Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Believing

The other night I was studying my scriptures at the end of a very long day. It was late and I was tired. My brain wasn't working at peak efficiency. I'm a curious person and sometimes I try to explain the things I observe around me. This time, I didn't have answers to the questions my brain was asking. Doubts started to creep in.

I realized I couldn't explain some of the things I believe with my current understanding. In fact, there are lots of answers I don't have. In that moment I remember thinking to myself "I choose to believe. I don't know the answers, but I believe anyway." I'm not saying this because I'm a great example of faith, but because I learned something I want to share.

Faith is a choice. Is doesn't spring from knowing the answer, and it isn't something you can work through in your mind. True faith involves choosing to believe even when you don't have a good explanation. Maybe everybody else already knew that, but as I grow older it has become increasingly more important for me to be okay not having the answers.

When those moments of doubt or uncertainty creep in, I hope that you and I will always choose to believe and exercise faith. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that the Atonement is real. That knowledge means everything to me. Merry Christmas, and I hope you feel the true spirit of the season.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Flattery will absolutely work

I've come to a critical realization in my life today: I am influenced by flattery. It wasn't a stunning revelation, I'd had my suspicions for months. However, today's evidence proves it conclusively.

I was sitting in my Evolutionary Biology class minding my own business when my professor started to talk about a super exciting topic: stick bugs. Don't judge me too hastily, they are cool. Since you aren't science geeks I'm not going to try and explain why. They just are. He asked the class a specific and difficult question about their development and I knew the answer. It was one of those moments where my brain was working at peak efficiency and I reached the answer before he even asked the question. Cue "Pomp and Circumstance"...

Time slowed down as my teacher said "Very good! In all my time teaching this class I've never had anyone answer that question as effectively and completely as you just did. So, good job." Applause broke out as I waved my hand and thanked my admirers...Okay, the teacher did say all that, but...maybe the music and the applause was only in my head. I left my class that day feeling like the nerd version of a million bucks. I had answered the teacher's "Expert" level question.

The teacher that mere moments before I'd been thinking was disorganized and repetitive was now on my Christmas list. How?! Flattery my friends. I'd actually been thinking about the review I was going to write for his class and the points I was going to give poor marks, and then he asked that question and I folded like a lawn chair.

On the plus side, now I know what to tell interviewers when they ask me what weaknesses I have. "I care to much" was becoming a bit unbelievable.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Christmas Controversy

There is just something about Mormons, and possibly with people in general - maybe I've been in Utah too long - where they start playing Christmas music whenever they want to. Most of these free-thinkers start playing Christmas music November 1st. Since Lehi was right about opposition in all things, there's a counter-current that believes playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving is borderline sacrilege. As a free-thinker I chafe at categorization...but I listen to Christmas music whenever it tickles my fancy.

There are times in the middle of a beautiful summer where I pull out my Josh Groban Christmas CD and listen to a few of my favorites. Why? Because I can. There are also occasions when I think watching Elf and The Grinch are great activities regardless of the month. Similarly, I believe reading A Christmas Carol is suitably uplifting for any season. For the record, I'm sure Charles Dickens agrees with me.

So, to all those who vocally or silently groan when they hear me playing Josh Groban, Bing Crosby, or even John Denver and the Muppets Christmas albums: I don't actually care what you think. To all the free-thinkers out there who listen to Christmas music whenever they feel like it, I salute you.

So, whether you think it's too early or whether you are secretly listening to "Silver Bells" while you study, Happy Holidays!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Repent Ye, Repent Ye!

Today I was walking (crutch-ing) up to the library to do some homework. Just as I was about 12 feet away from the doors, two guys came out, opening both the double doors. I watched as both of them let the doors swing shut right in front of me. The girl who was walking behind me rushed ahead and opened the doors for me before I could do it myself.

I don't need people to hold the door open for me, but it's a kind gesture that saves me time and energy. Though I'm getting really good at being on crutches, doors are still challenging and I appreciate the help. Having said that, what the crap guys?! How were you so clueless that you didn't see the kid in the 26" brace who was right in front of you?! Hint: I was the one on crutches. It was disappointing because they were oblivious to everything but themselves.

We come home from missions, we go to Elders Quorum and Relief Society and we study our scriptures. We talk about virtues and ways to improve. But, we wake up in the morning, look at our "To Do" lists, and put on our blinders. If I pray morning and night for opportunities to lift others and serve then I should leave the blinders at home.

I wonder how many times I've prayed for opportunities to serve and then walked right past them because I was late to class/hungry/day-dreaming. No more blinders. No more letting the door slam in the face of people who need my help.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bwahaha! I win.

I have been wearing a cast for the past three weeks. I'll just say that it has been a good experience, but it's been hard. Crutches stink, and not being able to use your leg also stinks. But yesterday I switched doctors and I'm getting the cast off tomorrow. Turns out it's good to get a second opinion.

