Monday, December 28, 2009

What are you going to do with that?

I hear that question a lot. Mostly because people don't actually understand what anthropology is. If they truly understood what I study, the question wouldn't be so annoying because it would be an informed question from someone who trusts that I have legit career path possibilities, not a followup question in an effort to mask ignorance. Like when people ask me where I'm from and I say Idaho, and then they ask what part and I say Coeur d'Alene, and then they nod like they know and kinda squint and ask if that's near Blackfoot, because they have cousins in Blackfoot. Nope. Idaho knowledge fail.

Let me inform the curious and give you something else to ask me whenever you see me for the next year whether this stays current news or not. I want to work for these guys. They have an internship I want to try for. I don't know anything about radio broadcasting, but I'm a smart kid; I can learn. My ultimate goal is not to love the actual studio production aspect, but to find stories and write shows and interview people.

I first heard about This American Life from a class. I rediscovered this nugget of a public radio show this last semester and spent a lot of time listening to past shows while I worked at the museum on a project that didn't often need brain power. I love a good story, and these shows are all about good stories. Not just good stories, but good stories with a point. There's always a "so what?" to the stories, and the anthropologist inside me glories in the discovery of the "so what?" and "why does that matter?" (Ironically, I discovered what I wanted for Christmas, these three days after Christmas: the Super Limited Edition This American Life DVD Set/Book, or just the first or second season of the TV show. Lucky for me, I have a birthday coming up! hint, hint)

If I did score an internship, it wouldn't happen for a year, as in January 2011. The internships run Jan-June and July-Dec in NYC, and they're paid. I could try for the July one next summer, but I plan to be out of the country most of that month.

In the meantime....I'll find something else to do. Don't ask me what, because I don't know.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This is my brother Scott.

He is the toughest kid I know. He contracted cancer when he was 13. He's gone through more crap in a few years than most people will ever deal with in their whole life. Sometimes it's annoying having a brother who always has the trump card when it comes to sickness (c'mon, I know my tummy ache is nothing like you've had, but it still hurts!) but he can have it.

He regularly took this many pills each day for the last 2+ years

Exactly three years and four months after his diagnoses, today he had his port removed. He is no longer a cancer patient. He will have monthly monitoring blood tests for a year, then tests every other month for a year, then bi-annual tests for the rest of his life. (The most frequently asked question is "Is he in remission?" Remission is the shrinkage or absence of the cancer. That happened after his first month of treatment. Unlike a tumor which can be measured to an extent, leukemia hides out in the bones. He's been in remission for over three years, but he's also been full of chemo which kills it as soon as it enters the blood stream. Is the cancer gone? We don't actually know until the chemo stops and we see if the cancer cells reappear.)

I've never heard/saw him feel sorry for himself. He'd acknowledge if he hurt or felt sick, but never to get pity. He knew complaining never took away any pain. His condition kept him from doing lots of things he was used to, so he developed other hobbies instead.

He has a wonderfully developed sense of humor. Our family is the first to joke about his condition. It's not morbid or anything, it's just part of our lives, just like how we joke about the number of pictures Dad takes, or how hott Danny thinks he is.

(photo credit to Josh Lee)

Thanks to all my friends who were so supportive of my family, who brought food, bought video games, sent hats, or just always remembered to ask. I've never had cancer, but having a brother with cancer was pretty hard in its own way. I really appreciate your concern for me and mine.

I'm most thankful for the inner strength that has come into my life and the lives of those this has affected. We'd never choose to go through this, but since we had to, I know we're better for it. You may be thinking "I could never go through that." You're right. But if you had to, you'd be given the capacity. Heavenly Father promises to make a way "whereby [we] can accomplish all things" that he allows to happen to us. That's a real promise. I lived it. Access to that enabling power through the Atonement is the real significance of the Baby born in Bethlehem. Let's not forget that this Christmas season.

*pictures courtesy of Scott's Facebook account

Friday, December 18, 2009

DING. Time's up.

I'm back! Did you miss me?

I'm home. Finals are over and not having any academic obligations for 16 days is a very happy prospect. I had a pretty low key finals week. I only had two tests and a presentation, and since I'm a champ I rocked all of it. I even managed to work 15 hours, watch some movies, hang out with friends, and start a modeling career.

Wait, what?

Yes, you read that right. Sort of. It's a funny story. Or maybe it's only funny to me. To preface, my Aunt Mary Ann tells me every time she sees me that I should be a model because I have "exotic eyes," to the point that it's a family joke. Then, one day last week I saw a woman from church who randomly stopped me and told me that I should be a model, because I am "interesting" looking, whatever that means. I usually just smile and nod when people create new career paths for me because they don't know what I do anyway.

Well, I fulfilled Aunt Mary Ann's dream for me on Monday. A girl in one of my classes is a photography major and asked me to pose for a photo for one of her final projects. Her friend did the awesome makeup and hairstyling. We had a lot of fun. The point of the project was to kind of personify character traits, and I got to be the dark side. Luckily, I've had a lot of practice with the "stare-down-I-don't-care-get-out-of-my-way" face on my brothers over the years. The photographer and makeup artist were sufficiently impressed with it. Way better than Blue Steel. If she sends me any copies of my photos I'll post them.

