Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spread the Word ...

Well since we're already on "pause" shall we take time for a public service announcement?

Check out this link and video:

I'm a big fan of Glee's Lauren Potter. Self-advocates rock! She's joined forces with Jane Lynch to help with the "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign. I've posted about it here and here before.

You can take the pledge to strike it from your vocabulary, spread the word on your own blog, and then encourage others to do the same. It's easier than you think ... trust me, I know. I was terrified to approach a couple friends about their use word "retard" was making me really uncomfortable. But I knew they were good people ... I figured once they knew what they were really saying they wouldn't want to use a word that was hurtful or cruel. And I was right. The brief conversations about the word were anything but awkward and they both thanked me later saying they hadn't realized how casual they'd become with it. Don't know how to get the conversation started with those around you? There are videos with ideas on how to get the ball rolling here.

Words hurt. And they can perpetuate harmful attitudes about value, ability, and diversity. Let's make life a little less painful, huh? So go on, Spread the Word! You'll be my hero if you do. And Lauren's.

(Read the pledge and think you can do it? Inspired enough to post a link on your own blog? Comment here to let me know and I'll enter you in a drawing for a $20 gift certificate to a place of your choice. Bribery? Nah. Motivation? Possibly, right?)

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Monday, May 23, 2011


So I know it's time for my "P" entry and, believe me, do I have a doozy of a post for you.

Be prepared to take on the Disney empire, princesses, and the commercial exploitation of children.

But not for another week. See, my work schedule is crazy for the next few days and then Dave and I are headed off to the Grand Canyon through Memorial Day. So I'm going to press "pause" on this alphabet thing and leave you with a link to get you through till I'm back:


This is Dave's uncle Alan's blog. The premise? He's going to lose those really stubborn "last 10 pounds" over and over again trying different diets along the way. And while he's doing it he's noticing some quirky things about our relationship with food. Take a look and I'll be back next week!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Quirky ...

Some of my favorite quirks:

  • The way my little brother always asks, "How's your weekend going?" even if it's the middle of the week.
  • The way other little brother sticks in tongue in his cheek when he's trying not to smile or show how proud he is of something that just happened (for example, when he swishes a shot in basketball).
  • The way my husband's fingers get "claustrophobic" when I hold his hand a certain way.
  • How one of my best friends stutters and kind of dances around when she gets nervous.
  • One of my professors has never taught a day with his shirt properly tucked in or buttoned. He's either missed a button hole or it's half falling over his pants.
  • The way my mom answers the phone.

Any favorite quirks of yours?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Returned Missionary ...

First, I love NPR.

Second, I love the content of Fresh Air but I wish the host was more like Diane Rehm or Doug Fabrizio.

Anyway, the other day the creators of South Park were on the show talking about their new musical "The Book of Mormon" and the 14 Tony nominations that it's received.

It was fascinating and I laughed through the whole program. There is no doubt the pair are talented and funny comedians.

What really got my attention, though, was their fascination with missionaries. There was a lot of talk about Mormon doctrine -- whatever, I really could care less about that. Just about every Mormon I know has a different interpretation of LDS doctrine so some variation among a couple of writers wasn't anything to really interest me. There was also a lot of talk about musicals and the way they kept telling their writers and composers to "Make it more Disney! More Rodgers and Hammerstein! More Mormon! Really cheeze it up!" and when the writers or composers would say, "Well which one do you want?" they would smile knowingly and say, "It's all just different words for the same thing." That was funny, but not all that interesting because I already knew that -- Mormon culture is cheezy, it's pageant-like (heck, the Church itself pays for and produces several pageants every summer), and it's definitely Disney-like ... we are all about princesses and happily ever afters. And all in all, they sincerely meant it as a compliment. The world could use a little more optimism they said, but it would be a comedic shame not to capitalize on all the possibilities for mockery there.

