Tuesday, December 21, 2010

rainy days

i just read that the mayor of st george declared a state of emergency for southern utah; water levels are expected to exceed water levels in the flooding of 2005. and the rain keeps coming!

a rainy christmas isn't quite the romantic ideal, but it is some form of precipitation, so i suppose it's better than nothing. not quite winter wonderland, not quite california christmas: we sit somewhere in the middle.

i've had a rocky relationship with rain. in the past, i've found it hard to look at rain without thinking gloomy, depressed, and tears. it could be because rain isn't too common in the southern utah desert that i grew up in, and i've always preferred sunny skies. but the places i've lived outside of southern utah have taught me one or two things about rain. in provo, rain comes more frequently than in st george and i've learned the art of the umbrella. i also learned that it's helpful to wear a skirt on rainy days, because my pants {usually too long, because of my shortness} usually drag in the wetness and stay wet all day long. wearing a skirt in the rain wasn't a problem in uruguay, because i already wore one every day! in uruguay, i learned that rain in southern utah {or provo, for that matter} is nothing. i learned what it really means to be raining cats and dogs {and cows, and pigs, and sheep}. when it rains there, it rains with all its heart and soul. in london, i learned how truly lovely rain can be, and that despite soggy days, london is still beautiful.

so i've learned that rain can be good. there is something deliciously melancholy about a rainy day, and something refreshing about the feeling of the earth being washed and scrubbed clean. and there is no better smell than rain in southern utah {it's the sagebrush}.

nevertheless, when the sun finally makes an appearance again, i will welcome it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

a few words



done
{with this semester} {and my undergraduate degree}


home {finally} {for christmas}


as you can tell, being DONE and HOME leaves me {mostly} speechless!


Merry Christmas!


¡Feliz Navidad!



Thursday, December 9, 2010

no rest for the [insert word here]

i could say no rest for the weary, but that's cliche, so i'll say no rest for the person who has been slacking off on her grad school application and gre preparation for the entire semester and now is pretty much freaking out.

good news: today was the last day of classes. what does this mean for me? it means that i just finished the very last classes of my undergraduate career. BOOM, BABY. i wish i could say i felt elated, but i'm not there quite yet. i have finals looming (although i'm not too worried.... less worried than i should be, perhaps) and grad school applications that i've procrastinated until now. shame, shame, shame. that gives me more stress than anything at this point. i realize that so much of this semester has been spent doing things that are immediately important (homework, for example) that the things that will be important for my future have fallen by the wayside. i pray that i can spend some good quality time this coming couple of weeks doing grad school application, and that i don't completely shame myself taking the gre.

i know i shouldn't rely on the "if it works out, it's meant to be" logic too heavily. i mean, i believe it's true, that if i do as much as i can the rest will sort itself out. i just need to get busy doing as much as i can. i'll get right on that.

Monday, December 6, 2010

ask me how i feel

go ahead, ask me.

how do i feel? thank you for asking.

i feel FANTASTIC/ECSTATIC/GROOVY/PEACHY/SWELL/ PHENOMENAL!!!!

why?

i just compiled my final countdown list. this list includes all the homework i have to do and finals i have to take before the end of the semester (in other words.... all the homework i have to do and finals i have to take before i can call myself a byu GRADUATE!) it's a pretty good sized list, but the fact that in less than two weeks i will have completed my undergraduate career (and what a long road it has been) makes me more than thrilled. it is enough to pull me through the stress of the last two weeks of school. hallelujah!

tonight i went with jessi, sabrina, and annalisa to the first presidency christmas devotional at the conference center. what a wonderful way to kick off the christmas season! being in the same room with the prophet and apostles is always thrilling, and tonight was no exception. here are some highlights of the evening:

*when president uchtdorf quoted "the grinch who stole christmas"

*mormon tabernacle choir (and orchestra)'s rendition of "oh come all ye faithful"

*the foggy evening that made the temple and the lights at temple square all misty and ethereal.

*when someone said MERRY CHRISTMAS to me! first time of the season!

ps: i watched casablanca for the first time this weekend. humphrey bogart, you are one fine man. and ingrid bergman is dazzlingly beautiful. and it's an incredible movie. if you haven't seen it, repent! so good. sooooo good :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

deep sigh

ahhhhh, the weekend. i can take a deep breath, even if it's just a short one. this morning i came to a realization: if you still haven't unpacked from thanksgiving break, your week has been WAY way too busy. yes, half of my clothes from thanksgiving break are still sitting in my suitcase. pathetic! ridiculous! unacceptable! that's like a metaphor for my life right now - i'm a little behind in everything, but at least i still have clothes, right? and a seafoam green suitcase, and a blue polka dot carry-on bag from the cath kidston store in london! don't forget those. if you're going to have your clothes packed for a week after a trip, make sure you have fantastic luggage to look at/trip over. because stubbing your toe on seafoam green is less painful than boring black.

i'm thankful that this week is over, and that i was able to get everything turned in, and thankful for forgiving professors who hopefully won't dock me toooooo much for late research papers {4 research papers in 2 weeks is too much. really}. and i'm thankful that today when i was driving home from my 8 o'clock class, i passed brant on his way to class.

and oddly enough, i am thankful for all the homework i have. i started to complain about the amount of work we are given at this university, but then i stopped an had an epiphany {like a light bulb! haha that reminds me of rudolph the red-nosed reindeer}. if professors expected less from us or gave us less to do, we would inevitably learn less. i realized that one of the reasons i am at this school is because i like to be pushed. we humans have a tendency to stay where it is comfortable, so it's nice when someone says "no, i think you can do more."

so this post is dedicated to my professors. yes, sometimes i curse the amount of work you make me do, and the sleep i lose in order to complete it, and the amount of time it takes away from people that i love. but at the end of the day, i'm thankful to have learned about american literature, or writing, or families, or life in general.

gracias!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

words, words, small talk

words keep me alive. they fascinate me with their ability to mean everything and nothing, to drive right to the heart of a point or skirt around an issue, to horrify and electrify and surprise.

