Day: February 16, 2012

Blogger in Training

Today I finished work a little early and started looking for photos of me at the 2002 Olympics (post to be coming on 10 year anniversary.  Still can’t find photos!).

As I was looking through my old stuff (yes, I am a pack-rat and yes, I love it!), I found a bunch of old newspapers my sister and I made, current events logs, and journals I kept.   The thing that is amazing is how little I’ve really changed.  The basic Rachel at 31 is in many ways the same at 8, 13, 15, etc.

I think the Jesuits might be right- “Give me the child of seven, and I will give you the man.”

A couple things that I noticed from looking at these journals.

First,  how much I craved being special, being recognized, being first.  For example, I HAD to have this photo taken by the crayons because it was special.  It wasn’t my Dad, the professional photographer, taking photos.  It wasn’t even the regular school shots.  It was different and fun.  The smile on my face shows a lot.

Even my reactions to the people in my life seemed to carry more meaning than they might to other children.  When Anna was just a baby we went to Disneyland and I write “I had an outrageous time in Disneyland.  I remember how Anna was always laughing when I tickled her! I also went on a lot of rides and had a lot of fun” (12-31-1991).  Isn’t it interesting that the laugh of a sister produced the same degree of glee as rides at Disneyland?

Second, express basically the same interests then as I have now. Entries like “today we went swimming for a whole hour” are common with big exclamation points. I speak about cooking and when my friend loses her brother in an accident I say ‘our family brought them food on Sunday and I made an apple pie (All by myself no help from Mom!!) with homemade flaky crust and I cut the apples…’.  See how independent and strong I was but with such a desire to serve those in need? I would still feel great about making an apple pie by myself (although I highly doubt I did so at the time!).

Third, I was always confident in my testimony of my church and in Jesus Christ.  October 21, 1990, “I love the Lord and Jesus Christ and I love it even more when you go to a place and have a great feeling and that place is the place where sins vanish.  In the stake center or a church building when you are baptized and confirmed”. At a very young age I knew that the church was true and I could always feel it, never doubted.  Once I made a decision I was done. Luckily for my parents, I made a lot of good choices!

At an older age (probably 13) I said “The thing about knowledge is once we have a testimony.  We must use it!  Missionary work is very important.  I know not everyone can be a full time missionary.  But we need  to use our knowledge to set a good example.  If a friend swears you must (underlined) tell them to stop.  Because it is better that you be embarrassed or picked on or made fun of than to make Heavenly Father sad” (quite a statement for a girl who was routinely picked on…).

Fourth, it is amazing is how knowledgeable and fascinated I was by the news of the day and I had no problem expressing my opinion on those subjects (sound like anyone you know?).  For example, after hearing one of President Clinton’s speeches I wrote:

“I’m sorry but I didn’t buy the President’s speech!  All the emphasis on working together and cutting taxes.  He sounded just like Rush Limbaugh.  If the president really plans to be better than great, but the Republican congress should not be in tears and all touched by Clinton’s speech though…The Republicans and the American’s just say to Clinton if you want to follow, follow, but you’re not leading” (Fall, 1994). What 13 year old says things like that? I love it!

Its funny I can totally see the strabimus problem in this photo. I notice it all the time now. Things are just slightly off symmetry.

I even had an opinion on Charles and Diana getting divorced, saying “I can see how their marriage went bad.  Charles being forced to marry.  I also think that when Charles married they were more in lust not in love.  Prince Charles should still be allowed to be King”

I just think it is amazing that a child even knew about such things and then had the gumption to venture an opinion. I even have entries where I talk about balancing the budget and cutting taxes.  In one of our newspapers I give an update on the 1991 primary presidential election and that ‘Bill Clinton is doing very well’.

In high school I wrote “When I was a little girl I thought that everyone was special and everyone liked everyone else no matter what they looked like”.  I think that was true, even about myself.  I thought that I was special and I still do… I had a great desire to make others happy.  I talk about sharing my testimony with others a lot because it was something that made me happy.

“Some think that they are too busy, or that they need Sunday to go on vacation or to fish, boat or ski.  we must all think about the opportunities we have everyday where we can influence people, and use them to benefit mankind.  We must not only attend church, we must live a life worthy of the church’s standards.  We must invite as many people as possible to activities. We shouldn’t count on the government to do everything…”

Can’t you just see the little blogger inside some of those words? I’ve hopefully polished it a bit and gotten a bit more open-minded but the core is there.  That desire to make others happy, to feel happy myself and to speak my mind is still with me.