Maybe I should look up the next casting call for ANTM. Heck with academia! With the current job market, championing a "reality" show may be a more attainable objective anyway.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Learning Celebration

That's what some professors call tests when they want to be cute.

I promise this is my last post till finals are over. Not that I think you're tired of me (right?? I flatter myself), but I need to stop spending time on here and do other things instead, like pass classes. Also, I no longer need warm-up writing exercises because yesterday


I used the term "final" loosely. The paper definitely needs more work, even today I've found typos and things I want to change, but for the purposes of the class I'm done with long version. And I'm proud of it. It justifies all the training I got from hard assignments and classes throughout my BYU education in a satisfying way. It was actually easy to write for 33+ pages; editing and revising was the hard part (hence, that part is not quite done.)

No, you can't read it yet. I just knew you were going to ask, Mom. (I don't know why anyone wants to, but I have had requests-plural.) To pacify you, here's the title as a teaser: "Who do you belong to?": Understanding a Monument through Local Conceptions of Belonging. Sounds so, um, thrilling. (zzzzz....zzzzz....)

Now I'm on to creating a short 8-page version of my thesis which will be read at an academic conference if I so choose to apply for one, as well as a poster version of the paper, and a power point presentation. All by the end of the semester. Yes, my teacher is ambitious (and a little crazy) to have us do all that by the end of the semester. But I'm a champ; I'll make it happen.

Ok, that's all. Goodbye for now.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Insomnia Part Deux

I'm not sure why I've had so much trouble sleeping lately. I haven't taken cold medicine for nearly a week. Still, I go to bed and sometimes it's hours before I finally drift off into sound sleep after tossing and turning in a partial-doze. Tonight was par for the course, but instead of eventually achieving unconsciousness, the opposite happened. It's doesn't help that I developed a pinched nerve in my neck at some point yesterday so most positions are painful. Lame. I'm supposed to get up in 3 hours and fly back to Utah in 6 hours, conveniently in time for my last BYU v. Utah game of my undergraduate career. So much for getting unfinished homework done on the plane. Hopefully I can catch a nap. The up side of insomnia is a unusually prolific week of blog posting!

It's been a good week at home. On Wednesday my cousin Spike came home from his LDS mission to Manaus, Brazil. He's the one with the balloons. The local news station captured his entrance. You can watch it here. Our family is at about 0:50. The family is celebrating Thanksgiving on Saturday once all his siblings come to town for his homecoming/his brother Dusty's baby blessing this Sunday. Danny and I will miss both Saturday and Sunday's events but we got our tickets before we knew about what was going on. It'll be like Thanksgiving in the old days with 50+ people crammed into Grandma's house, except now there are too many for a house so they're having the dinner at the church. Oh well.

Thanksgiving Day was a (relatively) small affair this year. We had dinner at home with my parents, the 6 kids in this area plus Sarah's family, Gpa Lee and Helen, my cousin Briettney and her little family, my mom's sister Penny and her husband Ben here from Utah, and Gma Blackburn who traveled up with Danny and I. Spike came over too, and then his sister Cassie and Aunt Jean stopped by on their way home from the airport so Cassie could see Spike. It had the flavor (or rather flavors, literally) of past Thanksgivings, but definitely on a smaller scale.

I went down to the holiday parade and fireworks last night with Benji and Sam, meeting up with my friend Whitney. She goes to school in Portland and has only 7 days left and she's graduated! Lucky girl. Whit is associated with my favorite high school memories, and she's the only friend from high school I regularly keep in touch with. We always make time for each other when we're in town.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I'm home.

I love that feeling of being home. I love how everything looks the same (until I notice those few changes: a new chair, the new fish, a new centerpiece on the table). Everything smells right. Usually I'd say I know where everything is, but I still don't feel like I know where everything is after the remodel, despite extended visits for holidays and summer vacation. I'm here just infrequently enough to forget.

I love driving around town, how it all is so familiar and I know the pace of the town and the length of the traffic lights and the glow of the street lights and their reflections in the pavement in the high school parking lot. Like in the house, I notice changes. I saw and drove around the new traffic circle on Fourth Street and Hanley tonight. They worked on it all summer and didn't finish before I left, so that was exciting. Driving through my dark neighborhood everything looks content. Sometimes Provo neighborhoods feel worn from the march of humanity who pass through, but my home street feels quiet and personal.

I love going to stores at home. I go to the same stores in Utah, but every store has a different layout and selection wherever you go. I love knowing where I like to park, and then walking in and not needing to think about where the items I need are, but letting my feet guide me.

I love looking out the front door and seeing those houses, and looking out the back windows and seeing this mountain and those trees and that pasture and hearing the bell ring over the yards at the elementary school up the street. This is Summer; this is Thanksgiving; this is Christmas; this is Family; this is Home.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

BYU Intramurals

(WARNING: This is a long one, even after I edited it for length. But it's a good story.)

Intramural sports at BYU are serious business. For most students who participate, winning that championship t-shirt is more coveted than their college diploma. Look how many people get one of those a year. Chump change. Only a chosen few get one of those t-shirts and the bragging rights.

Sports offered throughout the school year range from flag football to inner-tube water polo. Teams play six or seven games during the "regular season." Stats from those games are used to rank all the teams against each other whereupon they are then divided into different divisions: Division 1 being the best teams, Division 2 next best, and so on. Then the tournament starts, aka the games that REALLY matter. The winning team of each division wins a championship, the prize being the special t-shirt.

