Monday, December 20, 2010

Live in Concert

Getting really behind in posting things I want to blog about.  Partly because I don't have a lot of spare time these days (at least it's all good things taking up the minutes) and partly because I wanted to include pictures but haven't got around to getting the pictures off my camera until, well, yesterday.

About a month ago I went to see Sara Bareilles in concert with my friend Shelly.  We'd been planning this for a couple of months, so we were both really excited.  Can you tell?



I really like Sara's music, but I was a little disappointed with the concert.  The music was fantastic and she is a very talented performer, but the atmosphere left something to be desired.  Turns out Sara has a potty mouth and so do lots of her fans.  There was also a lot of people getting drunk and being rude.  The concert was sold out, so it was really crowded too.  Someone started smoking pot down in front and made everybody stinky. By the end of the night my back was killing me after standing so long and we left during the final encore number.  I still like her music, but I don't really feel like seeing her live again unless it was a less-rowdy setting.

Sara's attractive and talented band member.  He (partly) made it all worth it ;-)

Sara, as herself.

The next night at the same venue KT Tunstall was coming to play.  I kept telling Shelly that I wish I could go to that concert too, but it was ridiculous to go to concerts two days in a row, and I didn't want to pay for more tickets. 

Tuesday morning I checked my email and got a message telling me I had won two tickets for the KT Tunstall concert that night.  I sat at my computer a bit bewildered and suspicious, then started laughing with sheer disbelieving giddyness.  The week before I got an email from Ticketmaster about the upcoming concerts in Denver.  To promote the KT Tunstall concert they announced a drawing for tickets.  As instructed, I sent an email to the designated address with my name, and lo and behold I won the tickets!



Since I won two tickets, I invited my sister in law Janna to come along with me to the concert.  The experience was so much more satisfying that night!  It wasn't crowded, people were actually listening to the music and not drinking themselves silly, no illegal substances made themselves known, and on top of it all she was an outstanding performer and extremely talented.  She was also very personable and funny between songs.  Janna and I had a blast.  I didn't get a picture of us, but I did take a few of KT.



That didn't end my week of concert going.  On Denver's tourism site they post events around town and every week offer 2-for-1 tickets to various goings-on for the week.  They offered some for the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra concert for that Friday night and I attended with a date.  The orchestra played with a special guest violinist and it was a great concert.  I swooned over seeing a harp.  I've only touched mine once since last Christmas, mostly because I've only spent 2.5 days in Idaho since last Christmas.  I didn't get any pictures of that concert.  Sorry.  Just know it was excellent.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Thanksgiving Report

I write this because a lot of people seem to want to know what I did for Thanksgiving.  I stayed in Colorado.  Luke & Co went to Salt Lake City to spend the holiday with Janna's relations. They left on Monday and returned home the following Sunday so I had the whole house to myself all week.  I was never lonely though because I have excellent friends who made sure I was taken care of. 

I worked Monday through Wednesday, and those three days were full of catching up and late evenings at the office.  I shudder to think of the state of my mind (and office) if I had made plans to be gone for the hoilday. We added new locations half way through the month and the startup work put me behind in everything else, including time-sensitive tasks.  I'm happy to report I did catch up and all is well and back on schedule.

For the holiday itself I had multiple invitations for dinner, but alas I could not make all of them.  I did go to Marylou's for early dinner and Emily's for late dinner.  You 'aint never had second dinner till you've had a Thanksgiving second dinner.  It was delicious.  The company was also excellent.  Both families took treat me like their own. 

This isn't my first Thanksgiving away from family.  My first semester of college was spent in Nauvoo.  Travelling anywhere was a prevatitively laborious task, so I stayed in Illinois with most of the student body and we celebrated together.  That time was a lot harder, being the first time away.  This time wasn't so bad.  I called the family in the morning and talked for a long time. 

The rest of the week was mostly pleasant.  Saturday revolved around the BYU-UT game, the result of which lowered my spirits the remainder of the day.  Everyone arrived home on Sunday evening safely and soundly despite the wild weather all across the Rockies.  We weren't touched by the storm in this area.  It was sunny and lovely all week.  Today reached 66 degrees downtown.  Happy early Christmas Denver!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Change

"I have always believed that in the lives of individuals, just as in society at large, the profoundest changes take place within a very reduced time frame.  When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait.  Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny."
Author's note, The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho

I started reading this new book the other day.  I encountered the above quote at the end of the author's note at the beginning.  The truth of the statement struck me quite forcefully.  I've found myself returning to reread it over and over. I thought about it so much I sort of didn't care to start the actual story for a while.

I feel like all of the most "profound" changes in my life took place in relatively short periods of time.  This is not to stay that all significant changes occurred quickly because, of course, some things simply cannot be shortened.  But the changes that stick most in my mind, and therefore I consider most profound, were choices suddenly imposed upon me.  Those moments certainly challenged my courage and forced themselves upon me in such a way to demand a response.  Indeed, I could not ignore their presence, nor could I delay my decision out of un-readiness because as it says above, "the challenge will not wait."

I suppose if we did expect sudden challenges before they arrived, and if they were drawn out over a period of time, their impact would not be so indelible in our lives.  They are all the more significant and memorable precisely because they are sudden, unexpected, and jarring.  It's a lot easier to remember fire is hot once you get burned.

Since I cannot predict when such sudden moments of decision are going to occur, all the more reason to be prepared for whatever comes.  All the more reason to make intermediate decisions every day that I can control.  All the more reason to stick to morals and goals and beliefs and other tried and tested frameworks to guide my life to minimize stress and maximize making the decision that is matches who I am and/or want to become.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Statistics can be fun!

