Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pictures to Paint 1.4

Songs of Innocence 
My lover smiles and holds me near—
The morning’s wedding vows still new—
He holds me close, and in my ear
He sings me songs of innocence
At first I smile, a fond embrace
As love’s first blossoming unfolds
And then my thoughts begin to race—
I’ve heard this song of innocence
The mem’ries flood, I pull away—
My father’s twisted face I see
When with a touch, oh poisonous day,
He seized my song of innocence

My mind’s eye blinds me to the touch
Of cherish’d lover’s sweet caress
And changes them instead to such
That steal the songs of innocence.

I cannot breathe—I choke, I die
And from my lover’s arms I flee
I wilt; with flaming tears I cry
And mourn my song of innocence.
©Sabina M. S√§fsten 2012

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pictures to Paint, 1.3

The Night I Lost the Music

The music, always coming, always flowing
The lifeblood of the soul, forever playing
I lived for keeping, growing, sharing, knowing
all about the gift that’s almost praying.

And then, with one fell dose of Caesar’s illness
I shook, I trembled, foamed, and flailed about—
And when I woke, I noticed first the silence.
The music! gone!—replaced with frightening doubt.

The man in white, with nurses standing by him
Told me the silence might be here a while
And if it ceased, the music still be dimmed—
                     I wept.

I wept, and still, the tears were only water--
no minor chords; melismas all at rest.
Is this how people think and talk together?
With flimsy words and empty sentiment?

My life has been immersed in music study
but more than this; my spirit speaks it clear--
and now that I have only words to pray with

I wonder, Lord, if you can even hear?


Note: She had full recovery from the seizure and the music eventually came back.

Pictures to Paint, 1.1&1.2

I do not have a brush,

pencils, paints, or 
Adobe Photoshop. 

But I do have
to be painted.
Night Routine

When night comes and she starts to sleep
The mask comes off--she cannot keep
her brave face on when conscious mind has slipped away

Her broken body fights for air
Her slumping face shows signs of wear
Her voice, in daylight so controlled
contorts in whimpers, tears my soul

I sit for hours, minutes, days
And silently I count, the way
she taught me to when Child Me was scared.

When consciousness comes back again,
returning her to worlds of men,
Her once bright eyes straining to see--
they flit around, and land on me

As recognition starts to dawn,
she weakly smiles--I fake a yawn
So she doesn't know I was awake to hear her scream.

 "Oh, sorry to wake you up," she says,
But before you head on back to bed,
-------Would you get me a bowl of Cheerios?"


Saturday, December 6, 2014


I feel so entirely inspired right now. Driven, passionate, excited about the world. I have the best friends--creative, intelligent, ambitious, hard working, dedicated. I am currently rotating with movers and shakers of the world. And while their dreams are astounding in both magnitude and power, they are DOERS as well. They produce. They draw. They animate. They design. They paint. They build. They program. They write, cook, teach, play, practice, act, farm, compose, run, sew, research, coach, publish, translate, organize--they DO. And in the doing, my world becomes a better place. A more beautiful, more dynamic, richer, fuller place.

Do all of them have a set path, a direction, a firm purpose in life? No. Not at all. But rather than let uncertainty paralyze them, this circle of amazing people take it one step at a time, and MOVE. They do *something*. Some put their roots in family, some in religion, some in belief in humanity. ALL find common ground in the firm hope that the world CAN be a better, and we are the people to bring that about.  Then, they take a step. They write a song, draft an outline, do a workout. They choreograph a dance, learn a language, take a photo, code a program. They clean a room, a routine, a life. All seemingly small things in the grand scale of the universe-- but as the lifetime of a bee contributes but a drop of honey to the hive, so also do these sweet, small tasks come together, gathering momentum, and push the human family into a brighter tomorrow. 

Amani Melissa Missy Jacob Derrick Bryn Jake Jack Jason Jared Dan Rachael Dallin David Kyle Savannah Cecilia Ben Marsha Robert Nathan Clarissa Milly Katie Andon Katie Kristen Kirsten Erin Nick Trevor Amber Alison Annelisse Stephen Kristine Amanda Charla Ruthie Kevin Annie Joey Ashley Morgan Karen Caitlin Jessie Jena Jana Amberly Craig Boston Jimmy Brittany Lizz Casey Jenn Anne Mark Ty Mikey Nick David Evelyn Michelle Pamilla Andrew Lynette Linda Robin Trish Elise Jayne Alyssa Jake Clark Chase
and so many more


I wish more of them had websites I could put up an brag on their behalf. SO much talent, and most of it isn't up in online portfolios. But, this is a small taste. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

As I Have Loved You

Views expressed here are according to the personal understanding of the author, and do not represent official doctrine or policy for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or any other religious body. Respectful discussion is encouraged and appreciated. 

During #ldsconf October 2014 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave a talk (Saturday Afternoon session) which spoke of the "new commandment" Christ gave to his Apostles during the last part of his mortal ministry. As Elder Oaks states, "That commandment was simple, but difficult: 'Love one another as I have loved you.'"

Immediately, my mind jumped to another commandment, given at many points of the Bible and other scripture--the command to "love thy neighbor as thyself."

Here we have two commandments on how to love those around us. First, we are to love them as we love ourselves--this is the Old Testament, Law-of-Moses version. It assumes self-love, and is quite basic in requirement. From such a command come such basic social truisms as "The Golden Rule: DO unto others as you would have them do unto you." Fairly sensible: if you want people to be nice to you, be nice to people. If you can't take it, don't dish it out. Seems fair. 

The next level, the "New Commandment," requires us to love the people around us as Christ has loved us. This takes out the idea that if we don't care about the way people treat us, we don't have to treat them well. It takes out the idea that "turnabout is fair play." In fact, one could argue that this New Commandment transcends the idea of fairness, entirely. We no longer base our relationships and the way we treat others on how well they treat us, what they have done, or how we feel. We are simply commanded to love them in the manner that Christ has loved us. Not in the manner that Christ loves them, because that is beyond our understanding. But while the love of Christ may be beyond our *understanding,* it is not beyond our experience. He is not placing the burden of understanding upon us right at the start--He is telling us to emulate Him--to copy Him. One of the first skills we learn as toddlers is to "do as I'm doing, follow, follow Me." 