I was just sitting here at my computer working away when I got a magical text message from the student health center. It said "reminder: You have an appointment with Dr. Schow tomorrow at 9:00 AM". I smiled really big, leaned back in my chair, and pressed repeat on La Vie en Rose by Louis Armstong.

Then, over gChat, I pretended to plan with my friend a day trip to Paris. Because when I'm pretending, I'm rich and have a private jet. And we eat at a little cafe where we can watch the sunset over Paris and listen to some uncharacteristically good musician on the street corner. And since we're pretending to be rich, we give that musician a really nice tip. But, we're only pretending.
You know what isn't pretending though? I'm getting this dumb cast off tomorrow. And that might as well be a Paris sunset as far as I'm concerned.

Monday, October 3, 2011

TMFW


Dear Future Wife,

Sometimes I get angry and send text messages, emails, or letters that I will regret moments after clicking send. They tell me that recognizing it is the first step. They haven't told me what the second step is though...

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Proof-read my angry texts, emails, letters, and correspondences. In return, I'll run interference between you and the rest of the world when your hormones are going crazy. Deal?

Gratefully,

Your Future Husband

Holy Crap!

In my dresser, in the fourth drawer down, I have a pair of pants I reserve for special occasions - my sassy pants. I used them just last Monday when a kid who used to live at our house walked in, opened my cupboard and took some of my baking supplies. In the next drawer down, under everything else (I don't wear them often) are my more special *Insert string of expletives* pants. On Friday, I got them out, dusted them off, and took 'em for a ride to Doctor Smith's office.

I expected him to tell me the injury I sustained playing ultimate frisbee was nothing, or maybe that we would have to do some scans to check for cartilage damage. After 50 minutes of waiting I went and asked the lovely young lady why I was still waiting for the right honorable doctor. She said she didn't know. Luckily, the doctor chose that crucial moment to appear.

The doctor began by telling me I have an Osteochondrital dissecans, or a piece of my knee had chipped off. He told me that I'd have to wear a 26" cast on my leg for the next six weeks and walk around exclusively on crutches. He then picked up the phone and recorded his notes from the visit while the nurse told me to lift my leg so she could attach the brace/cast. Within 10 minutes of walking in, I was crutch-ing out of there in a complete daze. I could have been standing in the Himalayas with a beer in my hand, naked with my head shaved and I probably wouldn't have realized it. But, in his defense, the doctor had places to go.

In his hurry, he forgot to give me a handicapped parking permit form. So, for the last 4 days I've had to park at the bottom of the hill leading up to campus and then begin a 10 minute crutch-assisted walk up the hill and stairs to get to class/work/take tests etc. After walking up the hill and checking out my gigantic blisters, I wanted to punch that doctor in the face repeatedly then give him a handicapped parking permit.

That doctor and I are going to have a level 5 Come to Jesus Meeting next time we chat. Or maybe I'll just shave his head and leave him naked in the Himalayas...with a non-alcoholic beer in his hand. I bet that will open up his schedule quite a bit.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

TMFW: Dentures

I do this thing almost every night where I go in to talk with my roommate before he goes to bed. We talk about girls, work, classes, church - but never the weather. Sometimes all of us just sit and watch YouTube videos. Inevitably I end up laying down in my bed as we continue the conversation. This is where I slowly start to drift off.

Then I have to remind myself that I haven't brushed my teeth yet. Let the inner battle rage. In my semi-asleep state it seems like a reasonable option to simply drift off without polishing my pearly-whites. On the other hand, even in my semi-asleep state I know that dentures are a tragedy.

All you have to do is mention the word dentures and I'll get up and brush my teeth. In fact, I'll probably floss and rinse with Listerine to be safe. I just wanted to let you know in advance... my teeth are counting on you.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Accidental Expert

I spend a lot of time on the phone for my job. It's not my favorite part of the job description. On the other hand, it isn't my least favorite part either. My least favorite part: "Please continue to hold for the next available representative. Your call is important to us." Then cue the awful music they've selected.

However, not all hold music was created equal. Some companies have audio books playing, others (BYU) have nice classical music, still others apply the tried and true cheap jazz music. I'm going to take this opportunity to give out the awards for best and worst.

BEST: Today I called a company (Newegg) and their hold "music" was the sound of rainfall and thunder. I grew up falling asleep to that sound. I might call them back next time I'm stressed.

WORST: Xerox LLC has become the reason I have a blacklist. They play the same pointless 25 second segment of uninspiring music over and over again interrupted only by a woman telling you why Xerox is the best. They aren't the best. They are the worst. That makes them liars and horrible selectors of music.

I didn't mean to become an expert on hold music. It just happened. I don't think that's a skill I can put on a resume.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fun Fact

The phrase "Don't Mess With Texas!" was coined in the 1980's as part of a project to reduce highway litter. It has nothing to do with the Alamo, Sam Houston, or anything else that's remotely cool. It was to stop Texans from throwing their beer cans out the window.

