Monday, August 27, 2012

A great big box of memories

For the last eight years, a big bin under my bed has collected the class notes, entertaining quotes, and little doodles that documented every day of my high school and college life.  I've sorted through the mess at times, but I was always reluctant to throw away these relics from my favorite classes and was also certain that at one point I might need my Crime and Punishment notes or population density studies again.  I guess I'm something of a homework pack rat.

So tonight, I decided to clean it all out.  I sifted through the three ring binders and spiral notebooks, and it was like watching a movie of myself learn and work and put in so much time.  I found geometry notes from eight grade with handwriting that was both awfully bad and awfully close to the way my handwriting is now.  I read a note that Shelbie and I passed back and forth during class to advise each other on who to ask to an upcoming dance.  Mrs. Lake's comments on my English papers ranged from "incoherent" to "what a delicious brain you have."

Each piece of paper unfolded a new memory.  My AP test scores led me to reminisce about getting those test scores in the mail and getting broken up with on the same day, and the one redeeming thought through all of it was "well at least I scored higher than him."  Then I was back in Mrs. Olson's class, learning and caring about people on the other side of the world with such different cultures yet with hopes and passions so similar to my own.  And then I was on the front lawn of East High watching the boys play frisbee and crouching in the shade of the diminutive trees, totally content with where my life was and who my friends were and not worried about the future for a time.

A crumpled manilla envelope revealed a list of "Regency Etiquette" that Suzanne and I distributed before our Jane Austen Ball, and I laughed at myself and thought how lucky I was (and still am) to have had friends that put up with me and my crazy ideas.  It made me think of the day, a few days after my birthday, when a gift was delivered to my class and I opened the package to find a beautiful white North Face jacket inside that I had been coveting for months, and see then names of nearly thirty friends who had generously contributed to making my birthday special.  I thought of our ski days, random dance parties, late night hikes, the thrill of driving ourselves around for the first time, asking to dances, answering to dances, secret sardines, and every good thing in between.

So here I sit, back in the Marriott Library (I don't have homework, of course, but it was my only chance to spend time with Will) and feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the good people who surrounded me all the time I was growing up.  I am grateful for the many teachers who made me feel smart and capable, and the friends who encouraged me to be the best version of myself.  To all of them, thank you!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dear America: I'm a fan

My oh my, time does go by fast!  I can't believe it has already been two months since I graduated and almost as long since I last blogged.  I just got back last night from the wonderful country of Switzerland, after having spent a lovely week in Spain.  I love traveling, and I loved spending so much time with my family; I feel so blessed to have five such remarkable people as my closest kin.  I would love to share some pictures and stories from the trip, but since I am such an Einstein I managed to leave my camera in Switzerland.  Whoops.  My sisters will bring it back with them in a week, but the travel log will have to wait until then!

In other news, happy belated Fourth of July!  It was the longest holiday of my life…literally.  With the time change from flying, my day was 32 hours long, and I managed to stay awake for 25 of those hours.  One of the lovely things about boyfriends, though, is they make coming home from a vacation just as exciting as leaving.  It was so good to see Will again.  I managed to stay awake long enough to go watch fireworks with him at the H rock.  We could see fireworks all over the valley, from Sugarhouse Park to Kearns, and got to listen to the three or four year old next to us shout repeatedly. "YAY!  YAY!  YAY FOR SALT LAKE CITY AND FIREWORKS!!!"  

It was a nice time, but in my exhaustion as we left I told Will, "I love you, but I love America more."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

It's beginning to feel a lot like summer...

...and I really am enjoying it, though I would be happiest if I lived in a place that never got warmer than eighty degrees.

I had a wonderfully busy week.  I am loving my new job!  I am doing even more writing and editing that I had even planned on, and the daily walks are more beautiful than I imagined, and the brand new iMac they gave me is amazing, and I love the ladies I work with-- they are so kind and encouraging.  I know the novelty will wear off eventually, but for now I feel so lucky and blessed to have been given this opportunity!

I also got to spend a lot of time with some of my dearest friends, because I got to see this girl get married:
This wedding was beautiful, and Meg is one of the most incredible girls I know.  I love her!
And had to say goodbye to this one before she left for DC all summer :( :
(I hacked in to Will's facebook account to steal this off Jocelyn's instagram.)
I got to know Meg when we were traveling through Europe together, and Michelle is a kindred spirit and best friend.  I am happy for them both as they start their different adventures!  Hooray for friends!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Farewell to the U

I can't believe I graduate tomorrow!  While I enjoy not having to do any homework in the foreseeable future (I am currently in denial about going to grad school), I am also going to miss college so much.  These really have been the best four years of my life.  Here is a list of my top 10 favorite things about going to the U:

1. Study Abroad in Ovideo, Spain
Best weeks of my life.  The chocolate con churros, evenings spent in the park, weekend excursions, getting to know the sweetest girls, falling in love with the city and culture, and then traveling through Barcelona, Paris, Ulm, Fussen (where I took the picture of Neuschwanstein Castle that is my blog banner) Salzburg, Madrid, Granada, Sevilla, Cordoba, Ayr, Belfast, and Dublin were the best of times.  Oh, how I miss it.  Every. Day.

