Sunday, December 13, 2009

The liberty of silence ...

"Liberty of speech and of writing is secured by the Constitution, and incident thereto is the correlative liberty of silence, not less important nor less sacred." -- Wallace v. Railway Co.





















*Hiatus continues until finals are over. I may reserve my right to silence, but you don't have to. Comment below.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

On housekeeping ...

Two days ago I spent 45 minutes cleaning out my e-mail inbox. For the first time in months I don't have unopened messages and lots of junk mail greeting me when I log in. Today I'm spending an hour, but only an hour -- finals start on Wednesday, people! -- doing as much laundry, dishes, and general straightening as I could in 60 minutes. Part of me thinks it's just a way to justify procrastination. It's taking all the discipline I have to keep staring at my Contracts outline. Another part of me is conviniced I'll study better now some of the junk in my life is gone.

I had the same neurotic tendencies at work. Even when I was pushing right up against deadline, I'd often take the time out from writing to clear off my desk, go through papers, and wipe off all the gross grime and dust that would invariably settle around my computer. I think it helped me write more clearly, but I rarely tried it the other way, so maybe I was just putting things off unnecessarily. Does anyone else have a hard time concentrating when they feel like their desk, e-mail inbox, kitchen sink, or laundry basket is about to swallow them whole?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Study break ...

A thought before I return to the books.
Time's cover article this week is titled "The Decade From Hell."

America was attacked. Hurricane Katrina. Two stock market crashes. Tsunami wipes out part of Asia. China is hit by an earthquake. The Middle East, well ... you know what's going on there. It's a good read, slightly depressing, but actually rather invigorating. (Click HERE if you missed the previous link. If you pick up a hard copy, be sure to check out the article "ABC's" which highlights some pretty amazing advances in health care and technology from recent times, too.)

Meanwhile, in my decade: My family moved. I got a driver's license. I danced on pointe, learned to play the cello, and pursued a love for singing. The Olympics came. I graduated. I went to college. I switched majors. I had my first kiss. I voted for the first time. I worked at a newspaper. I graduated again. I worked for another newspaper. I went on a mission. I came back to a newspaper and got my first full-time paycheck. I sang a solo in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. I had my last first kiss. I got married. I went back to school.

All the while the towers were falling, storms were brewing, and there were several moments of poltical upheaval. I was lucky enough to watch most of it on TV monitors standing with co-workers in a newsroom and the buzz of the scanner in the background. Decade from hell? Hard to say. But it has been one hell of a ride.

What are your decade highlights?

Friday, December 4, 2009

I am not Michelle Kwan. My 10-year-old self would be very disappointed in this revelation. Back then I was absolutely sure I would medal in the Olympics one day. But I'm willing to take responsibility for my lack of achievement. I'm not Michelle Kwan because of some judging scandal or because my parents forced me to take piano lessons instead. I am not an Olympian because after a couple years worth of lessons, I just didn't want to spend 5 hours a day in an ice rink. And tying ice skates is harder than it looks. Though the spins were really cool.

I quit journalism. It wasn't the fault of the failing newspaper model, the switch to Twitter, or pressure from editors that forced me out. No. I made that decision all on my own, and when it came right down to it, I just didn't want to do it anymore.

I will continue to take full credit for any non-achievements in life EXCEPT ...

... I have no guilt in justifying the heck out of why I am not a runner.

Dave dropped me off at campus this morning on his way to work. We had to stop multiple times for joggers to cross in front of us. These people are insane. I sat admiring them with their earbands and special running tights and red cheeks, watching as their breath turned into fog in front of them. If you can see your breath it is way too cold to be running. But I felt like a wimp admitting to myself the real reasons I will never be one of them. *cough*laziness, lack of dedication, love of all things comfortable and warm*cough*. No. I rose to much greater heights. By the time I'd walked in the law building I'd convinced myself the real reason I don't run is because I don't own, and can't currently afford, the special tights. Yup. It's definitely my limited income and lack of proper apparel that's keeping me back. If we could just afford those running tights, I'm sure Dave and I would both be running marathons by March.

No worries, I'll find a new excuse before summer.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A rose by any other name ...

would smell just as bad.

I don't really like the smell of roses.

I don't really like the smell of the Twilight series, either. But this post is not about the reasons I don't like Twilight.

It's about how today I was clearing out my e-mail inbox in an effort to clear my head while studying for finals. I found several conversations with the label "Edward, me." Who is Edward? I wondered. And then I realized they were correspondance with my former professor Ted Pease who wrote me a few letters of recommendation a few months ago. That makes sense, I thought. No one actually goes by Edward, right? Which led me to thinking ...

Wouldn't it be awesome if Bella called her vampire boyfriend Ted??

and

Why aren't teenage girls chanting the name Ted or Eddie?

Personally, I think it would be a huge improvement over the original version.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The grown-up table ...

Six-year-old Sarah Jane told us we couldn't pretend with her. Dave and I wondered upstairs looking for something to do besides watching a recording of a concert we've already seen with the adults. Giggles, and lots of them, came through the closed door. Dave smiled and said, "We should go in play with them!"

We walked in and immediately SarahJane tore off a crown, trying to hide it in her lap and Abby turned red.

"Whatcha guys doing?"

"Playing princess."

"Can we play?"

The two first-graders looked at each other and then eyed us suspiciously.

There was a long pause.

"No."

And they turned back to each other dismissing us completely.

Dave just stood there.

"Really?" I tried again. "Please? We're really good at pretending."

"No," came the definite reply.

And that is how Dave and I officially became adults. I blame marriage.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Politically speaking ...

Today I listened to pro-polygamy lawyers, a lecture on Native American sovereignty laws, and why the kind people at Planned Parenthood want more sex education. I love law school.

It all got me a little politically charged, so I was in quite a state when I got this from my mom. She doesn't ever send me forwards, but she mentioned she saw a CNN clip someone sent her that had her concerned about the health care bill. I asked her to send it to me. This is what I got:

(First, the written intro, in exactly the font size it was sent.)

It is pretty amazing. Click on the link below and watch the video. The message says this video has been pulled. It may have been pulled from CNN (it didn’t show up under the search I did for Lou Dobbs Amnesty Bill although it took me to a page of other stories) but it does show up on YouTube. I love the internet! It may be the one thing that keeps us sane during these obnoxious socialist/Marxist/communist times. Although they want to control the internet, it will be harder than most things. Anyway, here’s the video.

I KNEW this was going to happen. (That way Obama wasn't lying when he said illegals would not be able to get medical coverage under his ObamaCare plan. His simple fix is to make them all legal first.)



The e-mail then suggested that this clip should be required viewing for every American. You know what else should be required?

FOR PEOPLE TO STOP YELLING AT ME IN CAPS LETTERS AND USE THE WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE AT THEIR FINGERTIPS THROUGH GOOGLE to prevent being brainwashed by e-mail forwards.

(Font irony intended.)

This clip is from June 2007. Bush was still in office. It has nothing to do with the health care bill currently in debate. Nope. This bill was actually a compromise bill between parties more than two years ago, not the liberal one-sided piece of legislation as it was presented in the clip. It proposed that everyone get amnesty but the borders get a heck of a lot more guards and funding. And guess what? It died. Neither the House or Senate liked it and it didn't pass. Nothing similar has been introduced since. Meaning we're all safe from having to pay for doctors and lawyers for our illegal gang member friends. Perhaps the best part is the Lou Dobbs show isn't even airing anymore. The Internet may be hard for the liberals to control, but it's equally as hard to keep the nut-wing group from using it promulgate news clips by unscrupulous, racist reporters who don't even report anymore.

So breathe deep, dear reader. The world is safe once again from communism and the Marx brothers until the next e-mail forward you get from your uninformed, reactionist friends.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yes, dear?

Dave: You know, the more I learn about the 20th-century, the more I become convinced Communism was a very bad thing.

---------------------------------------------

Me: Sometimes I feel like you tell me things just to make me feel better. I don't want you to patronize me and say things you don't mean.

Dave: Like what?

Me: Like I'll say I'm frustrated with my performance at school and you'll say I'm doing fine. Or sometimes it seems like you're agreeing with me just to agree with me.