Since we're on the topic, Texas is not the best state in the union. Not even close. Let me name some reasons it falls short:

1) Bigger isn't always better. Ex: Fezik was defeated by The Dread Pirate Roberts.
2) Football is a hobby, not the substance of life.
3) Your flag looks almost identical to a country. Chile had the flag first. Be creative.
4) Texas is neither the biggest (AK), the most populous (CA), or even the prettiest (debatable).
5) Your highest point is a place you can take senior citizens on a day hike.
6) You didn't invent barbeque, contrary to popular Texas opinion.

Having said that, I wish Texas the very best in their quest to reduce highway litter.

Friday, August 12, 2011

How many vicious kittens could you take?

Today I went kayaking in the Great Salt Lake. One less thing on my bucket list...but that's not the point of this post. Kittens are the point of this post - and not for the reasons you'd think.

As we were loading our kayaks into the water we noticed thousands of large black spiders in the grass beside the dock. They were the sort of spiders that trap and eat dragon flies. They were the big kind. One of my friends is terrified of spiders. To make the situation lighter I said a thousand of just about anything staring at me would be rather creepy. I said that even a couple thousand kittens quietly, and intensely staring at me would be thoroughly terrifying.

The conversation naturally shifted to how many vicious kittens we each thought we could take. Then we asked ourselves what the most efficient kitten-killer would be. The winner: flamethrower. So, the next time you are attacked by a couple thousand vicious kittens I hope you have a flamethrower handy. Kitten attacks can be ugly. At least, that's what I've heard.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dear Audience...whoever you are...

This is for the guy who found my blog by searching for the phrase "Captain planet T-shirt". This is for my friend's aunt who thinks my blog is awesome. This is also for my Mom, who until recently didn't know why I named my blog as I did. This is for my cubscout leader from when I was a kid. And This is for "Anonymous", whoever you are. Some explanation:

Throughout my life I've experienced the familiar dramatic changes that occur in the first 20 or so years of one's life. However, one thing has always been constant: my blue shirt. Since I can remember my favorite shirt has always been blue, different shades and different shirts, but always blue. My two all-time favorites have been navy blue and royal blue. The point is, one of the simple things that remains constant in my life no matter where I am and who I'm with is my blue shirt. Maybe it makes me feel at home when I open my drawer and can put on my blue shirt on that first day of a crazy semester in a new house. Or maybe it just reminds me of who I am and where I come from. In any case, that's how my blog got it's name.

I started my blog when I went to Chile to do an internship at the national laboratory working on a genetics project with huge opportunities and applications. I was more than a little nervous and so excited I literally couldn't sit still. I wanted to be able to let the people I love know what was going on during my trip, so I started the blog. For the record, one of the other things that has been constant in my life is my family, and I needed for them to share in my experience. I started this blog for them, but it's a little more now.

So, whatever you're reason for reading and whatever the search phrase you used, now you know.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

THIS is why being single sucks

Look at the following scenarios and try to answer honestly. Note: Any resemblance of this post to actual people and real circumstances is...purely coincidental.

1) Your roommate asks you to help him cook for a bunch of people that are coming over for a football party (NOT your party), then asks you a couple days later when you're going to clean up your dishes. What color does your face turn?

2) Your roommate opens a can of chili for dinner and decides he doesn't actually want it. He leaves it there, opened and untouched, for over two days. You go into the kitchen several days after to clean up and find this sitting on the counter. If your anger were a shape (rocket launcher, battle axe, grenade, light saber), what would it be?


3) In desperation you stop cleaning the house so maybe your roommates will start cleaning - at least sometimes. Your house subsequently starts to smell like a bacterial science laboratory and they still don't budge. At this point, how would you characterize your mood?

4) You make a delicious dinner and ask your roommate (not your favorite but you're trying to be nice) if he wants some. He responds by dishing up a huge portion then taking four bites and leaving the rest for the flies. Which blunt object comes to mind first?

5) You've been telling your roommate for a couple weeks now about a girl you want to ask out. Just after going on your first date with her, he asks her out. You only find out because the girl sees both of you and laughs at the coincidence that you are roommates. Yes...what a coincidence. What action do you take as soon as she walks away?

Depending on your answers, you may want to consider not being single.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Unexpected Stuff

I spent this weekend in Southern Utah at Zion's National Park - one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. While there I went to church at a nearby ward. Sacrament meeting was last and we arrived a bit late, so we shuffled directly into the sacrament meeting room where people were gathering.

Side note: in primary I used to love playing any song I knew. I'd only been taking piano lessons for a year but I would rush up with my "simplified hymns" songbook and accompany the primary. To this day I can't (neither can my mom) believe I did that...on a regular basis.

Fast-forward: I was sitting in the chapel listening to all the people chatting loudly as we waited for the meeting to start. I tried to think of what I could do to help people quiet down and get ready for the sacrament and decided to go up and play prelude. My friend from that ward looked at me weird when I told him, but I went anyway and played for a bit. When a man with a lesson manual stood in front of the class I realized it wasn't sacrament, it was sunday school. People normally don't play prelude for sunday school, but they probably didn't think I was normal. I slowly closed the piano and went back to my seat with a slightly embarrassed grin on my face. "Oh well", I thought, "none of these people will remember me five minutes from now." I spoke too soon.