People play intramural sports for many reasons. Some guys play to make up for lost high school glory, some girls play for the social benefit, and lots of people play just to have fun. I play because I love Ultimate Frisbee. Not that I'm particularly good at it; I just love to play. Ultimate Frisbee is a officially a boys intramural sport, but girls can play. They do this because if they made it officially co-ed, then a certain amount of boys and girls have to play at all times.

I usually play on my ward's team during fall semester, and this year was my fourth and final season to play. Despite a lot of talent, my team's regular season performance was not very impressive for various reasons, so we ended up in Division 3 (out of 4) for the tournament. That was ok with us, because it made it easier to dominate game after game once we had everyone showing up.

We soon made it to the final. We were all pumped and ready to play, but secretly a little scared. This was the fourth time my ward made it to the final game, but they had never won. And this year we went up against a team staffed by BYU track athletes, so they were all bigger, faster, and more fit in general than all of us. But we had faith and a rockstar defense.

When it comes to drama, this game will go down as one of my top three sport experiences of all time (after my team won cross country state my senior year, and Beck's pass to Harline to win the BYU-Utah rivalry game in '06). It was THAT dramatic. We started off strong. We always have a good first half, and we quickly brought the game to halftime with a score of 6-3. During the second half, though, the other team caught onto our defense and exploited our weaknesses to score 6 unanswered points. Games usually play to 12 points, and the team must win by 2 like in volleyball. If the game exceeds 45 min though, they cap the points to end the game faster. The cap is typically 2 points more than the leading team's current score, and you no longer have to win by 2. The official capped our points at 11. Gulp. I was a little worried at this point.

But then magic happened. We made some adjustments and went to work. Over and over each team would make it to the end zone and then choke, turning over the frisbee. But then we started converting those opportunities into points and suddenly we were at 10-9. Finally our man with the frisbee found one of our players in the corner of the end zone, but as he jumped to catch it he was tackled by a defender also trying to catch the frisbee. Our kid called the foul, which the other team of course contested. When that happens, the frisbee goes back to the player who threw it and basically does a replay.

After another dramatic and disappointing turnover in the end zone, one of our guys quickly knocked down a pass from the other team and we had possession again. After another agonizing minute of passing outside the end zone waiting for a clear shot inside, we found it. We all went nuts, teammates and other supporters running onto the field passing the subdued opponents and their silent fans. We slapped hands and exchanged hugs all around, took pictures, shook hands with the other team, and "rallied 'round the standard of the flag." Yes, we have a ward flag. We are that awesome.

Soon we made our way to the supplies building to pick up our shirts. As the worker read off the names from the roster, we all cheered for each other as one by one we stepped forward to request a size and accept our reward. We took a few more pictures wearing our shirts before dispersing. I had another game to go watch; my brother Danny was playing flag football that night too.

My BYU experience is complete. I already know I have a diploma coming to me, so no drama or element of surprise there. Not that I'm indifferent or un-proud of that accomplishment, but like I said before: I'm still just one of many. You don't have to be the best, coming out on top, to get one of those. Winning D3 intramural Ultimate now, that's something special.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Insomnia and Personal Reflection

I came down with a nasty head cold sometime Wednesday night. I didn't go to school or work Thursday or Friday. I tried various cocktails of cold and sinus medicine and I'm happy to announce that Sudafed (with the pseudoephedrine) plus the generic brand of Zicam nasal spray finally did the trick and cleared up my sinuses and drippy nose. I was so excited to go to bed tonight and not have to breath out of my mouth, preserving my chapped lips and nose. Unfortunately, the miracle cure left me unexpectedly sleepless. I'm supposed to be getting up in about 2 hours. Actually, a sleepless night won't be that bad if the meds continue to keep me awake and alert. I have a full day of exciting events planned that I don't want to miss out on.

One of my very best friends ever, Diane, is getting married tomorrow. Actually today, in 5 hours. We were roommates in Nauvoo. Of the four girls in room 317 from that semester, she's the first to get married. It's a little weird to have our old quartet finally branching out, but I'm SO excited for her. I've seen her through the ups and downs of several relationships over the last four years, and I am pleased to announce I'm fully supportive of her decision to marry Garrett. He's a great guy and absolutely deserves her.

I'm also super excited because she is the first of my close friends to get married geographically close enough that I can attend the festivities! Timing, funding, and distance prevented me from going to any others. I can't attend the ceremony since I'm not yet endowed and she's getting sealed in the Manti Temple, but I'll be as close as I can and waiting outside.

Students from my Semester in Nauvoo always refer to each other as our Nauvoo "family" regardless of how close we were during the semester. We still maintain active relationships four years later, using a website to communicate big news and post pictures. Many of us still check it every day. People ask me a lot about my favorite parts of my semesters abroad, and I think they're often disappointed when I say "the people I was there with." But there's something special about friends we make during formative times in our lives. It's hard to explain, and I usually just say "s/he's a Nauvoo friend" hoping that the right sense of platonic affection we all maintain for each other comes across. They really do feel like a second family of brothers and sisters.