Today I discovered the "Stats" tab on my blogger dashboard.  I have no idea how long it's been there, but I'm glad it is!  It provides me information about my blog traffic such as referring sites (who found me from veganfoodrecipes.com?), countries where people have viewed it, browsers people use, and even the kind of operating system used (the PC people far outnumber Mac; I wonder if that reveals something about my politics).  You can view traffic right now, from all day today, all month, and all time.  There is no identifying information so I can't tell who exactly who is visiting my corner of the web.  I can't back-stalk anyone, but it is very interesting to see what kind of audience I'm reaching.  I'm surprised by which posts have had the most views, a little disappointed at the ones that only have a few.  But I won't feel bad because that probably has more to do with my marketing than my readership's loyalty.

My favorite information is seeing where people are at when they viewed my blog.  The countries with the most pageviews are listed.  Of course, by far the place most people view it from is the United States, but surprisingly (or maybe not) the second on the list is Brazil.  I had a brother and cousin serve missions in Brazil for our church so they probably pulled it up once in a while. Tied for third are Azerbaijan, Canada, and the United Kingdom.  The latter two are explainable-- I know of readers in each place-- but the former?  I had to Google it because I'd never heard of it before.  Who might have found me in Azerbaijan?  Must have turned up in a random web search.  To round out the list, fourth most popular is Russia trailed by Burundi, Latvia, Ukraine, and Denmark respectively.  As far flung as they may seem, I can actually guess who was viewing it in eastern Europe and Denmark, but I don't know anyone in Burundi.  Must have been other fluke hits.  I'm surprised Germany and Taiwan didn't make the list since I know I have/had readers in each.  I guess the system isn't perfect or comprehensive.  But it is certainly entertaining!

Greetings to my readers everywhere!  I'm always flattered when people want to read what I write.  Even if you have stumbled here by accident, thanks for visiting and feel free to stay a while. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

August

This time of year makes me think of two things: elephant ears and school.

Elephant ears (the food, not the body part) are delicious confections often found at fairs, particularly the North Idaho Fair and Rodeo the third week of August every summer.  They consist of a sweet dough rolled out, deep fried, and covered in cinnamon and sugar.  Oh, and they're as big as the platters you use for the Thanksgiving turkey. My extended family has run an elephant ear booth at the NI Fair since time immemorial... or maybe just 30-something years.  Long enough to become an institution and a landmark with loyal customers the world over.  The profits from the booth go into a family fund of sorts and are applied towards things like helping send cousins on missions for our church.

This is my first year missing the fair.  Ever.  It's really weird.  It's always a party in the booth--a big, close, hot, sweaty, greasy, sugary, loud party.  I don't miss the greasy, hot, sweaty, sugary part, but I do miss seeing all the cousins and eating my fair share of EE's and chocolate milk.  I miss everyone ordering everyone around, complaining if someone doesn't roll/cook/sugar/mix the way they like it done (roll 'em nice and big, no holes, cooked blonde, and evenly coated please!).  I miss getting into the fair free, going to the rodeo after the Friday afternoon shift, bartering for MICA burgers, and watching the summer climax and creep to an end.

And then comes school.  Or not!  This is the first fall I will not start a new year of school in 19 years.  That's a long time.  It's like, 83% of my life.  I should feel weirded out, right?  But I don't.  I thought I might, but I'm over school for reals. I guess I have a talent for appreciating things while they last, then moving on when the time is right.  If I dwell on the past, I miss the exciting things coming up ahead.  I'm really so over and done it would feel weirder if I had to go back.

I still have the urge to buy new clothes and school supplies.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Laundry List

Well, I'm back.  It was great.  Too much to really blog about in its entirety, so here is a laundry list of things I liked, learned, or did.  If I get enough feedback to expand on one I will.
  • Aer Lingus has nice planes, but bring a coat for the flight because they keep the temperature at freezing, more or less.
  • All the museums are closed on Mondays in Milan.  Use that day to travel, not sightsee.  We learned this in Milan, on a Monday.
    • If you do find yourself with nothing to do on a Monday in Milan, there's a great bench at the Castello Sforzesco that's perfect for taking naps.
  • I am quite the navigator as long as I have a map and a public transportation pass.  Just call me GPS.
  • Italy is very hot in the summer.  And humid.  Don't plan on looking cute if you go in the summer, unless you think sweat is cute.
  • The Italian countryside really looks like you'd imagine it on a postcard: rolling hills covered in green orchards and vinyards and pastures of farm animals.
  • The best gelato in the world is in San Gimignano.  Not even kidding.  World Gelato Champions twice.
  • Michelanelo's David= awesome
  • I have Rennaisance crush on Brunelleschi-an architecture.  I climbed his Dome in Florence.  I CLIMED BRUNELLESCHI'S DOME!  THAT IS SOO COOl!
  • The Bell Tower in Pisa leans.  It looks like it is peeking out behind the church, kind of like "Andy popping into frame"
  • St. Peter's is SO BIG.  Like, you have no idea.  So big.  And amazing.
  • The Pantheon is free!  Yah!  And in the top 5 coolest buildings I've ever been in.  And I've been in some cool buildings.
  • Florence has way better shopping than Rome.  Do all your shopping in Florence.
  • I'm sorry if you had European plans thwarted by the France air workers strike on July 21.  You can blame Mom and I for that.  Probably more mom than me because she has a history of causing things like that.
  • Ireland is not hot in the summer.  It's perfect.
  • Ireland also looks like a postcard.
  • Checked another World Heritage site off my list: The Giant's Causeway.  Look it up and be jealous.
  • Ireland has better breakfast than Italy.  Maybe because it's lacking the ridiculous amounts of carbohydrates.  The bacon is to die for.  Literally.  It's all fatty and delicious!
  • Linen is cool! 
  • Quakers are very nice people. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Get ready for it...