The teacher thanked me for playing and said "that fits perfectly in with the lesson today." My grin slowly went away. "How many of you could describe, without looking around, the person who was just playing prelude? What can you tell me about him?" About midway through his question I began to wish I'd been a little less proactive and left the piano alone. Then I wished I'd been a little slower getting ready for church. As he finished his question, my wishing focused more on hoping their comments would be kosher. It only takes one crazy old lady with a crazy sense of humor and suddenly my face is making fresh tomatoes look pale. Luckily, they only said I had hair that wasn't receding and I was probably married. It's sad that the one fact they got right was that I didn't have a receding hair line. Still, it could've been worse.

I couldn't help but laugh at having played prelude for sunday school in a ward I've never attended before and then being used for a mildly embarrassing object lesson. Thanks Orderville, Utah for keeping me on my toes.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Little Music




People always say that it's just the stage of life I'm in, but there are moments when I have no idea where I'll be 6 months from now or what I'll be doing then. That's a little frustrating. On my better days I do what I can and plan what I can and leave the rest to the Lord.


On my not so good days I try to push the envelope and force things to happen. Somebody really wise told me that trying to do things in my timetable rather than the Lord's is like putting a masterful symphony on fast-forward. It isn't a masterful symphony without the precise timing.


Things to think about.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tender Mercies

Maybe I'm using the phrase 'tender mercy' a little bit loosely. But for me, tender mercies come in lots of shapes and sizes. Por ejemplo (for example):

Today I woke up 15 minutes before class started despite my very best intentions. I quickly looked through my clothes to make sure I had something clean to wear. Check. I quickly dressed and ran to look in the mirror to see if my hair was presentable after a long night of making sweet love to my pillow. Check. I grabbed a potassium stick (banana), and a can of Altoids and ran out the door. I made it to class on time and looking great (and with freakishly minty breath).

= Tender Mercy

Friday, June 24, 2011

Blue Sky and Green Grass

Yesterday I was laying on a stretch of beautiful green grass in the middle of campus watching as the sun moved behind one of my favorite buildings, crossing paths with cotton clouds made gold by the afternoon sun. And for just a second everything was just fine; I was completely content. Do you have moments like that? Do you have moments where, even momentarily, you feel gratitude and peace rather than the longing and turmoil of the daily race? I hope you do.

It doesn't mean that nothing is going wrong in your life. For instance, as I was laying there my leg was bandaged and my crutches were right beside me. I was en route to see if someone had turned my only set of car keys in to the lost and found after I'd lost them the night I hurt my leg. The future looked just as uncertain as always and there weren't any magical answers written in those clouds. However, for once it didn't matter.

This week I learned that so often we expect perfection and flawless execution from ourselves and from our lives, but this life will never be perfect. On the other hand, if we took a moment to think about all the wonderful things we've accomplished, the lives we've touched, the blessings we've received and the wonderful people around us - with all that on my mind it's hard to wish for anything more.

I think life is perfect, or at least perfectly designed for people on their way to perfection. Take the time to find a nice patch of green grass underneath a big blue sky. Maybe there will even be some nice white clouds floating by. Whatever the case, I hope you take the time to find peace and be grateful. Because whether it's perfect or imperfect, life is way too short to rush.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Twins: An (Awesome) Abomination

Can I get some points for alliteration. I deserve them and you know it. Now, on to a more important topic.


I think people should wear tags that mention the fact that they have a twin. That would make life much less complicated in the cases when that's a factor. Case A: I have a friend. Don't act so surprised. He is married. One day I saw him with a very different woman in the cafeteria and they were acting very couple-ish. I'll let you fill in the rest of the details. Let's just say there was enough nervous laughter to make a sixth-grade dance look positively peaceful.

Case B: Today I said hello to a girl I know, only to find out that she has a twin and the one I was talking to was the wrong one. In other words, "you don't actually know me." Awkward.

Case C: There's another kid that I met on the folk dance team (yeah, I'm cool) and when he added me on facebook his profile picture was of him and his twin. From then on I hesitated to say hello to him because I wasn't sure which one it was. After months of nervous uncertainty I found out his profile picture was just a trick with mirrors. He doesn't have a twin. Aren't you outraged?! The lies, the deceit!

And although almost entirely unrelated, my little brother would mention that the Minnesota Twins baseball team is composed almost exclusively of savages. So take that for what it's worth.

We need to have all twins get registered and wear tags to alert the unsuspecting world to their presence: 'Hi, my name is: Anita (twin)'. I just wanted to open a dialogue on this issue. Think about it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Job: Love/Hate



There are quite a few things in life that I don't understand. I'd like to address one of those today in hopes that you can help me come to grips. Issue: Why is it that elevator music, though intended to calm and sooth, actually makes you want to club a baby seal the longer you listen to it?