2. Beta
I believe I have received divine direction a few times in my life, and one of these instances was in my decision to join Beta.  I made all of my best friends from college through this organization, and grew to love so many wonderful girls.  My favorite memories include: winning Battle of the Chapters, Catch a Cougar, barn dance, Jazz games, St. George trips, winter formal, red neck rampage, skiing, sledding, casual dinners, and the many hours we spent laughing and chatting together.  Being president was both the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done, but I am so grateful I had the opportunity.

3. The MUSS
I loved screaming my head off at the football games, whether during the wonderful 2008 season from the 52 row or up close during the 2010 BYU game when I-thought-I-would-faint-from-nervousness-and-then-Brandon-Burton-blocked-the-kick-and-next-thing-I-knew-I-was-on-the-field-and-it-was-amazing.
(Luckily, I still get one more year in the MUSS!  Will signed me up as his guest, even though that means he will have to sit in the upper bowl instead of on the second row.  This is true love, folks!)

4. My Classes
It may be nerdy, but I loved school.  I am so glad I chose a major I loved, where the homework (reading) was my hobby already.  I loved having so many classes with Michelle and the convenient fact that we were so often assigned the same groups for class projects.  Matheson, Dworkin, Straley, Watts, and countless other professors changed my life.  

5. Student Alumni Board
Great fun, great friends, and we kicked trash in the food drive against BYU.  Enough said.

6. Internship with the International Rescue Committee
Some of the refugees I worked with became my very dear friends, and I loved seeing the progress in computer class as my students progressed from not even knowing how to use the mouse to being able to write full sentences with ease.  Besides, it is so humbling working with these brave people who have been through so much in their lives; they were inspiring.

7. Union Programming Council
While the disestablishment of Lambda Delta Sigma nearly broke my heart, I was glad I got to replace it with UPC.  I was on the Community Service Board and made many friends and planned some fun events, like Family Fright Fest, with was super fun!  Oh, and got to work at Crimson Nights from 6 pm until 3 am... that was fun too... sort of.

8. Walking Around Campus
Really, I loved walking around campus every day, and sometimes I worry I took it too much for granted.  But I loved that every hour or so I was forced outside into the fresh air, and that I got to bump in to old friends, enjoy the changing seasons, or make little observations like the way the block U reflects in the library windows or how you can see the whole valley from the Huntsman Center steps.  I enjoyed the days of new snow when the tree boughs drooped so low from the weight of the new snow that we would have to duck underneath or rushing from class to class during a lightning storm.  

9. Living at Home
I respect anyone who goes away to college, but I am so grateful that I have been able to live at home the past four years.  My siblings and parents are my best friends.  I happily held on to a few more years of my blissful childhood: ice cream in the front yard on Sundays, family dinner every night, evenings at the park and lots of skiing.  Living at home has allowed me to work more hours, participate in TUNA, and have time together as a family that will be over so soon.

10. Spending the Last Two and a Half Years Getting to Know a Wonderful Guy... 
What Can be Better Than That?
And, oh, what fun we have had!!!

"We may not live forever on this jolly good old sphere
But while we do, we'll live a life of merriment and cheer
And when our college days are o're and night is drawing night
With parting breath, we'll sing that song: A UTAH MAN AM I!"


Monday, April 30, 2012

Other good news...

Today was my last day working in the Purchasing Department!  I started working there a week before my first day of college, and so it seemed only fitting that I would finish working there the week of my graduation from college, almost four years later.  It was a wonderful job to get me through college, and more than that, I made some of my dearest friends- like Alexis and Kirsten- and grew closer to an old friend, Jocelyn.  I will miss so much about working in that department: being in charge of decorating the monthly bulletin board, our many "socials," calling out to Alexis for advice across our cubicle wall, listening to my coworkers laugh their heads off at each other, and laughing a lot myself.

BUT, while I am sad to leave, I am so excited to start a new job at... Red Butte Garden!  Sometimes life works out rather perfectly, like graduating on a Friday and starting a job that I am looking forward to three days later.  I don't need to bore you with all the details about the job, but here is a little something that makes me so excited about the place I get to call work:

The only table at which to eat lunch in the Purchasing Department:
One of the many places I can eat lunch at Red Butte, any day I choose:

I think Will said it best: "Gail! Now you get to have bunnies running around instead of cockroaches!"  I can't wait.

Thorns and Roses

On Thursday I turned in my last assignment of college (a paper that was worth 90% of my grade and I wrote between 10:00 pm and 1:00 am the night before... whoops...).  I celebrated with Will that night at Settebello, then went home and soaked my feet in a bowl of steamy water while watching Lark Rise to Candleford on my mom's iPad and chatting with my dad.  I went to bed early and just thought about how life is so very good...
Settebello + Will + Being done with school = Bliss
Then my mom called me Friday morning saying my dad was in an ambulance on his way to the hospital after a road bike accident; she knew he was conscious, but that was all.  For the next day and a half we experienced the ups and downs of a hospital stay: the nurses telling us that he just had a bad concussion and would be released by Friday afternoon, and then a physician's assistant telling us that the CT scan showed bleeding in his brain, which, he tried to tell us gently, could be nothing, or could become serious and fatal.  For a short period, I was terrified that my biggest nightmare would come to realization, that I might lose a parent at the age of 22.  But I am so grateful for my brother's priesthood blessing, which spoke of healing and brought us all comfort, and that the CT scan Saturday morning showed that the bleeding in the brain had stopped, and my dad would be fine.