As spiritual toddlers, He is again asking us to do that. 
     He shows us, in our daily lives, that we can eventually perfectly love people. We see what He does for us, and He promises that eventually we will have that capacity, if we start learning now. He teaches us by example. In order for us to learn what He is teaching, He asks us to look for, see, and express gratitude for the blessings He gives us, the people He places into our lives, the words He has sent through the prophets,  the knowledge and understanding we have already obtained, the mercy He extends, and the promises He has given. The Lord speaks all the "love languages," and knows and understands each individual perfectly. He knows exactly what we need, and the hand of God is evident in the lives of anyone willing to look. If we struggle at first to see Him in our own lives, we have been given many accounts of scripture in which Christ demonstrates love. We can look to the ministry of Christ in the scriptures, looking for ways that He loved those in his mortal sphere of influence. This will allow us "spiritual glasses," to help us see better the hand of Christ in our own lives. 

He shows us this love, and offers us promises of eventually reaching that ability ourselves, but the Lord understands that perfect love can only come with perfect understanding. As we don't have that (and cannot understand another person perfectly) He does not ask us to love them as He loves them. He simply asks us to love them as He loves us. Because we have the capacity to see that love in our own lives, even if we don't understand it or feel we deserve it. To emulate those things that He does for us, as closely as possible, within our associations with the people around us, is a step He has asked us to take in this life to become more like God. As we practice these skills of showing love as consistently and in the manner that Christ has, before we have perfect understanding (or perfect love), our understanding and love for those people will increase. Why? Because with obedience to any law comes a blessing associated with that law. If we set our personal feelings aside and love others (love being an action, not an emotion) the way that Christ loves us (by emulating His actions) he can bless us with a greater capacity to love, and a softening of the heart which leads to good feelings, unity, empathy, and prosperity as a human family.