there are words that satisfy me, like succulent and befuddle, and others that amuse me, like fiddlesticks, poppycock, and mollycoddle (where do those words come from, anyway?). there are words that sound better spoken with a british accent, like rubbish and darling.

i can't live without words. to speak is to be ALIVE. maybe this is one of the reasons why small talk annoys me so much. small talk is a crime of words. small talk is nothing but robotic, and certainly never includes words like succulent.

hi, how are you?
well, thank you. you?
good. how was your day?
good. yours?
okay.

sometimes you can try to break up the cycle by giving a five minute spiel in response to how are you? but that can backfire on you, because instead of starting a real conversation you could reveal that the other person has no desire to know how you are, but simply wanted to ask for formality's sake. then it gets awkward, and usually ends like this: well, good luck with that! which sounds about as sincere as barbie.

small talk can lead to a real conversation, yes. and i do like people to ask me how i'm doing, rather than not. but sometimes i feel starved of real conversations, feeling lost in the sea of superficiality, where people put up brick walls and don't really want to know how i'm really doing and don't want to tell me how they're really doing.

today, i lack intellectual interchange. but maybe i'm just too tired to make the effort, and it's really me who is at fault, not other people.

so, how are you today?

Monday, November 29, 2010

broken record

i posted a couple (few?) weeks ago about how the upcoming week was going to be the "week of reckoning" that would make or break me this semester... well, funny thing is, i think every week since then has been the same way. only getting 2.5 hours of sleep - like i did last night - is not my favorite way to start out a week!

however, if all i write about is how crazy my life is, i'll probably lose all my blog followers. or, as jessi would say, i would loose all my followers.

so today i'm going to write about something completely unrelated to school: singing in the shower.

this is partially inspired by a brief essay/sketch i read by jesús colón from "a puerto rican in new york,"which delighted me and gave me pause to reflect on my thoughts about the subject. my thoughts went something like this:

i used to sing in the shower when i was a young girl, but one incident ended my shower-singing days. here are the facts: there was a big gathering of extended family at my home, and i don't remember exactly how old i was, but i think i was about 10. anyway, i had recently seen the lion king, and that particular morning i was doing a musical review of the lion king in the shower {at the top of my lungs}. when i got out of the shower, one of my aunts quipped hey, nice singing. now i was a quietish child, a little prone to shyness, so when i realized that not only my aunt but possibly my whole extended family heard me belt the lion king, i was completely and utterly horrified. and to my recollection, i have never sung in the shower since that day.

i think much can be said about my personality from that story. well, maybe not much, but something. i have found myself, many times, unwilling or unable to do something {like sing in the shower} because i was afraid of what other people would think. it's silly, really, to be overly concerned about what other people think, but at times in my life it has been a reality.

on one hand, i find this idea very attractive - acting completely uninfluenced by what other people think. on the other hand, i can recognize the shortcomings of this mindset. first of all, acting completely without regard to others' feelings sounds awfully egocentric. people who always say the first thing that comes to mind regardless of other people's feelings around them, it can be disastrous. for example, i was relating a story to my roommates last year about how my old boss was ranting about the chinese army coming to destroy us, and i yelled "the chinese are coming!!" completely forgetting that our {chinese} roommate was just in the other room. it is always good to have tact. tact is my friend.

yet, i would like to find a balance between sensible tact and unrestrained liberty of action and speech. such a balance should exist, don't you think?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

GRE

i just registered to take the GRE. goodbye, $160. hello, preparation manuals and anticipatory dread.

i should have started studying for this test much, much earlier. i really should have taken it months ago... now i'm not going to have any time to retake it if i bomb. pray for me. now that i've committed myself to taking it, there's no backing out, unless i want to kiss that $160 goodbye for no reason at all (which i don't want to do).

yes, i am afraid. math and i are not friends. we're barely brief acquaintances. no one is really going to care that much if i'm math challenged, because i'm applying to an mfa program in creative writing, not mathematical theory or whatever. still, i don't want to shame myself. math tutor needed.

also, i need to start reading the dictionary.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

falling, but not stars

I wrote this mini essay today for my creative nonfiction class. que lo disfruten!


Shooting stars are not really stars at all. That’s probably pretty close to common knowledge, but it’s still a bit disillusioning to me. I mean, when you see a shooting star, it’s rather romantic to think that you’re actually witnessing the death of a star, whose last dying breath left a fiery flash on your corneas. A falling star is just a meteor, and a meteor is just a flash of light visible against the dark canvas of night when a meteoroid enters Earth’s atmosphere. Meteoroids in space aren’t nearly as exciting; they are simply floating rocks kicking around, idly orbiting the sun. We only become interested in them when they cross into our realm—and because they usually create an opportunity to make a wish, we delight in them and check the internet to see when the next meteor shower will occur. Well, at least I do. When meteoroids cross the threshold into our atmosphere, frictional heat causes the visible trail of fire, and the meteoroid is usually burned up on the way down. Sometimes meteoroids survive the trip, and the ones that actually hit the ground are called meteorites, which are rare enough to be something of a phenomenon when they occur.

I’m pretty sure I saw a meteorite survivor once. A few years back, my friend Allison and I were lying on the trampoline in my parents’ backyard, watching a meteor shower. My two younger sisters, who were also with us, had fallen asleep awhile ago, and Allison and I were chatting and watching the sky, our conversation interrupted occasionally with an exclamation of look!! There’s one! Or wow! Did you see that one? We didn’t often see the same falling meteoroids, because we were typically looking at opposite sides of the sky. The meteor shower eventually died down and we began to drift off, still talking, until a bright falling star—the brightest one I’ve ever seen—shot across the sky close to the western horizon. We both saw that one and it killed our conversation midsentence as we both exclaimed WHOOOAAAA!!!! Usually falling stars burn out in less than a second, but this one seemed to linger for several seconds, and it left us speechless and wondering if somewhere a large chunk of rock was hurled like a curveball into the waiting ground. It’s like God was playing baseball, and this was the foul ball, the one that got away.