Here I go.  Life as I know it is about to change, again.  I will leave a person who has never been to Italy and Ireland and I will return as someone who has.  I think it is so exciting to imagine what life will be like after I'm back.  I've always done that, tried to imagine what it's like on the other side of an experience.  Who will I be new friends with?  What will become my favorite place?  What things will I have discovered?  What words will I know?  Sometimes I imagine so much in advance that I get really sad to think that in so many days the experience will end!

Don't be jealous, please.  We all have prioities in life.  If you really wanted to go on this trip too, you'd make it happen.  We all tend to spend our time and money on what matters most to us.  This means a lot to me, so I made it happen.  I'm sure there are cool things you make happen every day I won't ever do.  I don't mind at all.  If I want to do them enough, I will.

I went shopping yesterday for travel-sized bottles for my shampoo, etc. and it was so fun.  I love miniature things.  They're almost as fun as oversized things. 

I didn't work most of last week because I went to a family reunion in Utah, so I have tons of work to do this week before I head out Thursday.  Puts a damper on the excitement sometimes when I'm stressing about what has to get done first.  It's like getting excited about school letting out when you still have to take finals.  You're definitely looking forward to it, but dreading what you have to hurdle to get there.  But I will get there!  Huzzah!

Lots of adventures coming up, so stay tuned.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Plans vs. Goals

I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last year or so, and especially in the last 6 months. Big life changes seem to stimulate these revelations. One thing I’ve learned about myself is I am not a planner. You know those people who [think they] know where there are going to be/do in 1, 5, or 10 years from now? Then when the plans are foiled they fall apart and stress until they make a new plan? I am not one of those people.


This self-revelation came to me more forcefully as I approached the end of my college experience. I had (and still have) so many people ask about my plans. When broached with “What are you going to do?” nobody seemed satisfied with “Whatever I want”, presumably thinking I was being cheeky.  Little do they know I’m completely serious. I really feel empowered to do whatever I want. That is not to say I will be irresponsible with my time and resources. I have bills to pay and duties to fulfill, which I pay and fulfill respectively. But I don’t let those things keep me from filling my life with satisfying experiences beyond duty and purse.


Being without definite plans for the future does not mean I am without direction. And not having a plan does not mean I don’t know what I’m doing. I handle what’s in front of me, anticipate what’s coming, and adapt to manage whatever actually happens. Though I don’t have concrete plans, I do have goals. Those do not change, even when plans do. Plans to me are simply means, not ends in themselves. Therefore, if circumstances change and plans have to change, it’s not devastating because I’m still headed toward the same goal(s).


Of course, living this way is not always easy. If the goal is to have fun on the weekends and I fail to make plans for myself, I will waste a Friday night. And if a goal is job satisfaction when I have no prospect of future employment after college graduation, that can be a little unsettling. But really, I’ve never been disappointed at how life works itself out. My weekends get rescued, a job opportunity comes. None of this “plan for the worst and expect the best” because really, if you are only prepared for the worst, how are you going to enjoy the best? You are only prepared to treat it like the worst. I’d rather just expect the best and when it doesn’t happen (though it usually does) I just change my expectation of what is “best” under the new circumstances. And when the best does happen, well life just got that much better!


Please don’t thing I’m stagnant, waiting for good things to happen. On the contrary, I try to stay actively engaged in pursuing happiness—my ultimate goal. The trick is allowing my definitions of what brings happiness to stay flexible. Sometimes it’s this book, sometimes it that person, sometimes it’s a place. I put together loose ideas of what to do and where to be, but changing my mind is always an option. Close friends and family have witnessed my track record of making somewhat sudden, life-changing, and occasionally expensive decisions, but I never regret any of those decisions. In fact, if I had resisted those opportunities to change my mind, so much of my life that I value most would not exist! Sad thought!


Are you a planner? Does it stress you out when plans change? Try just being a goal-setter for a while and see what it does for you. Embrace the freedom of change! Never change the goals when they are important, but rather change the way to work towards them depending on your circumstances. I can’t promise health, wealth, or happiness, but I can suggest you can gain appreciation for a new way of looking at life that might prove useful.



* Photos, in order of placement:
    -storm approaching over Orderville, UT
    -me riding a scooter in Taiwan
    -me in front of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
    -on the road somewhere in Missouri

Inquiries for additional explanations may be left as comments

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Throw Me a Rope

"Throw Me a Rope" is a song by a girl named KT Tunstall.  You may have heard her song "Black Horse and a Cherry Tree" on the radio.  She has a lot of great stuff, and I think the songs not playing on the radio are her best.  This is one of them.  Sometimes I listen to it on repeat, over and over and over.  It's a rare song if I don't tire of it quickly.

This song reminds me of many people, especially at this time when I've headed off into a great unknown, not knowing anyone but my brother and his little family.  Sometimes the song makes me think of one far away person, sometimes another. A family member, a friend.  People I miss and I wish could be near.  There's something about being physically close to someone that satisfies like nothing else.  Sometimes I'd rather be next to someone in silence than apart and talking.