I feel so, so blessed.  I am so grateful that my dad's accident was not more serious, and that he is already as lively as ever; he even went to the gym Saturday afternoon to keep his workout streak going.  More than anything, I am grateful for a reminder that life is so fragile, and I need to appreciate every moment.  I need to enjoy the way this evening smelled of crab apple blossoms and freshly cut lawns; I must accept Meg's invitation to go on a walk together; I want to enjoy every minute with my loved ones, so that I never look back with regret.  Life is precious and wonderful, but fleeting, and I intend to take advantage of every minute of it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I have been MIA...

... because there are only 56 hours between now and when I turn in the last paper of my undergraduate degree!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Starting the weekend early...

I have a love-hate relationship with professors who say you will have an assignment due or an exam on a certain day, and then you walk into class and they say "jk!" and give you a few more days.  Usually I am elated by the change and annoyed by the overachievers who moan at the news, but today in Shakespeare I was the moaner who had been so stressed about my test and everything I had to get done on top of it that I was actually disappointed we were given another two weeks.

...It reminds me of a time in AP Human Geography in high school when Mrs. Olsen announced that our test was pushed back a day and Suzanne started sobbing.  When Mrs. Olsen stopped the class to ask what was wrong, she replied though her tears "I'm just... so... happy."

Anyway, one of my highlights of the week was buying a brand new pair of Five Ten Anasazi climbing shoes on for only $40!  Now I have a class all weekend in St. George so that I can learn how to actually use all the gear I have purchased.  I guess that's a good way to get into a sport: spend a bunch of money and then you have to use it.  I am excited to climb all weekend in the eighty degree weather, and maybe get some sun on my legs so the kids in my swimming class don't have to keep avoiding swimming in my lane, but I am sad I won't be able to listen to Conference on Saturday.  Thank heavens for technology that lets me catch up!

And now, for some laughs to start off your weekend.  I first saw this video years ago, and I crack up every time I've watched it since.  It makes me think of how some of my guy friends used to dance at high school dances.  I wish I were joking.

Monday, March 26, 2012

39 days and counting...

On Saturday, Jake, Will, and I headed out on a run up the mountain on the north side of Red Butte Canyon;  I don't even know its name, even though I have lived here my whole life.  I quickly remembered how much I hate it when up and run are in the same sentence, and I also discovered that I am ridiculously out of shape.  I didn't even make it a half of a mile before I was gasping for breath and run/walking up the mountain, and very soon that run/walk turned into a torpid trudge.  The boys were so patient with me, but I was mortified.  The pain was worth it, though; the view from the top was spectacular, and the whole run down I got to stare out at the capitol building, downtown, and the beautiful valley stretching out beyond; the air was so clear with gorgeous grey clouds in the distance.  I really love where I live.
We didn't have a camera, but our view was just as spectacular.
The run, though, was a wake up call about how I need to whip my body back in to shape; I usually rely on cross country skiing in the winter to keep me active, but I wasn't able to do much more than coach this season, which wasn't a workout at all.  Since I only have 39 days before I finish my college degree--so crazy-- I decided to establish some goals that will help me stay on top of the important things, effective immediately:

study the scriptures for at least 10 minutes every night
(because it is way too easy to read just one verse before hitting the sack)
do 9 jumping jacks before morning prayers
(to get my blood flowing and my brain going)
sleep at least 8 hours each night, no matter what!
only eat 7 treats or desserts per week
(so I only get one of Randi's yummy cream puffs, not the cough four of last Thursday)
shower at least 6 times
(per week, not's sad that I have to make that a goal)
work out 5 times each week!
4 minute workout before bed
(1 minute plank, 20 push ups, 50 sit ups)
watch no more than 3 hours of tv or movies each week
attend the temple at least 2 times between now and graduation
complete at least 1 focused hour of studying every day
(don't judge... I only have two classes, so I don't need to study much!)

Hopefully making this public will help me be motivated.  I still can't believe I am almost done with college; I am going to miss going to school every day so much!  Hopefully, I still have graduate school in my future... I should probably figure my life out stat!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Looking forward to tonight...

Fact: my brother (who is 24, very normal, and getting accepted to law school after law school) and sister (who is 17 and darling) have been eating District 12 food all week.  Lots of goat cheese; dry, whole grain homemade bread; berries and herbs, etc.  They crack me up.

An actual conversation:
E: We should eat goat cheese wrapped in mint leaves.
J: But it wasn't wrapped in mint leaves, it was wrapped in basil.
E: No it wasn't.  I'll bet you five bucks it was mint.
J: You're on! As Emily looks through the book reading it.  Em, remember, I was the one who was bored in class and wrote down, from memory, what happened on each day in the arena.
G: Haha!  You would!  How many days were they in there?
J: 18.  Who was the District 12 tribute in the Second Quarter Quell?
G: ...
J: Maysilee Donner.  
G: Umm... ok.  What sound did Katniss use to hide the sound of her sawing off the tracker jacker branch?
J: The Anthem of course.