I'm so blessed to have had that experience in Nauvoo, and to have formed those relationships. They're the kind of friends you make for forever: who don't care if you call at 1am, who hurt with you when bad things happen, who celebrate with you when good things happen, who make a pretty good substitute when your family is 800 miles away, and who never stop caring--really caring--about you no matter the difference of space or time or circumstance. They are friends worth keeping. I have 120 such friends. How did I get so lucky?

Friday, November 13, 2009


I felt a need to mix this blog up a little bit. Y'know, like the urge you get to just rearrange furniture once in a while? One of my professors would call it fixing the chi. Whatever the reason, I just suddenly felt an urge to purge myself of cutesy pre-fabricated designs and go minimalist. Not void, just minimalist, like Mies. So here, like 860-880 Lake Shore Drive, I strip it down to the basics and building materials. Mies actually coined the phrase "less is more." Bet you didn't know a real someone actually constructed that maxim.

Anyway, my life feels so full that I don't feel a need to flesh it out in digital non-space. This blog is for chronicling my adventures, not simulating my personality.

Excuse me now while I go live my life.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A good day

What an awesome day! We honored our veterans today, including my grandpa. I took my second round of midterms last week (both on the same day, for the second time. ugh.) and got them back today. I got A's on both after precious little time to study! Then my intramural Ultimate Frisbee team played in the quarterfinal round today and dominated! And I wore one of my favorite shirts.

Rocked my tests, rocked Ultimate...basically I rocked at life today.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Identifiably me

Today I had an experience I haven't had since coming to college. Walking to class from work with a coworker today I passed by an apartment complex. Two guys come walking and talking out of the complex area as we passed by. Suddenly from behind me I hear someone say "Hey are you a Lee?" I quickly turn around and stare bewilderingly.

"Yeah. What are you?" I ask. I didn't recognize him, but if this kid knows my family he has to be from some family I know, and if he called me a Lee me MUST be from Idaho.

"My name is Caleb ([?] I think it was Caleb; it was a quick interaction and I'm not good with names). I'm a Knight."

"Ah! OK," I reply with understanding. I don't know this kid but I was right, I do know the family.

"Wow, you guys all look alike. I knew you must have been a Lee," he says. We exchange a few civilities then part ways with a "Nice to see you in Provo!"

It's not like I've never had a conversation like this before. Growing up the sixth sibling in ten years to go through the same public school system people often asked if I was a Lee. I just haven't heard it since I came to college so it was a little surreal. Kind of like de ja vu, but not really.

So, what gives it away? Good looks? Amazing athleticism? Killer charm? Humility? I know, I know, I'm not that dense. I'm fully aware that 5/8 of us are tall, skinny redheads with big mouths that stick out more than an albino at a Black Student Union meeting. But I can dream, can't I? It's not always flattering to be told I look like boys. Yeah, I know they don't mean to say that I look like I am a boy, but that's what it sounds like when they say "you look like your brother(s)." No offense, guys.

That's my story. Time to get to writing things I get a grade for.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I'm in my thesis writing class right now where I take information I gathered over the summer and try to make sense of it in a 30+ page paper. My teacher recommends that we do a little bit of informal warm-up writing to get us in the right mind before we start into our paper writing. Maybe I'll blog more often for my "warm-ups." This is a warm up. Now what to talk about?.... I'll take suggestions from anyone who cares about reading this.

For today, I'll introduce you to my roommates. I'm up to roommates #24, 25, and 26, so I think I'm getting good at being a roommate with lots of different kinds of people. For always living with random people, I've been pretty fortunate to always get great roommates.

My room-roommate's name is Sami and she is super cute. I feel like she's a little pixie or doll because she's petite and has cute, short blond hair and a beautiful smile. I feel huge next to her. She's easy to live with and always makes sure to ask me how my day went. Best of all she likes it when I get my nerd on and talk about anthropology. I think I've actually convinced her to get her minor in it! Wait, actually best of all she volunteers to give me back rubs! Those of you that know me well know that I am the biggest fan of backrubs ever!

I was acquainted with my roommate Kyrie from when I lived in this building before I went to Jerusalem. She's the only person I've lived with that I knew before we lived together. She makes great lasagna and always invites me when she cooks for her dinner group.

The last roommate is Jackie and she's the first red-head I've ever lived with in college! She's like the "mom" of the apartment. She always has great advice and fights to let us let her clean the kitchen. I don't mind it at all :). She also voluntarily gives me shoulder rubs too which I will never say no to.

All in all we have an 'appy lil 'ome here in Provo. Life stays busy but it's good. I think I have 199 days till graduation. Jackie the accountant keeps track for me because she's graduating too (with her masters of accounting). Happy October.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hidden Treasures of Knowledge.

I just skimmed through a term paper from last year to find some citations I wanted to use again. I'm pleasantly surprised and a little impressed at what I wrote. It's not like I forgot what I wrote about, but I didn't remember the particulars since it was written in the mush of final classes last spring. Now that I've read it 5 months removed, I feel more qualified to judge the quality. I won't lie. It's a dang good paper, and interesting too. That can't be said for all anthropological theory term papers. I wrote about the theoretical implications of what constitutes a home, why we feel the home is part of identity, how it figures into human and non-human relationships, and why that is all pertinent to why we bring people to our homes when we want to get to know them better. I kind of enjoyed reading it again. I'm so proud of myself that I'd post it here for you to read, but it's almost 3,000 words and a bit long for a humble blog. Just take satisfaction in the fact that I'm satisfied with my effort. I'm glad about that. It gives me hope in my ability to write as one having authority to form a legit opinion based on my own primary and secondary research. Hope is a nice thing to possess as I brace myself to begin actually composing my undergraduate thesis paper based on my qualitative research from this summer in southern Utah.

