I don’t want to be human.

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I don’t want to be human. At least, not in the way we’ve made being human.

We’ve made being human a combination of tasks to do, money to earn, bills to pay, pain to feel, and noise to drown in. Being human is living 90% of an existence in four walls. Being human is sitting at a desk for eight hours a day. Being human is driving from here to there habitually, eating things we shouldn’t, coexisting with what we hate. Being human is conditioning ourselves to disconnect and disengage and repress.

We die realizing we’ve killed ourselves with ourselves. I don’t want to leave Earth realizing that I’ve done that.

Sometimes, when I let myself, I slip into places I’ve never been and I know what to do to not die by these things we say make us human: run. My desk fades away, my concerns quiet, and all I can see and feel inside me are jagged peaks drenched with snow. Music is playing and I am skiing, sometimes snowboarding, leaving tracks in clouds of powder, or sometimes just standing there among the trees, gasping at the immensity of it all, this space I never knew was tucked beneath my skin.

I open my bones, and there are mountains inside them. Desert, snow-capped peaks, woods, rocks, mountains. Endangered things. Delicate things. Things I want to touch and breathe in every day, and things I ache about, because I know they’re out there somewhere.

I don’t want to be human. I want to be wilderness. I want there to be no seam, no separation, no “how’s life?” “it’s going” in between me and untouched places.

Stitched together like that, I’d imagine I could live without fear or worry. Maybe one day I’ll try.


*This word vomit brought to you by a half hour of free time and Ari’s overwhelming wanderlust. 

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LET’S TALK ABOUT STAR WARS ALREADY.

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If you have not yet watched this trailer, I don’t know how it’s possible that you are human. Seriously. Are you even breathing right now? WATCH IT. IMMEDIATELY.

To be fair, it was wedged in the middle of some football game on ESPN and then crept onto the Internet like a Sith in cashmere socks, so I could almost excuse your oversight. Except that this is Star Wars we’re talking about and practically the most important thing in the entire universe right now, nbd.

The final trailer of Star Wars: Episode VII is here! IT’S HEEEEEERRRREEE. That means the film comes out in two months. That means I’m so excited, I could explode. Like Alderaan, may it rest in peace.

First: John Williams’ music is STUNNING. Tears were almost shed when I heard “Han Solo and the Princess” reprised. The man is unmatched.

Second: Are we never going to talk about the fact that John Boyega is a black guy playing a clone? This trailer makes it seem like he’s been a clone his whole life. HOW. I love him, but how? Did the Empire have a backup template in case all five billion Jango Fetts turned out to be duds? It is obvious that Jango couldn’t aim, as we all know. So maybe.

Third: Kylo Ren. He shouldn’t talk. Ever. He doesn’t sound like a Sith apprentice rising from the ashes of the Vader regime. He sounds like Kevin McCallister reserving a hotel room with his dad’s credit card.

Fourth: Rey is Han and Leia’s daughter, she has the Force, and it’s inevitable that she’s going to use a lightsaber at some point. #IMHO

Fifth: Isn’t old Harrison Ford just so endearing?

Sixth: What’s up with Kylo Ren’s zombie army at minute 1:24? Who is this freak?

Seventh: If you don’t love all of this TIE fighter/X-Wing drama, you are an android with no human feelings. Period. You need to go home and rethink your life.

Eighth: There is so much poetry in an older Han admitting what a younger Han would not believe, that the Force is real. Gospel analogies abound right there.

Ninth: I desperately, DESPERATELY want to see more of the chrome trooper. Make this a thing, J.J.

Tenth: Rey and Finn are going to be a thing, unless that rebel pilot with the luscious locks swoops in and ruins that, which will probably happen.

Eleventh: Luke is a dead man. Like, seriously. He’s either dead or he’s holed up in a hut somewhere like Obi Wan. He’s not on the posters, he’s not in the trailer. Why does Leia look sad? He’s dead. Start your grieving now before you get caught off guard later. He is dead. Either that or he’s Kylo Ren. What a plot twist that would be.

Twelfth: They pack that trailer with so much stuff that you almost forget about the fact that Finn is going up against Kylo Ren with a lightsaber. Woefully outmatched? Or secretly an underdog? Only time will tell. Speaking of time,

CAN DECEMBER BE NOW?!

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#LiveAuthentic

Today, at precisely 12:40 a.m. and 5:15 a.m. and 6:35 a.m., I woke up tossing and turning with stabbing stomach pain. As a result, I’ve had a full day to sleep off the pain and placebo myself up with cursed doTERRA and write and think.