Humans are so small. I close my eyes and think of everything outside Earth’s atmosphere, how Earth is like a tiny speck of sand in the Sahara, how God directs the planets and solar systems and galaxies together like one unfathomably gigantic orchestra. We barely notice the things that go on outside our own little allotment of space, and it takes something falling to earth, a bright flash and a fiery tale, to capture our attention. Still, these bright flashes spark curiosity, and humans send up satellites and space stations and try to photograph and record and find out something about what lies beyond. But how little we know.

Yes, it makes me feel small, but there’s a small part of me that still feels important. God cared enough about us, tiny atoms inside the speck of sand in the Sahara, to create this world for us. He allows us to experience the births and marriages and deaths, events so monumental to us and yet microscopic to him. We sit and watch falling stars, that are not really stars at all, and every once in a while, something hits home. And we wonder how our lives can be both microscopic and paramount, if and how God really knows us, and how we fit into the vast multitude of organized space. And the meteors fall.

week of reckoning

for some reason, this week feels like the week of reckoning. like this is the week that will make or break my grades for the entire semester. it could be true.

but i'm learning to take things one step at a time. i'm learning that instead of giving 150% of my time to homework, i need to prioritize my time to make sure the other important things in my life don't fall by the wayside (like faith, and family, and food. and brant. and sleep. and friends [in no particular order]). prioritizing has never been my forte; i can be a bit of an obsessive student, so i have always needed to work on paying attention to things in my life more than just schoolwork.

still, my grades are important. i want to say that i did my best, and i want to get into grad school. so my battle with priorities will continue, continue, continue

Saturday, November 6, 2010

adventuras recientes

this has been a busy week! busy, crazy, but happy. muy feliz. nevertheless, a busy week is no excuse for being a blog slacker. so i'm going to make up for it by creating a SUPER POST. i'm finally sitting down to upload a ton of pictures from my camera, so i'm going to give you a pictorial summary of the past couple weeks.

ingrid michaelson concert

i'm a little bit in love with our feet. we had to wait in line FOREVER in the fetching cold, so we froze...
and i didn't bring a coat, which was dumb.

whitney, jenni, christi, freezing in the snow

cute us

beth, whitney, me. excited for ingrid!

the set


halloween weekend in st george

mindy and hai. indian and kitty.

meow.

beautiful millie swinging. my favorite niece (well, she's the my only niece, so i'm allowed to say that)

little gavin... well, not so little anymore

my superstar nephew ashton

we took like 15 of these pictures, and i think this is the only "normal" one

the rest were more like this...

millie as alice

we are goofs

little william loves grandpa :)

thriller! the zombies were beth's favorite part.

jessi's 21st birthday

roomies + sabrina at happy sumo

the decor, complete with 108 balloons lovingly blown up by beth

cupcake heaven!


birthday girl! everyone decided to give her scarves (which she was in love with), and we made her wear a birthday crown

Sunday, October 31, 2010

so far

...this weekend, I have:

*carved pumpkins with a witch, a cat, two indians, and a cowboy

*eaten three different kinds of yummy soup, and three different kinds of yummy dessert

*read a little shakespeare

*celebrated two birthdays

*jumped on the trampoline with my nephews and niece

*had an encounter with alice in wonderland

*been entertained by dancing zombies, murderers, skeletons and clowns

*realized once more how grateful I am for my family, and how much I love my home

*also realized there are things in provo I miss when I'm away

productive weekend so far, wouldn't you say? :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

about faith

I found myself wondering last night, wondering about faith.

If I was among the Israelites who had to cross the Red Sea, to walk between the walls of water held in place by a force so terrifying that even the particles of water fled from the sand leaving dry ground, would I have been able to take that step? Would I fear that halfway through the sea, the walls would crumble, ferociously tombing all beneath its path?

Faith is knowing I can take risks, step out into my own Red Sea with trust that it won't come crashing down around me. Faith is also understanding that if it does come crashing down, He will help me to swim.

Today I attended a lecture by essayist Brian Doyle, who taught me that there's nothing more important than stories. We preserve the world through stories. Without stories, we wouldn't have religion, we wouldn't have scripture, we wouldn't know about the humble carpenter who healed, taught, suffered, and died for us two thousand years ago, halfway across the world. Without stories, we wouldn't know that God said "let there be light," and there was.

Without stories, then, faith would cease to exist.

I want to tell stories.

Monday, October 25, 2010

hello, my name is _______

Every day we walk around getting to know people, finding out tidbits of information about people we already know very well, or random facts about complete strangers, like where they got their shoes, or whether or not they like cold weather. We go around placing pieces into the puzzle of others' personalities, wondering if we are close to finishing the picture, or if we have nothing more than the border. It's very satisfactory, I have found, to become acquainted with someone who wants to actively get to know me, who wants to sit and piece together the puzzle that is me, who tries to get to know me instead of doing so by mere chance.

Sometimes I think I talk too much. Maybe other people are right, the people who keep everything inside and hide under their protective shell like hermit crabs. Because when you don't surrender information, there's no chance of that information being rejected.

Then again, maybe they're wrong. Openness in a relationship creates unity, trust, peace.

"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe
with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together,
certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness
blow the rest away."
-Dinah Craik

Open book
hermit crab
chaff and grain
faithful hand.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

falling

in love... with autumn!

Today, I woke up and all the sudden the trees in Provo had thrown their greenness to the wind in favor of more colorful petticoats. I think trees just get sick of wearing green for so long (I know I would!) so they decide to don their wild fall apparel. It kind of reminds me of the old ladies in the Red Hatters Society that wear red and purple boas - they've worn sensible colors all their lives, let them wear red and purple together! I wear red and purple together now, is that strange? So I would be the subversive tree who goes red in say, AUGUST or something.

So yes, it is true. I have fallen in love with fall. and speaking of falling... Beth scared me so bad today, that I fell over. Usually, I scare her and she hates it, but this time the tables turned! I guess I got what was coming to me - big time!