Today I listened to stupid semi-jazzy, semi-pointless, super redundant "elevator" music while I was on the phone with one of the dozen companies I have to call per day. Normally I can find joy in making the people laugh on the other end of the line, but once I exceed 25 minutes of listening to the same song over and over again while on hold, my smile fades and I put on my angry eyes.

My favorite is when they come back to the phone 4 or 5 times to ask you more questions that they should have asked you in the first place. I just love it because it extends the amount of time I get to listen to that semi-"drive-you-insane" music.

I've been trapped in two elevators in my time and I hated it both time. However, I just count my many blessings that there wasn't actually elevator music in the elevators. I'm pretty sure the combination of an entire MiaMaid group and that semi-horrible music would have been ugly...to put it lightly.

Friday, May 27, 2011

TMFW: For Your Information

1) I am a closet fat kid. I don't even know you yet and I can safely say I love food more than you do. However, I also love exercising.

2) I don't often care about watching sports but I love playing sports. So you might not think I'm the type, but I get really into games (it might be genetic). Please don't ever let me punch anybody...

3) I'm no good at having in-depth conversations while listening to music or when the TV is on. It might look like I'm totally focused on you but I'm really not. Luckily, both of those things can be turned off.

4) I'm not one of those kids that just hums or quietly sings while in the shower. I perform full-scale concerts. I hope you either sleep really deeply or are good at mornings...

5) Places you should never let me go by myself: the spice aisle, sports authority, music stores, costco. I could get lost in there. But if you don't let me go there by mself then I'll always take you to the temple. Deal?

I'm glad we've had this talk.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Best and the Worst

I have a friend that's been in a treatment facility for eating disorders. She is slowly getting better and we're all so glad to see the improvements. The other day she came with my roommates to pick me up from the airport and we got to talk.

She said that many women struggle with eating disorders because their value is based on things that are transient: the constant approval and validation of others, the feeling that you are above average (comparison), or other world measures of success such as cars, boats, homes, callings etc.

Some of that comes from the way people are brought up. Sometimes we are quick to pay a compliment like this "you are the best at that!" or "you are better than everybody else on the team!" That accolade makes your value a function of others (better than, best, -est). Why can't we just tell them that they're great or awesome at it, making their value independant of others. Then, no matter whether you are the best, middle of the road, or even the last to be picked on the playground, you will still know who you are.

Most importantly, the best cure for comparison is to base your value on something more permanent. We are children of God and as such our value is based on our potential to create worlds without number. And if that definition seems a little beyond you, the fact that Heavenly Father loves you more than you can possibly imagine and will always love you with such fierceness should give you pause for thought.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you felt, even for a brief moment, how much
He loves you. I have had some of those moments and they are life changing experiences. Let's believe Him.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

WHAT? Captain Planet isn't real?!

Since coming back from my mission I've repeatedly returned to think about what it means to be a real man. Like it or not, I've been given crappy definitions by a lot of sources throughout my life. My Dad is awesome and my brothers are pretty cool, but I watched a little too much TV. Here are some examples of real men that I've met recently:

Today I went to the park and a few people asked us if we wanted to play soccer with them. My team was down a player and the people on the other team were good, except for a 14 year-old that was playing with his college age brother. I was focused on winning and playing my best because my teammates weren't exactly David Beckham. The older brother, Ben, sacrificed his clearly competitive nature in order to make sure his younger brother had a confidence building experience and a good time. He repeatedly gave the ball to his brother and created opportunities for the awkward kid to score and be successful, even when it meant a lost opportunity. I can still picture that skinny fourteen year old pumping his fists in the air and smiling because he did it. Maybe it doesn't sound like much, but as I played against them I was taught by the powerful example of this outstanding young man. He was a man.

There is a guy I always see working at the grocery store where I shop. The other day I saw him walking across campus carrying a book bag and the scruff that suggested he doesn't get enough sleep. The next time I saw the guy at the grocery store I asked him if he was a student and he said yes. I noticed the wedding ring on his hand and it all came together. This guy was working and going to school full time to support his family and gain an education. he was sacrificing so much for his family and their future. I was and am impressed by his dedication.

I was watching "Human Planet" the other night as they documented an isolated community high in the frozen mountains of Nepal. The people there can only gain an elementary education unless they travel 50 miles to the nearest city. To get there, they have to travel one of the most dangerous routes in the world. The path is a semi-frozen river surrounded on either side by steep cliffs. One particular man makes the 50 mile trip at the beginning of each school year to ensure that his children gain an education. After finally arriving in the city, the father takes each of his children and says "I love you. Study hard. I'll call and send money." He hugs them for a moment then watches as they enter the school that will be there home for the next 6 months. Then he walks the 50 miles back to his home. That, is a man.

I want to understand what my role in Heavenly Father's estimation is and then follow that.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Running in the Rain



Yesterday began at 5:00 AM for me as I got up to prepare for a 7:00 AM final. I finished the final then came back home, ate and collapsed on my bed for a solid three hours. When I got up it was still rainy and cool outside, so I decided to go running.