There’s a popular hashtag people like to use called #LiveAuthentic. The idea of it is beautiful. The execution, however, is often inauthentic. People stamp it to images of themselves doing crazy things, to slices of life that are fleeting, to moments that are as rare as they are brief. Live authentic, they say as they hope people don’t see right through them to the central fact that their lives are not all happiness and excitement.

I think if we all used #LiveAuthentic properly, we’d be stunned at how regular and perhaps challenging each others’ lives are. #LiveAuthentic for me today would be a raggedy Star Wars shirt, glasses that don’t fit my face, mussy hair, and a whole lot of overwhelming history.

A year ago this month, I went through what I can only call hell. Having a day off of work and the inability to do more than lie on the ground and moan (I’m only being partly melodramatic here), I thought about it. A lot. And it scared me the same way the sight of my own blood scares me — it terrifies me to see old wounds, to suspect that they might reopen and I’ll be left to stitch them up alone again. Funny thing, being human. We’re never left completely alone (I have enough faith in the Atonement to believe that), but in times of desperation, we feel as though we are, and I think that’s the worst part of it. That chasmic distance we create in our pain.

Truth is, #LiveAuthentic occasionally means #LiveWeak for me. I’m not always optimistic, and I’m not always eloquent. Sometimes I’m awkward and scared. Sometimes I’m sick as a dog watching Spongebob episodes and trying not to laugh, because A) my stomach hurts and B) Spongebob is ridiculous. Sometimes I worry that I’m disappointing or inadequate. Sometimes the future worries me.

But tomorrow comes, as it does, and with it, new nows, new opportunities, and new reassurances that we’re doing okay, even if we feel like we fail.

I’m not sure why I’m writing this. Maybe I just want you to know that I’m human. That I have weaknesses. That I have fears. We all do. And it’s okay to be real and authentic about it.

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On My Lame, Exciting, & Cryptic Life

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A recent photo of my face (in case you forgot what it looks like)

Today I Googled “creative ways to blog about your life.” Oh, how the proud are brought low.

The truth is that I’ve been wanting to update you guys about my life for ages. Not being — SPOILER ALERT — a student any longer and working in an upstairs office 40 hours a week has kept me kind of isolated and out of the way. Blogging’s one of the few ways I can reach out to the world right now and say, “Hey! I’m alive.” Little good that’s been, though, as I haven’t blogged in 40 days. FORTY DAYS. That’s how long Jesus fasted in the wilderness, guys. Scripturally, the number 40 is usually associated with testing, trial, and probation, so I guess it’s rather appropriate. That’s not to say life’s been a trial. It’s been hard, but it’s been sweet and incredible as well. It’s been all sorts of things. And for once in my life, I don’t know how to blog about it.

So what am I going to do? Blog about it. Here’s my life in a nutshell.

What I’ve been doing: Today, crying. My stake presidency just got released at stake conference. Last week, my bishopric got released and my ward got discontinued. Needless to say, it’s been one heckuva week. I’m usually okay with change, but so much change has been hard to adjust to, especially since I dearly, dearly love my priesthood leaders and they’ve been a constant for me in a life that’s been very inconstant. I don’t deal well with people leaving. It’s the hardest thing about life.

Last week? Hiking. I did a night hike up Crimson Trail. It was so beautiful up there. I just sprawled on top of a cliff and watched the stars fill the whole sky, spilling in like grains of sand from the galaxy. The smell of the woods, the sound of the crickets, the feel of dirt beneath my feet, the way my headlamp spread sheets of white across the tops of the trees…oh, it was magic. I did see a rattlesnake, which was terrifying, and I did convince myself that animals were waiting to leap from the woods and eat me, but otherwise, it was such a good trip. I always feel so rejuvenated after hikes like that, like I’ve been holding my breath for ages without realizing it and I can finally exhale.

A picture from the trail

Generally? I’ve been working. It seems like that’s all I do anymore. I work at a sporting goods store and basically run the Internet customer service side of things. I’m also blogging about gear and local hikes and stuff like that for my company’s new website on the side. My job and I have a love/hate. Emotionally, it’s incredibly hard for me. Customers have a tendency to be extremely rude when they don’t get what they want, and that has taken a measurable toll on my health. Even on a good day, I expect and dread getting a phone call from another angry person. On the flip side, it keeps me busy. I do lots of different things. I’ve found a crazy passion for outdoor gear and nature since working there, and I kind of think I want to pursue that in my search for a career. I’ve never been so drawn to outdoor retail before, and I’m getting suspicious that I’m figuring out why I needed this job.

