Wednesday, November 26, 2008


"In working through an Analytical Reasoning section of the LSAT, you’ll want to do two things: get the answer to the questions right and use your time efficiently." -- excerpt from a Law School Admission Council prep guide for the LSAT

Dear LSAC:

Thank you for the helpful instructions. I was previously studying under the assumption I wanted to get the answers wrong.

Gratefully yours,
Brooke Nelson

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Spider monkey?

It was a good thing we were sitting in the aisle seats, or we might have been beaten to death by a 13-year-old and her cell phone or ripped apart by her mother and a nail file. I have learned to never underestimate women who love Edward Cullen.

Opening weekend of "Twilight" was everything I expected it to be, with theatres full of estrogen and lots of squealing during the action sequences. I didn't expect Pattinson's performance to be so painful and I didn't expect there to be so much lipstick on either leading character. (Edwards lips were distracting and anyone who read the book knows that Bella's a Chapstick girl!)

I did, however, expect the movie to be a lot of fun, ripe with opportunities for merciless mocking and splendid moments of guilty pleasure. Which is why I'm glad I was on the end. Otherwise I might have been burned at the stake for giggling when Edward said seductively "Your blood is my own personal brand of heroine" or thrown out on my ears for scoffing at the "I'm stronger than I thought" montage and stifling hysterics when my date whispered "This scene brought to you by abstinence."

The credits rolled and several women around us let out content sighs. I've been holding in laughter all day. I can't help it ... it just sort of bubbles up everytime I think about Edward uttering in an attempt to be romantic: "You better hang on little spider monkey."

(And THIS LINK is just for fun.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Word of the day


Making up words: just one of the joys of working in a newsroom.

Tickets and tears...

"That was dreadful. It would have been bad enough to go to her seat, and see the pitying faces of her friends, or the satisfied ones of her few enemies, but to face the whole school, with that shame fresh upon her, seemed impossible, and for a second she felt as if she could only drop down where she stood, and break her heart with crying." -- Louisa May Alcott

"Every woman is wrong until she cries, and then she is right - instantly." -- Sam Slick

I've always resented girls who get out of traffic tickets by crying. It seems unfair and manipulative. But when I saw blue and red flashing behind me this morning, I couldn't help it.

I saw the police car pulling out of the parking lot and I glanced down at my odometer just in case. I was already sure I wasn't speeding -- I was in a school zone after all, but I needed visual reassurance. Five miles under the school zone limit? Check. Confident I wasn't going to accelerate until well after the traffic light? Check.

So I was confused and concerned when the lights came on and I was motioned to pull over. Cops never tell you why they're holding you up. They just ask for your license and registration. I handed over the license, pulled out the registration from the glove box (still in the dealer envelope) and passed him the proof of insurance.

"It's a different car," I explained, "but the policy number's the same."

I haven't even had this car long enough to have a new insurance card and I'm already getting pulled over? I thought. I wondered if I should explain to Officer B. why I had a new car and why my insurance papers looked like they'd been mangled by a dog, all crinkled from the rain and stained reddish brown by the cuts from my hands when the glass shattered. But then I remembered last week's wreck was my fault and I decided it wouldn't help my case.

Desperate for an explanation I stopped the cop with the question: "I wasn't going over 20 was I?" "29, actually," he replied, walking away.

That's when the tears came. They slipped out quietly at first -- warm tears of confusion and panic. I wasn't speeding! I thought. How could I have been going 29? I was going 15 when I saw him and I know I slowed down way before that. Why would I ignore a school zone? I wrote the article on school zone safety!

Thoughts of appearing a second time this month at the Ogden City Justice Court along with the incurred fines, insurance premium hikes (oh wait, that's going to happen anyway) and how I was going to pay for it all on top of the LSAT ran through my head. The crying got worse. Messy floods of tears poured down my cheeks. Recently applied mascara was everywhere. These were not tears that could be neatly wiped away by a dainty finger or two, these were all-out smear away with the back of the hand, interrupted breathing, 'why is life unfair' tears.

Several people turned and witnessed my crying jag. They were, after all, crawling by just a few feet away from me at 10 to 15 miles per hour. The cop handed me my crumpled proof of insurance, crisp new registration and now-familiar license. A ticket soon followed.

He wrote me up for only four miles over. It was a quota ticket. He clocked me at several places and I was slower at each one, clearly decelerating the further into the school zone I got. I was well under the limit by the time I reached the cross walk or any area with students. I was ticketed for a speed I maintained for less than a second only a few feet inside the school zone.