This is just a snippet from the dialogue that has been going on in our house all week.  My three siblings and I are going to Hunger Games together at midnight tonight.  No significant others, no friends.  Just the four of us.  We are nerds, and I love it.

Plus... we'll also be checking out City Creek Center while we're at it!  I can't wait! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Go Jazz Go!

Will and I attended our third Jazz game of the season last night; people are way too kind to us in offering their extra tickets, because we haven't had to pay for one!  And what a game!  Will was briefing me on the Thunder before the game, telling me the details about the team and its players because he knows way too much about sports, and he said, "If we pull off a win, it would be huge, but we have nothing to lose."  So when we fell behind by six points or so early in the game, I thought it would be downhill from there.  Ha!  Not so!  We led the whole second half, and I was so proud of the Jazz, who looked tiny compared to the giants of OKC.  I am not going to pretend to talk sports any more, but we won 97-90, and it was amazing.

This was definitely the highlight of the night; the fans erupted:

Dear Gordon Hayward:
You are really cute.  And you did a great job defending Durant last night.  But Jake and Tauni made a discovery that, while I tried to deny it, I have to admit they are right:  you look a bit like Dobby.
I still think you are darling, though, and if things don't work out with Will, please give me a call.
xo, Gail

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Gotta love Ellen

Since I'm off work tomorrow, Alexis decorated my cubicle today.  Isn't she cute?
(Now you know how depressing my work space looks.  Ugh.)
I'm looking forward to a birthday filled with no work, studying, or other worries, as well as lunch at Settebello, home of my favorite food in the world.  I can't wait!

I thought I'd share this hysterical clip with Ellen and Sofia Vergara.  Hahahaha!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dear Downton: I can't stop thinking about you!

Last night I ate dinner at Zupa's with Lindsey, Jocelyn, and Michelle.  It was wonderful to spend an hour talking with three girls who only spoke well of others.  Seriously, I can't recall a negative comment that was said, or a piece of rude gossip that was shared.  I want to be better about only speaking well of others, and these girls set such a good example for me last night.  I left feeling so uplifted, and so blessed to know such wonderful girls.
In other news, I can't get Downton Abbey out of my head!  I feel it is too soon to watch the series over again, and since I can't expect any new episodes for ages, I have resorted to watching the fan-made clips on youtube.  I usually find fan-made video mashups to be cheesy or annoying, but these have been a feast for my latest Downton Abbey craving.  

Here is a favorite one about Matthew and Mary; I love them!
(Warning: do NOT watch this video if you haven't watched the show yet!  Spoilers!)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bygone Breaks

My sister is living it up in the big apple while I get to spend a week staring at my dull grey cubicle walls, missing this:

I miss...
always singing alicia keys ::: sneaking muffins from the hotel ::: shopping on fifth ave ::: expensive yet exquisite cheesecake ::: empire state ::: tears after phantom ::: pretending to be posh at becco ::: windy ferry rides ::: ripped off by statue of liberty impersonators ::: shopping shopping shopping ::: rowing the boat on central park lake amidst floating orange and yellow leaves ::: spending more than we ought {i blame mich}::: bustling times square ::: subway rides ::: girl's talk late into the night ::: magical mary poppins ::: strolling through the moma ::: getting pooped on by seagulls
... but I am so grateful that these girls will forever be my friends!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A more abundant life

We have a family party this afternoon during my singles ward sacrament meeting time, so I decided I would just attend all of my home ward meetings with my parents and Emily.  It was only my second or third time going to all the meetings in that ward since I started college, and it was really nice to see some neighbors again.  They were all so kind.  It was also fun to attend the sunday school class that my dad taught and see my mom conduct relief society.  Here are a few things I was thinking about during church:

::: I love how my parents still cuddle or hold hands during sacrament meeting.  I hope that I can be as in love with my future husband after 25 years of marriage as they are with each other.

::: Babies are so cute!  I miss being entertained by kids on the pew in front of me.  A while back I realized that when I am taking a picture of a group of people, I always mimic their faces, whether they are smiling, puckering their lips, looking surprised, etc.  I discovered today that I was mirroring all of the faces of the baby in front of me.  When her eyes and mouth opened wide in excitement, so did mine.  I can only imagine that this looked pretty strange if someone was watching me from the stand.

::: I love this scripture: "...I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)  I hope to life the most "abundant" life that I can.  Once I got home, the scripture led me to this talk from President Spencer W. Kimball.  This was my favorite part of his message:

"Unless the way we live draws us closer to our Heavenly Father and to our fellowmen, there will be an enormous emptiness in our lives. It is frightening for me to see, for instance, how the life-style of so many today causes them to disengage from their families and their friends and their peers toward a heedless pursuit of pleasure or materialism. So often loyalty to family, to community, and to country is pushed aside in favor of other pursuits which are wrongly thought to be productive of happiness when, in fact, selfishness is so often the pursuit of questionable pleasure which passes so quickly. One of the differences between true joy and mere pleasure is that certain pleasures are realized only at the cost of someone else’s pain. Joy, on the other hand, springs out of selflessness and service, and it benefits rather than hurts others."