But the missionary thing ... their thoughts piqued my interest. This idea that 18-year-olds from sheltered, predominantly white Salt Lake City, Utah would have anything to offer starving Africans was ridiculous to them. And they're right ... it is a little absurd. But is it really that much more absurd than 18-year-olds from predominantly white Denver or Pittsburgh thinking they will single-handedly changing the world joining the Peace Corps? Or going with a local Baptist church to build churches in Mexico? Or heck, a 25-year-old from Utah County thinking she'll make a difference by working on women's rights legal work in Samoa for six weeks? What's wrong with wanting to change the world even if your efforts don't quite live up to expectations? I think it takes a pretty serious cynic to think it would be better for all those 18-year-olds to just sit back in Utah and decide not to do anything with the knowledge they think they have. And was the culture shock the two are sure that every missionary experiences ... do they really think it's because Mormon kids have never lived outside of LDS-land before? From the way they describe the musical and the situations the pair of missionaries find themselves in, it sounds like ANY white kid from suburbia ... whether Salt Lake, Seattle, or San Antonio, would find themselves just as shell shocked by virtue of the fact they are middle class and American. Uganda isn't different from Utah because the majority religion isn't LDS, it's different because it's Uganda. I really enjoyed the interview but I was so perplexed why they thought putting two Mormon kids in a foreign country was funny simply because the kids were Mormon -- as if it was the religious difference that created all the dramatic conflict. As if it wouldn't have been equally strange or incongruous to drop two white, middle class Protestant kids in the middle of Africa? I get that the story might be funny ... I just didn't understand their reasoning for why it was funny.

The pair explained there are two great premises of their play that everyone can relate to. First, missions are a great "coming of age" story ... one of the main reasons they chose the Mormon missions as the backdrop for their story. What's better than watching two young people out in the world away from their parents on their own for the first time find their way? It's classic Broadway. And second, missions provide a great backdrop for the classic "fish out of water" storyline. Two kids from suburban America coming face to face for the first time with disease, and hunger, and war in a culture very foreign to them.

I agreed with them completely on those two points. I grew up a lot on my mission. I didn't go to Uganda. I didn't even leave the country. But I still had my eyes opened in ways I didn't expect. Who knew that there were places in the U.S. with literacy rates as low as other third world countries or where poverty could exist just miles from a thriving American city? What I didn't agree with was their conclusions: Missions are a waste of time for the missionary, the Church, and the communities they are sent to.

They expressed to the host of the show what a shame it was that these young naive missionaries get so excited and then show up in another country and realize that everything they thought was wrong and their preaching is pointless and they go home either deflated, disillusioned, or even more pious than when they left and nothing has been gained by anyone. They made it sound like coming face to face with things like hunger, disease, or war were bad things and that the Mormon kids would have been better off just staying home. For all their gentle ribbing of Mormon naivety at the beginning of the interview and the "Utah bubble," they were oddly not on board with any young Mormon actually escaping the bubble for awhile. If Mormons are too sheltered, what would be better than throwing them into third world countries or making them learn foreign languages or interact with others from a different culture? Why wouldn't sending our young men and women out to see things be good? Not just for the Church, but for them as individuals? And so what if they don't change the world or convert anyone while they're there? If religion is the sham they say it is, they should be grateful no converting occurred, but at least recognize that all the service they did along the way was at least worthwhile.

I have no issue with the two writers thinking that all religions are just interesting cultural studies in human delusion or fascination with a non-existent power. I'm woman enough to admit my beliefs are totally based on a spiritual belief and not in any kind of scientific logic. However, people aren't going to give up believing in God just because the creators of South Park told them to, so as long as they are hanging onto their "delusions" why not do some good with it along the way? I think they'd be hard pressed to find any other religion with a portion of their American believers who know as many languages and have an appreciation for as many cultures as the Mormons.