Another word on fall - someone gave me a red leaf this morning, and it made my whole day:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

things that make me giggle

I read the other day that children laugh on average a couple hundred times a day, and adults only 17 times [I'm probably wrong on the exact numbers, but you get the idea]. At first the number surprised me, but then it made sense. Adults, we need to stop taking ourselves so seriously. To rely on the corny idiom, laughter really is the best medicine, and it's my goal to laugh more. So here are a few things that make me laugh:

1. Dipping.
Keep in mind that I am no dancer; I am super klutzy, so dancing is not quite my forte. HOWEVER, I do like to dip other people: namely, my sisters Jessica and Hailey. It's just fun.


2. Demetri Martin (hilarious). For example:
"'Sort of ' is such a harmless thing to say. Sort of. It's just a filler. Sort of - it doesn't really mean anything. But after certain things, sort of means everything. Like after 'I love you' or 'you're going to live' or 'it's a boy!'"

"The easiest time to add insult to injury is when you're signing somebody's cast."


3. This quote from "On Running After One's Hat," by G.K. Chesterton
"A man running after a hat is not half so ridiculous as a man running after a wife."


4. The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde (the whole thing, really). For example:
"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train."


Laugh more today. It tastes better than cough syrup!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

picking up music

I picked up my violin on Sunday for the first time in several months. It was mostly out of necessity; Jessi and I are playing our violins in church this coming Sunday, so I needed to actually take my violin down from the closet and dust it off a little. I grumbled about it a little - after all, I haven't practiced for months, I have no time to practice, it will probably sound bad, etc. etc... but after I actually started playing, I realized how much I really do miss it.

It's happened several times since I stopped taking lessons about five or so years ago: I don't play for awhile, then I get asked to play in church, and I grumble about it a little to myself, but I usually always do it, and it usually always turns out great. Of course, the limited practice time I give myself means a very limited repertoire, which right now comes down to I know that my Redeemer lives, and Joseph Smith's first prayer. But usually I'm playing in different wards, so they don't know that Jess and I are playing the same duet that we've played for yeaaaars.

I've said for the past few years that when I finish college, I'm going to start taking violin lessons again. Unfortunately, with graduate school on the horizon, it looks like violin is going to stay on the back burner. However, I will have January to August free of school, so there's a possibility. Bottom line, I miss playing, and I'm going back to it soon. Because I want to be able to play Meditation from Thais from memory with my eyes closed like I used to. And I want to play the Bach Double duet with my sister.

So continue asking me to play in church. I will probably continue to grumble, but it will be good for me in the end.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

the good parts

Today was one of those days where I had to resign myself to the fact that I wasn't going to get everything done. Way too much school work, way not enough time. And here I am, writing a blog post at 12:48 am (so I guess I'm not really talking about today, but yesterday), and I still have some reading that I'm probably not going to finish. Well, I'll finish most of it.

Sometimes I tend to measure myself by how much I get done in a day; as a student, this usually means how much homework I get done. Those who know me know that I can be a little obsessive with homework, and have a tendency to beat myself up for not finishing. I'm trying to veer away from this mindset, so whether or not I get everything done, I tell myself it was a great day.

And it was. Let me tell why:

1. Indonesian rice salad. I love, love good food, and my sister/roommate Jessi made this today, and it was heavenly. Sometimes when I get really busy, I forget to eat, and I have Jessi to thank for keeping me alive at various points in the last year. So every time she makes something, I have to thank her especially :) I should also mention the spicy tomato/spinach omelet with guacamole that I made for lunch. So, so yum.

2. The intended run. I dragged Jessi out of the house at 9 pm to go running, and we ended up just taking a leisurely stroll in the autumn coolness. I really do like autumn, even though I'm saying goodbye to heat for the next several months, and tonight was a perfect night to enjoy it. So even though I didn't get my run in, I got a good walk :)

3. Writing. When I write, I am happy. With that said, I am a happy person in general, but there is something about writing that satisfies my soul. It's a similar satisfaction that I get from the smell of desert rain. And cats.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date...

...with bed!

Sometimes, I get the most unusual productive streaks really late at night. Tonight, I worked on a midterm (when a midterm equals a rewritten fairy tale, I realize how much I love my major), a paper proposal, a study guide, and a few other things on my to-do list. And then I thought, I want to post on my blog. When I get going like this, I start thinking I'm already up way too late, why go to bed now? Bad logic, I know. But I still benefit from my productivity, so I don't beat myself up too much. I'll probably just take a nap at some point tomorrow. (:

So on a random note, I wanted to say that my mind has been on these people a lot:


These are members from the last area of my mission, La Paz (Uruguay). This ward dinner happened right after the baptism of Facundo (second from the left):

note the matching outfits, por favor. yes, it's dorky, and sad, but we did it anyway. I love hermana Cervantes to pieces.

La Paz was one of my favorite areas. Granted, I only had four areas total, and there were aspects of all my areas that I loved, but there was something special about La Paz; really great things happened there. Like finding Facundo, for example.

Hermana Cervantes and I did a whitewash in La Paz (when two missionaries are taken out of an area and replaced by two new ones, with nothing but a map and a few phone numbers to help us find our way around. the maps in Uruguay can be abysmally unhelpful, by the way). So when Hna. Cervantes and I started working there, we basically circled a neighborhood in the map randomly and said "we're going here." (we ended up baptizing three people we found in that neighborhood the first few weeks!) Anyway, so we clapped outside a home and lovely woman let us in (pictured third from the left in the photo above), and her and her son Facundo listened to the story of the Restoration, and let us set a return appointment. When we came back, Facundo was the only one there, and because we couldn't go in with just him there, we stood right at the gate and invited him to church. Interestingly enough, we both had doubts about Facundo at first. That is, we didn't think he had enough interest to continue listening and go to church. But, miraculously enough, he did! The next week, we had invited him to a big stake fireside, which he came to, and where we introduced him to our mission president. To our surprise, our mission president invited him to be baptized right then and there - and he accepted! About three weeks after we found him, he was baptized.

We couldn't have done it without the help of the members in La Paz. Their efforts to befriend and welcome Facundo into the ward were essential, and we were able to schedule the baptism the same night as a ward activity, so we combined the two, and practically the whole ward was there to see him be baptized. It was neat.