He does not ask us to come up with lovey-dovey feelings or a fake front of feigned emotion. He asks us for action. He can then bless us with a REAL change of heart, as our intention is good, our heart facing the Lord, and our feet moving in the right direction. Don't just try to FEEL "love" for other people. Act in love. Act in the way the Lord has shown us, and He will give us real love--charity, the love of Christ--without which, we are nothing. It is a gift, and we have been given the instructions we need to allow the Lord to grant it to us. 

~~~el fin

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Paved With Good Intentions

I am not one for passive-aggressive notes on the internet. Wanted to state that at the front, so as to not have this note seen as a "you know who you are, neener neener," sentiment. Certainly not the intention. If you are in the mood to be ornery, patronizing, or offended, stop reading. Come back when I'm Sunshine Sabina. I'll be fine.  However, if you are also sick of the world and the people in it, or just remember a time when you were, or have noticed me a little grumpier or distant lately and want to know why, you are welcome to finish reading. This has been on my mind for about half a year. It's kind of personal, but also applicable to a broader audience than just myself.

Lately, I have felt very much attacked from all angles about almost every area of my life. Not an all-out frontal attack (I can handle those just fine)--more like a little swarm of stinging bugs over and over and over. I think this is the pressure a lot of women feel in our society.  So, echoing the cries of people everywhere, I add my voice to the call against the exhausting problem of Judgement.

Not judgement in the righteous, hey-you-should-seriously-pick-a-side-already, is-something-morally-right-or-wrong judgement. Judgement in the "Seriously, leave me ALONE, I'm sick-of-feeling-the-need-to-justify-myself-to-you-people!" judgement. The "Man, I could give you and your uber-righteous self a real cussing right now," judgement. 

I could write a really thoughtful, generally applicable post about the topic of Judgement, and point out how it's a common problem that everybody fights. They do. But I'm not going to. I'm just going to give an example.

Example : Clutter-Busting
(a)"Oh my goodness, you must be so busy; your house is a mess."
"Wow, you have a ton of stuff."
(b)(standing talking to me as I frantically try to finish the dishes so I can do homework, after working for 10 hours) "It's okay that your house is a disaster, you're really busy. It's so sad you don't have anyone to help you, this must just be so hard on you. tsk tsk what terrible family you have, making you do this all on your own. In the meantime, juslemmeknowifyouneedanythingbye." 
Or, the worst:
(c)"What's gotten into you?? Are you sick? Why are you suddenly getting rid of so much stuff?"
(d)"Wow, I don't think I could find 7 boxes of D.I.(local thrift shop) donations from my whole house, even if I tried! If you didn't keep so much junk in the first place...don't you wish you had done this earlier?"
(e)[Tour Guide Barbie tone, Vaseline smile]"Wow, Sabina, I'm so proud of you! Look how clean your living room/kitchen/hallway/van is!"

...Wow, I didn't realize exactly how irritated this made me. I just popped a key off my keyboard I was typing so hard. Sorry, Quotation Mark Key. Let's get you back on there. There we go. Take a breath. 

       Okay. Here we go.  
            (a-b) (response 1) : I, personally, have a lot of stuff. I get that. I know I do. A lot of it is stuff I don't even like, or want. Some of it is stuff that I have to have (like the 5 office-sized banker boxes full of medicine and medical equipment). The point is, yes I have a ton of stuff. 
                     I also have a lot of baggage, manifested through my stuff. When my family blew apart (starting the end of high school and moving through my undergrad years), I didn't turn to alcohol. I didn't starve myself  or throw up on purpose or cut myself or pierce myself. I didn't go whoring around to all the sleazy easy boys. I didn't leave the Church or get angry with God. I dealt with my medical depression as best I could through it all and I leaned heavily (too heavily, sometimes) on my friends instead of withdrawing into suicidal stupor. No, instead of any of those things, I went a much less obvious route.
          I collected stuff. 
          I wouldn't let go of a single childhood thing. Trinkets, papers, gifts from people, clothes I hated or didn't fit (or both), textbooks from college classes, presents from exes, notes from ward members. More than that, I kept programs from events, stupid things people offered me (No, I don't want all your 'craft drawer' that you don't feel like moving. No, I don't want your half set of dishes, or your fondue set with pieces missing). I said "sure" even though I didn't want them. I surrounded myself with "stuff" because I had no foundation. My world was getting ripped to pieces and I was grasping at straws. 
        To be clear, I didn't keep "garbage" (though arguably I needed to throw away the programs). I didn't keep candy wrappers or anything like that. Just stuff. 
        This is not an uncommon problem. As I have natural pack-rat tendencies, most people didn't even realize what was happening. They just knew I was a terrible roommate and a "messy" person who couldn't even keep a clean room.  Even I thought that was the case. I recognized the symptom, not the problem, and therefore the real cause never got dealt with.
         On top of that psychological hang-up, I had a solid year toward the end of my undergrad that involved not being able to leave the couch. My internal organ tissue was deteriorating, my immune system was attacking my body as it was breaking down. This caused skin issues, breathing issues, allergy issues, and most acutely, extensive internal bleeding that left me pretty much Miserable. The doctors didn't realize what was happening until an emergency procedure around the holidays; by then it was a very long recovery after 8 months of problem. I slogged through the year in the midst of tremendous physical pain and emotional exhaustion.  Many people didn't even realize this was happening, but all the same, de-cluttering didn't even make the list of energy-burning possibilities.
          As I got to the point I was up and around again, my family moved out our our 20-year residence, a 5-bedroom home (and I moved away from my ward family and town and school) into a 2 bedroom apartment in a different city. Holy Not Enough Space, Batman. The plan was to obtain another little house, hasn't happened yet, but it was a doable plan at the start. A hopeful plan. We hung on to that hope as long as we could, and just when we realized it wasn't going to work, my mother ended up in a frantic battle for her life that lasted almost a year. We are just on the tail end of it. Psychological hang up aside, physical "decluttering" took a back burner. 
(c-d) Response 2: Why I am getting rid of so much stuff--this is the happier part of the post, so don't fret, rant is over.
Frankly, it's because I have done a lot of healing (physical, emotional, mental). Counseling and scripture study and direct application of the Atonement have helped to heal/are healing the underlying problems. I've let go of a lot of things that were holding me back--the idea that I needed people's approval or even  friendship to survive, the idea that I "failed" because I didn't get good grades or because I left school without graduating, the idea that I needed to apologize to the world for their misfortune of having to look at my ugly and overweight (not the same thing) body, the longing for being able to do the things I wanted even though I couldn't anymore. I wrote a blog post about this utter paradigm shift back in January, you can find it  here (don't fret, it's significantly shorter than this post).  I realized that my deeper problems were manifesting themselves primarily through my clutter. 

Also, Mom is feeling better. As I am no longer as immediately concerned about coming home to her dead, it is easier for both of us to focus on clearing out the house. 

That all stated, there is one last thing. 