I really liked this response printed in the Washington Post:

I loved the part about them becoming ambassadors. The returned missionaries I know who served in other countries ADORE the places they served. They often have flags from the country hanging in their apartments. They still cook exotic foods to remind them of the two years they spent from home. They watch the news carefully for news about the places they served. Jon Huntsman, who is anything but an Orthodox Mormon, ended up returning to the culture he gained appreciation for on his mission as a real American ambassador. You might think the preaching is a waste of time, but can anyone really argue that sending young people, regardless of their faith, out into another culture for a couple of years is really useless? Well, apparently the South Park writers can. They made a whole musical out of it. Your thoughts?

(You can listen to the full interview HERE.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sadness and Smiles ...

There's a lot of sadness going around lately it seems.

But there's also a lot of smiles.

I've always thought life was funny because of that. How for one person you know, their entire world is crumbling, and for another everything is bliss, but they are existing at the same time in the same place. For example, a couple weeks ago my coworker's mother died. She was devastated. But the same week a classmate was having a baby. For one family life was beginning, for another life was drawing to a close. All at the same time. Dave and I said goodbye to some good friends this week before they moved. It's crazy to me that this weekend they will wake up in an entirely new home but everyone else will wake up in the same place they always do and go about their day like nothing has happened even though everything will be different for them. Every day at work I read about horrible crimes that occurred, but then take breaks to check e-mails for updated wedding plans from friends. There are murders to solve and crimes to prosecute at the same time that bridal showers need to be thrown and cakes need to be ordered.

For me? Right now I feel pretty in the middle. No pregnancies or new jobs or new homes or new anything really special to celebrate or smile about. But nothing tragic is going on either. I feel a little like I'm stuck in neutral, but I don't mean "stuck" in a negative way. I'm just kind of idling along and I like it.

I feel bad I can't do more to relieve some of the sadness. Maybe that's what being in the middle of sadness and smiling is all about. The ability to do one or the other depending on what the others around you need you to do.

This post is getting rambly, so I'll stop, but I hope all of you get to smile today. And that if you are experiencing sadness that it is the deep kind that eventually turns to sweetness.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Turning Twenty-Six...

(Otherwise entitled "Cars, Trucks, and Moving Vans")

My husband loves trucks. You may have gathered that from the way he speaks to me in his sleep. He is currently a driver manager for a trucking company. He oversees 92 semi-trucks and tracks them all across the country to make sure that things like onions, ketchup, and potatoes get to the store on time. He loves it. He doesn't drive the trucks ... just tracks them via GPS and computer ... but he wishes he did. One of his greatest dreams is for us to retire and go driving off into the sunset on an 18-wheeler together.

He's in logistics, the profession that moves the things all the other professions join together to make from point A and to point B. Right now that means he wears khakis and polo shirts to work and talks to semi-truck drivers all day. At some point it might mean wearing a suit and tie and coordinating million dollar shipments from one country in Asia to another country in Europe. At another it might mean putting on jeans and a t-shirt with a walkie-talkie strapped to his belt as he works in a refugee camp in Africa coordinating the shipment of goods and people with the Red Cross. As much as he loves his trucking dream, the Red Cross dream is probably is his favorite. And it's the conversation we had while dating about what we could do together in Africa/Europe/wherever with the Red Cross that started me down the path of falling in love with him.

When Dave was little, or so I'm told, his dad wanted to make a tape of him and his sister Genny talking to send back to his grandparents. They were living in New York City at the time -- a place full of magic for little kids. The conversation went something like this:

Dad: What's your favorite thing to do?
Genny: Color, play pretend, read stories. (I'm totally ad libbing for Genny here.)
Dave: I like cars, trucks, and moving vans.

Dad: What's your favorite part of New York?
Genny: The park.
Dave: I like to watch the cars, trucks, and moving vans.

Dad: How old are you?
Genny: Four.
Dave: I like cars, trucks, and moving vans.

Things haven't changed much in the last 26 years except that he's added trains to the list. Riding the train across the Wasatch Front to visit me was one of Dave's favorite parts of our courtship. When we pass an interesting truck on the freeway, Dave slows down to get a better look. He likes getting stuck behind railway crossings.

It was his birthday on Saturday. I couldn't get him a car, a train, a truck, or a moving van. But I can still hold out for Africa.