Oh, by the way got an A in that class.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ice Cold Lemonade. No, seriously.

*note: there's another post below this one that I wrote first. I'm finally catching up on life.

I have a good friend (actually a buddy from my semester at Nauvoo) we call Jared W who gets great ideas. I feel fortunate just to be able to participate in some of his schemes. This time it was setting up a free lemonade stand on top of Mt. Timpanogus. Why? Well, why not? Jared's philosophy is that any place can be bettered with a lemonade stand. I'm inclined to agree. Besides, what sounds better than an ice cold glass of lemonade after a 6 mile hike and a 4000 foot elevation change? Nothing. My roommate Jackie and I both happen to independently know this kid, so we both got to participate. We set out early Labor Day morning with several other friends and had an enjoyable hike up the mountain in the fresh morning air.

Near the top of Timp is a glacier lake called Emerald Lake that is super cold year round. After reaching it we selected an open area on a small peninsula that juts out into the lake and set up camp.

Jared W and his brother came prepared with a sign, 6 containers of Country Time Lemonade mix, plastic cups, pitchers, wooden spoon, and water filters. We all brought some food to share too including some delicious cookies Jackie brought. We all took turns pumping water and preparing the lemonade.

At first the response wasn't too overwhelming because despite the warm sunshine a bitterly cold wind was blowing so we had a lot more requests for hot chocolate. We had to huddle for warmth ourselves.
As the afternoon wore on and the wind died down, we got more "customers." I think some were a bit wary and suspicious, but most thought it was a great idea and greatly appreciated the refreshment. We actually made a few friends that hung around for a while.
After a while I decided to hike to the saddle with a few other people which is where one can overlook all of Utah Valley (the lake is on the back side of the mountain). All the way up to the saddle we'd tell people to stop and get free lemonade at the lake, and most people didn't believe us. They'd say things like "Yeah, and there's hamburgers at the summit too" or "There's soft serve ice cream at the saddle." We did our best to convince them but we can't help if they choose not to believe. We saw mountain goats along the way.

We didn't have time to get all the way to the summit, but it was still pretty cool to be that high up in the world. We stayed for 10-15 min and took fun pictures before we had to start our hike back down the mountain.
This picture was taken with my phone, so that's why it's a little grainy.

Jared didn't accompany us to the saddle, but he reported great success back at the lake. We figured we ended up making about 15 gallons of lemonade altogether, and served at least 150 people. All in all, I'd say it was a good day, and the perfect way to end the summer.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hello again

Summer in Idaho is great. I wish it was still July and I had a month more of fun to enjoy. I had a lot of fun seeing lots of family and friends during the brief couple of months I had to be home this year. When I first got home I spent a blissful week not working. That weekend my brother and his family came to visit from Colorado for a few days before the Lee Family Reunion over the Fourth of July. The reunion was hot and fun. I got plenty of rafting in on the Clark Fork River this year as I was neither recovering from surgery nor suffering from debilitating injury--yet. I did end the reunion with a bang...and a skinned knee, scarred face, bruised hip, scraped foot, and sore muscles. My consolation is the assurance that running into that clothesline with my cousin looked AWESOME. Only five or ten of Grandpa's posterity was missing from the reunion. Josh and Chiu-Yi couldn't come because Josh has been having some health issues, and my cousins Kristen and Jimmy's families respectively were unable to attend. We all had a lot of fun.

I spent the rest of the summer working at Dad's dental office again. It's nice to have a job whenever I go home if I need it. I stayed active hanging out with friends, playing frisbee, and attending single adult activities with my single's ward. My brothers and I also crawled our way through the Lord of the Rings movies. We never did finish the last one. The summer ended with the North Idaho Fair and the world famous Elephant Ear booth. I only worked it 2 days this year because I had to leave to come back to Provo in the middle, but it's always a fun time seeing cousins and friends.

Yes, I'm back in Provo for my last year of my undergraduate education. I moved back into the ward I lived in before I went to Jerusalem, so it's been a lot of fun seeing old friends and making new ones. I have great roommates too. I knew one of the girls from the ward before, and the other two are new to me. The football season is off to a great start and if you haven't heard, BYU is #7 in the country right now! Boo-yah! Provo went nuts after we beat Oklahoma: people driving around honking, cheering without restraint, spontaneous partying in the streets till the wee hours of the morning. It was great to be part of it. Our first home game is next week and I'm excited.

That's all for now. Life isn't super exciting right now, but it's good. My title claims this is about my adventures too. With a long semester of intense academia ahead of me that you probably don't want to hear me complain about, I'll try to keep future posts restricted to true adventures for the sake of entertainment. I always appreciate reading a fun blog post.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Home Sweet Home

After spending two months looking at this:

I understandably get very excited when I start to see this:

as I wend my way back to the Inland Northwest.