So I didn't feel too awful I was crying when I signed the form or when he thanked me for wearing my seatbelt and drove away. I didn't even feel bad I chose to follow up with the story assignment by phone rather than humiliate myself with a tear-stained face in front of high school students. I do, however, feel bad for the judge who will hear my case. It's got to be uncomfortable to watch a grown girl cry.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The LSAT and jazz

“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the Earth as the Free Public Library -- this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration." --Andrew Carnegie

"It's funny that we think of libraries as quiet demure places where we are shushed by dusty, bun-balancing, bespectacled women. The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community. Librarians have stood up to the Patriot Act, sat down with noisy toddlers and reached out to illiterate adults. Libraries can never be shushed."
--Paula Poundstone
I balanced the study guides that looked more like phone books than reading material against my chest and under my chin and felt my way up the steps. There were too many papers and materials in my arms to risk looking down to see the edges. Looking for the quietest, remotest spot in the library, I found myself at a shiny brown table with vinyl covered seats lined up in rows. Here, I thought, there will be quiet.

I was wrong.

Libraries are full of noise. There are kids running around, middle-aged men asking for help with the Internet from librarians with flashy earrings. A woman in modest Muslim dress teases a man she asks to a party. I can't prove it, but there were distinct 'meows' coming from a bag brought in by a couple who looked cold and tired. At one point, I swear I heard a harmonica.

The LSAT was winning. I had five minutes to check out my materials. So I admitted defeat and gathered my things. It was on my way downstairs I noticed the racks of CDs. The new car has a radio and a CD player -- something I didn't know how much I missed the last six months until I was fumbling with buttons and enjoying commercials. I browsed through rows of jazz, blues, comedy and classical and was suddenly aware of just how noisy libraries can be. All I know is, my car is loving Natalie Cole. And she's anything but shushed.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Conversations with favorite people

"How's the studying going? How long have you been at it?"
"Mmm ... about half an hour."
"So do you feel smarter?"
"Haley, where are they?!!!"
"Brooke, you can't just expect them to pop out of water fountains!"
"I miss Logan!!"
"Me, too ... Wait. The city or the character?"

Life's short, talk fast.

Crash, bang ... SQUISH!

Fact: When giant champagne-colored SUV suburbans are pitted against small green Saturns, the SUV will always win. (I'll post pictures when my camera's working again.)

I went car shopping last night. There are all kinds of cars on the market right now. It's a buyer's market. I found a really great car for a fantastic deal. The only problem? Everyone I've talked to hates PT Cruisers. "They're ugly!" "They remind me of a hearse." "Why would you do that to yourself?"

It doesn't matter to me what I drive. I've never been very vain about my car. Just look at the last vehicle I owned. (It's at Brett's towing yard if you want to see it.) I just want it to last longer than the payments and be the vehicle that doesn't crumble like aluminum foil the next time I'm in a wreck.

So what do you think? Do I keep looking until I find something with equally great value -- the Cruiser has leather seats and seat warmers, a bit more than I've been able to find in any other car in my price range -- but is more aesthetically pleasing? Or do I buy the hearse?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Today is Veterans Day

My roommate's best friend leaves for the Middle East today. My dearest Jenny is in boot camp. They are different than the veterans of the 1940's I met this weekend, but they are no less worthy of appreciation. The "greatest generation" endured an entirely different kind of war than we are fighting today. Forests have been replaced by sand dunes and dictators have been replaced by terrorists and access to oil.

Today less than 1 percent of the American population is involved with military service. The other 99 percent of us are left free to criticize the war, go about our jobs and comfortably support our ourselves and families. I owe my job to soldiers. The First Amendment is powerful, but of little use, if the country it serves is overrun by other nations. Those few that give all that up to protect our country in whatever way current administration asks them to deserve our support, and most of all, our thanks.

I, hate, commas,,,,,,

I hate commas. A lot.

I enjoy a good set of ellipses and semi-colons don't bother me. I'm obsessed with the artful use of the long dash -- there's something dramatic and wonderful about that last form of punctuation.

But commas I will never understand. I appreciate their ability to separate thoughts and provide readers a pause in the middle of sentences and lists. However, I've never been able to use them correctly.

For my final paper in a senior AP Language course I chose to write about my dislike of the punctation tool. The only thing I was marked down for? Incorrect comma use. Does anyone else share my pain?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dedication and bleary-eyed faith


I rolled over pushing my head as far as I could into the pillow and pressed 'send.' The phone rang and I heard a confused "Hello?"

There was scrambling in the background as Haley looked for her keys.

