~

Love always,
Ashley

P.S. - Speaking of feet, I dropped a cup of cocoa on one of mine last night. Surprises are fun sometimes, I'm learning. :)

31 October 2011

2 Posts in 6 Hours

I've never posted twice in one day before...

There's something wrong with it somehow.

But Tall One wrote and posted something on Google Buzz today that I thought deserved a repeat. Good job, brother. Nicely put.

It's Halloween, and I would like to thank all the little people for making this great holiday, of eating candy and getting sugar highs, possible.
Halloween is that time of year when all the little children go out and get hundreds of individually wrapped candies for you to munch on later that night and for breakfast the next morning, either with or without parental consent.
It is a time of year where we say goodbye to October and see that November is here and that we somehow missed February, March, April, May, June, July and so on…
But here we are and the holiday season is almost upon us. When we change from the scary side of life to the happy Christmas carol singing side of life. Some even believe that Christmas carols should be song all year round. But I believe that the moment that Halloween is over and done with, we can begin to sing Christmas carols again! Thank heaven for Halloween; for it is the only thing keeping us back from singing Christmas carols all year round!
Thank you Halloween, for you are the way we get all the tricks out and save the treats for the coming holiday season. You are a spotlight in a child’s life. A way to keep us content until Thanksgiving comes around. YUM!
So keep on doing what your doing Halloween! You save us from making Columbus Day the highlight of our October. You give us an excuse to gorge down all the candy we can find. You save us from buying Christmas decorations in October (wait never mind). You bring us the Great Pumpkin! And we get to dress up like crazy people!
So remember this October 31, 2011, all the things Halloween does for you and your friends!
-- Austin Schaffer

Love always,
Ashley

מוסיקה

This morning in class we got to listen to שירים של עברית (Hebrew songs). It was a very happy thing.


:)


אריק איינשטיין - אני ואתה

They tell me that this is the Israeli equivalent to Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to Heaven'. It's not nearly as amazing, but...


חיים משה - תודה

Coolest. Song. Ever. Okay, maybe not; but it's the best one I've heard all day.


Awesome.

Love always,
Ashley

26 October 2011

If I Were a Dominatrix...

I realize it's a funky title. Stay with me, here.

If I were a dominatrix... besides being called Lady Persephone... I would wear these boots:

These are $1395 calf leather boots from Jimmy Choo. Yeah.

Not to worry anyone,  though, because the likelihood of my becoming a dominatrix is slim to none. Here are the factors I considered, running over the numbers in the vastly practical difference engine that is my brain.

PROS (reasons to be a dominatrix):
  1. I would get to wear the boots.
  2. You announce that you're a dominatrix, people are very likely to be intimidated.
  3. One of these days I could star on a reality television show titled, 'Kids, Your Mom's a Domme'. It could be just like 'Sister Wives', only less pligy and with more chains.
CONS (reasons not to be a dominatrix):
  1. No matter where you are, the sex trade is tricky. Legalities fluctuate, depending on who's in the state legislature and who the major lobbies are... not to mention individual city council organizations... licensing could be tricky.
  2. Peak work hours are likely the reverse of 'normal' business hours. I would prefer to be home evenings, if at all possible.
  3. It could be slightly awkward to mention in Relief Society meetings. ("And we'd like to welcome a new member to the ward. Sister Schaffer has moved into the cul-de-sac near the park, and she works as a dominatrix.")
  4. Dominatrices probably need to have long, neatly manicured, painted acrylic fingernails. That ain't gonna happen in this lifetime, honey. I'm a pianist, and I can vividly imagine the very real possibility of nail-bed bruising. Not to mention that obnoxious clicky-clacky noise.
So, with a grand total of three pros and four cons, I decided not to take that career path. That is my method. The end.

Love always,
Ashley

Note: No submissives were harmed in the writing of this post.
:)

24 October 2011

Meh.

Today kind of feels like a combination between two songs.


Radiohead - 'Karma Police'





Death Cab for Cutie - 'Title and Registration'




With this song added in for good measure.


Pink Floyd - 'Wish You Were Here'



I don't know why. One of those days.
They're kind of fun to have, every now and then, I suppose.
Days where life is just a little bit off-kilter.
Tilted.
Not in a bad way, or in a good way,
Just in a 'life is different today' way.


For a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself
For a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself
Phew, for a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself
~
How I wish, how I wish you were here
We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year
Running over the same old ground
What have we found?
The same old fears
Wish you were here


Love always,
Ashley

23 October 2011

Beautiful

This week I've discovered the words of Pablo Neruda. And they are so beautiful that I don't even care he was a communist.