Dave: You're right. I don't say things I don't mean, but I won't say them to just to make you feel better anymore.

(Pause.)

Dave: Feel better?

Ummmmm....

On motivation ...

There are eight new messages and eight new faces I won't ever see.

I take down the names, the numbers, the problems and then I start dialing. No answer at the first house.

I try the second number. It's a man's voice on the machine and I quickly hang up, hoping they don't have caller ID and I haven't caused further pain for the woman asking for help and a way out.

The third number's been disconnected. I wonder what will happen to her apartment.

The fourth, he answers. We talk. I can't help. I try to explain. I'm only a volunteer. I don't know yet the exact steps to take if you've committed perjury or if two Class B misdemeanors will equal domestic violence charges in Utah, though I know one Class A will. I don't know how to enforce your own divorce decree or exactly the number of days a father has to pay up on his child support before an ex-wife can turn in him to the authorities. I don't know.

I can recite the good faith doctrine in contracts and the theories of judicial review and tell you that when you're writing a memo to your supervising attorney you should use two spaces between periods, not one.

The phone keeps ringing and every one wants help. Not just legal help. They want something fixed that's broken. Seriously broken. A few questions come about bankruptcy and traffic court, but most want the law to be a magic wand restoring their family.

There are vindictive ex-wives who press criminal charges on former in-laws who give their grandchildren a ride home from school. There are husbands who beat and yell and view obscene material in front of their teenage children. There are girlfriends, wives, and ex-wives who are hurt and angry and bitter and the only control they feel they have is of the children they're left with, so they call asking for help to get full custody. They never want to see him again, and neither should their children. There are fathers left with no way out, trapped between bogus restraining orders and crushing child support demands that leave them bankrupt and homeless. There's a husband and his secretary who leave the mother of four with a house in foreclosure and no place to live. There's a custody court in Wyoming that gave guardianship to a step-aunt to two children already under custody of their grandmother in Utah. The aunt takes them to Mexico, and now after losing of both their parents, the grandmother fights for their rights to see siblings and cousins.

I take down detailed notes, give them the place and time they can meet with an attorney for free, and refer them to some Web sites. They thank me for the help, for offering the chance to be heard no one else would give them. I express sympathy and thank them for calling. Sometimes I wish them luck. It's all I can do. But it's all I'm supposed to do. We screen calls for attorneys willing to work for free. We make sure the right problems get to the right kind of lawyer. But almost always, always, always, it's family law.

I try not to worry too much about what happens next. Like them, I hold out hope those attorneys have superhuman powers everyone else they asked for help didn't. As I pull on my backpack, I try to feel confident the mighty sword of the law will fix things in one fell swoop. But I know that's not how it works. Lawyers are just people with their own broken families and the law is just an imperfect tool, designed to get them the most help it can under the circumstances. There will be help and money and resources and hopefully some justice while they watch their lives fall apart, but it will never be perfect because it won't make them whole.

I clean up my things and turn off the lights. I head for a warm room and a supportive husband. A spouse who has never hit me, never ruined my credit, and will never hurt our children. For a split-second I feel guilty I'm one of the lucky ones. He smiles when I walk in. He listens to my stories as we turn on the stove and try to warm our floors with a broken spaceheater. I pull on pajama bottoms and he hands me a resume to edit. I encourage him to apply for the job and he quizzes me on the slides I brought from property class. My mind wanders back to the man fighting for his children, and the woman worried about where to live. I realize two things: I'm grateful I never, ever have to be the woman on the other end of the line. And I realize I still want to help. I can't fix everything, but I can make some things better. It's worth trying at least.

So I'll keep studying, and every week, I'll keep checking the messages.

Friday, November 13, 2009

There is sunshine spilling through windows onto stone floors. There is the clanking of dishes from a cafe upstairs. There are sculptures haning from the ceiling. There is modern, rounded, cushioned seating. There is a view of dusty white, jagged mountains appearing through red and yellow leaves.

I think I just found my new favorite place on campus.

Bugged...

I spent most of the morning writing about judicial activism. (You're excited to read my blog now, aren't you?)

To make my post complete, though, I need to link back to an article I wrote and another a colleague wrote. They come up on Google. They're not cached. I have no idea how to access them. Anyone more tech-savvy than I am?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On elections made sure ...

Friday at 7 p.m. Realization hits me. I gasp. Begin furiously typing to friend in CA on Google chat. My panic increased with every line:

me: I forgot to register to vote
i forgot elections were even coming!!
i am a horrible person!!!
Friend: haha
AND the Provo mayor elections are huge!
me: What has law school done to my inner journalist??
Friend: even I know about them!
me: What??
I don't know!! Tell me tell me!
Friend: yeah, aren't things heating up?
scandals!
one used to be... gasp!
wait for it
wait for it
me: a democrat?
Friend: A DEMOCRAT!!!
me: BAHHH!!!!
Friend: AHHH
Joseph retreat!

A former Democrat runs for office in Provo and I can't even vote. Tragedy. (I'll let you wonder whether I would have voted to keep the filthy former traitor out of the motherland or be thrilled at the prospect of variety.) I'm disgusted with myself. I love voting. I love the sticker. I love the high I get using an electronic ballot. I love the energy in the line waiting to vote. I love the random statutes, memorandums, and amendments to city codes that appear on ballots. I love knowing I exercised a Constitutional right. Not this year. This year I was lame like the majority of my fellow country. Lame. Not next year. But for now, happy election day.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On nature...

Dave brought me some flowers when I was sick. I watered them the other day. I was dutifully filling the pot with water from the sink when I screamed and threw the pot down.

There was a cricket, mostly dead, lying upside down in the wrapping of the pot.

Gross.

I mean, really ... how dare there be actual NATURE in my flowers?

Monday, October 26, 2009

On awareness ...

October has been full of opportunities to raise awareness about domestic violence. Friend Natalie has done a lot on her site to promote awareness and has a couple of great giveaways you should enter by going HERE.

It is also Down syndrome awareness month!

My brother Sam is amazing. He is an artist and an athlete. He is smart and funny and he loves reading non-fiction. He struggles with math and he loves skiing and swimming. He wants to be a magician when he grows up. He's your average 13-year-old little brother. But sometimes he gets lonely. Kids in the neighborhood don't go out of their way to be mean, but they don't go out of their way to include him either. It's been years since the doorbell has rung with the request, "Can Sam come play?" I wish perceptions would change.

I like this article:"There are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States today; one in every 733 babies is born with Down syndrome. ... All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses."

I also LOVE this site. Please visit http://r-word.org and take the pledge to stop using the word "retard" and "retarded" in casual conversation. It's a simple step in raising your own awareness and making sure kids like Sam are given the same chance at contributing to society as their peers.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

On speculation ...

Last week we bought tickets to "BYU Homecoming Spectacular!"

When I see the word Spectacular! (especially with the added punctuation) in a title, I fully expect a plethora of three things:

Multi-media presentations, jazz hands and sequins.


We weren't disappointed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The end of my world ...

It frightens me to think about how long I could function without the Internet...



.... I just googled the phrase "How to bake a potato."

Monday, October 19, 2009

On recuperating...

I have cool friends.

They are willing to drive to me the Instacare clinic. They are willing to buy me Sunchips so I don't pass out during the two hour wait. They are even willing to sit next to me in the Instacare clinic when I'm wearing a dorky-looking surgical mask when they could have sat by all the non-infected people in the "well" area instead.

(Does this segregation really work? When it comes to spreading, or not spreading, the flu ... does that extra three feet of air space and facing the chairs in opposite direction in a cramped waiting room actually DO anything??! Maybe it's mental.)

I also have friends who are willing to Skype me into a study group so I don't fail a midterm on Wednesday. I have friends who are willing to share notes and make sure I don't fall behind. That's nice, because they could have decided the flu was actually God's plague sent to punish the wicked (i.e. me) and raise them on the curve.

I have a best friend, aka husband, who has filled prescriptions, made me dinner, rearranged work schedules, and fulfilled some semi-ridiculous requests (Can we have the door open? It's hot. No! Now it's cold, how about just half-way open? Maybe closed with the fan on?) just to keep me comfortable.