(e) This one is hard. "Wow, Sabina, I'm so proud of you! Look how clean your living room/kitchen/hallway/van is!".   'Why is that a problem to say?' one thinks. 'Didn't she just say she was happy she was healing and stuff? Gosh, they are just trying to be nice!' 
You are right. They are well-intentioned people, thinking they are being kind. Here is the problem; and it's specific:
I'm not proud of myself for keeping a clean house. I'm proud of myself for healing. I expect myself to keep a clean house, and now I am healthy enough to meet that expectation. Some people who understand the problem are truly giving a compliment, because they know what it means for me to be able to do these things.
That isn't what most are saying. That "compliment," in those tones, says something different. It comes off as "Well, I'm glad you finally care enough to get your act together," or, even worse, implies that their expectation is that I am an inherently cluttered and messy person, and therefore it is beyond my ability or understanding to be clean and orderly. Since when do you get to be "proud of me" in that tone? That's something you say to your dog, or a 5 year old problem child. I'm glad that my soul is healing enough that I can move forward ], and that my life has calmed down enough that dishes register on the "important daily task" radar (versus, you know, "not dying" or "family not dying"). But all you see is a 20-something who isn't capable enough to keep a clean house. So...keep your patronizing tone to yourself. 

So. I'm getting rid of things, which is great, and I was messy, which was less great. But it's not a character flaw--it is trauma recovery and intentional personal improvement. Many people have recognized the need for assistance, but few have recognized the "why" behind the problem. Even the well-intentioned people give patronizing comments in surprised tones (see c-e). I have a couple of friends and a few family members that are honestly supportive with no snarky remarks--in fact, no remarks at all! That is the best road. It makes me feel very loved and honestly wanted. No judgement, no patronizing backhanded compliments, just help and love and support. 

I understand that this is a sensitive topic for me, so I'm a little more easily offended than other people, but I think that's my point. The problem is deeper than the symptoms, and therefore the healing more meaningful than simply "I got organized...finally." 

I recognize that this healing is accompanied by a hefty dose of "bugger off", which is a tremendously reactive attitude and not a good idea in the long term. I'm rather sensitive right now and not in the mood to deal with people. I'll get around to it later. In the short term, though, it's exactly what I need to counteract 24 solid years of SeriouslyUnhealthyBoundaries, both iner- and intra-personal. 

So if I seem a little off, or a little unavailable...I'm probably sorting a box somewhere.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

w'Sa3ateen bil Wagibaat Arriybi

My cousin decided she was going to take the Spring Arabic 101 classes offered at the Y. I was super excited to get back into the language via helping her with the alphabet, studying along, etc (no lectures on how I don't actually have time this term, please).  It's been years since I took any language classes, so I pulled out my trusty Alif Baa text for a review. My handwriting is still pretty awful, but things were going pretty well. I remembered a lot more amiyya (Egyptian spoken Arabic) than I realized, and I was getting really excited. I drank up the language exposure the same way a plant long devoid of sunlight soaks up the first rays of summer. 
I was honestly quite surprised at my own reaction. I am not a fantastic Arabic speaker, and my vocabulary is fairly limited. But I had not realized just how deeply rooted my love for the language was. All languages are fun for me; I enjoy various alphabets and the ability to express ideas in a particular way. The music of language is fascinating, and the language we speak is so tightly knit with the idea framework in which we think  that sometimes it is hard to differentiate the two at all. But the passion I experienced in finally reviewing my old scrawling Arabic grammar lessons was astonishing, above that of any other language I've experienced. Egyptian phrases would roll around in my head in daily conversation, much as they used to. I unconsciously returned to saying "ilHamdulallah" after almost everything. I started patching holes in my vocabulary as I realized words and phrases I'd forgotten. 

Then my cousin and I started chatting, briefly. And I realized right off--we weren't speaking the same language. Many words were the same, but about half of them were varying degrees of NotEgyptian. Then I remembered--Arab Spring. The Egyptian Revolution. BYU students no longer travel to Cairo. She was speaking Levantine Arabic...not Egyptian Arabic.  Totally different spoken vocabulary.


This will be a lot more studying than I thought. 

I hope she'll be patient with me. I'm still excited, but I think I may be far less help than she anticipated.  I am beginning to believe more and more that my initial struggles with the language were primarily a timing issue. I want this language. I want to always retain this language. I know I need to be primarily focused on a different career path, but my abilities in amiyya have increased since leaving the program, where the reverse was expected. 

Maybe if I bring treats, the teacher will let me sit in on a couple of lectures, for fun. 

You know, since I have nothing else to do. 

"isa3a l'albuk, w'issa3alraabuk....(w'saateen bil wagibat arriybi)."
"An hour for yourself, and an hour for your Lord...(and TWO hours for Arabic homework)."
--Arabic proverb on how to properly tithe one's time (parenthetical added)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Herb Garden

So it turns out, Utah's growing season starts much later than Lewiston Valley's.  That was very disappointing to me, because even after living in Utah for nearly 7 years, my brain is still used to "the second you can feel the warmth of the sun you had better get things in the ground." 

So, to hold me over until planting season, I decided that this year I was finally going to plant a full herb garden.   I eventually talked to some sensible people who reminded me that a "full herb garden" might overload me just a tad, and perhaps I should settle for a smaller, more manageable set of basic herbs, grown in pots on my porch. Then, as things start getting finished, I can set things up to have a much larger garden next year if I want. 

I conceded. 

I went to the nursery with my grandfather, since we both love plants and gardening. He is a very experienced farmer, and has gardened in Utah his whole life. We had a grand old time, and he helped me whittle down my list to a reasonable list for both budget and manageability. 

The Final List: Herb Garden
Sweet Basil (x2)
Lemon Basil
Opal Basil
Peppermint (Papa is growing spearmint at his house [whether he wants to or not--a rogue spearmint family took over one of Nana's flower beds] so I'll get some from him)
Chocolate Mint (my future pastry endeavors are very excited)
Lemon Thyme
Lemon Verbena
English Lavender
Purple Sage

Oregano and Purple Sage
A very pretty pot, and they will both bush out very well, inShu'allah. 

English Lavender and Rosemary
I was a little hesitant to put these both in the same pot. But The nursery lady said it should work, and I can get a bigger pot to winter them over as they grow larger? I don't know, but it smells FABULOUS.


 The mints (Chocolate Mint on the left, Peppermint on the right) but got their own pots.....because mint takes over EVERYTHING. Luckily, I also use it all the time. SO EXCITED for the lemonade and pastry and jelly and creams and lamb chops. 

Sweet Basil
Opal basil, lemon basil, lemon thyme!
Chicken, pesto, fish, pesto, salad, pesto....

PESTO TIME.  Two sweet basil plants, and a purple/opal basil, and lemon basil. So, so, SO delicious. 

Lemon Verbena
All the mocktails. So stoked. 
Thyme, Chives