What I haven’t been doing: Going to school! Yeah, so, I’m not a student anymore. I quit that a week before school. I was going to study marketing, if you remember. I had a sweet internship, if you remember. I felt good about it, if you remember. But about a month ago, I didn’t feel good about it anymore. I’ve asked myself why several times, and the conclusion I have reached is that the Lord allowed me to feel good about school back in February when I decided on it because I had nothing else.

A year ago this month, I had one of the most debilitating, dark times of my life. It lasted September, October, and partway through November. In November, when it was just ending, other things fell apart. A relationship that I can now admit was very unhealthy fell apart. I was devastated. I tried and failed to find work for a good six months. I tried and failed many times to feel okay with myself. Honestly, I know I felt good about school because I needed something to look forward to at a time when I had nothing. Now that I’m back on my feet again and content, I know it’s right to not go back. I get this feeling I won’t ever go back, and I’m okay with that. The Lord has always been one to have other plans in store for me, and they’ve always turned out beautifully.

What I’ve been listening to: Everything. Feast your ears on this gem:

(Please forgive this horrid formatting. My coding skills are rusty.)

What I’ve been eating: Lots and lots of spring rolls and peanut butter cookies. Lots of gluten free stuff, not by choice, but by laziness. Natural Grocers is just right there.

What I’ve been dreaming about: Making it big with my writing, being able to have a job I love every single day. The occasional nightmare about being chased down by a murderer. You know. Same old.

What my dating life’s like: 
I honestly don’t know how to answer that right now. I’d say it’s complicated, but it’s not. It’s incredibly matter-of-fact. And I know I’m being really cryptic right now. Let’s just say I’m not dating anybody right now. Let’s just say I’m not emotionally available, and let’s pretend I didn’t even hint at it, because I don’t know how to, okay? And this is important enough that I desperately want to write about it, but I’m cautious, okay? Okay. Glad that’s settled.

What I’ve been reading: I started a book called “Understanding Your Endowment” that I will write a review for you guys about. So far, I enjoy it.

What I’ve been singing: Lots of made up songs. I’ve been making up songs like crazy lately. I made one up about people running four way stops the other day. It was a winner.

What I’ve been wondering: How I can change, how I can be better than I am. I’ve thought about that a lot lately.

What I’ve been preparing for: Comic Con. I’ve gone through three or four different costume ideas, and I’m just done with it. I can’t think of anything clever or comfortable or funny or good. I may just go as Han Solo again, or just wear a nerdy t-shirt, at this rate. It’s frustrating. I like going all out, and this year, I can’t really.

What I’ve been struggling with: Patience. Big time.

What I’ve been winning at: Being aware of my faults, which isn’t always a good thing.

What I want to change: My priorities. My lack of free time.

There’s a little slice of my life for you. Don’t worry. I’m not one of those bloggers planning on fading out of the blog world. I’ve been a little distracted, but I think things are on track. I’m doing the little things, and doing those things gives me the inspiration to write. You’ll hear more from me soon.

Love: Ari

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Life Lately / August

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I’ve been thinking lately. A lot. So much so that my friends and family have had to snap me out of stupors where my head is a billion miles away. It’s hard to come back down from a billion miles away.

A few weeks ago, I had resigned myself to the sense that the world is an awful place. News is always bad and people are usually cruel. Sometimes it seems that way. But lately, I get this crazy feeling that I’m blind.

As I rode my bike home from Institute last week, I ended up on a lonely dirt road in the middle of nowhere that I’ve always hated to drive on. It was almost twilight. The sky was pink and peach above fields of alfalfa and wheat that crashed together. The only thing I could hear was the ticking of bicycle pawls, but then it seemed like an orchestra rose up to meet me. Horses mumbled in baritone from beneath a half-dilapidated stable right off the road. Frogs and crickets sang together from the cattails. A lamb bleated, a calf lowed, and a breeze snaked through my loose hair. It was incredibly romantic and incredibly peaceful. And incredibly not like the way I’ve been living my life this past year.

I’ve been so focused on names and numbers and figures that I’ve forgotten poetry. I’ve forgotten the way it feels to sit back and stare at some menial thing and see the magic of it. I’ve forgotten how it feels to find a verse in an interaction, an ode in a face, or a new story in an old place. I’ve forgotten why I wanted to be a writer to begin with: to catch wonder and put it somewhere where it can’t be fleeting. Only now have I been reminded.

I don’t know why I’m writing all of this here, because it gives you no big glimpse of my life. Work is stressful, school has become complicated and, as of today, I’m probably not going back now, I still occasionally feel the small wound of ‘what if’ when I think about life.