Back to talking about babies' faces... I just had to re-post a picture from this hysterical blog.  It's now the wallpaper on my laptop and it cracks me up every time I look at it:

Anyway, the other plus side to going to my home ward was morning church!  I used to think I hated 9:00 church, but after three and a half years of 1:00 church, I really miss having church over by noon.  I can be so productive when I have the whole afternoon at my disposal, so I do useful things like blog and help my mom in the kitchen.

I am usually not allowed in the kitchen.  Seriously.  If I offer to help, I usually get assigned to set the table or take out the trash, but nothing complicated like make the homemade rolls or pie crusts that my sisters are assigned.  I usually get offended and tell my family they just need to have more faith in me, and then they laugh.  However, this afternoon my parents were going to a neighbor's house and my mom asked me to boil some eggs and fry some bacon for the salad she was going to make.  I was ready to prove myself.  Well... I broke three eggs just taking them out of the carton, set off the smoke alarm precisely nine times, and then tried to pour the extra bacon grease into a cup, and before I realized how dumb I was to pour hot grease into a disposable plastic cup, it had shriveled up.  Fail.

On the plus side, the eggs were cooked to perfection, so now when my family tries to bash my cooking skills I can point to the eggs and say At least I can boil water.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Funny Friday

Happy spring break, everyone!  And hooray for Friday!  Even though I don't have many grandiose plans, I am really looking forward to coming home from work in the afternoons and just relaxing.

I am also excited because I get to see Will more... I have only seen him a total of two hours since Saturday!  I wish that was an exaggeration, but it's not.  And the bulk of that time was spent with him on my couch studying while I cleaned my room.  He had a genetics test yesterday and a statistics test today, so by the time I was done with work and school at 6 or 7 pm, he was already at study sessions.  It's been rough.

And what have I done with the time I usually would be with him?  Not study, of course, but at least I have been productive with a major room cleaning.  It started on Sunday when I went to change my sheets (I know, I cleaned on the sabbath, I'm bad) and I noticed that my box spring was gathering dust.  After I pulled off my mattress to vacuum my box spring, I saw that under my bed needed cleaning... and then the whole room exploded.  Ok not really, but it looked like it.  I ended up piling all my possessions in a mound in the middle of my room as I gradually reorganized everything.  The projects kept getting more and more detailed... but Target, IKEA, and several hundred dollars later, everything in my desk has a place and I am loving the new look.

I discovered a lot of old treasures in the process.  My favorite find was an earring that Michelle gave me a couple of years ago and has been sorely missed for a long time.  I found old notes that my friend Courtney Beck and I used to pass in eighth grade.  Apparently I went by the pen name "Lizzy" and she by "Penelope."  I had no recollection of this, probably because my whole middle school experience is a repressed memory.  I also got to read through years of notes from long-time friends Alyssa, Suzanne, Shelbie, John, and others, and it just reminded my blessed I have been to have so many kind, loving people in my life.  Oh, and I found a total of... wait for it... eighty-eight bobby pins.  (Literally- I counted.  Gross.)

Finally, what a better way to start off your weekend than with a few hearty laughs:
(Sorry the video quality isn't great, but this cracks me up.)

Also, my siblings and I watched this about thirteen times late last night.  After a while, we all thought it was the funniest clip ever:
Happy weekend!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

To Exist is to Radiate

When I was working with the IRC last semester I got to meet a lot of refugees who used to be child soldiers.  I remember one afternoon I was picking one of the refugees up at his home in West Valley for an interview at Spaghetti Factory.  As he was changing into some nicer clothes, I got to sit and talk with his roommates, all of whom were my friends because I taught their computer class.  They asked if I would like milk or Tang, and I sat in their sparsely furnished living room and sipped my milk while we talked.  They told me about their wives, children, girlfriends and family who they had to leave at home in Eritrea, and how they hoped their families would get permission to live in the United States one day.  They told me about their phone calls home, which were seldom because they were so expensive, and how their children were growing up without a dad.  Then they told me about their new lives.  They showed me their new cell phones and talked about their struggles to find jobs.  I assured them that I would help them as much as I could.  I was embarrassed to be taking only one of them to an interview that day, because they all were so eager to work.  It was such an intimate setting, me alone with these four kind men in their apartment, and I felt so much love for them, so much eagerness to help them.  My heart ached for their pain.  I felt guilty that, after my shift was over, I would get to return home to my wonderful family, eat a filling meal, and then go shopping without financial worries as I swiped my credit card.

But these men still had so much hope and optimism, despite their past and current sorrows.  When they finally got jobs washing dishes at Spaghetti Factory, they came into IRC and told me with enthusiastic smiles.  We were so excited that we would shake hands, then talk, then shake hands again, and I would have hugged them if I had been allowed.  It was a wonderful moment; a triumph in spite of so many difficult circumstances.  It was an experience that I will never forget, and one that made the struggles in Africa so personal.  I got to know the people who the wars have affected.  And, in doing so, I was affected too.  These days, nothing big happens on this earth that doesn't concern us; and even if we aren't personally affected, it should concern us, because we are all Heavenly brothers and sisters, and we have a profound responsibility to help each other.