Please excuse my sub-par camera phone image, but I think it does a sufficient job illustrating the difference in water supply between southern Utah and western Montana/North Idaho.

Actually I'm being a little unfair because Utah has been getting an unusual amount of rainfall this June so it's actually a bit greener than the above picture (which is not current), but Orderville is still the desert. No matter how green the grass and sage brush and juniper trees, it's still just grass and sage brush and juniper. I always love the moment when I'm driving through Montana and I realize I'm surrounded by real trees again.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tribute to my #1 Reader

Chris and Debbie Copstead, Thanksgiving break '08 at their
surprise 30th wedding anniversary party

My number one reader, Debbie Copstead, passed away on May 10 from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. She and her husband Chris have been great friends to me since I became involved with Coeur d'Alene's Junior Miss program as a junior in high school. Chris was committee co-chair and Debbie was a committee member. For my senior project in high school I volunteered on the committee too and got to know them better. Debbie is one of my biggest fans and always made sure to tell me she was reading my blog and looking at all my pictures. The knowledge that I needed to give her new material was one of the reasons I made sure to post occasionally, even if I didn't think anything worth writing about was happening in my life! Debbie was diagnosed a few years ago with ALS. The illness slowly took away her strength of body but never her mind. It also took away her ability to speak, but we all know I can talk enough for the both of us! She'd write me questions and I'd talk an hour, and before I'd leave she'd tell me "I love you" in sign language. I always visit the Copsteads every time I'm home for vacation. Every visit Debbie downplayed her own trials, excited to know what I was doing in my life and how my family was doing. She always remembered to ask how my brother Scott was feeling. When introducing me to people she always told them I was Coeur d'Alene's prettiest Junior Miss. She always knew how to make people feel good about themselves! I'm sad I didn't get to go right home to Idaho this summer so I could visit with her one more time, but I find comfort in knowing that she's now in a place where she can talk and laugh and live free of her tired body. Someday I'll catch up with her on the other side and we'll have the rest of eternity to talk. Until then, let me know if anyone else is reading this blog. Debbie doesn't need it anymore now that she can watch what I'm doing!
As for an update on my doings, the research project is coming along. I'm learning a lot. Things are coming together a little differently than I expected, but in a good way. I'll have a lot of good material to use for writing my thesis in the fall. Time is passing quickly and I'm over halfway done. Four weeks down, three to go. Life here isn't as secluded than I thought it would be. I've had the internet to use and we've gone somewhere every weekend so I get caught up on all my phone messages then since I don't get cell service here. We've gone to Saint George for a couple of weddings and a high school graduation for cousins, and one weekend we went up north for my uncle's last concert before he retires as a music teacher. My mom came down for the concert and one of the weddings. It was fun to see her.

We have no more trips planned for now. Maybe I'll get more work done on the weekends! If y'all wonder what I'm actually doing, I spend time each day observing everyday life around her and conducting formal interviews with individuals around town about their lives and their impressions of Orderville. I spend the rest of the day typing up my notes (about 25 single spaced pages a week). All this takes up 30-40 hours a week. It's not bad, just a lot of time in front of a computer. I'll be glad when I'm really out of school for the summer!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another year gone by

I did it! It's over! Finished! SCHOOOOOL'S OUT FOR THE SUMMER! Sort of. My research project is technically "school" and I had to pay tuition fees so I can email reports to a teacher once a week. I do get school credit, so I guess that's what I'm really paying for.

I survived my finals. I got 13 pages done of the big paper by Thursday before finals started, then I took a break to write my 10 page paper on Friday and Saturday for my other class because it was due Monday morning. I turned it in and spent the rest of Monday finishing my final art project and then turned that in. Tuesday I wrote another 13+ pages for the big paper, spent Wednesday proofreading, and turned it in that afternoon. Yes, that means it was 26+ pages. Longest paper of my life. It could have (and should have if I had worked on it all semester like I was supposed to... oops) gone longer, but I had to turn it in. I'm sure it was enough to satisfy the requirements for the paper, but it could have been better. Oh well. It's kind of empowering, though, to write that much and have something to say the whole time. I didn't have room to BS anything. Most of the time I was trying to figure out what information I should downsize. I'm happy this school year is over. It was hard. When I finished my papers I rewarded myself with 2 new CDs I've had my eye on for a while. Small consolation for two semesters from h@*%, but they make me happy.

I am finally installed as a resident of Orderville. Mostly. I moved my stuff in, but I have yet to unpack. I hate unpacking. I don't have to officially start working on my project till tomorrow, so I'll spend today getting situated. I've ordered a voice recorder and I need to learn how to use my new printer/scanner/copier. I think Grandma and I will take a walk up to the Post Office later to make sure they know I'll have mail coming to her PO Box so it doesn't get returned to the sender. Oh the excitement of a small town!

If you are ever in the neighborhood, please stop in and say hi! I don't get cell service here, but I can use the neighbor's internet occasionally so you can email or call Grandma's land line.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I'm so close I can taste it...

Only two more days of classes. Then only 3 "finals". I insert quotations because one final is simply submitting a paper by the end of the day, for another I actually have to gather with the class, but it is to submit my paper and read others' papers, and for the last one my art class is having a party and picking up our graded assignments. All other classes either don't have a final or I don't have to take it. Sounds easy enough, but actually these two papers I have to get done are beasts and I have barely started them. Eek! But they will get finished well enough to pass and then I'm off to southern Utah through June. I'm conducting my oral history project for my major in Orderville, UT, during the spring term. It's still schoolwork, but it'll be a change of pace for sure.