I even have friends who were willing to conduct the ward choir for me on Sunday. Now that's love.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

On helping ...

There will be more about this link in the future, but consider it my contribution to Blog Action Day. (Thanks for the tip, Natalie!)

For corn-induced rage click HERE or here: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1917458,00.html

I haven't been so upset with McDonald's since Supersize Me and this time it's not even their fault.

Why do I love Crown Burger so much?

I fell in love with the warm, gushy feeling you get when more goes into the recycling can than the garbage can last year when I lived in South Ogden: a very responsible town with a city recycling program. Dave and I plan to use some left over gift registry money to buy an extra bin or two to do our part here in Cougarland, even though it will take a lot more effort on our part to participate. Anyone know how to get recycling picked up at your house in Provo? We've also started going higher fiber, low-processed and make sure that at least some of our meat and dairy choices each week are organic. I'm a huge germ freak, so there's not enough bleach in the world to make me ever give up paper towels like this gal, but I can certainly do my part to help by buying cage-free eggs and chicken.

But this is the boring stuff. The real interesting stuff is back HERE. Read, process, and report back. I'm dying to know what you think. In the meantime, I'm going to go take a nap. Swine flu hit law school and I'm feeling pretty under-the-weather. Good thing it kills less than the regular flu. Then I might be in trouble.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I wanted to blog ...

but then I saw this:


... and realized I have nothing to say.

You can click here for more despairware.

On pumpkins ...

I love pumpkin world.

Pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, pumpkin squares, pumpkin cookies.

I like carving pumpkins. I can't wait to try a new pumpkin trifle recipe. And my friend Jenni swears by pumpkin bagels.

In pumpkin world, princesses get to the ball and eventually find their prince. The vegetable serves fantastic porch decoration when you put a candle inside it. In pumpkin world there is never a shortage of pie.

I'm pretty sure pumpkin season is the only reason I survive the end of melon season. Honeydew is the nectar of the gods and watermelon is all the good things about summer wrapped up in striped, green casing. It's definitely the end of melon season. I ate honeydew and cantaloupe this week I'm pretty sure tasted worse than stale cardboard.

Good thing pumpkins are on sale for 19 cents a pound at Macey's and I have a date with some cinnamon cream cheese frosting later this month. And if anyone has an awesome recipe for roasting pumpkin seeds, I'd love to steal it from you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

On blogging ...

Some days I'm really glad I married Dave.

And on other days, I'm really, REALLY glad!

MCB raged the other day about bloggers having "best spouse" competitions. (You can read about it here.) I agree. Spouse contests are dumb -- mine will always win.

But really, what do you think about mushy spouse posts? What's the worst/most obnoxious one you've ever read? Most touching? Where's the line between sharing something uplifting and just plain bragging? You men out there ... and I know there's at least three of you who read this blog ... if your wife/girlfriend/mom posted something really sweet, but somewhat lengthy about you online, what would be your reaction? You women who choose to compliment their spouse indirectly on the Internet instead -- why not just profess your adoration/love/pride outright? I mean, if you're going to go to all the effort, and if the point of the post really is to say how awesome your man is, why not just say it? You women who have written a best spouse/birthday/anniversary tribute ... Why?

I am curious.

Friday, September 25, 2009

On light reading ...

True quote from page 320 of Contracts -- "actor" in this case meaning any party in a contract:

"[A]ctors are unrealistically optimistic as a systematic matter. (Lawyers do not realize this, because they are trained to be systematically pessimistic.) ... For example, the subjects correctly estimated that fifty percent of American couples will eventually divorce. In contrast, the subjects estimated that their own chance of divorce was zero."

I don't believe it. About the pessimism I mean. All my law professors are pretty happy people. Just today two of them brought out a couple student volunteers, a trumpet, a bass and a piano. One professor sang some revised lyrics to "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" based on the Papachristou v. Jacksonville case while the other one? Yup. He juggled.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This text book is based on true events ...

Page 284 of my property law book is similar to others in the book. There is a lot of text and a lot of orange (apparently the highlighter of choice of its former owner). There are dry rules, condensed cases and then there are problems to work out. Most of them sound something like this:

If A and B are joint tenants and B wants to pass on his claim in the property to his heirs but A ... blah .. blah ... and then you fall asleep sometime before you get to the end and hope the professor goes over that particular question in class before the midterm.

So it was a bit of a shock to find this at the bottom of what seemed like it should have been very harmless page 284:

Suppose that A and B are killed while riding in a car struck by a train. When witnesses arrive, there are no signs of life in A; B is decapitated and blood is gushing from her neck in spurts. Does B survive A?





...



WHAT?!!! I'm sorry -- but there is BLOOD gushing out in SPURTS in this scene and we're concerned about their property rights?!!! Shouldn't we call the authorities? And why is the decapitated person a "she." Why can't we just leave B an "it." We've never ascribed gender or hair color or hobbies or anything else that makes me want to connect with these fake scenario characters so why start now??? Especially if you're just going to kill them off as soon as I become attached? In any case, does the actual spurting of the blood make any difference in this scenario? Is there a legal principle I'm missing here? Maybe if it was only oozing it would change who gets the property. Maybe the spurting is an important legal fact in a property case. Or then again, MAYBE NOT!!! Why couldn't they just have worded the question: A and B die at the same time, who's heirs get the property? Why do I have to know B was decapitated??


It doesn't help that the BYU bells chime oh so sadly "Come, Come Ye Saints" in a minor key as I walk to get lunch. This is the hymn that has the words "And should we die before our journey's through ... happy day! All is well!!" Yes. Let's enthuse students as they walk to class by celebrating death. Law school's hard enough without being reminded the only reason my educational institution exists is because exiled citizens of our nation were willing to bury their children in frozen prairie wastelands with broken spoons to further the cause of their misunderstood religion. I'm going to petition they start chiming "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree" or "There is Sunshine in My Soul." Better yet, maybe they could just chime tones to let us know the time like normal clocks. Sigh. I'm not bitter. Just confused.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

On mature literature ...

BYU redeemed itself today ... in a BIG way.

I love the bookstore.

It smells liked baked goods and freshly printed paper. There are books about Michelle Obama, memoirs of escapees of fundamentalist polygamist cults and tales of Sudanese child soldiers all mingled together. There are cook books and gardening books and books on how to be a ballerina. There are books on car mechanics and personality disorders and books about religion. There are books on philosophy and entertainment and there are books that me angry at the world. There are books that make me smile. There are books that still have the same ability to transport me out of the bookstore and into another time and place the same way they did when I was seven.

The best find by far today was THIS. I love that "The Paperbag Princess" is now happily nestled in my bookbag between 1,102 pages of hardbound contract law and 572 pages of legal citation manual.

Of all the genres, picture books rock.

Oh, and Ronald? You really are a bum.



The End.

Monday, September 14, 2009

On health care ...

Health care vote doesn't take place until fall.

Mass rallies in the meantime.

Obama lies. Senator calls him out on it. Senator chooses really horrible time to do so. But something needs to be done. We have people in this country who are being denied health coverage WHO WANT TO PAY THEIR OWN BILLS!

In the meantime ... in Utah County, according to a Daily Herald opinion poll, about half of parents had a problem with their kids watching an address to school children by the president of the United States.

Herbert declares he will do his best to NOT follow the widely popular Huntsman's policies.

"Liberals take our money..." Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.

"Conservatives take our rights..." Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.

The only emotion left when I finish reading the newspaper is frustration.

I feel conflicted ... judicially conservative ... politically liberal ... financially moderate. What's a voter to do?

Is anyone else feeling all angsty about politics this time of year?

Friday, September 11, 2009

On forgetting ...

When I woke up this morning I didn't register that today is September 11th. I was more concerned with the memo that's due in my legal writing class. When I finally saw the date, I still didn't remember that eight years ago there was an attack on our nation. I didn't remember that today was an important anniversary and I failed to recall the feelings that crashed down on our 11th-grade calculus class when we watched the second tower fall or the stunned silence of broadcasters that followed on the air.

I didn't think about any of that ... until I saw this. Thank you, Natalie. Because remembering is important. And I almost forgot.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

On taking eternity two years at a time ...