I know there is a lot of hype going around about the KONY 2012 campaign.  I recognize that the video tries to play off of people's emotions to get funding for Invisible Children.  And I know that the issue isn't as big as it once was.  But I think it's great that a lot of people who surf the web for the sake of catching up on "The Bachelor" or just to peruse the latest gossip about Kim Kardashian are made to think about real issues.  It's true that dealing with the LRA is a complicated issue, but the fact of the matter is that Joseph Kony is evil.  Even if all that the video achieves is making people more empathetic and aware of the conflicts going on in the world, I think it is a good thing.

There is one responsibility which no man can evade and that responsibility is personal influence. Man's unconscious influence, unconscious influence, the silent, subtle radiation of his personality. The effect of his words and acts. These are tremendous. Every moment of life he is changing to a degree the life of the whole world.
Every man has an atmosphere which is affecting every other. Man cannot escape for one moment from this radiation of his character. This constantly weakening of strengthening of others. He cannot evade the responsibility by saying it is an unconscious influence. He can select the qualities he would permit to be radiated. He can cultivate sweetness, calmness, trust, generosity, truth, justice, loyalty, nobility, and make them vitally active in his character. By these qualities he will constantly affect the world. This radiation to which I refer comes from what a person really is, not from what he pretends to be. Every man by his mere living is radiating sympathy, sorrow, or morbidness, cynicism, or happiness or hope, or any other hundred qualities. Life is a state of radiation and absorption. To exist is to radiate.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Alta, my love

I can only think of a few things that I could do every day and not tire of (at least for a very long time) and skiing is at the top of that list.  I have never done anything quite as fun as cruising down snowy slopes on a sunny day or bouncing through powder after a new snowfall.  I love that skiing was a family affair growing up and we still ski all together at least a few times each season.  My dad is still one of the best skiers I have ever seen and my mom is way better than she realizes; she hates when we end up in the steep, powdery chutes, but she still tears it up :).  And my siblings all rock.  I love them so much.  And, as I mentioned in a previous post, things just keep getting better now that I am skiing with this kid:
Saturday was a fabulous ski day.  We woke up super early and were on the road just after 7:00 because we knew the traffic could be ridiculous.  I am glad we did, because the canyon was closed so we beat the lineup, and also because we were then the fifth chair up Wildcat when the lifts opened!  I love Wildcat.  It's just a dinky two chair lift that everyone ignores because there is only one measly groomer coming off of it, but it never has any lines and it almost guaranteed to have the best snow.  It's not quite as steep as a lot of the other areas of the mountain, which is a pity, but the copious amounts of powder make up for it.  And Saturday made up for the sad season we have had so far by substantially upping my face shot count.  Sometimes, on days like Saturday, I am so happy that I find random shrieks and giggles and other immature guttural noises coming unchecked from my vocal chords.  It's kind of a problem, actually.  But here are a couple of videos from Saturday's ski day to give you a little glimpse of my idea of heaven:
Please ignore the fact that I almost fall over twice and my pole goes shooting in some random direction.  But look at that powder!  Did you notice how it flies up by the camera when Will comes by?  And how light it is? And how the trees are covered in snow, and how there is not another person in sight?  Oh, nirvana.

One of my biggest weaknesses with skiing is that I can tackle any ski slope, until said slope involves a cliff or a drop.  Then, I look like an eight year old beginner all over again.  I love skiing, but I love my skis to stay ON the snow.  It's a problem that has really held me back from feeling like I've conquered the mountain.  That's one thing I've always envied when I've skied with Jocelyn, she is much more daring than me when it comes to jumps and cliffs.  So my goal for this season was to slowly but surely work on overcoming that fear.  Well, I haven't done too well at that goal, and I still suck at it, as evidenced in the following video.  Jake is first and is the example of what to do, and then I am the one that looks like a fool:
Now, let me first say that this was my second time dropping this "cliff" (if you can even call it that), and the first time around (I didn't land it, of course, as I have never landed a cliff in my life) I somersaulted my landing with painless ease that left me with a serious adrenaline rush and no bodily harm.  So I was really excited to try the jump again and lean back just a tiny bit more so that I wouldn't somersault forward.  Yeah right.  I should have known that I was pushing my luck to ski away unscathed from one jump, let alone two.  I obviously way over compensated on the leaning-back idea.  And let me tell you, this one HURT.  Maybe it is obvious by the way my body ricochets off the ground, but I got some serious whip lash and I have spent the last few days with a stiff neck and mooching back massages off my family.  I guess I'll just have to give up my wild ways, until next season when I forget the inevitable pain involved with trying to be hardcore and give it another shot, and then will hurt myself and repeat this whole cycle.

Until then, shred the gnar.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Friday!