Facundo has struggled at times, like new converts often do. I've worried about him a lot, because I know some of the hurdles and doubts he had in the first year or so as a member of the church. But this past weekend at a mission reunion, I heard from both my mission president and another sister who served in La Paz after I did that Facundo just barely got married! He married a beautiful, faithful sister in the church, who served a mission in Paraguay. I heard that he was doing fantastic, que está bien con todo!

That night, and several days after that, I thanked Heavenly Father for helping Facundo stay on the path that's so easy to stray from. There are other converts there that I pray for (Valeria, for example... a kindred spirit) that I know are going through tough times, and I pray that the members there will continue to befriend them and watch out for them.

And I continue to thank God for the opportunity I had to find them, and help them, and love them. Los quiero mucho! y gracias a todos mis amigos de La Paz! son capos! (:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

remedy for a rainy day

On a day like today (cold, windy, rainy), when I arrive home from class with the bottom six inches of my jeans soaked (being short has its disadvantages... namely, that I can't seem to find jeans that aren't too long), I want something warm, rich, and inviting. In other words:

I want chocolate. Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food. And when the air outside is especially chilly, hot chocolate is the way to warm my soul. So today when I walked in the door, I ditched my bag, my soaked pants (don't worry, I put on a skirt), and went to the kitchen to gather ingredients. I grabbed:

cocoa (given.)
rice milk
coconut milk
vanilla
cinnamon
cayenne pepper
sucanat

Why cayenne pepper, you ask? Well, I didn't want to make just any hot chocolate. I was making MEXICAN hot chocolate, which basically means the chocolate has a little kick. Does spicy chocolate sound strange? It did to me, at first, until I tried it; then the little burn at the back of my throat contributed to the richness of the chocolate, and I was hooked. So try some next time you make hot chocolate (and next time, actually make it; don't always let Stephen's do it for you!) but don't put too much in. (:

Anyway, I made the hot chocolate and sat down to slowly sip its deliciousness, and now I'm looking outside at the weeping weather thinking bring on the cold!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

about Leah

I've been trying to work through the Old Testament lately; right now I'm in Leviticus, and it's a little slow going, much thanks to the chapters and chapters and chapters about every single detail of the tabernacle (down to the number of loops in the curtains!) as well as every single detail of every type of sacrifice. The Lord instructed Moses with a incredible level of specificity, and it makes me wonder if it's the same way today when we build temples.

Anyway, there's a story clear back in Genesis 29 that's been on my mind off and on since I read it a couple months ago: the story of Jacob and Leah and Rachel. You probably know it well - Jacob loved Rachel enough to work for seven years to obtain her father's blessing, and is deceived at the end of the seven years into marrying Leah (who was veiled... grooms: make sure to lift the veil before you say "I do!") After marrying Leah, Jacob works another seven years to win his true love, Rachel.

This time as I read the biblical tale, I was struck by the undercurrent of Leah - she was the older daughter, with "tender eyes," but Rachel was described as "beautiful and well favored." She probably lived in the shadow of her favored younger sister, which would have been difficult. On top of that, she was given to her younger sister's suitor as a first wife, when he clearly didn't want her (if my dad tried to give me to one of Jessi's boyfriends, I'd probably run away... no offense, boys). The Lord sees that Leah is "hated," and he allows her to have children while Rachel is barren.

The Lord saw the heart of Leah and knew her sorrow, and knew how difficult it was for her to be hated as the unwanted first wife, so he blessed her with children; she recognized the fact that the Lord was blessing her, because every time she had a child, she blessed God and bore witness that God saw her afflictions and blessed her because of them. Later, "God remembered Rachel," and allowed her to bear children, but Leah's sons were the larger part of Jacob's seed.

I think this is a beautiful story. The average reader might pass over Leah, but the Lord was always mindful of her sorrow, and though he may have blessed Rachel with beauty and favor, he blessed Leah with more children, and with the knowledge that he loved her and would comfort her in her difficulties. Leah could have been bitter, but she appears to have accepted her trials and moved beyond her sorrow to gratitude for the Lord's blessings. I think everyone should take a leaf out of Leah's book (including me), and express gratitude for the blessings we have in spite of problems that may exist in our lives.

source.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

books and essays

On of my favorite things about a new semester is new books. Really, pulling the new books off the shelves of the BYU bookstore makes me indescribably giddy. mmmmmmmm! I just look into my basket and sigh at all the information in those pages that is going to be in my brain in a very short amount of time. This semester, rummaging through the books with hundreds of other students in the bookstore on that day, I even picked up a book not on my class book list: A Patriot's History of the United States. It looked so beautifully blue and thick and full of stuff I don't know or don't remember that I couldn't resist - plus it will help satisfy the craving I've had lately to learn more about American history (true, it will have to sit on my shelf untouched until after the semester's over and I have time to read whatever I want... at which point I will also be reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, because it has been on my reading list for a long time, and I had another person today tell me how wonderful it was. Sold.)

Some of my favorite reading this semester so far has been, not surprisingly, from my Creative Non Fiction class. Reading and writing personal essays, very simply put, make me happy! I wanted to share one of my favorite essays from class today, found on the web at Brevity Magazine, which is an online literary journal featuring brief essays. This one's by Brian Doyle (a new-found favorite) and is called Pop Art. Que lo disfruten!