I opened our sole piece of mail today to find an invitation to Dave's family reunion, which surprised me because we just went to one a few weeks ago. Then I looked at the date.

We're invited to spend July 4-7 with my new extended family ....

..... in 2011.


2011!!


When someone gives you almost two years notice for an event, I'm pretty sure it gives them permission to think you're slime and blacklist your unborn children from the geneaology charts if you don't manage to clear your schedule. And that's probably the point ... you will not get married this week, die this week, work this week or even think about being in school this week because we totally gave you enough notice to avoid any of those conflicts.

I discovered from Dave these reunions occur every other year. Attendance is mandatory. This group is big. They are loud. They are fun. They are loving. They still make me nervous. Sigh ... guess I know what we're doing in 2013. And just in case I forget? No worries, twenty-six months from now, just like today, a "save the date" magnet will arive in the mail so for the next two years I can be reminded of all the reunion fun we have to look forward to every single time I open the fridge:






Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bird flu ...

So I don't have the swine flu. Even though I was in Mexico three weeks ago and I spiked a fever of 101.3 this week, I seemed to have avoided the curse.

But one of the prescriptions I was put on at the student health center is called Avian in its generic form. So now every time I go to take this particular pill I think of bird puke. Which, to me, kind of defeats the purpose of giving a pill to someone so they're NOT nauseated. ..... Hmmm....

Thoughts?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

On honeymoons ...

Place: Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Time: Third night of honeymoon, around 3 a.m. (I'm out COLD!!! )

"OH NO!!!!"

Dave sits up straight in bed shouting. The motion and noise wake me and I turn alarmed to see a very panicked husband.

"What's going on?" I reach out for his arm.

"The marsupial is changing in the locker above us," he says urgently.

Silence. I pull back. My still fuzzy brain is slow to process ... Did he just say what I think he said? Do I remember the definition of the word marsupial at 3 in the morning?

"Honey ... what?"

"You know. Kangaroo," he tries again, patiently rewording his response. "It's changing in the locker above us."

"I'm sorry but can you say that again? I'm really confused."

Brain finally realizes he may not be awake.

He looks straight at me then up at the ceiling.

"Oh," he says. "Don't worry about it."

A few hours later as we're getting ready for the day he has absolutely NO recollection of any kangaroo or of waking me up.

Married less than a week and already finding marriage amazingly entertaining!!

On success ...

Doing what you want won't get you anywhere; at least not according to Albert Gray.

"Success," he said, "is something which is achieved by the minority of men, and is therefore unnatural and not to be achieved by following our natural likes and dislikes nor by being guided by our natural preferences and prejudices."

Hmm...

Well, I should be wildly successful in law school then because there's been a lot of things the past couple of weeks I've found to be against my natural taste -- mainly:

Attending BYU -- I've dodged Education Weekers, seen parents point proudly to the large white Y on the mountain indoctrinating their young and wondered stupidly why people were giving me the "why are you explaining that to me" stare when I qualify the 18 months I spent in Tennessee with "I was serving as a missionary for the LDS Church" until I remember I'm at a school owned by the church I proselyted for.

The Socratic method -- I'm used to choosing to be called on by raising my hand in class, knowing the answers and there being one "right" answer. Now all the rules I knew and loved about the traditional school system have been changed. I am now referred to as Ms. Nelson, I speak almost only when called upon, I don't always know what the teacher is trying to get at and there is only sometimes a right answer. Today, my friends, I began to learn to learn and think like a lawyer, an officer of the court, the defender of the rules that regulate human behavior and keep us a free nation ... and it was exciting.

Becoming a charity case -- Thanks to AstraZeneca, one month from now I will be receiving one of the two medications I receive for free. There is no prescription insurance as part of the BYU Health Plan. But they do have this really awesome wholesale pharmacy where you can get your drugs generally for cheaper than what you would have paid with insurance -- at least for the 95 percent of cases when a generic of your prescription is available. I was that lucky 5 percent who found myself near tears when the bill for a one-month supply of a daily, necessary medication came to $321. One hour with a nurse/prescription advocate and the producers of the Purple Pill had kindly offered to enroll me in the Prescription Assistance Program. Meaning they get a tax break, I get my medication for a limited time while prescription insurance is out of my reach and no Medicare, Medicaid or other government welfare programs were utilized. Best of all my stomach won't eat itself from the inside out. I would rather pay for my own medicine and I'm willing to take generics when they are available. But until the day one or the other is an option for me, I'm grateful for companies who are willing to see healing people as a primary goal in addition to making a buck. (Subsequent blog post and rants and raves on health care coming ... feel free to give me ammunition in the comments.)

For Dave, this week has meant all sorts of things that come naturally to him -- being sweet, sensitive and basically amazing ... but that doesn't meant it left him without some unusual experiences of his own.

Being the supportive husband he is, he came to the BYU Law School Family Orientation Lecture. Munching on the free vegetarian sandwich and potato chips the families were bribed with, he sat with women holding babies, dressed like Shade models and carrying ridiculously cute diaper bags listening to the spouses of upperclassmen explain what their husbands had asked them to share with the "new wives" about how the next three years would go down. There were only two other men in the room. They also opted out of signing the list requesting them to "share their talents at a mini-class." He came to learn how to help me and what he found was a really sweet, albeit largely young and possibly bored group of women, offering to be a support group to him in case he found himself sitting at home feeling lonely or neglected over the next three years. Good thing he's got that full-time job, 15 credits and a two-hour commute to distract him or he might just have to join the law school partner gang at craft day in the coming months. Our apartment could use some good decorations.

End of ridiculously long post.

(Please comment dear readers ... I've missed you.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

On [...]

"I don't know about you, but there's all these emotions conflicting and it's kind of left me just [ .... ] ."

His blank stare and overwhelmed posture in the silence made me laugh. I leaned back against him and the truck window trying to think of something to talk about that wasn't wedding or to-do list related. No luck. My brain drew a blank. So did my emotions. I had put off wading through the mess I'd been hit with all day and all of a sudden I wanted to sort through it.

So at 9:30 p.m. on a Sunday night I tried to make sense of the [....]

This is what I found:

Stress.

Fear.

Utter elation I'm in love with a wonderful man.

Awe.

Attraction.

Total joy when the "diamond white" vintage dress I wore for bridals and couldn't wait to put on again flashed through my mind.

The thought that eternity is a REALLY, REALLY long time.

Trepidation.

A total lack of income and more stress.

I was annoyed. For almost no explainable reason I was suddenly annoyed.

Joy.

Excitement.

A sudden desire to hang pictures, cut vinyl, light scented candles and organize the heck out of our new apartment with cute baskets, sharp looking Rubbermaid containers and refinished second-hand furniture.

Loss.

Love.

Overwhelming appreciation for my family.

More love.

Gratitude.

The feeling I would never really go home again and it hurt.

Hope for the future.




And that's how I spent the last Sunday night I'll be single. One more full day and two more "sleeps" as Sam calls them. I'd say I'm excited but I think it's more accurate if I leave you with [ .... ]

It's going to be INCREDIBLE.

Monday, July 27, 2009

On divorce ...

I think my brain's so tired of dreaming about weddings or matrimonial bliss it decided to give me some variety last night.

Here are a few of the highlights:

My family and I live in a super crummy apartment in New York which is attached to some college dorms.
Mangy cat wanders aimlessly.
Jenny*comes over and starts flirting with two boys by the drinking fountain and expects me to join in.
I protest. Neither boy is that cute anyway, I tell her.
Jenny announces she's getting a divorce.
Jenny gets into a shouting match with my mom after she insults my waxing techniques and my mom tells her to shut up because at least I didn't miss all those stray hairs Jenny has hanging off her chin.
Jenny gets angry and leaves, stray hairs waggling in the wind.
I drive Jenny home and mangy cat wanders aimlessly.
Then I'm on a ski lift.
So are lots of other people.
We get off and go to class.
USU has clearly made improvements to it's student transportation.
I steal a sign I made for an Institute dance.
Jenny and I walk into an office and begin filing for a divorce.
Mangy cat wanders aimlessly.
I have to show the sign that has the words "Young Single Adult Dance Committee" to prove that I am now officially single and need a divorce.
Wait, I'm not the one who wants a divorce!
Wait, I'm not married yet!! I don't want to be single! And I definitely don't want to be on the "Young Single Adult Dance Committee!
I start searching frantically for my ring.
Lady at the desk tells me to sit down and wait.
Sign won't count alone as proof of singleness. I'll need an e-mail from one of the advisers.
Nice judge in a bright red shirt comes out and takes the next customer in line.
Jenny and I sit down.
Mangy cat crawls on my lap as creepy homeless guy talks to me in waiting room.
Jenny scores a date with water fountain guy.