Sometimes the song reminds me of places, especially places where I've learned to be me.  It's scary to leave the security of familiar places for a new place, a place where I haven't learned to be me yet.  I love to explore new places and meet new people, but it's not as fun to have only new people.  I like to have a few old people and places around me, ones who know me already, who I don't have to explain myself to.  I find it very restful to be with these things who know my freckles, my laugh, my jokes, my stories.

Don't think I'm lamenting my lot.  This is a good place with good people.  I'm slowly putting down little roots, meeting people, learning where to go and how to be.  I just wish I had a best friend here holding my hand through it.

Listen to the song here.  Below are the lyrics.  Enjoy, and think of me.


Throw Me a Rope

I want you between me and the feeling I get when I miss you
But everything here is telling me I should be fine
So why is it so, above as below,
That I'm missing you every time

I got used to you whispering things to me into the evening
We followed the sun and its colours and left this world
It seems to me that I'm definitely
Hearing the best that I've heard

So throw me a rope to hold me in place
Show me a clock for counting my days down
Cause everything's easier when you're beside me
Come back and find me
Cause I feel alone

And whenever you go it's like holding my breath underwater
I have to admit that I kind of like it when I do
Oh but I've got to be unconditionally
Unafraid of my days without you

So throw me a rope to hold me in place
Show me a clock for counting my days down
Cause everything's easier when you're beside me
Come back and find me
Whenever I'm falling you're always behind me
Come back and find me
Cause everything's easier when you're beside me
Come back and find me
Cause I feel alone

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Business Trip

I took a trip to Oakland, CA, last week for my new job to train with the office people who have been doing my job so that I can now do my job. I work for DPW Parking, and offshoot of Douglas Parking headquartered in Oakland. My brother Luke is their Denver Regional manager, and I’m the Denver office manager/account manager/assistant [to the] regional manager. The girls in the Oakland office taught me how to use their system to do invoicing and billing for all the monthly parking accounts in Denver. (You don’t need to understand what that means.)


In case you didn’t know, parking management is big business. I didn’t know until I got this job. (In passing, I realize I have a habit of doing things with knowing exaclty what I'm getting into.  I think it makes life exciting.)  David Douglas, one of the company owners, picked me up after I flew in and took me on a mini-tour of downtown. He pointed out unique features and buildings of Oakland…and their associated parking facilities that Douglas Parking manages. It’s very interesting to be around people in parking. They always notice parking lots: who runs them, how full they are, rates. It’s similar to watching a sport with someone who plays the game. They will always notice technique and mistakes that the untrained spectator will not. A player doesn’t just see the touchdown; he sees the awesome block by the offensive line that opened the hole for the tight end to run through.

I have discovered that parking management is an exercise in predicting human behavior. And it’s kind of fascinating. Not the managing part, but observing the people who do the managing. They don’t just see a place to park. They see how full lots are, and if they aren’t full, why not? If some lot is usually full, why isn’t it full today?  Where are people parking instead?  How can we change that?  An empty lot is an anomaly, and anomalies can seem paralyzing. Where is the miscommunication? Do we need a sign? What kind of sign? Will people understand the sign? Initiate panic mode! (Not really…but sometimes.) They are trying to predict human behavior—predict where people will park and why they will park and for how long—and when their prediction is wrong they are in a flutter to rectify their worldview. 

I use this information to understand how to communicate effectively.  I have to evaluate what people tell me, why they tell me, and what they don't tell me (what they don't tell me is presumably what I should already know).  I do not have a parking manager's brain (and I don't really want one; don't take it personally, Luke) but I do want to understand the parking manager's brain.  Actually, I must if I want to keep my job.


For those of you who wonder when and where I will ever use my anthropology, the answer is I already do, all the time, everywhere.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fieldwork

As an anthropologist, I'm drawn to make initial conclusions regarding my new environment in as I seek to gain rapport with the native population.  Here's what I have so far:

  • People in Colorado drive very slowly.  I noticed all the more because I just moved from Utah where you are going too slow if you aren't 10+ over the speed limit (not me, of course; I'm too afraid of getting a ticket).  I understand if traffic or the weather is bad, but when there are only four cars on a sun-drenched four lane highway?  They must not be in a hurry to go anywhere.  I feel like a speed racer as I zoom by people at the speed limit.

  • Little boys are much different house-mates than 20-something girls.  I forget what it's like to live with small children.  It's exhausting, especially since I'm the novelty, so they are always checking to see what I'm doing.  If it looks boring, they want to play basketball instead.  (If we could harness the energy of small children we wouldn't have an energy crisis.)

  • Colorado is NOT in a drought.  It has rained every day but 3 I think since I arrived.  And it snowed 3 inches my first or second day of work.  I have learned that many people keep a jacket, ice scraper, and umbrella in their cars year-round.  I now do too.

  • "Parking management" has its own language, which I am slowly learning.  I now know what "process this application for JC, send an AR to Marlene and then lets go check the booth at Wynkoop after you scan the BD" means.

  • Three-year-olds also have their own language.  I am not learning it slowly.  Or at all.  I usually defer to a translator.