But I’m alive, and I have stacks of words inside. And lately, they spill out of me. And the world is more beautiful than it’s ever felt.

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Why I Stay a Mormon When Many Friends Have Left

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“I’m leaving the church.”

Over the past month, I have heard/read this phrase seven times. Once from an incredible woman in my home ward who can’t take anymore of the ward’s judgement. Once from a family member who has felt the church is too restrictive for years. Twice from young adults my age whose knowledge and testimonies of the gospel have buoyed my own in the past. The rest from good friends and acquaintances. Some of these announcements, I’ve been expecting for months and years. Others, I never ever expected.

The intensity of the grief I have quietly shouldered these past few weeks has been hard to describe and has left me with an alarming loss for words. In the miniature chaos of having, as one friend described to me, multiple individuals I propped my testimony on discard their own, I’ve found myself wondering why I even bother. My social media accounts have been inundated with angry words about members of the church being voiceless and cowardly, critical articles about confirmation bias, Joseph Smith, the church’s stance on gay marriage; friends who virtually laud their doubts and tear apart the testimonies of my other friends. In the middle of this, I see some of my friends faltering and questioning, wondering why they stay, and it’s overwhelmed me. I’ve not been able to blog for weeks. I thought that was because I just felt uninspired. I’m suspecting it’s because I’ve been deeply discouraged, not wanting to add fuel to the flame, not wanting to hurt or be hurt by other people who are just waiting for a chance to do it. Not wanting to defend the beliefs that are so much a part of me, that I’d imagine I’d crumble apart without them, and only because I worry about how others would react.

Because of beliefs I have expressed on this blog and others, I’ve been cyber-bullied and sexually harassed by online strangers who have put me in virtual stocks to throw tomatoes at. I’ve been called horrible names and told I’m a horrible person in the comments on my blog. I’ve been told that I’m a totally brainwashed Mormon and that I’m on the verge of apostasy all in one long digital breath, and I’ve dealt with it. But to see some of the things my friends and family are saying? To see members of the church turning on members of the church? To watch so many doubt and then cause others to doubt and then invalidate their feelings for them? It’s crippled me.

I don’t want to and cannot stay quiet anymore.

I know that some of you reading this right now have serious doubts, and you’re wondering why you stay. And there’s no one there to encourage you to stay because the battle you’re fighting is quiet and lonely. I know that some of you reading this right now are doing so because you’re lurking about like the bigotry police, waiting for a reason to ridicule me and say, “You’re wrong! You’re so stupid and so wrong!” And I know that many of you reading this right now are just as discouraged as I am, because you’re seeing people who helped your testimony abandon theirs, and it’s breaking you apart. Many, many of you are wondering why the words of the prophets seem so at odds with the words that the media, society, and your own friends are telling you. Many of you don’t believe the words of prophets at all. Many of you don’t see other members living up to what the prophets ask us to do, and it hurts.

In a time that is so chaotic, confusing, and heartbreaking, a time when men’s hearts fail them and men’s testimonies don’t seem to be enough, it’s easy to say, “You know what? I don’t want any part of this. It’s hard to be a member of the church, it’s embarrassing to be a member of the church, it’s not worth it to be a member of the church, and it’s stupid to be a member of the church.” It’s easy to think that. But I believe that most of us who think that way have forgotten whose church this is. It doesn’t belong to prophets or men or the whims of society. It belongs to Jesus Christ.

He is the center, basis, and foundation of every part of it. He’s who we worship, who we strive to be like, and who we make covenants for. He’s in every ordinance, and should be in every testimony, because in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Christ is not some far off deity. He’s a living, omnipresent Savior who can be found in everything and every person. Our scriptures confirm that. The New Testament is not some made up storybook. It’s documented testimony of the men and women who surrounded Christ, who boldly declared that Jesus Christ was who He said He was and did what He said He did. The Book of Mormon is not some made up storybook. It’s a compilation of testimony after testimony after testimony after testimony of men and women who saw Christ, understood Christ, waited hopefully for Christ, and reaffirmed that Christ would come. Even when accused of being fiction by critics of the church, the Book of Mormon functions exactly as the words of Christ’s early apostles do, not to glorify prophets, but to glorify the Messiah.