I can't wait to finally be ALL done with this school year. It's been a hard one. I'm excited to come back to Idaho, mostly because I really need a hair cut! Jen Stone is the only person I allow to touch my hair and she's in Coeur d'Alene. Oh yeah, and I'm excited to see friends and family too...haha. My whole immediate family will be home this summer during the bi-annual Lee Family Reunion this July on the Salmon River. My brother Josh and his wife Chiu-Yi are coming from Taiwan. My brother Luke and his family will be there and will bring the newest member of the family (his wife Janna is having a baby in June), Benji will come from CA, Sarah from WA, Danny will be back from Mexico, I'll be home from UT, and of course Mom and Dad and the little boys will be there too. That's just from my family! Dad is the baby and he has 3 other siblings who will be there with all of their families too.

K, no more blogging. I really need to get to work. I haven't accomplished much on this paper today, and I really want to get it done. I promised myself a long-coveted Sara Barielles CD when I'm finished! Now that's incentive.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring is in the air

Spring is trying her best to break through. Last week it got up to 70 degrees. This week it snowed. Hopefully the sun comes back soon!

Life is still crazy busy, but rather than detail the stresses of my life which will only make me feel worse, I will only tell about the good stuff that has happened recently because there has been lots of that too.

Every year on March 14 my friend Jared W hosts a Pi(e) Party (3/14=3.14=pi). People bring pies which are then judged and awarded for different categories. Now, I have participated in quite a few of these parties and I've consistently had a good showing, but I've never won. My strawberry pie took third a couple of times, and the time I added other berries to it got me a second place finish. This year I was in it to win it. I went with a new recipe: Carmel Apple Pie. I found the recipe online a long time ago and saved it. It did not fail me, and I won first place overall! I was so proud. I wish I had got a picture from it but I forgot. Just know that it looked and tasted phenomenal. I'll post the recipe at some point.

A couple of weeks ago some boys decided to get people on more dates, so they took ties from all the single guys from church and had all the single girls choose an anonymous tie from the pile. Whoever's tie she chose was committed to taking her out on a date before the end of the semester. Being single, I participated. Last weekend I went on my "tie date" with my date Jeremy and two other couples. It was so much fun! We all had a blast playing like little kids the whole evening at Jeremy's family's beautiful home in Sandy, UT. Our activities included:
Dinner at Pita Pit
Girl Scout cookies
CRUD (a game played with a pool table)
Boys vs Girls keep-away
Indiana Jones movie in the theater room
Jumping off furniture onto giant bean bags
Sliding down stairs
Talking with good friends
Sleeping (not done as a group activity, don't worry! It was too late to drive home safely so we stayed the night and us girls shared a king size bed!)
Pancake breakfast

(remember you can click on pictures to see them bigger)

I had a lot of fun hanging out with friends and getting to know them better outside of church activities. I am surrounded by great people here.

The fun continued that weekend on Saturday. The weather was great and warm and I went running for the first time since last summer probably! I didn't last too long but it felt good to get out there. Afterward I spread out a blanket at the park and did homework in the sunshine. I got a little sunburn on my face but it was worth it! That night I attended a volleyball game with some friends, then made my award-winning pie again and had a little dance party in my apartment. We have good times.

This weekend was pretty stellar too. Friday night I went to a indoor water park with my old roommate Janae, and last night I went to the Festival of Colors. It's a festival to welcome in spring that they observe every spring at the Hare Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, UT. It is celebrated through song, theatrical performance, the burning of a witch effigy, and rounded off with everyone throwning colored chalk dust at each other.

This was the first year I was able to attend and I was pretty excited. I rounded up a car-full of friends and headed up to it. We got well-covered in dust and I crowd-surfed for the first time! I lost my cell phone for a while in the process, but I eventually got it back when a nice person found it uncrushed and returned it when we called it. That's what I call good karma!

After the festival we went up to the house where my friend Missy is living and went swimming in the indoor pool (after showering, of course). It was a nice way to wind down the exciting evening.

Friday, March 6, 2009

More Birthday and a pARRRty!

I got up a little earlier than I had to today to finish some reading, but it's done and with the little bit of extra (and by extra, I mean I don't feel like doing anything else I should) time, I've decided to blog for Debbie. Debbie Copstead is probably my most faithful blog follower and I feel guilty when I don't keep it up for her!

I came down with a killer cold right about the time I posted last. It was a pretty miserable week. The medicine I had wasn't very effective most of the time. Then it disrupted my sleep. On top of being sick and tired I started and finished a project proposal one day because the people I was supposed to volunteer for the project never contacted me back so I had to come up with something else in a day. Good think I was sick and felt justified in missing my classes that day anyway. Oh, and on Thursday I realized a big paper I thought was due the next week was due the next day. Once again, maybe being sick was a mixed blessing! I didn't work Thursday and Friday because I started coughing and I couldn't breath well, so I stayed home and wrote the paper. It wasn't my best work, but it got done. And then I ended up with a good grade! Now I wonder about my teacher's judgment...