  • Singles Wards are all the same.  Going to the ward here has been the easiest transition for me to adapt to.  First day at church I found the guy who sits in front and answers all the questions in Sunday School, the very eligible nice-guy in a position of authority who nobody seems to know why is still single, the funny-man and his entourage, the bubbly RS president who already remembers my name, the wife of a counselor with a hobby of setting up single people, and the handful of chill people who are ready to adopt me as an insider.  Per usual, every meeting starts 10 minutes late, and the "cool" people don't get there for another five.  I'm still that new girl who seems nice and goes to activities, but not everyone has met or remembers my name.  It's a label I can handle.  I like being new because you always have an excuse if you don't know what is going on.  "I'm new" inspires both compassion and curiosity, both excellent ice breakers.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Announcements

No, not that kind of announcement.  I'll prepare you better before that happens. Speaking of marriage, I was with family all weekend so I got that question a lot.  Not as much as I used to get.  Maybe they are giving up on me.  Or graduation overshadowed my singlehood this time.  Haha, that reminds me of a story.  My little brother and I had a conversation this weekend.  It went like something like this:

     little brother: So are all those guys at BYU idiots?
     me: Apparently.  Guys don't go for girls who aren't staying around.
     little brother: That's dumb.
     me: Well, what would you do if you liked a girl but she was moving away in a week?
     little brother: Change her mind.

Good answer, little brother.  I gave him a high five and assured him of future success in life and marriage with that attitude.

Yes, I'm moving away from Utah.  That's one of the real announcements.  My brother Luke offered me a job with his company in Denver and I accepted.  Now that I'm done with school and nobody has really tried to "change my mind", there's no reason to stay around here.  I'm moving to Colorado next weekend and start the job in one week from today.  I don't know anything about Denver except that everyone likes it.  That's encouraging.

The other announcement is connected to the reason I was with family all weekend.  Twelve days ago I took my last final ever.  Then I went home triumphant until my mom called to tell me my Aunt Gayle had passed away on a humanitarian trip to Tonga.  It was shocking and terrible, but we're ok.  She's ok.  Uncle Gary's ok.  Isn't it so nice how we can be ok because of what we know?  I love that.  I've felt really peaceful and good about the whole situation despite the tragedy.  It's sort of weird, to be ok about it, but I know she lived a great life and is still doing good where she is now.  The hard part is learning to live without her.  But even in that department there have been miracles to reward our faith.

One blessing is I got to see all my immediate family but Josh this weekend as we traveled to Rigby, Idaho, for Aunt Gayle's memorial service.  My mom got us hotel rooms and all the siblings had to share two rooms.  No additional deaths or major altercations = another miracle.  (We love each other, but sometimes we love better from a distance.)  Under the circumstances, it was a nice weekend of fellowship and comfort.

Uncle Gary and Aunt Gayle are both from Coeur d'Alene originally, so the local paper did a nice story on Gayle.  You can read it here if you want more details.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Graduation



It was all that I thought it would be: long, and smiley.  
But sacrifices must be made because this is only happens once, right?

My parents and Sam flew down from home for the occasion.  Scottie couldn't miss any more school.  Luke, Janna & Co. came from Colorado too; Janna's sister also graduated.  I didn't get any pictures with my own camera of everyone, so you'll just have to imagine it.  My mom's brother Don and sister Penny and their respective spouses also attended Convocation on Friday.  Commencement on Thursday and Convocation of Friday were followed by visiting and feasting and merrymaking appropriate to the occasion. 

If I don't tell you, everyone else will.  The College of Family, Home, and Social Science has a tradition of recognizing valedictorians from each department in the college, and I was it for the Department of Anthropology.  That means I got a certificate and medallion, sat on the stand at convocation with the other 7 or 8 valedictorians, and couldn't fidget for two and a half hours because everyone would see. That's really hard for me.  If I sit in one position too long I go numb.  Some of the faculty on the stand brought papers to grade, knitted, or played with cell phones. Brilliant. 

The valedictorians had to meet in the Marriott Center before the ceremony to find out where we'd sit, walk, etc.  It was fun to meet the other kids.  They were all pretty cool, the kind of people you wish you'd have met  at the beginning of college and been friends with all along.  One of the other vals gave the speech, two did a musical number, and two others gave the prayers, so all I had to do was show up.  Not a bad deal.  The val's graduated after the doctoral and master students, and since Anthropology is at the beginning of the alphabet I got to be first for the undergrads.  That was kinda neat.  

I have great people in my life.  Thanks all of you who care about me and do nice things for me.  Graduation is kind of a big deal, and nobody achieves it on their own.  

My parents and Sam are now flying back home and I'm really left completely to myself for the first time to do....well, whatever I want.  Right now I'm not sure what that is, but I'll probably figure it out soon.  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Swing Dancing

WARNING: this is a big one, and it gets nerdy

I graduate on Friday.  I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things I've done, places I've gone, people I've met, subjects I've studied, and mentors I've looked up to for the past five school years.  One thing I’ll miss the most is the Swing Kids Club.  I've wanted to write a little tribute to this gem of a club for a while, and this is as good an opportunity as any.  

I took an Introduction to Folklore class this semester for my last GE requirement.  (Most people have an incomplete vision of what folklore it.  Basically, it’s traditional and informal knowledge of a group of people.)   I did my major semester project on the folklore of swing dancing.  As part of it, I interviewed dancers to analyze why kids joined the club, what made them keep coming, and ultimately, how they felt they belonged or not.  This project allowed me to think back on my own experience with the club and how I learned the lore and found a place in this group.  The exercise has been enlightening.