I put on my beanie and put my super awesome iPod shuffle in my ears and headed up into the hills to go running. I loved every second of it.

The spring rain falls on your face and drips off your nose as you jog through uncharacteristically beautiful hills. On your iPod you listen to Jack Johnson, Amos Lee, Chris Merritt and others. You stop at the top just to see how far up you are and enjoy the great view of the valley and Utah Lake. You breathe the air for just a second and maybe even sing along to the song.

As long as I have those moments, I don't think it will matter how tough life gets.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Me vs. The Phone

For those of you out there who regard their pillow as a close personal friend and their alarm clock as a necesary evil, I encourage you to buckle your seatbelt for a suspense/thriller. I'll begin by saying that my phone/alarm clock has moved from the category of "necesary evil" over into "just evil".


For the past several weeks my alarm clock has been going off at unscheduled times. For instance, I set my alarm for 8:30 and it obediently went off as scheduled...but it also chose to go off at 7:20. It hasn't been a big deal because I'm a Jedi Knight when it comes to getting out of bed, resetting my alarm and getting back into bed before it even gets through the first ring. However, my disgruntled phone raised the stakes.


On one particular night I went to bed early because I was planning on actually being on time to my 8:00 am class. Hey, I was feeling ambitious. So I went to bed at about 11:30 in hopes that 7:00 AM wouldn't hurt so bad. My alarm went off it hurt more than usual, but I went into P90X mode and pushed through the pain. I rolled out of bed (literally), said my prayers, then went about my daily routine. After maybe 20-30 minutes in that semi-conscious state I decided it wasn't worth it and that my dear friend Mr. Sandman had far more important things to say than Dr. O'Neill and Advanced Immunology. It took me a fraction of a second to go back to my room and jump into bed. Cue the music from X-Files.


I went to reset the alarm on my phone and paused briefly as I stared into the cool computer screen. It was 2:17 AM! For those of you drunk enough to wonder why I set my alarm for that early, rest assured that I would NEVER do that. I quickly checked my phone to make sure nobody else had either. My alarm was still set for 7:00!


My phone doesn't simper or snicker because it's just a phone, but if it did, I bet it would've been snickering it's head off right then. My phone is currently under investigation for openly seeking to sabotage my life. The penalties are severe and may involve a hammer. Don't worry, it won't be humane.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Just don't get up...

Survival is more of a challenge sometimes than its 8 letters would indicate. Something that hard should be a book, or a collection of books...like the unabridged encyclopedia or something. It shouldn't be 8 letters.

At the beginning of this week I got a rejection from the only graduate school I applied to. I was sad and depressed because I thought I'd get in. The next day I decided to call and talk with the the department and figure out what went wrong. He said "Oh my, it seems we have the wrong GRE score for you. I'll personally look over this. Your application is quite strong." I called my parents and told them the great news: "I'm not failing at life!"...I spoke too soon.

Three hours later I got a call from the guy telling me he'd been looking at the wrong column on the spreadsheet. I had been denied. So, rejecting me once wasn't enough, they had to reject me then get my hopes up and reject me again for good measure. Why me? Not sure.

I spent every waking moment of Thursday (while not at work or in class) feverishly studying for a difficult exam, taking the exam, then staying up until 1:30 writing a paper. By the end of Thursday I had all the research done and had written the introduction. Today I skipped all my classes and called in to work so I could finish my paper by the 5:00 deadline. It was like a movie with chariots of fire as the theme: with mere minutes to spare I finish my citations and save the paper to my desktop. This is where the inspiring music stops.

Cue the jarring theme from sixth sense - my computer malfunctions and my paper is no more. I spend the next two hours with geek friends trying to recover it. I even downloaded a program. Zero results. All but the introduction to my gigantic paper was now gone. Eight hours of my life, previously organized as words on a page, are now a pop-up that states "document can't be found".

These are the moments where something simple could easily push me over to the dark side, like the mexican guy at Wendy's getting my order wrong. I mean it, I'm this close *fingers held up to indicate an inch* to going Darth Vader all over somebody.

I'm going to go for a jog, eat something delicious and take a long hot bath. It seems like a better alternative to wearing that black suit.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Apologies to Mitt Romney


Today I was at my job (Financial Secretary in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department) minding my own business when a call came through. The name on the caller ID was Romney, so my co-worker joked about me having a great conversation with Mitt. She might want to look into becoming a fortune teller. I laughed and said something witty in return, never suspecting it was actually Mitt Romney.
Still smiling, I picked up the phone. Sometimes I am really funny. Sadly, today was one of those days where my funny bone was going crazy.