Some would suggest that the church is not true because prophets have been wrong, because prophets are imperfect, and because prophets just don’t understand. I wonder, however, what we would worship if we had perfect men leading this church. Would we remember to worship the Savior without being compelled to do so? Would we see the consistent need for and infinite capacity of His Atonement? I can’t say we would. Instead of perfection, we have imperfect men who have made mistakes, yes, even mistakes that our 21st Century brains find shocking and hard to understand. We often falsely suggest that prophets are perfect. We often struggle with the thought that they aren’t. Many who pour over doctrinal oddities and human faults found in the saints of early church history use it as justification to leave and condemn the church. But this church was never organized for the agendas of those saints. It was never a way to deify imperfect men with corrupt agendas. A closer truth would be that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in this church to give us a massive and yet totally intimate view of how we desperately need the Atonement in our lives, and even (and maybe especially) leaders and prophets need it, too.

Prophets exist to help us worship Christ, not themselves. Christ Himself tells us, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken; ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory”(Luke 24:25-27)? After that, he expounds unto His disciples all scriptures and all the words of the prophets concerning Himself. I’d argue that all doctrine and all principles given over the pulpit are absolutely secondary when compared with the exhortation to become like and follow Jesus Christ, and as Christ teaches, that’s the purpose of prophets. To not believe in prophets and to still claim to believe in Christ is to invalidate a vast majority of Christ’s words. And to do that is to invalidate Him.

I can’t do that.

If there is one thing I know more than anything it’s that Jesus Christ is the Savior and that His Atonement is both real and mighty. There is no way that I could deny that, because I have seen it work. I have seen it work in the lives of people who I never guessed it could work for. I have seen it do things for me that I had no confidence I could ever do on my own. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is beautiful and it’s incomprehensible and it’s real, and it’s real because He’s real. Because He’s real, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe Him when He says prophets give us the truth. And because I believe Him, I cannot deny the truthfulness of the one church on earth that has prophets that testify of Him. To do so would be to selectively believe the Savior who chose to believe entirely in me, so much so that He died for me. I cannot imagine the pain that would give Him.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a living, progressing entity that represents everything the Atonement is. It represents the enabling power of the Atonement, the ability to go from humble, hard, and yes, even questionable — in our eyes — circumstances to edification and happiness, and within the walls of its chapels, we covenant to always remember the Savior. That is the key. Remembering. Remembering who we were, what we are, what we felt, and what we experienced. Hanging on to the things that bring us closer to Christ. This church does that. Sometimes I think we’re so concerned with the roots of the church that we tragically forget to look up and see the fruits of the church, even the ones we have picked and savored frequently throughout our lives. The Atonement of Jesus Christ, sacred covenants, and the ability to be with our families forever are magnificent fruits indeed, fruits that we cannot find combined anywhere else.

I am inadequate on my own. I make mistakes and I’m imperfect and I’m stubborn. But I’m staying in the church. Not because I’m a coward, a prude, an idiot, a bigot, a conformist, an illogical fool, or whatever other garbage noun society likes to throw at me to make me feel bad about believing in something. I’m staying because of Jesus Christ. He is here.

And I never want to leave Him.

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Sunday Prose

At midnight, a train screams, and I wake up groaning. I imagine that a pencil-thin Dagny Taggart dressed in film noir black is leaning her head out of a window and facing progress, laughing at it. Letting the West and the entire night know that it has been won by a woman on a steam engine. I lean my head out of my tarp tent and face the sky, breathless at it. Watching unquantifiable waves of stars spill through the clouds and remind me that not every West has been won. 
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10 Totally Ari Things that Happened to Me This Week

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In an effort to see the bright side of life more often, I introduce to you my new blog series, Totally Ari Things. Life is hilariously embarrassing and good. We need only choose to forget the bad, and enjoy the ride. So here are 10 totally Ari things that happened to me this week.

1. I broke something and made a mess. 

I was trying to pull a hose from one corner of my boss’s yard to another when it suddenly resisted. Thinking there was a kink, I tugged harder, not looking back at it. “Come on hose,” I muttered. “You can do this.”

*cue sound of snapping sprinkler system, whooshing roar of water, panicked shrieks*

In case you didn’t get that last part, I broke the dang sprinkler pipe and sent gallons of water rushing a good five feet into the air. Then, like the true fool that I am, I tried stopping said water with my hands, my feet, my legs…accidentally every body part, limb, and appendage that exist on me until I finally thought for a moment and called someone who knew what they were doing. My phone was so soaked from the water transferred from cheek to screen that I’m surprised it even knows it’s a phone.

What I hoped I looked like post sprinkler explosion:

Selena, you cheeky babe, you.

What I definitely looked like post sprinkler explosion:

Except more like this soaking wet cat:

My day was made all the more enjoyable when I tried running a wheelbarrow full of topsoil up a steep driveway and it fell over almost on top of me. Good times, my friends. Good times.