If you didn't already know or haven’t figured it out yet, I like to swing dance.  Like real, '40s, big band, jazzy, swing dance.  During the winter semester of my freshman year at BYU, I sort of invited myself along to a club dance one weekend with a friend from my ward.  I knew nothing, and it showed.  I’d never tried real partnered dance before and I was completely lost!  I felt stupid at my lack of knowledge.  I determined it would not beat me, so I started attending lessons the club holds on Tuesday evenings.  I finally learned the steps, and eventually I learned to dance.  (Those are very different things.)

Swing dancing became my default social life.  If I didn't make plans for Saturday night, I could always rely on a swing dance somewhere on campus full of friends to dance with.  During my sophomore year I tried out and made one of the club's dance teams (I'm on the left. Oh wow, that was a long time ago.  We were all still learning).  Through that experience I became more integrated with the club and its members.  People recognized me when I came, and missed me when I didn't.  It felt good.

When I interviewed fellow swing dancers for this folklore project, almost everyone identified a handful of key characteristics of club “regulars”, people who are clearly recognized as belonging to the swing scene:  
  • Frequent attendance
  • Intent to improve
  • Attending alone
  • Take initiative to become friends with other dancers
As you can gather from my description above, I naturally did all those things.  I felt validated as I talked with other dancers and saw that their process of integration mirrored my own.  I felt like not only do we all belong because we share the above characteristics, but also because we all went through the same transition into dancers.  We all knew what it was like to be confused, self conscious, and unsure of ourselves.  Because of that, we appreciate each other’s success all the more once someone “got it”.

Whatever the factor, I think my love of swing dancing can really be boiled down to two things: the club was a place I belonged, and it was also a thing
 all my own.  It was really the first time I exercised my independence and found something by myself I wanted to learn about and excel in.  I built up my skill on initiative and desire.  Nobody was grading me; no coach pushing me.  I didn’t care what other people thought about it.  The sheer possession of the hobby helped me create an identity for myself that was really all me.  The self esteem boost at this formative time of life left me satisfied and empowered. 
That’s the take home message here.  We’re defined by the groups we are a part of.  Some are chosen for us, but others we get to choose.  I think the ones that we get to choose reveal the most about us.

I think I just had a related epiphany.  But I’ll save it for another day.  




Dancing last year at the Utah Lindy Exchange

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Graduation Announcement

I really am graduating.  

Just in case you wanted to come (haha, I'm so funny), here's the announcement.  I designed it myself.  
Photo credit to Camile Kellogg.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lastly

Today was my last last day of school.  How does it feel, you ask?  Feels like I still have some finals to take, so not too different than any other school day.  The biggest work is over though, so I'm not too worried about the next week.

I wish I would have taken a picture this morning.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'm a lucky girl

Today's a WIN.

I worked all morning and finished my project for my folklore class and turned it in with plenty of time.

Oh ya, I also PURCHASED TICKETS TO ITALY AND IRELAND!!!!


Yup, headed to the motherland.  Why?  I'll tell you.  My mom is involved in (actually, she's the token president of) a family non-profit organization  that connects the descendants of John Blackburn who immigrated from Ireland around 1700.  I have no idea how she found it, but for the last five or six years she's attended the reunions held every other year in different places related to the family's history including Ireland once before, Gettysburg, PA, and Salt Lake City.  It's Ireland's turn again.  Last time she went I really wanted to go, but it was the summer before my senior year of high school and I'd already planned out all my camps for that very same time frame.  I'm glad I'm going now instead of then though because I'll appreciate it a lot more.

Wait, what about Italy?  Glad you asked.  Once I convinced Mom it was a good idea to go back to Ireland and take me with her, I suggested that since we are spending all this money go to clear over to Europe, we might as well take some time and see a few other places.  She agreed with my logic, and said we could go other places if I planned it.  GAAAK!  Can you say dream come true??  I was paralyzed with indecision for months, but this last week I went and talked to a BYU travel agent (anyone can use them, and it's free!) and she helped me figure out realities. I did more research over the weekend and we finalized the flights today.  We start in Milan, make our way south for 10 days, hop from Rome to Dublin, spend a week in Ireland, then head home.  



Meraviglioso!

I'm sooo excited for this trip, especially since I took an art history class last semester that covered the Renaissance.  I'm a study abroad nut remember.  All the best vacations are educational.  The should be called eduvacations.  Or veducational. Ha!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Splash n' Dash

I splashed.  I dashed.  I did not win, but I did not die.  I think that deserves some kind of congratulations.

I am referring to my participation in BYU's annual Splash n' Dash Biathlon and 5K event.  The biathlon is a swim/run of varying distances corresponding to the different divisions: beginner, standard, and elite.  There is also a straight up 5K run.  Money raised goes toward other student events on campus.  I did the beginner division which was a 1/4 mile swim and 3K run.  It was a perfect morning for a race, the kind where you feel spring is in your bones and you can't help but be out in the world.

I am currently in a beginning swim class.  I thought it would be fun and good exercise because I'd never done swimming for exercise before.  It's HARD.  It's the hardest exercise I've ever done.  It is way easier for me to run 5 miles in my grossly-underconditioned body than it is to swim 10 laps in a pool.  I have felt improvement--ever so slight--over the semester, but it still kicks my trash twice a week for 35 minutes.

I decided to do the biathlon for the exercise, and to apply what I've learned in my class.  We had swum (is that a word?) 1/4 mile and more in class before so I knew I wouldn't die.  I haven't run at all lately except for a 30 minute jog last weekend when the weather was nice and I got inspired.  But I know I could run the 3K no problem even without proper conditioning; it's less than two miles.  Running used to be all I did for exercise.  I still have the endurance of strength in my legs, just not in my lungs.