*ring, ring*
Louis: Electrical and Computer Engineering, this is Louis.
Mitt Romney: Hi, I'm looking for David Anthony.
Louis: *Said with a smile and generous helping of sass* Yeah, we're fresh out of those.
Mitt Romney: Excuse me?
Louis: Yeah, David Anthony - you've stumped me on that one.
Mitt Romney: I think he works in the Dean's Office...
Louis: Well, I've never heard of him, but let me check...Oh, mmmmkay. Yeah, he's the Assistant Dean of the College.
Mitt Romney: Yes, that would be him.
Louis: *realizing this is THE Mitt Romney* ...let me transfer you.

I felt like the kid who gets caught every single time he even thinks about doing something wrong. After 3 years of answering phone calls dutifully and never making fun of anybody or hanging up on stupid/angry people, I get Mitt Romney on the phone and act like a complete tool. A part of me is disgusted by this trend...the other part of me is excited to find out who I'll get to talk to next if I keep it up.

Monday, March 7, 2011

ToMyFutureWife

TMFW,

I like winning. A lot. You probably won't think I'm that kind of kid when you meet me, but I REALLY am. Sometimes I even struggle to congratulate the other team after I've lost. As a consequence, I don't really like losing. At all. So, you'll be able to tell I really love you when I start letting you win at things. Be patient, it might take me a while.

Sincerely,

Louis

P.S. There's a chili cook-off this weekend in my ward. Yeah, game on.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Where were you at 3:30 AM?

The other night I was getting ready for bed at about 1:00, but went upstairs to put some things away. While I was in the living room I spotted a book I've been meaning to read. I decided I would wait up for my roommate and read a couple chapters. I finished the book exactly as he got home (circa 3:45 AM). I don't do that. This time I did.

I love reading. It makes my life more interesting, expands my mind, and opens up possibilities and ideas that I had never considered before. However, my favorite books are the ones that inspire me to be better in the small things, or maybe even dare to do something great. The last three books are those types of books and I encourage you all to read them.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption - Laura Hildebrand. This book is the story of an Olympic runner named Louis Zamperini who would have been the first man to ever run the mile in less than 4 minutes if world war II hadn't intervened. I couldn't put this book down. It's a little long, but worth every syllable.

The Giver - Lois Lowry. This book is listed as children's literature, but some of the ideas in this 180 page book are very deep and thought provoking. This is the book that kept me up until 4:00 AM. If the last time you read was in middle school or elementary school, give it another try.

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens. I decided I was going to read this each year with my family between Christmas and New Years. I know there are various movie versions, but I encourage you to read the book. The book is inspirational and makes you want to be a better person no matter what day of the year it is.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

...If You Should Choose to Accept It

Sometimes I, like many of you, have average days. I'm okay with those. Unfortunately, I also have days that start out pretending to be pretty average but then, like Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, transform into something I wouldn't even like to see in a well-lit alley.

Yesterday was one of those days where the headline reads "Average Day Gone Wrong". Let's just say I could have strangled a baby koala. Maybe one of my professors made my hit-list. Maybe I thought about getting up and walking out of his class right in the middle. I stayed for the rest of the three hours, but it was rough. As I left that class I felt entitled to be mad. I felt like putting my headphones in and turning up the volume on my iPod and just letting the world walk by. Luckily, that didn't last long.

I saw this little old lady named Dorothy who was very lost, and I'm a sucker for little old ladies. She said she graduated in '59 and she thought she'd still be able to find her way around. I told her I was heading to where she was parked and I could walk her there. This 70-something widow was serving a mission for the church and loving life. She even looked pretty classy.
As we walked I told her about myself and she nodded her head to most of what I said in a "been there, done that" sort of way. It wasn't condescending at all, it was encouraging. That simple nod and her quiet smile let me know that I would get through the uncertainty of the future, and I would make it past today's frustrations.

Seeing her made me stop and think about somebody aside from myself. I learned that it's selfish to get mad and to mope around, because you''ll miss the person walking past you who needs you more than you need to be mad. Service really is the best remedy for the worst days. I also learned that hope doesn't depend on circumstances. It is a perspective.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Spine of Satan

I'm currently a little bitter. It involved a dumb girl. If you are a dumb girl, then you should probably find something else to read. I suggest something with glossy paper and lots of pictures.

Last semester I tutored this girl in chemistry. Let's just say she didn't get it. (Part of the problem was that she lives at a place called Liberty Square) Part of the problem was that she had lost her book. I let her use mine for the rest of the semester since I didn't need it. She was overjoyed and I was glad to help. Now fast forward to Tuesday...

She texts me during class and asks me if I can meet her in front of her class to pick up my book. I say that's fine, and the building she named was close to where I worked right after class. I would have just enough time. Just as class ended I checked my phone again to discover that she had mistakenly typed the wrong building. The real building was across campus and down a huge hill. I sighed slowly, and started walking faster.

I walked down the insanely long stairs (the stairs my brother and I call the spine of Satan) to get to the building and called her. It rang until her voice mail picked up. Not that I'm keeping track, but that was one of the top 3 most annoying voice mail recordings of all time. I called her twice more and she didn't pick up. I looked back up the gigantic hill/spine of Satan that stood between me and work, and sighed again. She just made my blacklist.