"Why are we doing this? It's sooooooooooooo early!"

"I know. But we'll be blessed for it."

I think she ran into something. I desperately grabbed at the covers with my one free hand and with only my right eye cracked open, unsuccessfully trying to untangle myself from my bed.

"How did we do this every morning?" I asked incredulously, wondering if my left eye was ready to stay open yet. Nope. Not yet.

"I don't know! I think we had superpowers," she decided.

"Well I want them back!" I declared.

"Wait, someone's calling me. Why is someone calling me? It's 6:30 in the morning!"

"Huh. Well call me back when you find out."

I hung up and my arm flopped back to its place above my pillow. The fight with the covers was futile. And so was the fight with myself. It was just way too cold to get out of bed.

Wrapped in a hoodie and definitely wearing socks, I stood trying to warm myself on a gym floor in a line of a couple hundred people. We talked with our new friends Brad and Kyle and made lame jokes about wristbands and camping out while rocking out to MoTab. I couldn't get over the fact it was still dark outside when I got up. I'm NOT a morning person.

The questions the lady asked me were confusing. Which row did I want? Was the other person I was getting tickets for registered for Institute? Huh? I just wanted a soft seat in the chapel. That's really all I was asking for. The sweet woman smiled and handed me my tickets.

I found Haley and we stumbled back to the car. My bed was still warm when I got back and there was still time for a nap. It's good to be up early.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Holding still ...

I was half in love with her by the time we sat down. That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. -- Catcher in the Rye
I could see that look in his eyes. The look that said, "Why can't I focus?" and "Have we met?" all at the same time. The look that told me he was watching my mouth move but not hearing a thing I was saying.

I was flattered in a way. Surprised I could catch him so off guard. I did stop by unexpectedly, after all. Caught him in the foyer with a favor and a bit of rain still on my coat.

Still. It wasn't going to work. I played with my keys and made small talk. Watching with interest as he fought to keep the conversation alive. I processed his words and responded appropriately all along keeping a running monologue in my head about the way he kept biting his lip and tracing my face with his eyes.

Poor guy. His crooked smile and sideways glances weren't helping his case. They made him adorable, yes. But it wasn't enough. I wasn't fooled. He knew what he was missing as much as I knew the effect I was having on him, half-blown in from the wind and one hand on the door. Threatening to leave but not willing to offer that relief. The dead-end phrases and concerted effort to keep his eyes locked on mine kept us trapped between moving forward and ending the conversation that never really started.

So I held very still, enjoying the commentary for as long as I could with half a smile on my lips and a few courtesy laughs to ease the tension. And then I moved. Something he hadn't done since the last time he moved in to kiss me. But it wasn't forward and further into the foyer. It was out. I could feel him watching me as I moved into the rain and bounced off his steps toward my car. He had that same half-smile on his face when he said goodnight as he had when opened the door, a result of awe and surprise. I felt him sighing heavily as he turned back to his evening, almost wishing I had stayed. Or at least made it past the front door handle.

I kept moving and didn't look back. Better things lay ahead. Because when it comes down to it, that's the problem with being the girl he can sometimes care for -- he's only half-way in love.

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Convenience and efficiency" .. Procrastination Part Two

While procrastinating a story assignment, I followed this link sent by a friend:

You are undoubtedly Green-Bean Casserole. You value convenience and efficiency and don't mind taking shortcuts if the results turn out just as good. Canned soup? No problem. It's tradition. This year, add a few extra fried onions.

Maybe I was a bit too honest about how much I use the vending maching and take-out. Which dish are you?


Click. It takes two seconds to find a 40-minute diversion.

Double right-click. I'm viewing blogs by the dozen.


I "need" more water. My ice has melted. It's ALLLL the way downstairs.

I'm bored. I play with my Pandora stations.

Double click. My e-mail is exploding. So I clean off my desk instead. Where did this invitation for Oct. 21 come from?

Bam! It's 2 o'clock.

Sigh ....

Click exit and back to work.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

And it's Obama ...

Commentators have a difficult job on election night.

Brian Williams didn't get off work until 3 a.m. Tom Brokaw brought a mug with him and had ale cooling off to the side of the set he was so stressed out. Wolf Blitzer had a ridiculously difficult job -- spew words for 10 hours straight that sound like they could mean something political.