Pop Art

clever illustrationby Brian Doyle

In nine years I have been graced with three children and here is what I have learned about them. They are engines of incalculable joy and agonizing despair. They are comedy machines. Their language is their own and the order of their new halting words has never been heard before in the whole history of the world. They are headlong and hilarious. Their hearts are enormous and sensitive beyond calculation by man or machine. Their pride is vast. They are cruel, and move in herds and gaggles and mobs, and woe unto the silent one, the one who looks funny, the one who speaks awkwardly, the fat one, for she will be shouldered aside, he will never get the ball, she will never be asked to jump rope, he will not be invited to the pool party, she will weep with confusion and rage, he will lash out with sharp small fists. Yet they are endlessly kind, kind by nature, and among them there is often an artless democracy, a linking of arms against the vast puzzle of the long people. They search for rules and rank, for what is allowed and what is forbidden, and poke the rules to see which bends and which is steel, for they wish to know their place in the world, where they might walk, what they may wear, which shows are allowed, how far they can go, who they are. They rise early in excitement and return reluctantly to barracks at night for fear of missing a shred of the daily circus. They eat nothing to speak of but grow at stunning rates that produce mostly leg. They are absorbed by dogs and toast. Mud and jelly accrue to them. They are at war with wasps. They eat no green things. Once they learn sarcasm they use it with abandon, slashing here and there without control and wreaking havoc. When they weep they weep utterly from the marrows of their lonely bones. They will not speak of death but when it comes, a dark hooded hawk on the fence, they face it without fear. They are new creatures hourly, and what you think you know of them is already lost in the river. Their hearts are dense books no one can read. They speak many languages of the body. To them you are a stone who has always been and will always be. When they are ill they shrivel. To father them is not a brief noun but an endless verb that exhausts, enrages, edifies, elevates, educates; I am a thinner and grayer man than I was; and closer to joy. They frighten me, for they will make a new world on the bowed back of the one I love; but they delight me, for to have loved them is to have tasted the furious love the Maker has for what He made, and fathers still, and always will.

Monday, September 6, 2010

mishaps and madness

this has been quite the week of mishaps! let me just go in order:

1) the burned granola.
i love homemade granola; it's probably the best thing since... oh, i don't know. it's fabulous. anyway, i have my mom's recipe for granola, and i was so looking forward to making it! granola is fantastically easy; all you have to do is mix all the ingredients together and toss it in the oven. after i popped it in the oven, i was walking around my house, enjoying the granola smell, and the buzzer rang, so i ran to check it. i like my granola a little crunchy, so i decided to put it back in for a few minutes. unfortunately, i forgot to set the buzzer, and about 15 minutes later, i started to smell burned granola. :( so, so sad. we tried to salvage some of it, but it just tastes very much like burned granola. fail!

2) the very, very clean phone
last weekend, i was running around my apartment like a crazy woman, trying to get stuff done, and i threw some towels in the washer. later that night, i was looking everywhere for my phone... we even tried to call it several times, but to no avail. my roomie beth jokingly asked if it was in the washer. "haha, yeah right." so i checked just for fun. haha. yeah. right. there it was, sitting in the bottom of the washer, squeaky clean and very much dead. last year, i dropped my phone in a bowl of soup on accident, and i saved it by cleaning it off and putting it into a ziplock bag with dry rice overnight. worked like a charm! this time? no dice. my phone was dead as the wicked witch of the west (which is funny, because it was also green). so i went to the sprint store, confessed my stupidity, and to make a long story short, after $115, i have a new phone. it is also green.

3) baking soda pancakes
jessi and i decided to celebrate labor day by making pancakes for our roomies. one problem: no baking powder. no worries! jessi looked online and said i could substitute 2 tsp baking soda for every 1 tsp baking powder the recipe calls for. well, the recipe called for 1 tablespoon (not teaspoon) of baking powder, and i was doubling it, so i put in a whopping 4 tablespoons of baking soda. don't ask me why i didn't think that sounded like way too much baking soda. the result? gross, gross, gross pancakes. we had to start over again, and this time, jessi checked again and said that it was 1/2 tsp baking soda for every 1 tsp baking powder, plus some yogurt. anyway, we had our laughs and enjoyed the chocolate blueberry pancakes with celestial cream that tasted much, much better the second time around!

life is full of mad mishaps. and the only way to live through them is to laugh at them ;)

Monday, August 30, 2010

the old, the new

today makes one week that i've been in provo (again). i'm kind of a flighty bird; i keep going back home, but i'm back for my last semester of byu as an undergraduate (i had to give a disclaimer there - i might be back for graduate school, so i don't want to have to eat my words). the weather was cool this morning as i made it to my 8 am class, which turned out to be both entertaining and interesting. i also have a friend in the class, which is always nice. these things make me hesitate to drop the class just because it starts at 8. i'll get back to you on that one.

i've been both excited and apprehensive for this semester to start. on one hand, i'm thrilled, because of the newness of starting a semester and all the things i will learn. i'm also looking forward to the fact that it's my last one; it's taken awhile to get my undergraduate under my belt, so now that i'm staring it in the face, i'm proud of the progress i've made despite the slow start. on the other hand, last semester means that i will now have to figure out what i'm going to do next. indecision is a beast. however, someone wise told me recently that the indecision is most of the stress - make a decision, he said, because you always have the option of changing your mind. once you've made a decision, you can have a little peace of mind and relieve the stress of indecision. so this is decision week. then i can focus my efforts on accomplishing my goal. go me!



on another note, i'm happy with the decision i made about my new apartment and roommates. there's nothing better than having a fantastic support group to live with - and jessi, beth, and genny will be the best! if we can stop having so much fun for two seconds together, we might get homework done :)

to end, i have a little story about this little guy:

he woke me up at 6:15 am one day last week, crying outside my window so pitifully that i thought my heart would break. i'm a sucker for kitties (i miss merlin and holly!) so i decided to help him out. i opened my apartment door, and he dashed in between my legs. i had to explain to him that he wasn't allowed inside, but that i would hold onto him until animal control came. so i called animal control and jessi and i camped outside with mr. kitty until they came.... almost 2 hours later! girls from our apartment were leaving for work, giving us funny looks as we were outside making a grocery list and keeping a kitty in tow. he was so skinny and looked famished, so i opened a can of salmon and fed him the juice. the poor little creature was so hungry he almost ate the can! overall, it was a wrench in our daily schedule, because jessi and i ended up going running at 9 instead of 7, but i was happy to help the poor cat get to safety. i hope he finds his home!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

welcome back, me!