I woke up feeling itchy because I'm allergic to cats.

I think I'm ready to go back to the dreams about cheesecake and a Mexican honeymoon.

*Name has been changed to protect the innocent.

Monday, July 20, 2009

On diagnosis...

The doctor peered into his pupils with a light and jotted down some notes. I waited anxiously next to the table.

"WAY too much Spongebob," he said.

I cringed guiltily.

He took the stethoscope, listening to the young patient's heart, and looked at me disapprovingly.

"When was the last time he had any significant physical activity?"

I wanted to melt into the floor.

He began pressing on his stomach and then whirled to face me.

"What did this child have for breakfast??! PIZZA?? ICE CREAM??!!!"

"I didn't know what else to do!!" I exclaimed in panic. It all came rushing out. "There wasn't any cereal. My mom hasn't had time to grocery shop in weeks. I figured the pizza at least had some protein. And I was so busy with invitations while she was out looking for the perfect color of raspberry to coordinate with the centerpieces, I didn't even know he had gotten the ice cream out until he was halfway through the carton! Besides, he likes Spongebob and I can't possibly ... "

"Invitations?" the doctor said coldly cutting me off. "These wouldn't be wedding invitations would they?"

I looked at the floor and murmured a 'yes.'

He scoffed and then looked with pity toward my youngest brother, sitting bored, practically mother- and sister-less and nutrient deprived on the exam table.

"Disgraceful," he said writing a prescription for an all-boys campout and a week of constant doting. "This is the third case of wedding neglect I've seen this week."

I shuffled slowly out of the clinic vowing to do better when I saw my fiance checking in with the nurse. He looked lonely and forgotten. Traces of disappointment still lingering from rejected date offers to accommodate florists and photographers, and hurt from curt responses to simple questions like "What did you do today?" and "There can't be that much left to plan, can there?" lined his face. I tried to sneak out undetected but the nurse spotted me and glared as I exited.

"Get ready doctor," she shouted to the back room as she drew some blood and found uncommonly large amounts of velum and satin in his blood stream. "I've got a good feeling this will be case number four."

Friday, July 17, 2009

On yearning ...

I want to blog but I have nothing to say ...

Except for thoughts on the difference between cream and ivory, the fact my heartrate is unusually high, "the talk" with the gynecologist, insurance, apartment leases, microwaves and the advantages of freesia over stock.

Oh, and last week in San Diego I met a dolphin who let me touch her and feed her. Does that count as a blog post?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On vacations...

Apparently my mind was on vacation before my body was ... at least according to the typo in the heading of the previous post.

I love that because I didn't have Internet access for a week it took me close to 10 days to catch it. Even more I love that the "something doesn't look right bell" didn't go off in my head when I typed it originally.

Ah well. More mistakes and more posts to come.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

On Indepence Day

Today I am free ...

From editors.

It is my last day as a journalist and I'm spending it alone. No rush at deadline, no arguments between the government and courts reporter, no cursing from the copy desk to send me off. It's just me, the scanner and the fluorescent glow of the computer screen.

It's a nice way to say goodbye. I'm liking the chance to sit, think and wait for 1 p.m. so I can go interview people about the city celebration and why they like fireworks. Until then, no editors. Just static, chatter on the radio about opening and closing parade routes and my blog.

So here are some other things I am glad to be free of this Independence Day:

  • Nylons. I didn't remember how much I hated them until I pulled them on the other day and just how long 18 months with a dress code requiring hose really was.
  • My last name. I'm proud of my heritage but my last name is pretty bland. And exchanging it for my fiance's also means freedom from singles wards, freedom from ever again having to worry about being placed with crazy roommates and freedom from questions about my dating life.
  • Twitter. Fail-whale status is now permanent.
  • Pepto-bismol colored cubicles and fluorescent lighting. Farewell office and hello California beaches!
  • Debt. I love paychecks, self-discipline and online payment methods.
  • Wedding plans. For the next five hours I don't have to think, speak or look at anything wedding related. The fact seemingly normal and frivolous items like chair sashes, centerpieces and guest lists can lead to anxiety/massive amounts of crying is ridiculous. How did these traditions get started anyway? It's absurd. I am of the firm opinion that marriage is of God and weddings are evil.
  • The night shift. I don't mind working holidays. Especially when I still get to see the fireworks tonight!

What freedoms are you celebrating?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

On final moments ...

I have great coworkers. I'm particularly fond of this one.

It's overhearing conversations like this that will make me miss working in a newsroom.

Di (on phone with a chatty interviewee): No; I really appreciate it. It's always good to have more. I can always take out but I can't just make stuff up.

I'm going to miss working with her ... and I'm not just making that up.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On signs of the times ...

How I know I'm an adult:
Excitement ensues because I quit work next week but my insurance extends through next month.

How I know I'm ridiculous:
I argued with Di over the difference between the colors cranberry and raspberry.
Emilie claims neither of these are actually colors -- they're foods.

How I know I'm an adult but still not grownup:
Andrea and I rock-paper-scissored in an Italian restaurant because we couldn't decide who got the mint and who got the butterscotch candy left on our check.

How I know I'm engaged:
I get distracted by the glitter when I type.
(more to come)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On nutrition ....

My mom is at a nutrition conference this week. At a presentation on sustainable food she was told it takes 20 calories worth of fossil fuel to produce just one calorie worth of beef.
Four hours later I was at Texas Roadhouse.

Me: Did you know it takes 20 times the amount of fossil fuels to produce this kind of meat?

Dave: Yes. And the protein ratio for the vegetation consumed by cattle is 10:1. So if we just ate all the vegetables they eat we'd get 10 times the protein anyway.

Me: Wow. We really should try to eat more healthy. It's not just better for us but better for the environment.

Dave: Yup.

(Pause. We both dig into some tasty barbecue.)

Me: Hey, are you still hungry?? I am. Want some more ribs?

Dave: Sure!


One day I'll go green. But it definitely wasn't last night. Last night it was all about the burgundy colored barbecue sauce. Yum!

Monday, June 15, 2009

On the avian flu ...

1848 -- Seagulls may or may not have saved my ancestors

1913 -- Seagull Monument is built

1955 -- Legislation passes making the California gull, or Larus californicus, the official state bird of Utah

2008 -- Standard-Examiner makes the bird its mascot, convinces underpaid employee to wear yellow tights and oversized bird costume and distributes mass amounts of water bottles decorated with StanBird -- get it?? Standard? StanBird?

You can see a picture of the live version of our mascot here.

Which brings me to this picture, the stuffed version of StanBird:



One afternoon I exited the restroom and almost had a heart attack. It was staring at me. It was perched in the window. And it looked like it was going to shatter through the glass and fly right at me.

Someone keeps changing its position, ever so slightly in the window sill. Somedays it catches me when I'm coming out of the lunch room. Other times when I'm headed for the exit. But always, always I want to scream in terror.

I acknowledge this bird's contributions to my state, my family and my company. But MUST its eyes be so menacing?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

On catchphrases ...

Co-worker (on newly received information he finds less than enthralling): I don't know what he wants me to do with this. What does he think we're going to do? Alert the media or something??!

Me: But ... we are the media.

(long pause)

Co-worker: Oh, yeah.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

On salud, dinero, and especially, amor ...

This wasn't P.F. Chang's and it definitely wasn't Panda Express. It was delicious. The decor was simple, the ambience music was anything but Top 40 and our hostess was abundantly gracious. We felt relaxed all evening. Even the way the food was served was pure art. I've definitely found a new favorite restaurant.

