things I do during general conference (then and now) (WITH PICTURES!)

General Conference is a magical time of year, second and third only to the magic of Christmas (because it happens twice in the year). It’s a semi-annual broadcast put on by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (my particular religious denomination). The broadcast is broken up into four 2-hour sessions divided equally over the first Saturday and Sunday in April and October. The presidency and other officers of the LDS Church use this time to deliver messages on good Christian moral things: nothing more or less than what we would hear in local Sunday meetings, but for this one weekend, we get to veg out in fleecy pajama pants and blankets and virtually attend over the Internet or with cable (BYUtv).

Now, plenty of other Church members are going to blog about the content of the talks, critiquing every consonant that slips past the tongue of any and all speakers.  But, I’m not going to talk about those things because, in a nutshell, I really do not care. All I know is, when I listen to General Conference, I feel inspired and enlightened and awesome. And more importantly, it’s one of those constants in my life. Even though a lot has changed over the years–my residence, my job, my relationships, my school–I always have time to veg out for a session or two of Conference weekend. What started as a family ritual I was required to participate in under penalty of severe lecture has become an enjoyable personal tradition.

So with that somewhat lengthy intro, I present to you the things that make Conference Weekend not just any other weekend.

1. THEN: Play “bingo” for specific topics and words that are mentioned in the talks, using for tokens an abundance of raisins, Cheerios, and mini-marshmallows to snack on for two hours at a time (especially the mini-marshmallows. If you eat mini-marshmallows for even just a half-hour, the insides of your mouth slowly turn into a kind of puffy dust-covered chamber, your gums absorbing the texture of the marshmallows until they too are a kind of mother marshmallow).

Me stuffing my face with Conference bingo candy while my mom writes in her journal like a good mom.

NOW: fall asleep to the Tabernacle Choir’s aura of soothing zzzzz’s.

me and my roommates falling asleep to MoTab Choir.

2. THEN: Studiously listen to every conference talk and write down what I said so I could at least try to contribute to the inevitable discussion afterwards with my parents. So, y’know, they knew I was paying attention at least  half the time.

my mom is just so smart, she talks to me and I listen.

NOW: Selectively listen to the stuff that actually grabs my attention, and save my thoughts for blog posts and missionary letters.

Me being a good student even when not in class and taking notes on the talks.

3. THEN: Eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast. This was seriously just about the only time of year we ate cinnamon rolls at my house. It was splendid.

My mom made me cinnamon rolls and I am very happy.

NOW: Eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast, are you kidding me!? In college, we’re showered with an overabundance of free pizza but there’s never, ever enough cinnamon rolls to go around.

Me holding a cinnamon roll proudly aloft in the air.


How was your Conference weekend?


on things that make me feel like an adult.

1. Getting to sign up/apply for anything with a “must be 18 or over” qualifier.

2. Getting to sign up for anything that requires me to be 18 or over without having to change my birth year.

3. Choosing to still use a fake birth year for privacy reasons anyways.

4. I have to use Outlook for my work email, which is shocking to me, being raised on Macs and the generation of Gmail.

5. I have a work email address in the first place.

6. Being able to say “yes.”

7. Being able to say “no.”

8. Understanding that my mistakes have greater repercussions.

9. Feeling like my successes mean more.

10. NOT writing blog posts that contemplate whatever stage of life I may or may not exist in.

on things I can draw.

Today was the first sketchbook group meeting, We made two rules: no criticism, however constructive, will be given unsolicited, and most importantly just be creative and be yourself. I think the no-criticism rule should be extended to apply to our own inner critics.

This got me thinking about art, and talent, and creativity, and the universe, and stars, and rainbows, and cupcakes, and how I really need to start the mac-&-cheese going or I’m gonna be grumpy in an hour.

Ultimately, there are only two types of art for me: the stuff I do for a grade, and the stuff I do for me.

things I can draw for a grade:

  1. a GIF of a frisbee wallowing in its own India ink.
  2. apparently this faceless self-portrait I assembled in thirty minutes but got picked for the student art show all the same. It doesn’t have a face because “it reflects my self-perceived lack of uniqueness and loss of identity in the art world” but mostly because I hate drawing faces. Any lack of skill can be justified with an eloquent thematic excuse.
  3. studies with Color-Aid collage paper cut and pasted (in the real world!) into a sketchbook that will make its way into the trash in a month or two.

Kind of esoteric, right? And I only have B’s in the classes I’ve taken so far for my visual arts minor–again, I don’t have a chance against the actual art majors who live and breathe the cookies-n-cream fragrance of Gesso. But while I tend to express myself through writing (my preferred form of creativity), I still tend to learn visually, through art. So to combat the negative feelings I got from my B’s, I started trying to find “the art” in the things I already liked to do.

things I draw for me:

  1. flat people with rocks for hands and shoes and expressive angles for eyebrows.
  2. self-portrait as seen in the Adventure Time princess maker!
  3. Hello Kitty stamps bordering college-ruled snail mail to friends.
  4. virtual paper snowflakes? for whenever my finger muscles are too weak to cut through the really heavy paper with a bad pair of kiddie scissors.
  5. Instagram-filtered photos. There IS a science and possibly an art to knowing which filters bring out the best in your photo, whether or not to use high contrast or hard focus, and when it’s just best to publish as-is.
  6. the way I arrange the Ikea hexagon mirrors on the bedroom wall.
  7. well-timed screenshots of Steam games.
  8. color scheme on a website or for a logo.
  9. funky block lettering in pen.
  10. cosplay assembly.

I would never want these things on display in a museum, much less my professional portfolio, but they’re far more beautiful and useful to me than that silly self-portrait from the exhibit buried in my closet. My friends don’t think I’m Van Gogh, but I know they laugh and smile at the way I try to do comic strips about them. My little sisters squee over letters covered in funny stickers. The Ikea mirrors are the most efficiently placed in my apartment for doing a quick make-up check before I head out.

I’m proud to be a visual arts minor if it means I get to enjoy these little “minor” pleasures of art in life, while continuing to explore the form of creativity that lets me be myself the best, without judgement.