A culinary eye will notice many essentials missing from the list: coriander/cilantro, sage, Thai basil, any kind of parsley, shallots, dill, borage, majoram, geranium, marigolds, lemongrass, lemon balm, French lavender, watercress, and a HOST of other possibilities. 
But, alas. It would be nigh on to impossible for me to grow every kind of deliciously flavored plant that I could want. (Especially since I don't have a greenhouse yet). This little herb garden of mine makes me very happy, however, and I find great joy in knowing that I am on the road to fulfilling this particular life dream. 

Also, if you happen to be in the local area and are growing herbs and vegetables of your own, particularly those not on my list, I would be very interested in trading for some of your harvest. Particularly if you enjoy French pastry. Danishes for onions or apricots? Croissants for berries or tomatoes or cilantro? Whatever. I'm down. 
...But seriously. 

I'm hoping to also plant some purple bell peppers, red/yellow/orange/brown bell peppers, and onions. I'm not sure how feasible a vegetable garden will be on top of school and work, but as the summer schedule starts working out I can decide. 
Happy Spring!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Freedom and Roots and Goat Cheese, ilHamdulAllah

"I also need to be a little bit more careful about what I say on this blog. Apparently, the LAPD and Captain Hammer are among our viewers."
I typed out 3 different blog entries but I don't like any of them so I'm starting over. Again. 

Basically, it's more steps of the same. Today I decided I didn't actually have time or desire to be the pursuer in a relationship, contrary to yesterday's post. And so, as I'm not a date-whoever's-there-just-for-the-sake-of-a-relationship kind of girl, dating is probably just going to slide to the back burner for a while. Or completely off of the metaphorical stove. No sense cooking something if no one is around to eat it. (Except in reality I do that all the time. Hmmmm. haha metaphor fail.)

 I'm networking around to various chefs in the area, hoping to expand my range of ethnic foods and specialized services in the food industry. I have so, so many things I would like to do and explore. I'm slowly checking them off the list. I just need to find a better rhythm, so I can start moving through the list a little faster and actually finishing things. Trying not to create too many deep root attachments to Utah; I'm thinking sometime in the next couple years I'm going to want to get out of here for a little while. Even if it's just a 6-month/year long stint, I'm thinking hopping a plane and finding a job Elsewhere for a while might be very beneficial. It's a new idea, so I think I'm going to let it stew around for a while and try organizing my life such that it could happen. No reason to drop more roots than I actually need to in a place I'm not sure I want to stay. Southern California is looking mighty fine; or maybe the Bay area. We shall see. The final destination isn't important; just the idea that Sabina wants to leave. 

In the meantime, today I met a really great guy named Mustafa. He owns and operates O'Falafel, a Middle Eastern restaurant in Salt Lake. I met him through his daughter, Amani, who invited me to help her with a play this afternoon. Her father also came. We connected in both love of food, and love of the Arabic language. He is native Palestinian, lived in Jerusalem, studied pastry in Switzerland, and is going to teach me how to make delicious magic. Seriously, his hand-made pita is some of the best I've ever encountered. And the hummus. The hummus! His chicken is also fabulous, and Amani suggested he teach me how to make lamb. I am quite thrilled with this new development. Though, it will force me to expand and review my Arabic language skills. I didn't learn a lot of kitchen terms, and it's been years since I've taken the class, anyway. Maybe this will be good motivation for some serious FusHa study, eh? Amani lives in the house directly above my cousin's basement apartment, and I think we are going to be great friends. She is super laid back, and I was glad to finally meet her. PLUS she gave me a block of goat cheese and some pita to take home, which was great. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Word Thoughts of Twelve Minutes

Someone told me once that if I didn't have anything to write I should just write everything that was popping into my head with limited filte.r I mean, obviously there is SOME filter because even typing 60+ words per minute there is no stinking way I could POssibly keep up with my brain in words alone, much less tone or other extra-verbal cues. Funny, how we have those when we think. And how not all thoughts are actually words. Sometimes thoughts are really obnoxious, actually. I wonder what it is that causes us to think-- in the metaphysical sense, not the electric patterns in the brain. Though it will be really cool to learn how electricity can be translated into thought patterns. I should go fix the typos in that previous paragraph, they bug me. Wow I wish I typed faster, this is hard. Maybe if I used Home Row Proper it would improve my piano finger drills. That makes some sense. I should try it. Piano is going fine; I'm learning some songs I really like and brushing up my theory. I really do need a drill book, though. I need to fully commit to this piano player thing. I want to be able to play whatever people need me to play--not in a concert setting, but jazz, hymns, pop, rock, you know, basics for my social circle. I need to get Eliza rent money for the piano. Oooh, rent money. I don't want to think about that. nope, not going to worry about that tonight. I am however going to go get myself a part time job in bakery. I feel like that would be beneficial to my schooling. I'm really thinking I might want to actually be a pastry chef, which thought had never seriously occured to me before. Why do I never spell occurred correctly the first time I try it? Hmm. Must just be a habit-- after 20 years of spelling words I should have gotten that one by now. I wonder how many other accidental habits I've picked up over the years. I wish I were a little more intentional with my life. See look now I'm using Home Row and things are going a little smoother. My fourth finger is still the slowest, though, and I still look at the leyboard. I don't even need to look at the keyboard. Maybe I should practice that. That would help with mallet percussion, too. And, you know, typing. Which I do much more than mallet percussion nowadays. I wish I could march again. I thought I'd be able to help with the local high school this spring and summer, but the tissue around my heart is swelling up again randomly so flinging cymbals around and bucking bass drums probably isn't the smartest idea. Slash, it would actually be really stupid. And, contrary to popular belief, I do OCCASIONALLY put my health before my hobbies. Mostly because I'm trying to baby myself back to being able to dance again.  I really do relate to the world primarily through kinetic energy, and this limited motion/weight gain/swelling/CRAP is really starting to drive me nuts. Seriously. It bugged me before when it was active deterioration, but that was pretty painful and actually just dumb. This is teasingly dumb-- I get cleared to go to the gym, I just get going back into my routine and BAM I'm down again. So. Ridiculous. Plus I look awful in my clothes but I don't want to go get new ones because Clothes Shopping and also Stubbornness and also I just don't care enough to spend money on it. No, it's not that I don't care enough, lets be honest. It's because I'm a little bitter that I even have to get new clothes. I'm smaller in many areas, larger in others, nothing is sitting right. And that's really obnoxious. Slash, I dont fit anywhere socially. My desire and my heart and my mind are in Active People mode--those friends who love to exercise and ladeedah. I desperately want a solid game of ultimate frisbee and some hard core latin dancing and maybe a decent hike. But I can't. So then I spend lots of time with Less Active Friends who complain about exercise and don't like it and ladeedah and PS I eat everything and I'm still a size 5. Eyeroll. YOU HAVE A PHENOMENAL PHYSICAL BODY. It is a GIFT. GO USE IT because some of us are quite stuck at the moment. 