To top it off, I got the world's best fortune cookie: You will have full contentment by summers end.

I like where that's going.

My 12th grade Spanish teacher told me when you sneeze in Mexico they bless you first with health, then with money and finally, with love.

The last few months have been a bit iffy in the health department, and money has been adequate, but not plentiful. When it comes to love, however, the fates have more than compensated.

I don't know what fortune's definition of "full contentment" is, but if this isn't it already, I can't wait to find out.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Speaking of law school ...

So I'm feeling much better about law school and I'm even feeling a little better about my preparation. Another BYU letter came in the mail this weekend and it said that if I was reading anything law-related to "STOP IT!" Read a novel, spend some time outside, I was told.

(I was also told to become "one" with my laptop and to increase my typing speed. I'm set on the typing speed. My mom thinks my fingers are the reason her keyboard is acting up. I do, however, need suggestions on how to further increase my unity with an electronic device. Is it just me or are these letters getting weirder and weirder?)

But even with a second mandate to do nothing but relax and put law school as far from my mind as possible, I couldn't help but pick up the copy of "Slaying the Law School Dragon" when I saw it laying on a co-worker's desk. A chapter on preparation caught my eye. Students are advised to be on campus a week early and spend hours in the library taking careful note of which chairs are the softest, the spots with the best natural light and where drafts or air conditioning vents are located to avoid the unnecessary time suck of moving places or to score the best study spot before anyone else. Your study environment is the most important part of your law school career ... a point driven home by this gem of a phrase. And I quote:

"Think of yourself as an embryo and the law school library as
your womb-home for the next three years."
....


.....


???WHAT???!!


There are so many disturbing ways in which I want to extend that analogy it's not even funny.


On a very unrelated note. I heard the song "No Scrubs" for the first time in years on the radio. It's really worth a re-listen. Sometimes I miss the late '90s.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I am woman. Hear me roar...

My boss has exactly 19 more work days to ask what I have coming for the weekend. After that, I'm going to law school.

"Anonymous" posted this link in the comments of a previous post: shimmygurrshimmy.blogspot.com.

Whoever you are: THANK YOU.

Why am I gushing about another blogger with such fervor? Because it gave me a glimmer of hope in the face of despair. "Enjoy life now because you never will again," is just about the only advice law school admissions staff, current law school students and law school spouses have offered. The possibilities of planning a wedding, having a baby or just catching a movie once in a while while slaying the law school dragon were described as complete impossibilities. Now: hope. Hope it's possible to survive law school with your faith, family and sense of fun still in tact.

Here's the proof: After three years of a Provo-based education this blogger is still capable of saying "Hell, yeah" when something is good. She wasn't murdered or tortured by BYU staff for being non-Republican. I like knowing I might come out of three years at BYU and still not know how to scrapbook, play Bunco or put vinyl phrases onto painted craft boards. Scary. I love knowing I could come out with a rocking education, a fantastic relationship, fabulous communication skills and still have a sense of humor. Awesome.

I left feeling energized because let's be honest, the world currently expects a LOT out of us women. As Natalie points out in her post about "The Second Shift," the women's liberation movement gave us more options. But it also gave us more to do. We must be mothers, teachers, chefs, decorators, lawyers, doctors, triathletes and we must do it all well and all at the same time. And then, in all our spare minutes we're supposed to blog about it. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed and I haven't even taken on half of the womanly roles I hope to yet.

So this post and in particular, this tongue-in-cheek response to a Debbie-Downer, was a nice reminder I've got it pretty good, too -- even if I am headed to law school:

(You know, I DO have a really hard life...you know, a champion husband, a healthy body, a supportive fam, a great education, a place to live, decent insurance,
etc....WHOA. Now that I think about it, no one has ever had a baby in harder circumstances. WHAT AM I THINKING???)

My friend Johanna is one of my heroes. We served as mission companions and I've never met anyone so capable of love. She is smart, she is tough and she is going to medical school. Andrea's headed to grad school. Amy is rocking it as a mother. Raquel is teaching and coaching high school students. Kristen's tearing it up in D.C. Emilie's the youngest editor I've ever met. Natalie is rocking the GMAT this weekend. I have amazing, capable, incredible friends who are touching and improving many, many lives. Which is why this post about LDS General Relief Society President Julie B. Beck meant so much to me. This entry reminded me how much I LOVE being a woman in today's world; how much I love being a woman who is also LDS. My generation may be the most privileged group of women to ever live. Ever. Seriously, ladies ... how lucky are we? Temple covenants? Check. Rocking educations and the right to vote? Check. Check. Clean drinking water? Check.

Yup. We've got it all.

On magic ...

Chocolate mixed with chocolate, doused in chocolate and then sprinkled with more chocolate.

If you've never ordered a chocolate milkshake from Chili's then stop reading this and go do so RIGHT. NOW.


Seriously, why are you still here?? I know ... Chili's doesn't seem like the most likely place for life-changing-milkshakes, but I assure you it is.


Life-changing.


GO!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

On preparation ...

The law school letter I received told me to look up the definition of and then "ponder and apply the word 'recreation.'" Unless I do this, the letter warns, my "reservoir will [not] be filled" and I will be left drained and incapable of surviving my first semester. (Reservoir, ponder and apply -- anyone still unsure which Utah law school I picked?) So I've been pondering. And doing a heck of a job to try to apply.
  • rec/re/a/tion -- refreshment by means of some pastime, agreeable exercise, or the like.

Turns out the above is a lot easier to "apply in our daily lives" than faith, hope or charity. So far I've gotten a pedicure, gone out to eat and gone swimming. Any other ideas? Or have I interpreted this wrong and I'm headed down some dark road of law school apostasy? Kind of like when this friend thought the Biblical story of the widow's mite was referring to a bug. Don't worry, a companion set her straight before she taught the good people of Tennessee it was OK to pay tithing with small insects.

Who knew going to a church school would be so much fun already?

Suggestions for recreating, favorite scripture verses on enduring to the end and advice on surviving three years in Utah County welcome.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Samisms

Me: Thanks so much for doing that for me, Sam!

Sam (bows gracefully): It was my pleasure. (kisses my hand)

------

Dad: Sam, why on earth did you change back into your pajamas??

Sam (long, heavy sigh): It's a long story.

----

Sam: I think dad's a fat leprechaun.

(Alex chuckles and goes back to what he's doing. Sam continues to giggle.)

Sam (walking away): Fat leprechaun ... I crack myself up.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

On the wistfulness of youth ...

The black top was as empty as the hope in his eyes.

Two girls played on a tire swing in the distance -- the only remaining evidence from the school day.

"They didn't build it for me," he sighed. "I realized this isn't for me anymore."

His eyes scanned the emerald grass of the baseball field as if searching for his lost childhood.

"It's just hard, you know?" the young man continued. "One day it's all OK and then the next ... it's just over. You have to grow up."

He kicked a rock, sending it scuttling across the lonely pavement. The distant whistle of a soccer referee broke through the silence like so many memories of sun-filled glory days.

"There's all this responsibility. All these expectations. A year ago it was different. I was still a kid," he said. "Now ... now I just don't know."

Last year wasting time came without reproach, he says. Decisions came without last consequences. Freedom came without a price. You could freely choose your course in the name of "finding yourself." People looked at your nomadic lifestyle with envy instead of disdain, shaking their heads, thinking "Oh, to be young" and smiling because of all the potential ahead of you. You could even play video games.

"But you don't even like video games," I remind him.

It doesn't matter, he says. It's the principle of the thing. This birthday is pivotal, he reminds me. It means the final abandonment of childish things and facing a world no longer offering forgiveness based on youth.

Yes, I think. It is hard to turn 24.

The early twenties are over and the mid-twenties loom ahead like the staggering Everest his neighbor has climbed more times than years he has been alive. Because surely, with the addition of one extra candle, comes the expectations to be stable, productive and the absence of all things light, happy and free. There will be no more smiling. No more laughing. No more traveling or exploration or learning. No more swingsets or blacktops or soccer fields. Ever.

Such privileges only belong to those who are 23.