Happy Birthday, Dave!

Friday, May 13, 2011


So I posted my "U" entry yesterday and now it's gone ... anyone else experience weird issues with Blogger and any suggestions on how to get it back?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Upstanding citizen ...

One of the attorneys I work for has a cardboard cutout of a former division director in their office. It was made as a gag gift at a going away party and has remained in the office as a longstanding joke.

It looks like this ... only with another person's head pasted over the vice president's.

The office is getting painted today, so he needed a new home.Now he is standing just a few inches away from my elbow looking over my shoulder as I research.

As much as I like Vice President Biden's body (which sounds way kinkier than I mean it), I have to say it's kind of freaking me out a little to feel like I'm being watched.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Very Vegan ...

Have you ever tried to be vegan in the South? Or convince other people who have offered to cook for you to prepare a vegan menu? Don't. People tend to not invite you over as much.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weddings and Wendover ...

This is a picture of the royal kiss ...

This is a picture of the "Edwards" kiss ...

[can't get picture to upload right now ... we'll insert later ... sorry!]

Personally, I think we did a better job of sealing the deal. Though there were not quite as many people waiting to greet us outside of the temple doors than there were greeting William and Kate from the palace balcony.

Two weekends ago we went to Wendover. It was 6 p.m. on a Friday and I was just finishing up my last paper of the semester. Dave and I were frantic to get out. We didn't care where ... we just needed a vacation. Since we had to be back by 2 p.m. the next day we couldn't go far. We weighed our options and our budget. We had enough to stay in a really nice room and go out to eat in Wendover, or stay in a really small hotel room in Park City and go through the drive through. So we headed west on 1-80.

It was one of the most beautiful drives I've ever taken. It was sunset and the mountains were reflecting off of the salt flats which had been covered with rain. That drive is normally desolate and brown. This time it was full of color and a little bit of magic.

Then we got to our hotel room. I'm pretty sure it was designed by a stripper. It had an in-room jacuzzi. There were mirrors and neon lights EVERYWHERE!! I couldn't stop laughing. We enjoyed some casino food. Dessert was amazing (passion fruit mousse and triple chocolate lava cake), the pasta not so much. The next morning we got up early for the ATV ride we had scheduled. I was excited to do something outside. I hadn't seen the sun for months and my body hadn't done anything active since finals prep had begun. Our tour guide pulled up in his van and we crawled in.

The first stop was a trailer home. "This," we were told, "was where the railroad station used to be before it burned down." The next stop was the frontage road. "There," our guide said, pointing to a dump truck "is the machinery that works the pot ash mine." We figured he was being friendly, giving us the "scenic" tour of Wendover on our way to the ATVs, but we were getting impatient. We had spent the rest of our money on the excursion and the hour was starting to dwindle away as he went on about the pot ash mining process. Finally, we were on our way again. He pulled onto the freeway for about two minutes, exited off again and drove to the end of the pavement where a parks marker signaled the beginning of the salt flat racing track. That's when I knew we were in trouble. "Dave," I whispered. "I think this is the tour." His eyes got wide.

We got out and our guide read the sign to us. He offered to take a picture. We got back in and he started back to our hotel. A brochure in the van confirmed our suspicions. Dave told him here had been a mix-up ... somehow we'd been signed up for the "interpretive" Salt Flats tour instead of the ATV rides. The man apologized, but told us it was too late and there was nothing he could do. He offered to take us on the rest of the tour. We glumly agreed.

Have you ever been to Wendover?! There is nothing there! There's one street with maybe four hotels, a couple cheap fast food places and a golf course. So the rest of the "tour" was driving past our hotel, our guide pointing out "Pizza Hut on the right and the new town hall on the left" and then turning around at the golf course and dropping us off. Then he charged us $50. Turns out if we'd gone on the ATV ride it would have been $130. We were livid. Interpretive tour my foot. He just charged us $50 to take us to free BLM land and read off a sign. It was clearly not the employees fault though so we paid and left. Dave immediately called the management for a refund. The call did not go well and I'm still trying to figure out the best way to submit a complaint to the Nevada Better Business Bureau. So if you go to Wendover, skip the "interpretive tour." But be sure the get the passionfruit mousse and the room with the mirrors.