2. I improvised.

Our stake held a service project at a scout camp on Monday, and we were basically asked to clean up camp sites. I went with a good friend, and we wandered way far into the woods before we really knew what we were doing. That happens a lot with us. We stumbled upon a site where the fire pit had been dug out real nicely. Assuming it was done, we moved on to another site, and it, too, had a fire pit, except this one hadn’t been dug out yet. Well…neither of us had shovels, but neither of us wanted to be punks who show up to a service project and don’t serve. So we did the only logical thing we could think to do at the time.

We grabbed some sticks and started digging. Nay, scratching. It was more like scratching. We scratched out that fire pit real good. That pit is a whole half inch deeper thanks to us. You’re welcome, Camp Hull.

Plus, I almost felt like Bear Grylls for five minutes. I wouldn’t give those five minutes away for anything.

Who wouldn’t want to be this dude?

3. I rebelled in the most un-rebellious way. 

Growing up, I was never the rebellious kid. I always did what I was asked to do and I didn’t get into much trouble. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more stubborn and more rebellious, taking pride in little moments of rule breaking.

If, by rule breaking, we’re talking jaywalking across the street without blinking an eye. What up.

Don't you mean this guy will be unemployed??

So last Saturday, there was a women’s bike ride with a route that passed by my house. This ride happens every year. I forget about it every year. But this year, I didn’t forget. I decided to hop on my own bike and join them. Which is totally not legal. And course marshals get you in trouble when you do it. Because you just hog up the whole dang road more than necessary when you’re not registered to ride.

I slipped in with everybody else, though, and conveniently, had a backpack to hide any possible race number. Then I just copied everyone else’s signals and biked like I’d been there the whole ride, the whole while glorying in my cleverness.

Then my dad showed up at mile 10 on a recumbent and that was the end of that. It was good, though, breaking the rules with Dad. We just do our own thing.

 

4. I forgot something extremely important. 

My friends and I went camping at City of Rocks this weekend. It was night and everyone was taking their contacts out. So I grabbed my glasses case from the table, since my hammock was strung a bajillion miles away from everyone else and there were cacti all over that joint.

I pulled out my glasses, and immediately recoiled in horror as I touched them.

Why?

Because when I was in high school, I bought some lensless glasses to complete a nerd Halloween costume and, unbeknownst to me, I had stuck those nerd glasses in my extra glasses case and picked that case up as I was running out the door to meet my friends.

*facepalm*

5. I improvised.

At the same City of Rocks camping trip, we drove over to Castle Rock on the other side of the mountains to do some sport climbs. We had to walk on a long, dusty road to get to some sweet walls. By the time we got there, I had to go to the bathroom. Real bad. There was nary a restroom in sight.

Now, I have this thing about going to the bathroom in the wild. I can do it without complaint, but if I don’t have to, I won’t. This time, I had to.

So there I was, scrambling through the woods, trying to find a place. When I did, it was too late before I noticed I was right next to the main path. Don’t worry. Nothing happened, just severe paranoia. Then, to add a cherry to this ice cream sundae of awkwardness, there was nothing but rocks and pine trees around me.

Which means that I may have used pine boughs as toilet paper.

Yeah. I know what you’re thinking.

BEAR GRYLLS FOR LIFE! 

6. I had a public wardrobe issue.

On Tuesday, I bike to my Institute class in Smithfield. It’s a nice little uphill ride that gets my body prime before my spirit gets primed. Well, this last Tuesday, we had a luau outside, and it was pretty hot out. When I got there, my jersey smelled like a sack of death. Predicting this, I packed extra clothes. What I didn’t predict is that the church house door would be locked, thus forcing me to change in a concealed space outside.

Well, this was one of those churches that has a nice little walled area around its generators and satellite, so I thought, “That’ll work.”

Yeah. Didn’t realize that that nice little walled area was built in such a way that it had close to 100 brick-sized holes all over it. Which means that anyone looking could see into it. Which means that I sucked my body into a corner and changed faster than Jeb Bush’s opinions on Iraq.

Close to 200 people had the opportunity to see me. Ooh la la.

7. I bought something I’m ashamed of. 

Anticipating this climbing excursion at City of Rocks, I went to the mall to look for a lightweight t-shirt to climb in. I ended up in Rue 21 staring at a wall full of cellphone supplies. Specifically, what I endearingly call the “Tool Stick.” AKA: selfie stick.

Three weeks ago, I was mocking people who use these things. Selfie-sticks are like the tech product equivalent of Justin Bieber’s music — anyone who uses one is either shamelessly committed, or they do so in the cloak of secrecy so no one will mock them. Understandably, because selfie-sticks are RIDICULOUS.

Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but like the Cherokee legend of the two wolves, I was torn by two halves of a whole as I looked at those sticks, the wolf of “maintain your good name, your reputation — don’t buy this” and the wolf of “imagine how legit you’re gonna look with a selfie-stick shot of your ripped biceps at the top of a monster wall.” My mind could not push back the image of climbing a steep rock wall and pulling out a stick to get an epic panoramic shot of my climb. It was all I thought about for 20 minutes as I slinked through the store, pretending to look interested in less embarrassing items, like underwear.

Finally, 20 minutes later, I snatched one off of the shelf, buried it under a shirt I bought, and shoved it on the counter to buy it. Emotional beads of sweat collected on my figurative head as I heard someone come up behind me in line. They were looking over my shoulder. Judging me. I knew it.

I nervously spluttered, “Does anybody by these things, because I feel so stu–?”

“Yeah,” the cashier said, clipping the tags off of my purchases with deft, manicured fingers. “Lots and lots of people do.”

“Oh.”

“That’ll be $26.”

Purchases in hand, I zipped out of that joint, my new possession safely stuffed away. And in case you’re wondering about my epic climbing picture…the sun got in my eyes and it ended up being a close up of my shoulder with a hill in the distance. That I didn’t notice until we were done climbing.

8. I nearly died. 

Usually I keep my mom censor on stuff like this, because no one needs to know the harrowing details of what almost happened to their stupid child, but I’ll make an exception.

I went bouldering and got stuck on the edge of a giant rock that plummeted a good 30-40 feet to the ground. When I say stuck, I mean that my back was against the drop and I was clinging for dear life on narrow holds as my hands grew sticky with sweat and I had no place else to go.

This might be a somewhat sorta frequent occurrence. Kinda sorta. Don’t freak out, Mom. It’s all good.

8. I acted weird in public. 

I went into a shoe store without wearing shoes. I broke my shoes, okay! What’s a girl to do?

Then, I went to Jurassic World and clapped and cheered when it started. But quietly. Because everyone else was just not feelin’ it.

DINOSAURS, PEOPLE. GET EXCITED ABOUT THE FREAKING DINOSAURS.

10. I got blocked. 

I got blocked by freaking Lagoon, guys. You know. The place that’s all “It’s where fun is”? Yeah. They hate me and they blocked me from interacting with their Facebook page because I voiced my concerns about their Wild Kingdom ride. Note to self: add “Express a contrary opinion on anything ever” to my rapidly growing list of “Things to Do to Get People to Hate Your Guts.”

The good news, though, is I now have even less incentives to spend $40 to slump around a park that smells like cigarettes, garbage, body odor, and vomit. Hooray!

What’s something totally you that happened to you this week? Share in the comments and I’ll laugh with ya. :) 

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Being Human is the Worst Best Thing Ever

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Today I had some bicycle time, and unfortunately for me, bicycle time gives me enough silence to consider the topic that’s been on my mind a lot lately: being human is the pits.
Really, though.
Being human means that I sometimes yell in my car and pretend to maliciously memorize license numbers to give to the cops when people cut me off. Being human means that I realize two days afterward that that’s not very Christlike. Being human means that I spill food on my shirt and in my hair 80% of the time that I eat. It means that I struggle to sound eloquent when I speak. It means that I’m self-conscious of my singing voice and still getting the courage to sing karaoke one day. It means that I open my high school yearbook and shudder, because I was a real toad in high school. Being human means that I miss relationships that I shouldn’t, and that I feel painfully idiotic because I miss them so much. Being human means that I get to do a whole lot of stupid things in life and struggle to forgive myself. Being human means that I sometimes find myself in tears, and I don’t even know what I’m crying for.
Being human means I have to hurt, and I have to feel. Sometimes I don’t like that.
Lately I’ve been getting down and out about the liars and the dirty, dirty cheats in the world. Most often, though, I’ve been getting down and out about how hard it is for me to move forward.

The artist F. Scott Fitzgerald said it most eloquently:

“So we beat on, boats against the current. Borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Right now, I feel like a little boat. I’m tossed to and fro on waves of history, waves of anger, waves of hurt, and waves of disappointment that have come rushing suddenly from the rocks I thought they’d long ago disappeared against. A lot of that anger and hurt is self-inflicted.