No, my friend. There are only bills and timecards and paychecks. Only mortgages and 401Ks and car repairs to urge you out of bed in the morning. The rat race has begun and you're only one more furry mass in search of the cheese. Recess is over and the eternal final exam has begun.

Happy Birthday.

Friday, May 22, 2009

On sharing a cubicle ...

Di: Is he the one that said something about (insert particular detail of my social life).

Me: Yes.

Di: Is it weird that I know the detailed minutia of your life but I don't remember to do the big things ... per say, like vacuuming?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On circles ...

"How's your weekend going?"

It's Wednesday at 9:41 p.m. I'm driving to Wal-Mart and I have a 12-hour work day ahead of me. It is definitely NOT the weekend.

"Just great," I try. "How was your day at school?"
"It was OK," he says with a heavy sigh. "We made ladybugs."
"I like ladybugs."

There's a pause in conversation.

"I love you."
"I love you, too, Sam."

There's another pause.

"So...," he says, looking for something to say. "How's your weekend going?"

------------------------------
Every phone conversation with Sam is upliftingly the same. He says he misses me. He asks when I'm coming home. He tells me he loves me. Then he asks how my weekend is going, no matter what day of the week it is. If I ask Sam how he's doing, sometimes he is good, and sometimes, he doesn't know.

I have a friend Davey who will laugh and exclaim "I don't know!" when you ask him how he feels.

"Are you sad, Davey? Happy?"
"I don't know!" he'll say again, giggling.
------------------------------
It's several hours after I've hung up the phone with Sam but now I'm the one going in circles.

"What's wrong?" he asks.
"I'm not sure."

"What are you going to do?" he asks.
"I don't know," I say with a heavy sigh.

How did it make me feel?
Heck if I know, I think. All I know is I'm a mess.

There's a pause in the conversation.

I scramble for something, anything, to break the silence I've created.

"I should let you go so you can get some sleep," I say for the millionth time.

I wonder if this is how Sam feels when he doesn't know what to say.

"I love you."
"I love you, too."

There's another pause.

"K ... Well, I should let you go so you can get some sleep."

At least we're consistent. In Sam's case that's not a bad thing: In his world it is always the weekend; and he will always love me.

________________________
My friend Davey was wearing a T-shirt with this Web site and the slogan "Spread the word to end the word," the other day. I've signed ... you should, too. And just in case you missed it ... October was National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. It definitely doesn't have to be October to tell someone you know with Down syndrome you love them.

Monday, May 18, 2009

On commencing ...

Dear Class of 2012:

According to the letter containing BYU law school laptop requirements, that now means me.

I don't cry at funerals or weddings. I didn't cry when I needed stitches or when my goldfish died. I successfully hold back the tears every other Friday when my paycheck comes.

But I'm an emotional wreck at graduations.

I cry for the parents who are proud. I cry for the graduates who have reached a milestone. I cry for the amount of time they have spent saving, scrimping and working to pay for tuition. I cry because they are lucky and for the millions around the world who will never have an education. I cry because I'm one of the lucky ones. I cry because I'm done with school and I miss it. I should be crying because there is joy in leaving the university and because leaving has really been the point all along. I should be happy for all of those donned in cap and gown ... but I cry bitter tears for them because they have no idea how much better their lives are as students. I cry because I know I'm absurd.

My brother's high school graduation is a week away. My next graduation, still another three years. Good thing I've got some time to prepare.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On abandoning ship ...

My parents are going on a week-long vacation to San Diego in July. I was invited to come. It means quittting my job earlier than anticipated. I figure an extra $1,200 in student loans is worth the sanity a few weeks between the craziness-that-is-current and the-craziness-that-will-be will afford. I am relishing the idea of a few blank weeks to buy books, bake and freeze meals, sit on a beach and move my stuff from one dwelling to the other slowly instead of forcing my poor boyfriend to move everything in a 12-hour-stretch. It feels like I haven't had a break that long between employment since the eighth grade.

I just put the letter with my new quit date on my editor's desk ... and from the other side of the cubicle heard him swear loudly in shock as he picked it up.

At least I'll be missed??

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

On connecting ...

I don't have Internet connection at my new place. Which means I've been blogging from work. Coincidentally, everything I've wanted to blog about in the last few weeks has required a picture to do it justice and suddenly I am without the ability to upload photos easily because I'm blogging from work. It's kind of a vicious cycle. Here's hoping I get Internet soon. Otherwise you'll be forced to read painfully detailed descriptions of stuffed toy seagulls. Yah ... a picture really would be worth 1,000 words in that case.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On hospitals...


I spent Monday morning in the hospital. Nothing big ... they just sprayed Novacaine on my throat, put me to sleep and slipped a camera down my esophagus. I woke up to Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips and Sprite ready to combat my falling blood sugar and warm blankets piled on top of me. Not a bad way to spend the day.

My angel-mother went with me. She held my purse when I was filling out paper work, my hand when I saw the needle going in for the IV and my arm when I made my way out to the car. She's beat cancer. She saw her own mother through a medical mess. I can't even begin to count the hours she spent with Sam during his stay in NICU, his heart surgery or other procedures he's had performed at Primary Children's Medical Center. Much to her chagrin, she is an expert on hospitals.

So I believed her when the first words out of her mouth as we made our way to the lab were "This is a nice hospital." It gave me a little boost in confidence for the upcoming procedure. However, I wasn't so sure what to make of her next comment as she came out of the women's room on the second floor: "They have weird Italian restaurant music going on in there."

She was right. It was weird. Here I was in a lab surrounded by mostly old people. (Oh the stories and the conversations I heard ... is anyone else dreading turning 50 and needing a colonoscopy? Because now I definitely am.) There were insurance forms to be filled out and pamphlets on acid reflux and it smelled like some kind of antiseptic. The room was decorated in business teal and brown. Hard counter tops and shiny IV poles were only slightly softened by rainbow curtain dividers. The warm ambiance music of Macaroni Grill just didn't mesh.

It did, however, make me hungry. And that was unfortunate because I couldn't eat. Of all the things I endured in preparation for Monday morning, not eating or drinking anything after midnight was the worst. At 11 p.m. the night before I was hungry just in anticipation of midnight. By 11 a.m. the next morning I was starving. Boy those Sun Chips tasted good.

But I don't know if I'll ever be able to listen to the music at Macaroni Grill in the same way again.

Friday, April 24, 2009

On bliss...

Just in case you wondered, the Crown Burger Combo is as good as its reputation.

And fry sauce?? Oh, how I've missed you!

My mom was unabashedly impressed as I packed away the entire combo meal she bought for me last night. I appreciated the fact it was a good-sized meal, but I was taken off guard by her surprise. She raised me. She out of anyone should KNOW I like food. Then I realized it has been my dad who has witnessed my most impressive cullinary accomplishments. My mom has taught me to appreciate flavors and colorful plating. My dad taught me to appreciate meat, and in large quantities.

I have a lot of memories of my dad that involve really, really good food.

The first pastrami burger I ever ate was at Astro Burger. Delicious. Back when Big Mac's were tasty I could finish one and my dad couldn't. I miss the metabolism of growth spurts.There are these French fries at Alf's lodge when we go skiing. He introduced me to sauerkraut. Have I mentioned he grills salmon and tri-tip steaks and knows how to perfectly cook prime rib?

When I was a college student and stealing other people's French fries to survive I missed meat. A lot. I would daydream about Sunday dinners with ribs or chicken or pork in classes. Since moving in with a friend and leaving behind all cooking paraphernalia I've resorted back to a prior diet of cereal and mercenary meals. Yesterday I was living off of a bottle of juice and a package of pumpkin cookies until my mom came along. I think maybe I'll go home on Sunday. Steak sounds nice.
(I didn't take this picture ... completely stole it from it from here.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On aging ...

I sat at a table with four Kindergartners, all of them sure they wanted to be sitting next to Violet -- except for Violet who wanted to be sitting next to Ashton. They played musical chairs and I attempted an interview.

It was National Teach Children to Save Day and Zions Bank was all over it with propoganda visors, pamphlets for the parents and games and activities for the kids.

I was asking a bunch of six-year-olds why they thought it was important to save.

"So you can buy stuff," was the most common response.