But I don't have down syndrome or visible injuries. I just look like the run of the mill Fat Person, and if I really wanted it that bad I would find a way, because Inspirational Person did it so I can too, right? 
It's okay, Sabs. You just need to be patient. Not my strong point, obviously, but I need to understand that I am physically unable to do many of the things I want to for now, and that just needs to be okay for the moment. No need to be complacent; (Rule #....wait what rule number is that? Wow, I must be pretty upset if I'm forgetting my own rule numbers. Rule #26. Okay, you need to review those). I wish my computer was working. Then I could have all my stuff right where I want it and be snuggled up with a blanket instead of hanging out in Mom's room on the desktop. Mom's room is actually an office, since there aren't any beds in my house, but it's still Mom's space. And a different keyboard. I like clacky keyboards. Wow I'm a little surprised where that thought process went. Oh, well, to continue--wait mom is calling. I guess I need to wrap up. Actually, I think I need to try to find something decent to wear to the luncheon tomorrow. Is that why my brain started thinking about how I don't like any of my clothes right now? Hmm. That was a strange occurrence. Wow that word took 6 times trying to spell it. Guess that's going on my spelling list for the month. I should get back into that habit of self-spelling tests. I have many many classes I'm trying to juggle at the moment-- I feel like I keep sort-of learning things, and then it is time to move on to the next thing. I'm sort-of okay at baking, but I need to really take things one at a time and maybe I will be more confident in my abilities. Take things in order, one at a time, and supplement with things that I enjoy. I'm doing 2 jobs (hopefully) and gastronomy, which are for the whole 6 week section of my life, I can take short doughs and classic pastry and enriched breads and use them across those same 6 weeks. Then I'm sort of focused but can still bounce around and make sure to fit everything in. I finished Jana's yellow hat while I was reviewing the brioche, apple pie, and tart lecture videos. I'm so glad I have lecture videos instead of just slides and notes. It's so much easier this way. I need to adjust my schedule and check with James about that crochet Ganesh he wants; as soon as I get the all clear on the final design concept I can make THAT during video lectures. I'm a little nervous how that design will come together, since there is no trial run, but it should be great. I'm excited to see what the final piece looks like. There's something magical about creating something tangable where before there was only potential. I should work on drawing so that I can write down how it looks for other people. Like, I can think of music and then play that music, but I need to work on transferring that music into the written sphere so other people can replicate it; or at least have a record of it. Recipes are the same way; and if I new how to draw 2 dimensional concepts, it would be easier to keep a record of my 3 dimensional creations (crochet, plating, sculptures, sugar paste, design concepts, etc). hmm. Also I'm beginning to think that my sensory perception is a little blended--apparently thinking of tastes as colors is not a universal experience. Nor is not remembering faces, nor is not retaining melody. I have really weird gaps in my memory retention, but oddly specific memory in other places. Makes for weird communication sometimes. 
You know, he really needs to just date me. Lets be real. That would be very helpful. I may be a little broken, but I'm actually pretty awesome. And if this continues too much longer, I'm going to do something tremendously stupid and screw things up, because I pretty much do that every time. Slash, I am not really in an emotional place to do all the work and be the Pathetic Pursuer, like unto many past relationships of mine. Call me Mahana, but sometimes a girl just needs a little validation. 
I promise I don't think about boys all the time. I guess it's kind of like that Hitler thing--the longer you talk in a conversation, the more likely it is someone will bring up Hitler? Seriously, it happens all the time. Talk to a single woman long enough-- or in this case, read what her brain does in the course of 12 minutes-- and boys will eventually come up. And this boy is worth thinking about. So stop judging me, Self. I do what I want. 
I'm not sure if I'm talking to you, Reader, or you, Self. But I guess it doesn't matter because this exercise is over and I'm going to go help mom get ready for bed. 
Wow that Home Row thing really did help me type faster. 
I didn't quite get all the thoughts down, but I would guess I got about 70%, if I'm going to be generous. Plus, writing the thoughts almost forces them to finish, so it's not quite as flitting as my brain usually is. I actually have to finish typing the word. Which takes freaking forever. That was a fun vulnerability exercise. Also, it is missing all the flitting memory snippets and images and smells and sounds and touch memory that were overlayed through most of the 12 minutes; it is hard to think in just words. But it's a start. Plus my brain type includes many spelling errors. I guess that's the most revealing of my true nature. ;-)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dance, Monkey, Dance

I was talking with a man friend of mine a few weeks ago, and he made an interesting statement: as an extroverted, friendly, goofy, life-of-the-party, occasionally very loud person, he is frequently--nay, almost constantly--expected to be  friendly, goofy, life-of-the-party, loud, etc. The Entertainment.

And sometimes he doesn't want to be.

He called it the "Dance, Monkey! Dance!" expectation.

.....I was totally feeling that earlier.

I just tried to type out a generalized, non-whiney, academically-focused analysis of the whys and wherefores, but I can't get it right. I'll just speak plain. Please forgive me; I don't mean to offend anyone. I'm sure this is a common emotion. Details are different, but I'm sure the principle applies.

Sometimes, I don't want to be the life of the party. Loud and silly is fun for a few minutes, but sometimes I just want a quiet evening. Especially Sundays. I want to sing, not yell. I want to go for a walk. I want to have an intelligent conversation, not a giggly "hey all the IQs just dropped 50 points apiece because Hormones" flirt fest. I love flirting. But sometimes I want to flirt like adults instead of feeling like I'm at a high school basketball game. Sometimes I just want to build friendships and learn about people.

Sometimes, I just want to sing and play instruments. I don't want to yell or try to out-sing everyone. I don't want to jokingly become over-theatrical every time a song happens that people know. I don't to have to drum every time. I love drumming, and I'll request being able to do so often, but then I become The Drummer and if the drums stop, so does the dancing. But sometimes I don't want loud, I just want Well Executed. Or Semi-Well Executed. Not everything has to be heard over a jet engine taking off. Sometimes, a steady groove is enough.

Sometimes I need to talk about my life and the hard things that are happening. And sometimes, I just want to LEAVE IT ALONE. Sometimes, I don't want you to ask about my mother being sick. Or my father being absent. Or my health. Or my job problems. Or what I do with my life. Or what you can do to help. Sometimes, I just want a normal-person conversation.  I am in the habit of answering questions, and "letting people in." But then I use all my "telling people" points on people I don't really want to share with, and not having the emotional share power to actually talk to people I WANT to share with (read: boy. best friend. etc.).

Tonight was one of those Sometimes. I had fun, and I think I helped other people have fun, so that was good. That is why I chose to continue. But really, all I wanted to do was spend some time with much quieter boy people (and not necessarily just one I was interested in. Just quieter boy people) and appreciate intelligent conversation. I felt stuck. I wasn't sure where to go or what to do (since I was just behaving "normally" anyway), so I stayed where I was expected.