you know you're in provo, utah when:
the number of hand-holding couples dramatically increases
just about every restaurant and store plays owl city music, and the john mayer/owl city concert becomes as important as the next presidential election (we're talking big here)

guess what, folks, i'm back in provo! this summer flew by like a chased hawk, but i'm grateful for the time i could spend at home with my family. somehow, going home for the summer just never gets old! there are so many things i miss when i leave home, my family, of course being first and foremost: my mum and dad (who are thankfully always happy to see me when i come home) my sister hailey (the busy bee who talks politics and history with me) my sisters carrie, lori, mindy and their families (they hang out with me, feed me, provide me with playmates - niece, nephews, and pit bulls). i also miss my kitties holly and merlin, the red mountain, and the scorching summer heat. nothing can compare to home!

but thankfully, provo is a beautiful place to be, and there's plenty to love here, like: the provo mountains, close proximity to lots of shopping and good eating, my new apartment, and school. i'm looking forward to this semester, not only because it's my last, but because my classes sound like fun! here's the lineup for this semester:

american literature to 1800
american literature from 1914 to 1960
writing creative nonfiction
the senior course (the section i'm in is titled: a feast of foodways in life and literature)
strengthening marriage and family

i'm going to have my plate full! i've promised myself that i'm going to be a better time manager, so i can get my schoolwork done and have time to play and keep myself sane. six days until the start of classes!

Friday, August 20, 2010

this is how i feel:

"we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS."

how many times have you considered what this line in the declaration of independence means to you? personally? lately, i have been pondering specifically the idea that i am endowed (given) by my Creator the unalienable (absolute, inherent, nonnegotiable) right to pursue my own happiness. so, this is telling me that i have a God-given right to be happy? after all, mr. thomas jefferson himself said "the giver of life gave it for happiness and not for wretchedness."

it sounds like such an elementary thought; that God gives us life for happiness and not misery. yet sometimes it seems so much easier to be miserable. when i stub my toe, or wreck my car, or get a bad haircut, the default reaction is "LAME, LAME, LAME. i have the WORST life." (well, maybe not that melodramatic, but you get the idea). recently, i decided that i wanted to change my default. so how am i supposed to do that?

i have a firm testimony that God puts people in our path - in the right place, at the right time - to help us in different areas in our lives. when i started going to dr. gibson, i didn't realize he would be that type of person. after all, he was just one more doctor in the line of doctors i've seen since i had seizures about two years ago. he's a chiropractor (which is a new angle i've taken), and a naturopathic physician, and he's helped me to take a holistic approach on wellness, not just physically but mentally as well. he's already done a lot to help me, but i wanted to focus on one point specifically: what i have learned about my personal pursuit of happiness.

which brings me back to my question: how am i supposed to change my default thinking?

negative thinking is like a rut in our thought process. every negative thought and emotion drives the wheelbarrow deeper and deeper into a rut that it becomes the default. setting out to change my default wasn't easy... but thanks to some wisdom and guidance, i learned that it is possible to change my thoughts from negative to positive - to replace the bad with the good. i like this quote from "preach my gospel":
"your mind is like a stage in a theater; in the theater of your mind, however, only one actor can be on stage at a time..."

isn't that so true? we can't be thinking a negative thought and a positive thought at the same time. so whenever i find my mind going back to the negative rut, i can choose to replace the thought, to pull the wheelbarrow out and start to form a new happy default! there are so many things to replace negativity with: a happy memory, photograph, song, quote, positive affirmation, etc.

so that might sound a mite cheesy and oversimplified, but it is a big part of why i am a happier and healthier person today than i was a few months ago. so even if it takes looking in the mirror and saying "i am happy!", i'll do it!

you should try it, it's kinda fun :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jack Jack

Oh, Jack. How I love thee. The Jack Johnson concert was, as I anticipated, wildly fabulous. I'm telling you what, my new favorite venue is the USANA Amphitheater - it was great to spread out a blanket on the lawn to watch the concert. Very low key, which is always nice. Apparently my cool red camera case effectively hid my camera from the concert security, because it made it past the "no camera" check point and I was able to take a few great shots (although I saw a few other cameras, so maybe they were going easy on us). So here's a few photos I took:

Jack Johnson concert ticket stylishly placed against my purse

Other fans spread out, waiting to see Jack Jack

G. Love, one of Jack's opening bands. The other one was ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra... a mouthful, I know!) they were both great, and G. Love did some great numbers with Jack



Jessi, waiting for Jack to come on stage. The suspense was killing us, I swear it.
here's me giving a thumbs up to the guy's shirt in front of me: "Eat. Sleep. Listen to Jack. Repeat!" haha :)

finally! there he is, with the band.

mmmmm..... oh, Jack.

fun fun fun

Needless to say, we enjoyed ourselves quite a bit! We also saw some interesting characters there - for one, I've never seen so many drunk people in my life! Jessi and I were thinking are these people really going to drive home?? Fortunately, we made it home without any mishaps (I hope the same for the rest of them!)

I have been a Jack fan since Brushfire Fairytales, so finally being able to see him was incredible! :D

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Some Thoughts at 12:10 AM

Tomorrow morning, my sister and I are driving up to Provo to move out of our current apartment, Summerlyn Condos. I must say, I'm relieved. This past year has been hard in several ways, and although I met wonderful people in my apartment complex and ward, I have felt like it's time to move on, so a change will be timely. We're also going to a Jack Johnson concert on Friday night, and I can hardly wait! I've been a Jack Johnson fan ever since he put out Brushfire Fairytales, and I will finally see the man whose melodies have been my theme music for the past several years. Of course, this will probably cause me to be caught up in wild daydreams about running away to some Caribbean island with Jack to hear him serenade me everyday. (hey, I can dream!)