So, yeah.  I did it.  Very slowly, but I finished.  The swim took a lot more out of me than I expected it too, so my run was quite under par, but I didn't walk or anything.  I have a lot of pride leftover from my ol' cross country days where I'd NEVER let myself walk in a race no matter how miserable and exhausted I was.  Danny came and served as my lap counter at the pool, then proceeded to follow me along unsolicited most of the running course on his motor scooter since it mostly wound around campus roads.  It was cute.

I actually feel pretty good today.  I expected to be really sore like I was after last weekend's run, but I don't feel any worse for the wear.  For those of you who need a picture or it didn't happen, here's one Danny took with his phone afterward.  That's my friend Janae's little sister, Laurel, on the left.  She did it too.


Please don't bother making jokes about how white I am. They're still not funny and still don't make me feel bad.   I'm fully aware of my fair complexion and it doesn't bother me because it will never change.  If it bothers you, that's a personal problem and I'd rather not hear about it.

I don't know what my time was overall.  I don't really care either.  If I'm not in condition to be competitive, I cease keeping score.  I'm satisfied that I did it, and that's enough.  Go me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Notes

Sorry about the tirade last post.  It never lasts long.  I was over it by that evening when I rebounded with a free meal at my favorite restaurant Tucanos.  (If you join their birthday club you get a free meal during the month of your birthday.)  It was my last official birthday acknowledgement.  The friends I went with made sure I got sung to and my free dessert and everything.  And then I went to the BYU vs UT game in SLC last night and we dominated.  Everything's good.

Especially today.  I'm a member of the BYU 15th Stake and tonight all the women were able to attend a special Relief Society meeting with Sister Julie Beck, LDS General Relief Society President.  I don't know who pulled the right strings because she doesn't often do this kind of thing locally, but I'm glad she made us an exception.  She gave a few introductory remarks, then opened it up for questions from those in attendance.  I really respect Sis. Beck.  I always feel invested with confidence after listening to her.  She never apologizes for teaching truth.  I took extensive notes, but here are some of her main points and other favorite tidbits.

  • If you don't have faith to succeed, you'll act in ways that will prevent success.  If you go forward with faith, you will make things happen for yourself because God will feed your faith and reward your righteous desires.
  • Making covenants doesn't insure success.  Keeping them does.
  • Never measure yourself against anything but your relationship with Christ.  If you're square with him, you're a success.
  • It's not worth it to mess around with our identity.
  • The number of dates we go on isn't a measure of the steps we are taking towards motherhood.
  • Always choose the choice that will take you toward eternal life.
Of course, no RS meeting is complete without a bookmark handout and a treat.  I wish every meeting concluded with Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Sticks!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

This could have been a great day...

I feel like I've been robbed, dumped, run over, and rendered useless generally.

It could have been an epic day.  It started out with so much potential for greatness.  Spring weather, good night's sleep.

Then looked at the news about Chile (in case you live under a rock, read this: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100227/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/lt_chile_earthquake).  It makes my heart hurt.  I'm very thankful that the area is more prepared for such an event than Haiti was for theirs, but it's still a scary and heart-wrenching situation.  I've had a cousin and many friends serve missions in Chile and I know it must be so hard for them to wait for the news about the safety of friends.

After that crappy start to the day, I figuratively pulled myself up by my bootstraps and studied for my archaeology midterm which I had to start taking by noon so I could make it to the last home basketball game by 2pm.  I think I did pretty well on it, and was feeling like a champ as I headed over to the Marriott Center for the big game against New Mexico.  It was a close game the whole time, and the teams were within 3 points of each other the whole time.  The biggest lead was when we got up by 6 points for about 2 seconds.

And then the officials ceased officiating.  I have 6 brothers and a sister who have all played basketball.  I've been to almost every single home game while I've been in Provo.  I've watched a LOT of basketball, and it was the WORST officiating I have ever witnessed in my entire life.  I don't say that because we lost.  I say that because it's true.  I'm willing to admit when we are playing crappy, or the other team is playing well, but we were both playing well and we just got robbed by blind referees.  I'm still boiling about it.  It felt like the game was 5 on 8 instead of 5 on 5.  I'm not even upset toward NM (well, mostly...there was an awful lot of dirty play today boys).  They are a good team and showed it today as they sunk all the 3-pointers we couldn't.

I'm usually a pretty happy person.  I tend to get along with others even when we don't see eye to eye, or I lose, or someone gets hurt.  It takes a lot of crap to make me angry for reals, not just sad or disappointed or annoyed. There is one trigger that gets me going like nothing else, though, even in its smallest dose.

Unfairness.

I love playing games, but if we aren't playing fairly I'd rather be pulling weeds (trust me, that really means something).  It's never fun to play with a cheat.  If I lose, I lose because I didn't play as well as the winner and I'm over it.  If I ever play you at anything, please don't cheat.  I'll lose respect for you faster than I'll get mad about it, and it makes me mad fast.

I hate how anger makes me feel, but in the defense of justice, I think it's, well, justified.  It may be just a game, but it's still involves and element of morality. Basketball is included in that admonition to be "honest in all things."  Ok, moving on.

For all of you that have loved ones in danger around the world, either from health problems or natural disaster or broken heart, I'll keep praying for you and them.  Those are real problems that matter.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Birthday Girl

It happened yet again.  And it was awesome!  Did I say my friends pull through, or did I say my friends pull through?  It all started with breakfast in bed--waffles from scratch, scrambled eggs, orange juice-- all prepared by my wonderful roommate Jackie and presented by all the roomies singing Happy Birthday.  I'd post the picture, but I make a point of never posting unflattering pictures of myself.