Somewhere in the midst of children on the other side of the room telling the banker they had a turtle and why their parents like Hawaii, Ashton turned to me and said in a matter-of-fact tone, "You look 20 or 21."

I smiled appreciatively.

"You're close!" I responded warmly. "I'm actually 24."

Gee, I thought. That must sound ancient to a six-year-old.

Yup.

"That's cool! My mom's 25."

Friday, April 17, 2009

On bullying ...

In the fifth grade we had a substitute teacher.

I have no idea what her name was.

All I remember was that she was young, kind of pretty and she had served a mission in Bolivia -- the same place as my dad.

This was a particularly good day for Mrs. Parker's fifth-grade class. Not only was our teacher gone and so we didn't have to turn in our homework, but so was on one of our classmates.

This girl had bullied me for almost three years by the time the Bolivian substitute showed up. I was weary of her constant teasing, belittling and cruel tactics to make my life miserable. Looking back I can see how desperate she was for attention. There were clearly some issues at home she wasn't dealing with well and most 10-year-olds don't automatically know how to torture others -- that's a gift that's learned.

At the time, however, all I could think about was how nice it was to have a day where I was free to talk to any person in the class I wanted without wondering how it would come back to hurt me. I could choose any game at recess without being told I wasn't welcome.

I was not the only person under this girl's thumb so I was not the only one rejoicing. A group of us stood in line waiting to be excused for lunch chattering about our joy and sharing horror stories. It didn't help her last name rhymed with "Rottenstein."

The substitute must have thought we were awful. Who is this poor picked-on girl they're making fun of so mercilessly? she was probably thinking. I could see that look on her face and I rushed to defend ourselves.

"I promise we're not mean people!" I told her. "She really is an awful person. If you only knew how horrible she was to us."

The teacher acknowledged my comments and then thoughtfully said, "All I know is that if you feel the need to talk about someone behind their back it's probably because you're worried someone is talking about you in the same way. You should try to be the kind of person where people don't have anything negative to share."

I've never forgotten that lesson.

I remember very little about the rest of fifth grade. I'm sure there were planets we studied and field trips and girl drama. I'm sure there were fights and tears and bonding.

I do, however, remember that substitute every time it crosses my mind to spread something negative about someone else. Fourteen years later it's still a hard lesson. But I'm getting better.

On eavesdropping and sensitivity ...

Editor (on phone with reporter): Seventy-year-old woman, skydiving, Ogden airport, 1 p.m. tomorrow, you there?

pause while reporter responds

Editor: It's at the Ogden airport but she may not be from our area.

pause while reporter responds

Editor: You're there in case the parachute doesn't work.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

On work ethic ...

me: I'm having an outpatient procedure done on the 27th so I'll need that day off.

Editor: OK

me: And I might need the 28th off, too depending on how the anesthesia effects me ... I'd hate to come into work all looped out.

Editor: But how would that be different than any other day, Brooke?

me: (pause) This is true.

Monday, April 13, 2009

On dreams ...

Miss Patty from Miss Patty's School of Dance was at the stake center. Her pal Kirk was in my single's ward the other day and he was instructed to speak on the parallels of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and the gospel.

I went lingerie shopping with a high school friend I haven't seen in months.

Andrea started dating Chris and my boyfriend's brother fell in love with her. Amidst the love triangle, we were solving a murder mystery with a glowing interactive digital map from Kohler's grocery store.

I moved back to Tennessee as part of a polygamous relationship with a married friend of mine and then started dating other people to get out of it. My friend isn't so sweet when she feels her "first wife" status is being threatened.

There was something about speaking in a public place and in front of a crush I had in college.

Is it any wonder that even with a solid eight hours of sleep I'm still tired? It's not exactly like I'm getting rest.

At least I'm not dreaming about blind midgets hitting me with a hockey stick. That could leave a mark.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

On parenthood ...

Things are going infinitely better this weekend than the last time I babysat. Everyone's healthy and we have yet to visit the emergency room.

Just like last time, however, my mother left us prepared with an envelope containing an insurance card and some cash. The outside reads:

Kids
this is too much $$ in case of emergency -- don't spend it all just for the heck of it!

So I'm wondering ... do pizza and bowling count as an emergency?

Monday, March 30, 2009

On getting over it ...

Before Sam was born my family would squish four people, one car seat, three pillows, three suitcases, two packages of RedVines and one package of CornNuts into a 1985 brown Volvo with plastic paneling and head toward Southern Utah. After Sam was born my family would squish five people, one car seat, four pillows, four suitcases, two packages of RedVines and one package of CornNuts into a green 1995 Ford Explorer and head toward Southern Utah.

Family vacations didn't change much until a couple years ago when both of my little brothers alternated throwing up while winding through canyons and Alex's glassy-eyed response to the next destination on the itinerary was, "Oh goody. More rocks."

At least that's the story he tells.

I was in Tennessee at the time. Since then, my dad's new job has resulted in frequent traveler points. Traveling has gotten infinitely cooler. When my parents announce where we'll be staying on our next vacation, my 12-year-old brother asks if there's a concierge lounge. We've come a long way from Motel 6 and car camping.

I don't miss the hot car with no air conditioning. I don't miss having to share a bed with my brother, drawing a clear line down the middle and swearing I would murder him if so much as a toe crossed it. I don't miss the rocks. Two decades of "rock trips" were enough for me. But I do miss the music.

My parents had two tapes we would play over and over on vacations: "Never Die Young" by James Taylor and "When Hell Freezes Over" by the Eagles.

The Eagles' album opens with the song, "Get Over It," basically a rewording of my dad's mantra "No fussing, no whining, no crying."

Rocking out to the Eagles and watching Santaquin, Panguitch and Cedar City fly past, I was perfectly content to agree that everyone in the world really should "Get Over It." Life was good with it's blue skies and bright sunshine spilling through car windows, and I was sure if everyone else in the world stopped whining it would be even better.

I thought about this phrase a few times this week. First when my work schedule changed, then when the Internet wouldn't load on my laptop and again when I realized I was headed for a school I swore I would never be a part of. "Get Over It, Brooke." Life is good. There was green grass and wonderful music and good food. Then it snowed. It took a little longer to get over that one, but scraping off my car in the sunshine this morning I found myself realizing how very good life really was.

There is one thing, however, I will never get over.

As of this week, I have been home for a exactly year from a 19-month LDS mission trip in Tennessee. I've been flooded with the memory of intense emotion -- inadequacy, miracles, failure, total joy, pure love and deep friendships.

I might be tempted to move on now, to just "get over it." But I refuse. I would be losing too much of not just who I was, but who I am now.

Here's just a few things about Tennessee I will never, ever get over:
  • Fried pickles
  • The way Dalton smiled when he announced himself as a "Dictionary"
  • Dogwood trees in bloom
  • The confidence I was exactly where God wanted me
  • Planning
  • A small apartment in Dickson and the smell of Jo cooking Indian food for breakfast
  • Morningstar chicken nuggets
  • Pulled pork and Southern bbq
  • Haley's munchkins
  • Firesides
  • Superheroes and super powers
  • Real rainstorms
  • Watching a font fill and laying out clean, white clothing for a baptism
  • The way the morning smells in Clarksville in the spring when you're jogging
  • Wishing I could tell the man at the airport counter how much my heart was breaking when he asked if I was excited to be going home

Friday, March 27, 2009

On distraction ...

I'm REALLY happy. Ridiculously happy. I have an unusual amount of energy and I wake up smiling. Every morning. Really big. And I'm not normally a morning person. I would be thrilled about this except for the fact it's made focusing at work hard. REALLY hard. Still, the downsides are hardly enough to tempt me to trade my current bliss for focus. I'll keep the boyfriend ... I just need to lose the daydreams. Maybe there's an herb that could help? I don't think Ginkgo Biloba can help with situational ADD, though. Pretty sure that's just supposed to prevent memory loss or something ... huh, I should look that up on Google. I wonder what those leaves look like. Remember that time in young women's camp they made me take apart aloe vera leaves? Hey! Sarah talked about young women's today. I should read that blog again.

Ahh ... distractions.


(Links, random thoughts and future Google topics welcome.)