....."Wow, Sabina, that's fine that you don't want to do that all the time. In fact, it's a little annoying to everyone else, too, so why don't you just stop? When you don't want to, just don't!"
That's a good thought, Hypothetical Introverted/Mixed Energy Audience. I will work on that. I AM working on that. It's no one else's fault; I don't want it to sound like I'm mad at my friends. I'm totally not! This is a personal problem that only I can solve.
 In the meantime, I have a code word for my strange mix of emotions when this happens: 
"Dance, Monkey! Dance!"

Psychology of Romance: Personal Security

I was reading in Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, (because apparently that's what I do on Saturday nights after I'm burned out on my homework from undergrad. o.O) Anyway, came across some great papers by Jason Carroll--one of the best lecturers I've had the privilege of learning from at the Y--and he had some good thoughts. I've decided to work them into a blog post, as many of them apply to the things on my mind recently. 

First question: What is love? 
A question asked by philosophers, religionists, poets, artists, and others since as long as anyone has existed. For the purpose of right now, we are going to say that "love" is the ability to be emotionally available to self and others--especially in times of need-- without requirements of performance, perfection, problem-solving, or production. ("Times of need" is loosely defined as when loved ones are hurt or fearful of being hurt.)

Next: what does it mean to have the ability to love? 
"How one asserts, expresses, and defines his or her importance, and the importance of others, in intimate and non-intimate relationships (L'Abate, 1997, p 4)." 

With these two definitions, one can conclude that a person's ability to love requires a combination--a sense of self-worth or personal security, and intimate regard for other people. 

This is something I've thought a lot about: the phrases "capacity to love" and "ability to love" are sometimes used interchangeably, but lately I've noticed a great differentiation in my life. I have always had a great *capacity* to love--the need, the want, the desire, the potential to do so. But sometimes there are circumstances and experiences in our lives that legitimately reduce our *ability* to love. Something to think about. 

So, personal security and other-centeredness. Personal security refers to  one's sense of self importance (which involves perceptions of self-worth), the ability to regulate negative affect (i.e. depression, anxiety, anger), and feelings of secure attachment (Carroll, Badger & Yang, 2006).  Personally secure people depend on sources of internal validation instead of external validation for the sake of personal worth. (Internal validation: the love of God, a sense of personal and individual worth, personal optimism and hope for the future; external validation: personal appearance, accomplishments, material possessions, unhealthy relationships). 

Some could argue that one does not need to be personally secure in this sense in order to truly feel love for someone else. Perhaps it is possible; there are many forms of love and many levels of maturity within romantic love. But we are focusing on healthy, mature, long-term relationship kind of love. In order to be emotionally available, one must have some sort of emotional bank account to draw on. That requires personal security. Personal security, as defined above, is the basis for all sorts of attributes required for dating and marriage relationships: Courage. Vulnerability. Willingness to Trust. Confidence. 

Without personal security, vulnerability is extremely threatening, and then fear of rejection dictates many behaviors in a dating situation. This leads to less authenticity, disclosure, or mutual reliance on each other as a couple. Romantic relationships require vulnerability, which includes the possibility of being hurt, and courage to be open one with another.

Let's be honest: that can be really, really scary. What could possibly be worth that kind of turmoil??

And that brings us to the other side of the equation: other-centeredness. Basically all that is saying is that a person with a focus toward others possess and demonstrates qualities such as forgiveness, commitment, sacrifice, kindness, fairness, and an effort to understand. It involves the ability to care for others, and the maturity to allow others' needs to become equal in importance--or more important than--one's own needs. 

We understand those sorts of personal virtues as good things to have generally. It is interesting to correlate the social science studies of personal security and other-centeredness with the teachings of the Atonement. As we individually allow the Lord to be our support, rather than leaning on external sources for validation, we let go of fear. We act freely, rather than reacting to fear of rejection or uncertainty.  As we develop our relationship with the Lord, we can focus on serving and "being there for" the people around us--we can focus on loving them. This absolutely includes our romantic partner. As our individual personal security grows, we can then make an active choice to lean on one another, rather than desperately clinging, like a drowning person, to whomever happens to be there. We can move in tandem and accomplish an intentional family--and an intentional romance. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sausage and Gravy

This time last week, I had a discussion with a Boy about the proper kinds of gravy. There are 3 kinds of gravy, and the Proper Gravy for Biscuits is a simple Sausage Gravy: sausage, drippings, roux, milk, salt and pepper.

Today, I was talking with my aunt, and suddenly she brought up, out of the blue, how last night she had an overwhelming craving for milk gravy and biscuits. And my "milk gravy," she means Sausage Gravy: sausage, drippings, roux, milk, salt, and pepper. She explained to me that that was the only way to make gravy for biscuits, didn't I know that??

....I had no idea this was such a Thing.

So, naturally, on my way home from the hospital today, I picked up a pound of country sausage, and made some Sausage Gravy: sausage, drippings, roux, milk, salt and pepper. And ate it over buttermilk biscuits.

It was delicious. I don't know if I did it "right," but it was yummy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring Projects

Today, I've been working on school, getting the last two projects done for this quarter of baking school. Next block of classes starts on Saturday, and I still have an exam to take and all the paperwork to do, so I was cutting this one a little close. This is my 20 minutes between lamination turns of the last puff pastry.  

I realized I have 94 days until my birthday. Crazy.

The weather looks great, it has me excited about my herb garden this year. I don't have a lot of time, so I'm thinking I'll just do herbs and some peppers. I love peppers, and bell peppers can get spendy. I adore farmer's markets, as well, and I think this year I'm going to have to procure most of my fresh produce from there. I should find a handsome man to go walking to market with. :-) One of my favorite summer pastimes.

I also decided to pursue training as a professional chocolatier. Don't panic, dear concerned readers, this training will be postponed until AFTER graduation from current culinary training. However, it will be a bit expensive. Thus, I will be pursuing means of "extra" income (is there such a thing?) to better enable me to afford such a school. I mean, lets be honest, there is never going to be "enough" money, so I may as well put my current fixed expenses on my current income, then add extra jobs for this extra schooling. Completely putting off professional training until I am "financially secure" seems a little silly--especially since chocolate training could greatly increase my earning potential.

Made sense to me, anyway. It will require much care in time management, however.