I skipped my morning exercise classes (one was canceled anyway) and went to the Provo Temple instead because I haven't been able to attend all semester due to my school/work schedule.  Back at home I took my time getting beautiful for the day (because you have to look beautiful on your birthday) and got a knock at the door from a delivery man who delivered a dozen beautiful roses from my parents!

I finally went to work and class.  I got lots of calls and messages all day from people who love me.  I was a little upset that my brother Danny didn't call me all day.... and then he surprised me and showed up with my friend Eric!  The boys and Eric's girlfriend Aura Maria took me out to Sammy's, a local burger joint. for my birthday dinner.  It was delicious!  Who needs cake when you can eat a pie shake?  This place literally takes a piece of homemade pie and sticks it in a blender with ice cream.  It's brilliant.  After dinner I returned home in time to be invited with some other people over for hot chocolate at one of the houses in my ward.  Word spread that it was my birthday and I got a special mixture of Orange Cream Hot Chocolate in the coveted Lord of the Rings mug and everyone sang Happy Birthday before I blew on the chocolate to cool it off as there were no candles handy.


Birthday hoopla didn't end there!  The next evening I went out with more of my favorite people ever:  Diane and Janae, my old Nauvoo roommates.  We went and redeemed food coupons I received for my birthday!  We hit up Baskin Robbins and Coldstone Creamery.  Janae had to leave after that, so only Diane and I made it to Red Robin for my free burger.

The festivities didn't end there either!  The next weekend my parents came to SLC for the Utah Dental Convention and they brought presents and took me out to dinner at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  Spoiled?  Yep.
 
For good measure we wound the weekend up with dinner at Los Hermanos with the aunts and uncles on Saturday where my cousin John was our server for the night.  Mom declared my birthday celebrations over.  However, I just received my Tucanos coupon in the mail for a free meal this month for my birthday, so I'll have to make room for at least one more party.... <|:-)
Yay for birthdays!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Welcome to February

It's February! That means it's almost my birthday! I love birthdays (one of my favorite things, remember?)! I don't know why. Probably because my family always made it special growing up. Spending my first birthday away from home in college was almost as traumatic as spending my first Thanksgiving away from home. Who was going to make me breakfast in bed? Make my bed? Take me to lunch? Make me a cake? Take me to dinner? Make me feel like a princess all day?

Lucky for me, I have awesome friends who take it upon themselves to make my birthdays special and they are pretty good at it.

* * *

While I'm on the subject, here is my unabashed list of birthday wishes:
  • Permission to travel to Europe next summer
  • Mat Kearny's "City of Black and White" CD
  • Corinne Bailey Rae's "The Sea" CD
  • Snickers Cake
  • Strawberry crepes
  • Permission to travel to Europe next summer
  • A routine maintenance checkup for my car
  • Seasons 1 and 2 of "This American Life" TV series
  • World peace
That's not too much to ask, is it?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Favorite Things

I got my hair cut this morning. I LOVE getting my hair cut. So afterward, I was thinking about how much I loved getting my hair cut and I started comparing it to other things I loved, and trying to decide what I liked more. It's pretty hard, because I love lots of things. I decided they can all be favorites, with some being more favorite than others sometimes. In no particular order, these are some of my favorite things.

Haircuts
Jello
Strawberry crepes
    Birthdays!
    Dancing!
    Getting mail
    Sleep

      Traveling


      Stories
      Yoplait yogurt (eet ees so guud)
      Dressing up

        Reunions


        Nerds (the candy)
        Rolo Cookies
        Ice cream with popcorn

          These girls


          Tucanos
          Boggle
          Tortilla chips

            Jerusalem


            Accessories
            Clearance sales at JC Penney
              Nauvoo

              Winning

              Tuesday, January 12, 2010

              And the first shall be last


              This is me in 1992 on my very first day of school ever. Mom was in the hospital because Scottie had just been born, so Dad took me to my first day. I look excited here, but once we got to the classroom I certainly wasn't. Believe it or not, I was a shy little tot. I did not like being around people I didn't know. I think I was scarred a bit from strangers touching my hair without permission.

              This is me on my last first day of school. No pink jacket or purple socks, but I wore my hair on the side for old times' sake.

              I now have curly hair, I'm no longer averse to meeting strangers, and I no longer wear such killer shorts (pretty sure they wouldn't pass honor code) but other than that, I'm basically the same person in a taller body.

              School started a week ago Monday. It's fine. I'm already ready to be done with it. This is the longest I have stayed at school in Provo without making a major life decision and moving away for a semester, so I'm a little restless. It'll be a busy semester, akin to last school year, but whatever.

              I'm sick and missing classes and work as of today. I think I ate something awful last night and it's making me suffer. I want to eat but nothing sounds good, and it makes me nauseous just to think about eating. I already puked up the orange I ate for breakfast. Actually, and orange sounds kind of yummy. I'm not one to negatively associate food with certain experiences. The closest I've come to doing that resulted in me not craving spaghetti for a year or so. Ironically, last night I had planned to make spaghetti for dinner, but for convenience sake ate something out of a can. That was a bad idea, apparently.

              Time to put on a semi-happy face when the roommates get home or I'll get smothered. They like to kill with kindness. Oh, the trials of being loved and cared for by awesome friends!
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