It's not very often that words achieve their full potential. Usually words are wasted, sometimes they come close to beauty, but when words can reach down inside you and touch your soul in the way that normally only music can... that is art. That is beauty. That is power.

And it should be celebrated, no matter from where or who it originates. In whatever form, in whatever packaging, at whatever cost, true beauty should be held up like a banner to the world.

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: when I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

- Pablo Neruda

These words inspire memories;
of nights with stars
of walks in the dark
of the moon
of warm laughter
of safe arms
of whispered words
of tears of both joy and fear.

These words inspire hopes;
for a time when goodbyes no longer have to be said
for tiny feet and miniature breathy sighs
for piano music filtering through the walls at all hours
for when written words can be spoken
for battles fought together instead of apart
for an entire chorus of "goodnight"
for a home with a fireplace and an armchair.

Some beauty is obvious. Some is a little bit trickier. But without it... what have we left to remember? What have we left to look forward to?

Beauty creates in us a remembrance of purpose, a regeneration of commitment, an opportunity to say, "This is what I have promised, and this is what I will do."

It is so easy to be caught up in the moment, in the day-to-day humdrudgery of school or work or laundry. We can forget the real reasons we're here. We can forget that there's something behind all this. Behind, and above, and through, and beyond. There is so much eternity, and life is merely a little speck that we must fill with as much learning and accomplishment and love as we can. We are given this tiny pinprick of time, placed here to skirmish, armed only with nearly inaudible whisperings of mission and truth.

Beauty provides us with a place to rest, to breathe, if only for a moment.

Love always,
Ashley

19 October 2011

Dear World

Dear World:

I'm really not angry. I just look that way. Today is a happy day.

It's cold. The sun is shining in my eyes. This limping thing I'm doing isn't just to get sympathy; I'm actually in pain. And I'm trying to read that sign over there, but I'm blind and the words are too small. Hence the narrowed eyes, the furrowed brow, and the general expression of displeasure. Besides, if you were attempting to retain the insane amount of relatively pointless information that I am, you'd be looking pretty grumpy too.

I realize that I might look like a scary person who just decided to murder someone, but I hope this post assuages your fear.

Regards,
Ashley Schaffer

P.S. - Thank you, scrawny-looking freshman, for opening that door for me. I realize the action was motivated more by terror than chivalry, but I won't hold that against you.


:)
Love always,
Ashley

14 October 2011

Just a Note

I woke up this morning when the moon was shining through my window, and I could see Venus beneath it. It was one of those moments when the world is beautiful, and I was so very grateful to be alive.

Then I looked at the clock, and realized that I so did not want to be awake that early. But after those times when my brain goes, "I'm so happy, HAPPY, HAPPY!" there is no going back to sleep, no matter how late I was up. Oh well. Michael Jackson's 'Billy Jean' was on the radio a while later, and it made up for my chagrin about only getting four hours of sleep.

So I got up, got ready, left home before 7am--when it was still dark outside--and hoped the school library was open this early during fall break. Thankfully it was, because it's cold and I left in too much of a rush to grab a jacket.

Now that I think about it, I may have even forgotten to brush my hair after I got out of the shower (which could explain why it looks funny). Hmm. I really don't do mornings well.

You know what I've decided? There needs to be someone who forces me to listen to Rachmaninoff first thing every morning. Left to my own devices I just turn on the radio and flip obsessively through the stations for something I deem acceptable. There needs to be someone who will turn off the radio, put on Rachmaninoff, and say, "Ashley, quit complaining about wanting something you can sing along to; the Red Hot Chili Peppers are awesome and all, but at six o'clock in the morning? You need something with a little more substance." I won't do it on my own, but it would be a nice thing to have in life.


Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

--Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 'Ulysses'

~

Don't try to find the answer
When there ain't no question here.
Brother, let your heart be wounded;
And give no mercy to your fear.

Run to the water
And find me there--
Burnt to the core but not broken,
We'll cut through the madness
Of these streets below the moon.
These streets below the moon.

--Live, 'Run to the Water'


Love always,
Ashley

P.S. -- I painted a miniature pumpkin the color gold last night. October is awesome.

08 October 2011

About Me

Who am I?

I am Ashley.

I could say that I'm a junior at the University of Utah, double-majoring in political science and mass communication, with a minor in campaign management. But that isn't who I am; it's only what I do.

How much of who I am can be separated from what I do? Because it would appear, at least to a point, that the things I do define me. But that sounds incomplete.

I am a daughter.

I am a sister.

I am a friend.

I am a musician.

I am a thinker.