The rest of us local journalists were making late night calls to candidates who spent less on their entire campaign than most Utahns donated to Obama's fighting fund. In between calls, flipping channels, devouring pizza and watching history in the making, some amazing things were said:
"This is where the people live. This is where you want to get them." -- CNN
master of the touch screen
"And then Warner sold his soul to the devil and ate Gilmore for breakfast."
-- Di on a senate race

"There will be a new family in the White House. And as we learned tonight ... a new puppy." -- Brian Williams at 2:30 a.m.

I'm not even going to start on the Facebook status changes the election created. Let's just say Obama's win was compared to everything from 9/11 to the millenium. My dad called and asked me how long I thought it would take for the country to implode. All I know is my roommate can't WAIT for TV to return to normal. In her opinion, this has been going on for too long.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My favorite part is the "I Voted" sticker...

Hey, Campbell Brown! I showed up for the exam. The real question is, did I pick the right answer? We have four long years to find out.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Will date for food

The dietary habits of single, working gals can be pathetic. Sarah Haskins knows all about it. If it weren't for dating, I don't know if I would consistently achieve consumption of three out of five food groups every week.

Tuesday -- half a bagel w/ expired cream cheese and a handful of pretzels, bag of popcorn, orange and 33 cent frozen burrito, frozen dinner, bowl of chocolate Chex, three spoonfuls of ice cream straight from the carton, another bag of popcorn

Wednesday -- bowl of chocolate Chex, cheese stick, yogurt, piece of fruit, whatever they're serving at board meeting, another bowl of chocolate Chex

Thursday -- two bowls of chocolate Chex (board meeting was long last night), banana, two spoonfuls of ice cream straight from the carton, fast food Thai or Chinese, cookies, another bowl of chocolate Chex and a cheese stick

Friday-- bowl of chocolate Chex, vending machine Hot Pocket, bag of "harvest cheddar" Sun Chips, bowl of chocolate Chex, REAL FOOD -- this time it's Mexican

Saturday -- leftovers from date on Friday

Sunday -- finish off leftovers from date on Friday, bowl of chocolate Chex

So bring it on, boys ... I've got an appetite and I'm taking applications for next Friday.

It's all over tomorrow

Tomorrow's election will be historic. And that's even if things go smoothly. I'm betting on double the drama and history with recounts, lawsuits and mass hysteria in the media. At least we don't have to worry about mass hysteria in the streets. Things aren't that bad. And as Americans, we're just not that violent. We take our aggression out in Halo games and simulated worlds. Most of us would rather blog, twitter or text our frustrations than take to the pavement.

So while I'm going to be glad when it's all over I haven't made plans to hide in the bunker yet. In fact, I'll be on the front line tomorrow night covering a local county commission race. I'm pretty sure the most dramatic part of my night will be deciding which kind of pizza I want (free food in my company is a rarity) or making sure I save my story before I shut down my computer. At the end of the night, we may or may not have a new president and I will stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance at school board meetings and my brother's Boy Scout activities no matter which man gets elected.

In the meantime, all of California -- along with many church, human rights and other socio-political groups -- is waiting with baited breath for the outcome of Proposition 8. One friend in California told me she never wants to see the number eight again.

The church I belong to is part of a coalition supporting Prop. 8. They have asked members to decide their own appropriate level of involvement. Here is mine: I support "rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights." Protecting the rights of everyone, including same-sex couples, means that I am more likely to be able to worship, work and live as I choose.

However, marriage is not a government-created right; it is not even just a "contract between individuals to ratify their affections and provide for mutual obligations." It is an institution created by God to foster the growth and development of families. Governments have often chosen to recognize marriages because marriage, when vows are kept, helps stabilize society -- but they did not create marriage. It existed long before the Constitution. There are other ways to protect the rights of same-sex couples to be part of a private, committed relationship without changing the definition of marriage given to us by the One who created it. For more information on views I can agree with, click here and here.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

5 Reasons I am a horrible person ... 4 of which I don't intend to change.

#5 I still haven't written Jenny. I keep meaning to. Poor girl has been at boot camp for almost two months and I haven't placed the letter in the mailbox. I will.

#4 I use my roommate's body wash. It started out of desperation when I ran out one day in the shower. I vowed I would buy my own the next time I was at the store. That was a month ago. The fact she eats my ice cream makes me feel a little better.

#3 I screen my calls. Big time.

#2 I haven't gone very green. I know I should. The world my future children will live in is at stake. But sometimes it's just too hard to reduce, too easy to buy new instead of reuse and too liberating to trash my junk than hold on to it hoping I can recycle it into something else.

#1 I don't forward sappy e-mails. Today I got one that said if I believed in God I would forward it to everybody in my address book. I do believe in God. I just don't believe in cheesy e-mails.