Who knew trashy could be so fun?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Yay You! (and me)

When I graduated from high school, a friend bought me this book:

It's one of my favorites. The BEST Sandra Boynton book is "Hester in the Wild." Fairy Godmother rabbits who turn purple with rage, troublesome ground hogs, and a canoe ... adult-intelligent comedy disguised as a children's book doesn't get any better.

But I digress ...

I haven't graduated so I really shouldn't have too much reason to feel celebratory. But I do. In fact, I think I'm more relieved and happy this year is over than any other. Whenever I think of what's been accomplished there's a small chorus singing "yay!" in my head.

So here are a few things that also have me "yay"ing:

Spring ... for real this time. It snowed last Saturday but I'm convinced it's going to be warm from now on.

Research. One of my favorite professors just invited me to assist her with research that will combine my experience and love of journalism and access to public records and the law. (Double yay!)

A paycheck. For once I will be getting paid to do legal work rather than paying to be allowed to work. Who came up with the whole you-pay-us-to-let-you-do-our-work internship business model? Apparently other credit-hungry graduate students like me. Somehow it doesn't feel so wrong to pay someone to let you do work when you're getting credit.

Hospitals. I LOVED the doctor who did my most recent scope and the outpatient staff in his office. And now I have really cool pictures of my esophagus on my fridge.

Speaking of which ... Not having constant heartburn and finding an affordable solution for my acid reflux has been pretty exciting. My doctor handed me two prescriptions and told me to take whichever was cheaper ... $360 a month or $9 a month? It was a hard decision.

Bridesmaid dresses that fit like a glove and make you feel beautiful. The non-cupcake topper look is the way to go, gals. Classy choice, Kristen, classy choice. If the bridesmaid dresses are this stunning, I can't wait to see the bride!! I've never been part of another person's wedding party before so I was kind of nervous when the dress arrived. All fears have been put to rest.

What has you "yay"ing?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

On the Zoo...

When I was about 10 or 11 my mom bought a season pass to the zoo. It was mostly for my little brother Alex who was OBSESSED with animals. Each time he would get to pick a new animal from the gift shop to bring home with him and add to his collection. They were these small, rubber, pretty life-like-in-miniature figures. After awhile, he'd gotten all the "normal" animals like giraffes and lions so he started buying rare versions of anteaters and other less popular creatures. I'm pretty sure he still has the collection.

So I've been to the Zoo a LOT. But I have two memories that will always be my favorite:

Memory #1 -- Sam was a runner. My mother's biggest nightmare, and it was a recurring one, was that he would get lost in a crowd, any crowd, and we wouldn't be able to find him. Attempting a trip to Mount Rushmore was a feat of courage for my mother who was sure we would find dangling from a president's nose. He was also fixated on hippos. He had hippo toys, loved to sing songs about hippos, and any movie that he saw that included a hippo became his new instant favorite -- which meant we would watch it over, and over, and over again.

I also had the most amazing boyfriend at the time. I was 20, he was 24. He was trying to get in with my family's good graces, especially my parents who were not thrilled with the situation. They thought I was "too young to get married" and were convinced that any boyfriend over 21 was a marriage proposal waiting to happen. So it was nothing personal -- I don't think a set of parents could construct a more clean-cut, well-behaved boyfriend than the one I had -- but that didn't make their coldness any easier. In an attempt to win them over, we offered to take Sam to the zoo to see the hippo. They consented, and off we went.