Someone who dances in the rain,
and obsesses over the gas prices at the place down the street even though I don't have a car,
who reads Ayn Rand for the way the words flow,
who sings along with the radio even (especially) when I don't know the words,
who can't help but do an awkward happy-dance in the mail-room when there's something there for me,
who reads Shakespeare to giggle at the naughty bits,
who has a blog even though I can easily list ten reasons not to have one,
who has to consciously put effort into translating thoughts into words,
who has an irrational fear of water,
who reads really nerdy webcomics even though I don't understand the math,
and bakes cookies at midnight (but only sometimes).

Someone who loves the little things in life:
the feel of cotton
the sound of laughter
the smell of newborn babies
the taste of sour lemons
the sight of smiling eyes
because without these... it is so easy to forget:

That I am a child of heavenly parents.
There are people here who love me.
And I have a work to do in this world.

~

Someday I will be many things:
a teacher of my children
a political strategist
a protector
a provider
a mother
a lover
a wife
and a bunch of others.

I look forward to all of them.
I prepare as best I can for all of them.
Some will be easy.
Most will take more work than I can even imagine.

That is someday.
But someday will be here before I know it,
          and someday depends upon today.

Love always,
Ashley

21 September 2011

Music Wednesday

At least, I hope it's Wednesday. I've been having trouble with my days of the week lately. They're all starting to blend together, and I just hope every morning that I have the pattern right and remember where I went the day before.

Today's Music Wednesday is devoted to under-appreciated love songs. Songs that may or may not be 'real' love songs, but that I think are.

------------------------------
REM - 'The One I Love'


From the title, this one is obviously at least concerned with love. If you listen to the lyrics, you discover that this song is actually rather bitter-sweet and cynical. Then again, it's REM. What do you expect? 

This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I've left behind
A simple prop to occupy my time
This one goes out to the one I love


---------------
The Get Up Kids - 'Like a Man Possessed'


Nothing about this song says 'love song'. Not the lyrics, not the title. Nothin'. 

But that's the vibe I get from it. Call me crazy.

---------------
Finch - 'Ender'


I actually plan to spend an entire Music Wednesday sometime talking about this song. Because it's very interesting.

Until then, it's on this list. 

You said you like to hear the rain sometimes 
And all I can do is tell you the truth


---------------
Metallica - 'Unforgiven II'


This song is part of an epic. I'm not really sure if I'm comfortable addressing it without its family, but I'll try to get over it. Maybe later.

Most people consider 'Nothing Else Matters' Metallica's only love song. Not so, my friends.

This song is a love song because it's about connection. About finding someone who can understand where you come from and who you are. And... that's love, isn't it? A big part of it at least.

It's tortured, but it's love. Or it's trying to be.

---------------
Metallica - 'Until it Sleeps'


Yeah, I know. Two Metallica songs? Yes. Because that's how I roll.

Basically, take everything I said about 'Unforgiven II' and reapply it.

So tear me open but beware
There's things inside without a care
And the dirt still stains me
So wash me until I'm clean

It grips you so hold me
It stains you so hold me
It hates you so hold me
It holds you so hold me
Until it sleeps

---------------
Better Than Ezra - 'Porcelain'

This song is very sad. And actually, it's more of a super-duper-sad-break-up song than a love song. But it still goes on the list. Because I'm the maker of the list, and I say it should. 

Just the other day I felt I had you by a strin
Just the other day I felt we could be everything
  
---------------
VAST - 'Touched'


I can't even tell you how awesome I think this song is. VAST has some pretty great stuff, but this song takes the cake (Is that how the expression goes? If so, why is there cake involved at all with this? Huh. Maybe I'm making it up, because it sounds weird.)

Touched
You say that I am too
So much of what you say is true
I'll never find someone
Quite like you again
I'll never find someone quite like you
Like you

The razors and the dying roses plead
I don't leave you alone
The demi-gods and hungry ghosts of God
God knows I'm not at home

I'll never find someone
Quite like you again
I'll never find someone
Quite like you again

I looked into your eyes and saw
A world that does not exist
I looked into your eyes and saw
A world I wish I was in

I'll never find someone
Quite as touched as you
I'll never love someone
Quite the way
That I love you 

---------------

And because it can't go anywhere but down from there, we'll stop. With this song:


Love always,
Ashley

18 September 2011

My Weakness in Mercy He Covers with Power


In the course of last evening, Janice Kapp Perry's 'Holding Hands Around the World' piano accompaniment book came out of the music stash and onto the piano.

Just like every time I hear those songs, I was transported back to the spring/summer of 2004.

If I had to make a quick top-of-the-head-without-quantifying-parameters guess, I'd say that was the happiest period of my childhood.

We got to spend countless hours driving around Utah county with some very awesomely dear friends who were moving back into state (Hi! You remember that? Wasn't that fun?).