Considering the fact that we want to leave (relatively) early in the morning, it's unfortunate that I'm not in bed right now. I definitely should be, but I have to confess something. I have the hardest time going to bed at night. Not because I can't sleep, and not because I have too many tasks to accomplish, but simply because I like being up late, usually alone. Since my high school years, I have had countless nights of being the last person to fall asleep in my family. I don't know why, exactly, but I think it has something to do with the fact that I enjoy having a little time completely to myself, to think and get stuff done I wasn't motivated to do during the day. When I took my Writing Creative Nonfiction class last semester, my best time for writing was at night, and most of the time the ideas would start flowing right after I turned my lights out. I suppose this could mean that I need to give my mind more time to be still during the day, so I don't completely deprive my poor body of sleep. I'm working on it, and I usually have the best intentions. But here I am, awake...

and hopefully, I will be able to stay awake for the drive to Provo tomorrow. Happy valley: ready or not, here I come! I may not be able to guarantee my state of being as I roll into P-town, but I should get there nevertheless. I'll probably just make my sister drive the whole time. (I love you, Jessi!) :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

there is nothing i love more...

...than when I'm sitting in the house, twiddling my thumbs, and I hear a sudden and startling CRACK of thunder, and see a flash of lightning that puts the paparazzi to shame, followed by another thunderous boom....

one of the greatest things about summer is thunderstorms. it has been so long since I've seen (and heard) a legitimate thunderstorm. within the past few days, there have been scattered thundershowers, but nothing that shakes the window panes. please, please, please don't tease me with these mini storms! I need the real deal! I want the storm directly above my head, not miles and miles away!

yes, I would like one terrifying thunderstorm, por favor. oh, and you can hold the fries.

Friday, August 6, 2010

keep calm and carry on

these are times that try men's souls. yes, those are the words of thomas paine (the pamphlet publishing, morale boosting founding father) which he penned during the american revolution; however, the phrase certainly applies today. the difficult times are present in my family, in the workplace, in the economy, the government, etc. etc. oh, and about the government: perhaps the u.s. administration doesn't feel the hard times... they are helping to create them, rather. (aside: the government is now in control of my student loans... scary).

with everything going on, it's easy to have fear. we've all heard that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." i recently heard someone say "the only thing we have to fear is our own bad decisions." thinking about all this reminds me of the "keep calm and carry on" poster, printed by the british during world war ii to help boost the morale of the british citizens:

i bought a little book at the museum of london called "keep calm and carry on: good advice for hard times"; i bought it mostly because it had the "keep calm and carry on" logo, but i started reading through the quotes the other day and couldn't put it down! for example:

"don't worry about the world coming to an end today. it's already tomorrow in australia." - charles m shulz

it was just what i needed to keep a smile on my face. moreover, i was reading a talk from the lds general conference that included one of my favorite scriptures:

"let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power, and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." doctrine & covenants 123: 17

as i read these things and thought about them, i realized that no matter how hard the times are, we always have the ability to be happy, to have faith, and to "keep calm, and carry on."

Friday, July 23, 2010

sight

I've worn glasses since I was four (five?), and I've never been thrilled about the idea. I'm sure it helped add to my bookwormishness as a child (aside: a couple years ago I saw a friend of my older sister's working at American Eagle or Buckle or someplace like that, and when she saw me, she said I haven't seen you since you were little! Little, and always with your nose in a book. Yes, thank you. That's me), When I was twelve I finally decided it was time to graduate from glasses into contacts, and since then I've been a contact wearer, almost 100%. I guess it's now such an integral part of my existence that I don't think too much about it anymore, but when I was at the optometrist's office this past week, my eye doctor said something that really hit home.

My eye doctor, who is also a good family friend, was looking through my chart and mentioned how neat it was that he's been taking care of my eyes for so many years, and I remarked at how grown up his kids were. Then he told me how much of a blessing it was that I'd started to wear glasses at such a young age, because most of the people who are far-sighted, like me, don't catch it until they are teenagers, and by that time they already hate reading. So it was such a blessing that I caught it in time to be able to learn to enjoy reading! We had talked about my being an English major and how, in a roundabout way, having glasses helped me to read and study what I love.

So, I'm thankful for my glasses/contacts, because thanks to them I can do what I love to do - read!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

meanderings

I'm a big fan of the personal essay. In fact, my interest in creative writing has centered itself on the personal essay. Why, do you ask? oh, and what is a personal essay, exactly? I asked myself that when I took a "Writing Creative Nonfiction" course at BYU this year - and came to the realization that the personal essay was a treasure of immense importance that I had been missing out on for, oh, 24 years or so. To define what a personal essay is, it might be easier to start out with what it isnot. A personal essay is not fiction. It is truth, from the perspective of the writer. The word essaycomes from a French word meaning "to try." An essay is, in essence, a trial of ideas - including meandering thoughts, conclusions, and experiences collected into a relatively short space. When I sit down to write essays, I try to extract meaning from my life - from my experiences and ideas, however quotidian or seemingly dull. William Hazlitt described the personal essay as a genre "in which the reader is admitted behind the curtain, and sits down with the writer in his gown and slippers."

Essays are fun to write because, like our minds, they aren't necessarily linear and neat; rather, personal essays invite both the writer and audience to embark on a journey, delving into the mind's meanderings in a sometimes mind boggling way. For example, thinking about one thing (apricots, perhaps) can lead me to think about another thing (like picking apricots off the tree in my backyard with my family) which can lead me to something else (everyday, meaningful time spent with family) and can bring me to some sort of conclusion (how time spent with my family has affected my life). or something like that :) fun, huh?

I'm laughing inside right now, because I first sat down to post a couple of interesting links from Time Magazine's website, and now I'm writing about personal essays. How in the world did I get there? I think I can tell you. First of all, I was watching the Glenn Beck show today, and he was talking about a nonpolitical rally called Restoring Honor that's happening on the 28th of August, and that sparked my interest. So I hopped on his website for more details, and ended up looking at the rally's Facebook page, and I started looking at the pictures for a charity auction held to support the rally, which included a signed copy of Time Magazine featuring an article about Glenn Beck entitled "Mad Man." Intrigued, I googled the article, and while I was reading it I noticed a Top 10 list: Top Ten Militant Animals, so I checked it out. And let me tell you, the read was hilarious and completely the meandering it took to get there (both the Glenn Beck article and the Top 10 list).

So as I sat down to post the link for the Top 10 list about militant animals (including Kamikaze bats... haha) I thought... hey, the way I got to this article is kind of like the process of writing a personal essay.

Except that I'm not going to draw any conclusions. :)