All afternoon Sam begged to see the hippo. After stopping to look briefly at a few of the other exhibits on the way, we departed from our well-mapped out route and headed straight to the middle of the park for the hippo exhibit. We were greeted by locked doors and a sign that said, "Pardon our dust during renovation. Our hippo has moved to a new home in Albuquerque." Sam was crushed. We tried to cheer him up by visiting the penguins, but he wasn't interested. After a few more exhibits Ryan and I had all but forgotten about the hippo. When Sam started getting ornery and stubborn, I figured it was because he was hungry. I knew it was time for a hamburger when he yelled at me and sat down defiantly in the middle of the walkway, refusing to budge. We finally got some food into him and I tried playfully teasing him a little to make him smile. I looked over to find one large, single tear rolling down his cheek.

"Sam! What's wrong?!"

"Hippo," he said sadly.

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry with him. I hugged him and reassured him. We let him enjoy his hamburger and fries, I bought him some ice cream, and we talked about the hippo. After a good cry and some treats, he seemed to be doing much better. We all agreed to set off toward the giraffes.

We'd only made it a few yards from the lunch area when I realized I left my glasses on the table. I asked Ryan to stay there with Sam, and I ran back to grab them. I was gone maybe 30 seconds and was within eye shot. My phone started buzzing. "Sam's running!" the text said. I turned around and couldn't see them.

Oh no! I thought. He's lost. The nightmare has happened. But he wasn't lost -- he was just fast. Ryan trailed him closely. But since he was still fairly unfamiliar to Sam, he didn't feel comfortable wrangling him and pinning him down till I got there. And Sam was also REALLY fast. So I told him not to let him out of his sight and I ran to catch up with them. I took off in the direction I'd seen them last. "Elephants," was the next message. I changed course toward the elephant exhibit. Halfway there came "Giraffes" followed quickly by "Monkeys." Every time they'd pass a new exhibit Ryan would text me. I could barely run I was laughing so hard. By the time I caught up to them by the gorillas, Ryan was tired and I was sweating. Sam was sitting contentedly in the shade on a bench. There were about six or seven one-word texts on my phone consisting only of animal names. I saved them for months.

Memory #2 -- My first legal job was for the Utah Crime Victims Clinic in Salt Lake. Most days I worked in the office or accompanied one of the attorneys downtown to a courthouse. One day when I walked in, I was invited to the zoo.

A client needed to sign some paperwork. She was at the zoo with her kids when we called her, and one of the other interns just happened to have a season pass to the zoo with his wife. So off and Andrew and I went, in business formal, me using his wife's pass to get in, to the zoo. The client spoke Spanish, so Andrew called to find out where we should meet up. It was a gorgeous day and I honestly don't think I would rather have been doing anything else than a job I loved as we walked under leafy green trees past the butterfly house and monkey exhibit. Andrew quickly realized how limited his Spanish was when she tried to explain her location. He started attempting to translate animal names into Spanish. "Giraffo?" Sigh. "Como se dice monkey?" No luck. Finally, he struck gold. "Elephantes?" Yes! I was ecstatic. The new baby elephant had just been born and I'd get a glimpse after all.

We found the client, got the papers signed, and decided to take a closer look at the baby elephant before heading back to the car. We passed a blonde woman, pushing one kid in a stroller and two more hanging around her. She looked really familiar so I smiled and then all of a sudden Andrew burst out "Hi Professor Sun!" You have to understand that this woman is brilliant. She is one of like three people in the history of Harvard to get flawless grades all three years of Harvard Law. I'd only seen her in business dress so I almost didn't recognize her in jeans and a T-shirt. She looked at us questioningly. We did look funny -- all dressed up in business formal with legal documents in our hands. Plus, we were sure she was thinking "why on earth are two married BYU students hanging out at the zoo with each other without their spouses at lunch time on a work day?" Andrew quickly explained our situation and she laughed at our story. The baby elephant was perfect and we headed back to the office. I'm pretty sure it's the last time I'll ever get paid for going to the zoo.

Back to front ...

So I've seen several blogs doing a post a day with the alphabet lately. I love the idea so I'm going to attempt it. Though I plan to start with Z and work backward.

Finals are over, the law review write-on is done, and I'm back at work. Life is good.