We got to watch as hurricane-force winds ripped our back fence up as though it were made of paper. One second it was there, the next it started to buckle, and then it was gone; headed off down the street with the rest of the neighborhood (we never did see our little plastic picnic table again).

(And our house was totally one of the least-damaged houses in the neighborhood. It was a huge storm.)
Clean-up after that was the first time I ever experienced what it feels like when fiberglass gets embedded in your skin. Not cool.

I got to play in a piano ensemble at the county fair.

And lots of other cool things happened. 

Why do I bring this up?

The soundtrack to that summer was 'Holding Hands Around the World'. It was playing almost constantly, through everything we did and everywhere we went.


And playing it tonight brought everything back.

The Lord has blessed me with gospel truth,
I have learned His ways in my early youth.
I will share my light for I know it's right to testify of Him.

The Lord has blessed me with simple faith,
If I pray for help He will give me strength.
I will do His work, I will gladly serve.
I'll follow Him in faith.

The Lord has blessed me to feel His love,
I have heard His promptings and learned to trust.
So in all I do, I'll be faithful to the things I know are true.

The Lord has blessed me in many ways.
With a thankful heart I will sing his praise.
I will raise my voice and proclaim my choice
To follow him in faith.

He has shown the way,
And through all my days
I'll follow Him in faith.
('I'll Follow Him in Faith', by Janice Kapp Perry)

Last night, as I was playing this song, I wondered: 

What happened?

Why are the things that were the easiest then the most difficult now?

Where along the line did I change from the little girl who believed without question to the woman with so many demons to fight?

Mistakes I made years ago come back constantly to haunt me, to taunt me, to remind me that I'm not the person I could be.

The what-ifs are the worst.

What if I had been strong enough?

What if I had been smart enough?

What if, what if, what if.

I know in my head that the what-ifs don't matter; what is does.

I am stronger than I ever thought I could be, more courageous than I ever thought I would be,  and at certain times happier than I ever knew was possible.

Yes, I've made wrong decisions along the way. Decisions that have hurt me. Decisions with consequences that I still work every day to overcome. Yes, I have regrets.

But if I could go back and do everything over again...

I wouldn't change a thing.

Even the worst sins I committed, even the most ridiculous wastes of time, even the opportunities I passed up.

I'd leave it.

Because all those things I've done in my life--they've made me who I am. And I kind of like this version of me. I'm a little mixed up, a little twisted, a little broken-and-pieced-back-together. A little worse for the wear. But holes can be patched, and frayed edges can be hemmed, and duct tape will fix nearly everything prayer can't.

I still battle constantly with the little voices in my head that say things like, You're smarter than that and you know it, and (my favorite), You aren't the person they think you are.

No day is easy. Sometimes it's all I can do to hold on. Sometimes it takes every ounce of self-control I have to stay on the right path.

Sometimes every ounce of my self-control isn't enough.

But I am Ashley.

I backslide sometimes. Sometimes sometimes is more like all the time. I constantly lose things. I have a tendency to be over-bearing when I'm nervous. I can play an unfortunately brilliant game of 'That's What She Said'. I say completely awkward things at inopportune times. I've devised a sort of sick game to see how long I can put things off.

I'm smart. I've got a knack with words, and how they should sound. I have a slightly strange criteria for beauty. I'm kind of a music snob. I give nice-seeming advice. I have an eye for strategy. A little shimmer of idealism comes through the curtain of pragmatics on occasion. 
(This paragraph was supposed to be my good qualities. Heaven help me.)

The Lord has blessed me with simple faith,
If I pray for help He will give me strength.
I will do His work, I will gladly serve.
I'll follow Him in faith.

The Lord has blessed me in many ways.
With a thankful heart I will sing his praise.
I will raise my voice and proclaim my choice
To follow him in faith.
My choice is still to follow in faith.

But faith isn't simple anymore. 

I learned the hard way that the simple faith of a child isn't enough for some situations. There is a power to innocent belief, of course, a purity. And I'll never get that back. What I have now is different. It's a faith born of experience, born of struggle, born of prayer. I have faith now because I know what life is like without it, and it's not worth it. I have faith now because I believe, not because my parents do. The faith I have now is not as shiny as it once was.  But I kind of look at it this way:


Moroni's coat wasn't very shiny, either, after he ripped it up to make the title of liberty. But it was better that way, more useful, more powerful, even if it was distinctly less coat-like.

Ether 12:27
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

2 Corinthians 5:7
(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

Psalms 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Faith requires application. It requires diligence. It requires constant upkeep.

But it's worth it.

It's better this way. More useful, more powerful. Distinctly less like a coat, but why have faith if it's only as good as a coat?

You can't really use coats in the summertime anyway.

And you need faith year-round.

Love always,
Ashley 

P.S. - This is super long. Wow.