As harrowing as the week was, the weekend was great. My parents were in town for the Utah Dental Convention, so Friday evening I drove up to Salt Lake and we went out to Tucano's for my birthday dinner. Uncle Don and Aunt D'Ann were in SLC that night too, so they joined us.

I stayed overnight with Mom and Dad at the hotel. Yet again, I did not sleep, but I was starting to get used to insomnia. I got some homework done around 3am. The next day we took a walk to Temple Square and then I took them to the airport. I spent the rest of the day in Salt Lake visiting friends and walking in the sunshine of a beautiful day. My cold was beginning to subside, so everything was feeling beautiful :-).

The next week was fabulous. I had two projects due that I hadn't started because of the stuff from the previous week, but one project had the deadline moved to the next Monday, and I got an extension on the other. Then the weather warmed up and the sun was out all week. My ward had a Pirate Party that weekend complete with treasure hunt, costume contest, and pirate ship regatta. It was a lot of fun!

I named it "El Barco de Muerte"

Midterms are over (I have no midterm tests, but lots of papers) and things seem kind of calm right now. This weekend for church we have Stake Conference and Elder Ballard is coming from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Should be good. And spring is coming! I can feel it!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Happenin' Happenings

I can't believe I'm already half way through February! Yikes! Every semester passes faster than the last (side note: someday I will be done with school and won't measure time by semesters. weird thought). I just remembered that I have fast internet and I can actually upload pictures to my posts with ease. I'll start doing that. In Israel the bandwidth was too small and it was very difficult to download pictures, hence the links to my photo albums on Facebook.

My life has been more the same: reading, writing, and fun when I can fit it in. One exciting thing was my computer ceased to work. It just stopped working-- no blue screen of death, just blankness. Fortunately it was still under warranty. I had to send it to the company and get the hard drive replaced. I thankfully received an external hard drive for Christmas and had just finished backing up all my files onto it--over 30 gigs of stuff from Jerusalem alone!-- two weeks before the machine died. I was without a computer for about 3 weeks, so now I've been trying to get all my software back on it. It's annoying, but at least it works right and I didn't have to pay for it!

My old Nauvoo roommate Abbie stayed with me the night before she entered the Missionary Training Center here in Provo. She is headed to Cleveland, OH. I'm so excited for her! That mission includes Kirtland and a lot of historical Church sites that we toured during our semester in Nauvoo. We went bowling the evening she was here with several of friends from her home and Nauvoo, then had ice cream afterward at the Creamery. We met up with Diane, another Nauvoo roommate, at the Creamery and for the first time since we left Nauvoo over 3 years ago, our whole room was reunited!

Room 317 Reunited! (L-R: Abbie, Sadie, Janae, Diane)

I'm so happy for Abbie and I know that she will be a great missionary. And it wasn't that sad saying goodbye because we only see each other every year to two anyway!

Another exciting event was my birthday on February 11! I love birthdays. A lot. I'm not sure why; maybe because my family was good at making it a special day. This year it was on a Wednesday, and unfortunately Wednesday is my longest day in terms of classes. But I don't have to work on Wednesdays, so makes it more tolerable. I start at 8am and get out at 8pm, with two long breaks in the middle of the day. I wasn't sure if I'd get to do anything special because of that, and because this is the first year in Provo that I didn't have any family around to celebrate with me. (I didn't have family with me last year in Israel, obviously, but that was to be expected). Danny is spending the semester in Mexico. Luckily, I have amazing friends! My old Nauvoo roommate Diane called me around 6am to convince me to let her take me to breakfast before my class. My roommates made me a poster and stuck candy all over it and left it outside my door to find in the morning. Then that evening after my class I was supposed to go to dinner with Diane and the other old roommate Janae, and then have cake at my apartment afterward with a few friends. The girls made other plans for me though! They planned a surprise party for me at Janae's apartment with lots of my Nauvoo friends plus a few other people. My parents sent me flowers and most of my family and several friends called to wish me a happy day.
22 candles!

The birthday gang

The celebration continued on Thursday when my buddy Eric cooked me and my roommate breakfast. My family's tradition on birthdays is breakfast in bed, and he knew that's what I miss most on my birthday when I'm not home, so he did the next best thing: pancakes the next day in the kitchen. Did I mention I have the best friends ever?

The pancakes on the plate read "Happy Birthday"

The celebration continues more this week. My dad attends the Utah Dental Convention every year in February and this year Mom is coming with him. I'm going up to Salt Lake City on Friday to spend the evening and go out to dinner for my birthday (the other thing I miss most about birthdays at home).

The other exciting things in my life include being without gas in our apartment for two days (the temperature got down to 48 degrees--inside), making it to the quarter finals in the Paso Doble with my ballroom partner at the mock dance competition against the other dance classes, the last of my original roommates from this year moving out for a job in CA (a sad thing, not exciting), and spending part of President's Day weekend with friends at a cabin up Spanish Fork Canyon. All in all February has been a good month, per usual.

I'd better get back to work on my homework. I slacked off over the long weekend and now I have to do double duty. I'm getting a cold, have a couple of projects to get started and finished this week, and a mound of reading that I will probably finish only a meager portion of, with or without slacking. Wish me luck!

ps. I updated my photo album links
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