I am happy to have this week behind me.  Fortunately, my cold is almost gone, I got an A- on my returned exam today, and there is beautiful snow outside, so things are looking up!  I will hopefully do a lot of homework, room cleaning, and skiing this weekend, although I will probably waste a lot of time as I procrastinate the first two items on my list.  Such is life.

I thought I'd start the weekend off right with sharing one of my favorite Brian Regan skits.  Go here to listen to the full "All By Myself" album.  The man is genius, really.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

This little gem

I swear that the purpose of this blog isn't to blabber on about Will to my extensive readership (I have a whopping four followers!)  However, I came across this little gem on Will's iPhone the other day and was mortified/amused by how weird we are.  Now you all must endure.

Allow me to preface with some back story: over the break I was scheduled to get off work by 11:00 every Wednesday morning so I could hit up the slopes.  However, one week the snow had been awful and Will and I wanted to go on a unique adventure.  At my brother Jake's suggestion, we drove down to the train station and boarded front runner for an exciting day in... Ogden!  And it was SO fun!  We ate at Farr's ice cream, walked past the indoor surfing place and watched people surf for a while, and checked out some boutique stores on historic 25th street.  We visited the old Union Station, which was a beautiful building and really special to me because my great-grandpa worked there and my grandpa grew up hanging out there, and then ate at a neat little restaurant in the station.  It was seriously one of the most fun afternoons I have ever had... of course, going to the grocery store with Will is about as fun as Disneyland, so an adventure with Will in Ogden is right on par with a European vacation.  I can't imagine what going to Europe with him would be like, I would probably die.

I digress.  This embarrassing video was taken on the train ride home:
(I apologize for the pda in advance.  We are gross.)
Please note a few details about this video that make it so mortifying/amusing:
1) We are on a public train.  There are people around us.  It is one thing for us to make ugly faces, but why must they be accompanied with those awful noises?  I can't imagine what we looked like to all our fellow passengers.
2) Why those faces at all?  And why did I feel the to continue when I realized it wasn't a picture?
3) I love how when Will murmurs "I knew it all along" he sounds like a sneaky seven year old.

Ok, no more kissing videos, I promise.  Please just be grateful that your own brain functions a little more normally than our's.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Social Media Issues

I think my two least favorite feelings in the world are regret and jealousy.  I am pretty good about not regretting things, though, either due to a conscious effort to seize most opportunities presented to me or else because I come up with silly "well even though everyone had fun at the party I might have gotten in a car accident on the way home" excuses that remind me that my life's good.  But the other feeling, jealousy, is one that I am not as adept at avoiding.

I have a great life.  I love my family and friends to pieces, and I like my (Purchasing) job most of the time.  I have done well in school and have had a lot of fun.  I have been on enough wonderful vacations and thrilling adventures to feel like my life has variety and spontaneity.  I have a deep faith in God and I try to focus on what is really important during this short time I have on earth.

But then I look at Facebook and Pinterest, and the insecurities that I didn't know I had spring up like weeds.  On Pinterest I see pictures of clothes that I will never afford, crafts that I will never have time to do, perfect homes for which I don't dare hope, and bodies that won't be mine no matter how many miles I run.  I find myself wishing that I had more money, skinnier legs, or that one perfect outfit.  Facebook is perhaps less of a problem, because it's not just a sensory overload of beautiful images posted by people I will never meet, but I still found myself (when I had an account) envying my friends or the friends of friends who we all manage to stalk without having met.  My life suddenly wasn't as fulfilling as so-and-so's because he goes on more trips, she looks good in every picture, or that other girl must have way more fun than me because she goes to all those parties.  I didn't feel this way every time I was on Facebook, but a lot of the time I got on to innocently look at an upcoming event or peruse some pictures a friend posted from a recent game night, and by the time I logged out of Facebook I felt horrible about myself.  I would snap out of it pretty quickly, but the feeling was yucky while it lasted.

it is beautiful, but I will never own this room
I finally said "good riddance" and got rid of my Facebook account; I also don't plan on signing up for Pinterest.  I know that I miss out on things; there have been parties that I never made it to because I didn't get a "Facebook invite" or people who I didn't know were engaged until weeks after the fact.  And I know that people find a lot of really neat ideas on Pinterest.  These sites really can hold value if used properly.  When people ask me why I don't have an account on either site, I usually mumble something like "Too busy... don't want to waste my time."  But really, that's not totally true.  I have good self control, and I know how to manage my time.  But what I don't know how to fully manage is my envy.  Is this just me?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I love winter. Not cold-grey-inversion winter, but wake-up-to-a-white-wonderland-then-go-build-a-snowman-winter. Which is why I am down in the dumps that this winter has been so mild. I would be happy if every day of December, January, and February I stepped outside into two feet of beautiful snow. But this winter I don't think we've had more than six inches on the ground at one time. I am exasperated with Mother Nature at the moment. My winter has been this lame:
Times sledding: zero
Snowmen created: zero
Snow forts built: zero
Snow angels: zero
White Christmas? nope

My saving grace has been to escape the bleak valley of brown yards and muddy streets and head to Park City (or Mountain Dell, on a good week) to coach TUNA. It's such a relief to strap skis on my feet and be on snow and breathing the delectably clean, cold air. On the plus side, too, my students are darling. At ages six, seven, eight, or nine, they are easily bribed with whatever candy morsels are on sale at Top Stop, and their enthusiasm is infectious. I laugh my head off as they throw themselves off the little jumps we make and land in a twisted tangle of skis, poles, arms, and legs. One-ski-soccer and sharks-and-minnows and trip-then-jump-on-gail are weekly favorites during game time. We like to sabotage the other groups with snowball attacks. We chant "vee-one, three-one" to practice the technique, and I love watching them learn.