The hardest part about being human, I’ve found, is the challenge of forgiving ourselves for all of our imperfections, seeing ourselves as people who can be better instead of people who always seem to mess things up. It’s hard to return to the corners of our lives and discover a lot of dust and cobwebs that still linger there, even when we thought we’d gotten rid of them all. I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

More often than not, being human has left me feeling vulnerable and delicate, and it’s pushed me to my knees and into asking Heavenly Father why He made me so weak. But it is that delicacy and vulnerability and weakness that allow me to become better.

Being vulnerable means that I can feel another’s pain and truly mourn with them. Being vulnerable means that I have room to grow. It means that I can relate, that I can be myself, that I can care in a world that champions apathy. It means that I can log onto my blog today and feel discouraged enough to bare my soul to you in this random, fragmented post because I need connection and need to see the scripted evidence that I can get through struggles, that I can forgive myself. That I want to.

Being human is worst best thing ever. And even though it might hurt today, it will be a blessing tomorrow.

Because even when it limits, it’s capable of liberating.

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Insecurities & Adventures || My Life Lately

*takes “I Go By Ari” off shelf, sprays it with figurative Pledge Multi-Surface Spray, wipes off dust*

Every once in awhile, I’ll remember that I have a journal and open it up, hastily scrawling out the preface, “Dear Journal — It’s been a long time. I am so sorry. Life just got so busy.” It’s more than likely that my journal has no opinion on the matter, an apolitical Switzerland in the whole affair. But blogs are a little different. People read them.

So, dear friends. It’s been a long time. I am so sorry.

I want to say my life’s been a roller coaster lately, but roller coasters are horribly cliche metaphors for life, so I’m gonna shut that thing down right now. The closer truth is that my life’s been like a bike ride. Sometimes the views are scenic and lovely, and the road unrolls in waves beneath me. Other times, I’m too attuned to the gravel in the shoulders, to the way my legs ache, to the driver in the big truck who nearly plowed me into a ditch, to thoughts of “why am I doing this.” The good thing is that I have a destination in sight. I’m not riding blindly. That destination makes all the difference, but the journey is still difficult.

Lately, I’ve had to confront a lot of emotional demons on this bike ride. I’ve been learning that forgiveness is really hard and sometimes has to be done in waves, mainly because forgetting is really hard. I’m working on being vulnerable with people instead of being a glacier, which I’ve trained myself to be adept at, let me tell you. I’ve sat in the middle of my ward at church sometimes and felt a painful aloneness that I haven’t felt since I was in high school, like I’m outside looking in to something instead of being in it. That’s been disheartening. It’s also been easier to see how I fall short — I fall short enough times that it’s quite embarrassing. I’m in the unique position of knowing exactly where I’m going and looking forward to my arrival more than anything, but being so discouraged in the middle of it, that I sometimes lose sight.

Insert climbing metaphor here:

Last week, my friends and I did some rock climbing up Logan Canyon. The wall we climbed was a good 40-50 feet high, and it had to be lead climbed — you couldn’t just walk up to the top and put the rope through the chains. You had to climb up past the bolts at the risk of falling to get the rope up there. Being the only one who kind of knew how to lead climb, the job fell on me.

Talk about losing sight in the middle of things.

With small holds and distances that had to be leaped sometimes, lead climbing that wall was terrifying. I found my body shaking and my voice whispering prayers. I was so scared of falling that I paralyzed my climb and forgot where I was going. Instead of seeing the wall for the end, I saw it for the slick limestone and narrow ledges in the middle. It wasn’t until I forced myself to move and forget about my fears that I made any progress.

I’m relearning that lesson in life, too.

The truth is that a lot of things scare me right now.

Being forgotten scares me.
Not being enough scares me.
Living a mediocre life scares me.
Being hurt and re-hurt by people I care about scares me.
Failing scares me.

I take all of that stuff out on a rock wall, on a bike, on my landscaping job. I push myself harder, I climb faster, I lift more. Trying to prove the silent point that I can get over things. I can overcome. If my body’s capable, then my mind and my heart are, too. It’s easier said than done, but I’m trying.

The good news is that I’ve got an amazing life ahead of me. I have so much confidence and faith in that fact. So right now, I’m going to try to focus on the end in sight. Those blessed chains that I can secure my rope on. Here are a few:

School starts in two months. I’ve never felt more right about going back.
I’m making a difference with my writing, which is all I’ve ever wanted.
The world is so big and I’ve got so much time to discover it.
I know my potential, and it’s exhilarating to know it.

Like riding a bicycle, life can be painful and there’s a learning curve. But like riding a bicycle, life can take you to places so beautiful, you never imagined them. Plus, it makes your spiritual/emotional legs pretty ripped.

Keep climbing and keep biking. It’s advice I’m going to give, and advice I’m going to take. 

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