One last quote

“What would happen if everyone made a special effort to love someone every day.  People would be friendlier and less people would turn to evil.  Too many people are trying to fit in with their friends instead of having their friends fit into their beliefs and personality.  The only people who are cool are the people who aren’t trying to be.  We need to realize that with just giving the friendship, people would have no reason to want to fit in and drug abuse and crime would drop.” (1992, school journal)

There you have it my friends…

Whitney Houston and Music Today

I have never been a huge Whitney Houston fan but it was hard to grow up when I did and not be influenced by her powerful vocals. I think there was a side of all of us that hoped she would make it through her demons but as so many others she just couldn’t pull herself out of addiction and its awful vices.  Honestly I was surprised the pang of sadness I felt when I heard the news.

On my mission I volunteered for an AA/NA chapter and was totally blown away by both the organization and the power of addiction.  If my Mormon faith has given me anything, at the very least it has steered me away from those behaviors that often start innocently but become oh so hard in some to give up.

I also learned to be deeply sympathetic towards those who battle with addiction.  These drugs change the addicts brain and it becomes a disease.  Whether it is initially self-inflicted is not an excuse for their behavior or for unsympathetic and unkind thoughts.

My favorite Whitney Houston song is I Have Nothing.  I’ve had in on my playlist for years!  The entire Bodyguard soundtrack was played so much for a while that it was hard to not tire of eventually.  Do you think we get the same burn out on songs that we used to?  There are so many more options to listen to that why listen to a song you are sick of?

Even if Whitney isn’t your favorite, I don’t know how you can deny that she was a powerhouse of a singer.  The length of her notes, the clarity, pitch and pure sound are just superb. In most of her songs she carries key changes without missing a beat and the range is amazing.

I Will Always Love You is basically the Somewhere Over the Rainbow of the 90s. (and props given to Dolly Parton for writing such a memorable song)

Its hard to think of anyone who we can compare to Whitney’s overall appeal.  In fact, the more I think about it, her death is emblematic of the change in the music/movie industry since the 90s.  When I was in high school a teen had 2 choices for new music- the radio or MTV.  (or perhaps the soundtrack to a movie like the Bodyguard or Reality Bites).

Now there are so many outlets to investigate new talent including itunes, youtube, amazon.com, television sponsorship, advertising, satellite radio, pandora, spotify etc.   Mostly I’d say this is a good thing, allowing a wider range of vocalists to be heard and find a niche audience.

Still, the change does demonstrate how in many ways our society is becoming more insular and divided.  In the 90s everyone I know liked Nirvana, Whitney Houston, Jewel, Lauryn Hill, Tim McGraw etc.  If you had nothing in common with a person, odds are you liked whatever popular tunes were being pumped out of the radio.  I don’t think you could say that any more?

The only performer I can think of that is universally enjoyed is Adele. With two amazing albums she has transcended genres creating dance, contemporary and pop hits.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Adele.

It is also hard to think of a singer like Whitney who is a recognizable acting presence.  Is the era of the all-around diva entertainer no more (and having a reality show does not count, even if it is basically acting)?

The only person I can think of is Jennifer Hudson.  As an oscar and grammy winner she commands attention on both formats but even she doesn’t have the star power of a Whitney Houston. (Maybe now that she’s skinny she will be but that’s for another blog).

As I mentioned in my post about Ingrid Michaelson, artists are forced to sell their music to advertisers, TV shows, and a myriad of other product placements.  The days of the girl singing in the bar or small venue, hoping to be found have been traded for an  american idol appearance,  or youtube following.  Mostly I think this is a good thing but like I said it lacks a certain degree of unity in music that has always existed.

It also forces music to be more image-conscience than ever before.  I wonder if a Bob Dylan or Aretha Franklin could make it today? Would people be drawn to watch a youtube video of these unusual stars by their appearance?  I’m not sure?

I’m afraid far too often singers like Kei$ha (even her name is image conscious) get picked up for outlandish appearances and not for their voice.  Lady GaGa, who can actually sing, chooses to flaunt about in ridiculous costumes just to have her voice heard.  A good voice is not enough without the additional visual factor.

How do you discover new music?  I’m wondering if purchasing cds will go the way of the one hour photo booth (or perhaps it already has).  I never get photos developed unless I’m going to frame them.  I rarely purchase cds.  Even mp3s seem a little silly when you can download albums on spotify for free and listen to an ad every now and then.

What bands/singers from the 90s did you like? Jewel, REM and Dixie Chicks were particular favorites of mine.

Lastly, to those suffering from addiction there is hope.  Please contact your AA/NA chapter.  They have the resources to help you.  It will be a long road but sobriety is possible.  Please don’t rob the world of the talents you can give.  We need you and your gifts.