One of the first "extra" jobs I accepted was a large crochet commission. I say "large" in terms of "many hours," not large in terms of size. The finished product will be approximately the size of a standard teddy bear. The client wants a plushy version of Ganesh, the elephant/Siddah god of the Hindu pantheon.

What a project.

I've been working on the design for 3 days, hashing out logistics of proportion, weight, stabilization, etc. and doing a ton of simple-but-time-consuming math.  I hope to begin the design this weekend. I have a 5 week deadline, so I really can't postpone begin time much farther out than that. I'm a little intimidated, but I'm excited for the challenge.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lessons From a Spelling Test

This post will be dealing with some generalities. Discussion is welcome, but for my friends and readers I would ask that you take the general spirit of the idea, rather than the nit-picky details, because I'm not really at a point to hammer those out right now.

Which leads me into the idea presented in this blog post: I am frequently considered an intelligent, well-rounded, articulate individual who pays attention to the exact phrasing of words to communicate precisely what I intend, in as many layers as I intend, with quite a bit of control so as not to mis-speak. This has occurred since I was a child. I remember particular friends of mine from elementary school who would intentionally look through the stack of corrected spelling tests to try to find MY grade, and then make fun of me if I missed a word, because I was supposed to be "smart." I was frequently compared to a very smart boy named Alex--this comparison occurred at various times all the way up to our ACT scores and college scholarship money. I don't think Alex or I ever had a direct competition--it never even occurred to me to care WHAT his grades were--but the comparison was there. I adapted the policy of never telling anyone my grades, from elementary to high school. Not because I cared about FERPA or anything, but because I did not want to be made fun of any more than I already was.

Not only did this artificial and wasteful comparison destroy any elementary school chance of actual friendship with Alex and his group of friends (all intelligent, funny, witty people, whose company I greatly enjoyed), which opportunity is highly regrettable, but it also undermined my social and personal confidence. It led me develop an acute sense of shame, like I was never allowed to make a mistake. Because somehow, MY mistakes meant more than the mistakes of everyone else around me. They justified their misspelled words because mine were printed poorly; then tore me down for not being "as smart as I thought I was." (Read: as smart as THEY thought I was). This fed a long cycle of incredibly low self esteem, fueled by shame and pervasive feelings of incompetence, not only in the orthographic area of my budding linguistic academic career, but in all aspects of my life--music, athletics, math, fashion, in-class test review games, social skills and the ability to trust friendships. (The only thing it didn't effect directly, ironically, is my religious understanding. I've never associated shame with my personal religious beliefs. Apparently that is a rare thing, even among other people of my faith. That's a different topic, though).

But that's all kid stuff, right? As a well-adjusted adult, I can recognize those outlying factors of the immature peers and misguided adults of my childhood and move forward. I can prove to myself that I am better than that, by accomplishing thing A, B, C, and D that *I* want to do, regardless of social expectation. If I DON'T accomplish ALL THE THINGS and FULFILL ALL THE POTENTIAL and RISE ABOVE ALL THE HATERS and IGNORE ALL THE HURT FEELINGS, I have *chosen* to remain a victim. If I choose to remain a victim, then I have really done this to myself....and I am just a shamefully pathetic adult, a Victim, who had so much potential but just wasn't as good as we thought she was. 

Woah. It's like the Spelling-Test Police of my elementary years learned that sort of behavioral mindset....from their adult parents. Which adult world now has even more tools of judgement through our friend The Interwebs.

Well, joke's on you, Life Grammar Police. Because I'm done carrying the load. I is kind. I is smart. I is important. And I will find habibi who lets me just be a great person, faults and all, without turning my mistakes and weaknesses into character flaws. But that has to start with ME accepting that.  The only good answer to this nasty cycle of shame (direct or indirect) is a true understanding of the Gospel. Perhaps this is the "curse" that Nephi refers to in his lament in 2 Nephi 4? 

34 O Lord, I have atrusted in thee, and I will btrust in thee forever. I will not put my ctrust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his dtrust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
 35 Yea, I know that God will give aliberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I bask cnot amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the drock of my erighteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen."
The only way to break the cycle is to stop depending on people around us for validation or fulfillment, and instead allow the Lord to fill that need in our lives.  
And that requires true repentance, not shame and self-depreciation.

And a pretty hefty dose of "mind your own beeswax."

Monday, February 10, 2014


Crazy couple weeks, but I'm settling back into/into a new standard routine.

I decided that rather than simply focusing on things I was good at, I would take some "thorns in my side" ('I don't play piano because...', 'I'm not a songwriter because...', 'I can't learn how to dance like that, because...', etc) and work on whittling them down to size, with the intent of tossing them out all together. I haven't even TRIED many of those things. Which is dumb! No more saying "I'm not" or "I can't" do things I want to until I've actually tried them. So, update!

So, I signed up for a Songwriting class via the Berklee's College of Music. Songwriting is a super fun class, and helpful in all my creative endeavors--poetry, songs, recipes, organization and interior design, sculpture, cake decorating, food plating, and eventually drawing (haven't gotten there yet). I absolutely love it! 

I'm taking a nutrition class. Also fabulous. 

I'm ALMOST finished with Baking II, I just have puff pastry, choux paste swans, and a some paperwork between me and Advanced Bakery III: Classical and Modern Gateaux and Tortes. 

ALMOST finished with Culinary II--3 dishes and GOBS of paperwork (including finding some of the pictures) between me and Culinary III: Beef, Pork, Lamb, and Special Diets. 

Yay, paperwork.
(Seriously, though, I need to keep up with that better. Not my favorite part....but necessary. And more obnoxious when there are piles of it to be done.)

So that's official classes. Update on Other Stuff!

--I called my friend and arranged to rent her full sized keyboard. It will fit in my room pretty well, I think, and I'm very excited. I pick it up tomorrow evening. 

--I decided to re-do the Personal Progress booklet from the Young Women's program. The new book has some different goals in it, and a whole new value (Virtue), and I think it will provide some really good focus to my personal scripture study and development. 

--I bought my first set of temple clothes, and my dress is really pretty. Also, I bought a basic bag to put it all in, and the bag is a very pretty purple-y maroon color ironically but accurately named "Merlot." I greatly appreciate the irony in naming a temple bag after a variety of wine. That might have been part of why I bought that particular bag. ;-) 

--I realized that, even after my dessert attempts and other tasks, I still have almost 15 pounds of pears sitting on my table, ready to be cooked. Combine that with the half peck of apples, the bowl of meyer lemons, the three sections of gingerroot, and the grapefruit ALSO sitting on my table....I have much fruit preservation in my very near future. Which is totally fine. I'm going to buy some jam jars this evening after I get my homework done. 

Speaking of homework, gotta get back to it. Here's to blasting preconceived self-notions to metaphorical smithereens!