In summary? Best. Job. In. The. World. I can't believe I get paid to have so much fun.

{Today's the last day, so I am feeling rather sentimental; here's to more snow next year, and no more cancelled practices.}

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My new friend

Meet Mr. Porcupine. He's been hanging around the same spot at Alta for successive weeks, and we've grown quite close. Sometimes he tries to jump on our skis to go for a ride or give our ski pants a good sniff and tell us we need to shower. He's really sweet once you get to know him; our family is thinking to adopt. If you're skiing on Supreme in the near future, be sure to say hello!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Be careful what you wish for...

Yesterday I wrote that I contemplated calling in sick to work so that I could stay home and watch Downton Abbey all day. Well... I started feeing ill last night, and woke up this morning feeling like I had two golf balls in my throat and dealt with random spurts of serious stomach pain. So weird. I think I got it from Meg, who has a cold, and Emily isn't feeling well now either. Hopefully it will only last a day; lying in bed all day doing nothing always sounds much more glamorous when one is well, but being sick definitely makes me appreciate being healthy again.

Well... at least I did have Downton Abbey to entertain me, although that really wasn't my reason for staying home from work. I have finished season two now. It was amazing. I bawled and laughed alternately throughout. It's one of those well-done programs that makes you really care about the characters, and I almost have a hard time accepting that it is fiction, which is silly. I love how multi-dimensional they all are, though. Like how we all know Mary can be rude, but we still love her, or how I really have begun to like Edith. I could go on and on, but I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't watched the series yet. I don't know how I can wait until 2013 to watch episode three... maybe I will have to move to the U.K. so that I can see watch it this fall? We'll see.

I guess I have to go do something boring now, like read Shakespeare (since I got a C- on my Shakespeare quiz yesterday). Or, I could just get into Hunger Games again... hmm... tempting.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My William

I can't begin a blog about my life without introducing my love and better half, William Henry. He is my best friend in every way. I feel so lucky that I can use my weird voice around him that my family hates but he loves. He makes me feel beautiful no matter my zit count or if I am sweaty and stinky after a long run. He makes me laugh and is always encouraging me to be better. He dances with me whether we are at the U2 concert or jumping around his kitchen to Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros or slow dancing to silence in the street before I get in my car. He knows exactly what to say after I have been having a bad day, like yesterday when I called him sobbing after showing up at the wrong time for a graduate school interview, but he made me feel so much better and then brought me food from Paradise Bakery. He is always ready for the silliest adventures. He is strong in the gospel and hard working and I love reading our scriptures together or going to the temple at least every month with him. I love that he is working so hard to become a better skier because he knows that skiing is a huge part of my life, and this season has been the best ever skiing with him every weekend and watching him kick trash. I love that we named his car "the audi" just for bragging rights (I say "ok, Will, I'll just grab my purse out of the audi" really loud in public places). I love him even more than Downton Abbey. And that's saying something.

1) Horseback riding at Linda's cabin. 2) Homemade pizza on Suz's roof. 3) Venice beach. 4) After biking all 62 miles of the Rivalry Roll from Rice Eccles to Lavel Edwards Stadium {and then we kicked BYU's trash that night, great game.} 5) Before the Fall Football Social, we love our Utes. 6) Hiking up Bell's Canyon. 7) We love ice skating! 8) We also love eating at the counter of Lamb's Grill. 9) Relaxing in Spring City.

(Sorry for the iPhone photos, but we never remember a camera.)

Downton Abbey

I only just jumped on the Downton Abbey bandwagon a week ago, but I have already watched the first season, and may-or-may-not have stayed up until one in the morning last night finishing the first episode of season two. I'm obsessed! I seriously considered calling in to work sick today so that I could just slouch on my couch and watch it for eight straight hours. I did not, however, and now I am sitting at work just dreaming about how sweet Bates and Anna are and how Matthew is my favorite and how I can't decide if I despise or feel sorry for Edith. I never thought anything could replace Jane Austen and Harry Potter in my heart, but this series is coming dangerously close.

Numero Cuatro

Is it sad that, despite having studied Spanish for five years and studied abroad it Spain, I just had to look up "cuatro" to make sure I spelled it correctly? The answer is yes.

Well, that's what this is. Blog attempt number four. My friend Suzanne and I started one in high school that I think I contributed to a total of three times, then there was the mandatory one in Spain full of very poor Spanish, and another sad attempt at one last summer. Hopefully this one will stick, though. I may have thus far avoided pinterest, facebook, and twitter, but maybe a blog will be a nice dip in the pool of social media. Wish me luck!