Not only did she not answer her phone, she chose to call me back just after I had clocked in and sat down at work. Let's just say I'm considering making our next meeting place the top of Y Mountain, and then changing it to Temple Square just as she reaches the top. Maybe I am a bit vindictive, but she does live at Liberty Square...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Family


You know how you used to think you're family was pretty crazy and maybe even a little messed up? I think a lot of people, no matter how awesome their family really is, think that as teenagers. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you are the exception who was incredibly ahead of his/her peers. Maybe.

But now I think my family is the best thing since sliced bread. It's like your first car. There's the broken door handle, the windshield wipers that couldn't, the seat that doesn't go back, and maybe even a radio that only picks up AM stations. But I wouldn't have it any other way. Maybe it's because my family is obviously a masterpiece in the making that I feel so at home. Maybe it's because we know each others weaknesses and strengths and we choose to love them anyway. Maybe it's because they are the ones who believe in me even on my worst days. Maybe.

In any case, my family is one of the greatest blessings that I have ever received. Without a doubt.

Proof from the last 24 hours:
1) Hannah (in the blue dress) called me to wish me a happy valentine's day while I was studying.
2) My Mom telling her kids they're crazy even though she's smiling because we've got nothing on her.
3) My brother Andrew (posing like a rock star) making fun of me from another continent. It was the uplifting sort of making fun, I promise.

Now I just have to find a girl that thinks my family is awesome...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

To Whom It May Concern...


I love BYU. I also love BYU girls. However, I think it's time we had a heart to heart

A few months ago some poor schmuck wrote a letter in the op ed portion of the Daily Universe. He sat outside of a large religion class and counted the number of girls that walked out wearing immodest clothing. The next paper was plastered with angry girls talking about how judgemental the boy was. I don't necessarily agree with his methods, but I know what he's talking about.

Ladies, I (and all of the guys I have talked to) would rather date a girl wearing a burlap sack than a girl wearing immodest clothing. And if he doesn't care that you dress like that then he probably isn't in it for the right reasons. P.S. wearing leggings (a.k.a. nylons) under your skirt does not add four inches.

You sign the honor code every year, and that means you want to live that standard and live in that environment. So, to the guys and the girls, please step up your game. I came to BYU because of that environment and that standard. So, what's your reason?

Monday, February 7, 2011

To My Future Wife

Once upon a time I went shopping with a friend. She said she just needed to get a few things so I went along. I went into Sports Authority and was done in thirty minutes. After wandering through the mall for 1 hour trying to find things to pretend to be interested in, I found a couch in an art store that I could nap on. After over three hours, she finally came out of Victoria's Secret with a dozen or so bags. I vowed I would never go shopping with a girl again.

So, I will not go shopping with you unless it is for groceries. On the plus side, I will cook dinner for you any night of the week.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What I Be Thinkin 'Bout

The other night I stumbled upon a book club at a friend's house. They looked like smart/classy people so I sat in on there meeting. As it turns out, they were reading a book on religion written by a prominent atheist (which one of these is not like the other...). The hypothesis and information isn't important, but the discussion was.
The guy who had suggested the book in the first place said "There were just so many things in the book that spoke to me!" In response I couldn't help but think "You are a returned missionary studying at BYU and talking about a book on religion written by an atheist. What part of that spoke to you?" These really smart kids (I use the term deliberately) were building an intellectual maze and then getting lost in it. It was sad.

Let's be frank. I'm a twenty-something college student who has never been married, had children, or even held a full-time job. I think it's fair to say that my life experiences/wisdom are limited, but here this group of kids my age or younger were trying to stuff God into their near-sighted and dramatically human paradigms. So forgive me when I say that those were some really dumb smart kids.

Fast forward to getting a letter from a dear friend of mine who is serving in Guatemala as an LDS missionary. She said "Don't fall into the trap of believing that when you leave the temple you're going back to the real world. The temple, the mission, the gospel - that is what's real. Everything else is fake." I couldn't agree more. The question then is how much time we spend in those pursuits rather than bathing in the world's perspective.

They say the best way to understand somebody is to walk a mile in their shoes. I believe that God is there and that he loves me/us, but I also believe nobody can truly understand God as he really is without trying to become like him.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1-1-11 at the AmericInn

I gradually become conscious enough to realize what time it is - "Johan, the continental breakfast closes in 10 minutes!" I put on a t-shirt, grab my glasses, skip looking in the mirror and saunter on downstairs. Somehow, I'm not really concerned what the other travellers at the AmericInn of Fargo ND think about the result of my beauty sleep. The continental breakfast was mostly what I expected, so it's lucky that they really can't mess up cheerios. I can't say the same about their version of biscuits and gravy...

As I sit down at the table next to the window, I finally allow my eyes to drift to the outside. If I was hoping to see less snow, less cold, or less wind...I was disappointed. At least the sun was out and the snowing had stopped. After being stranded two nights in this place I think I might be sinking into a depression.

Last night, for New Years Eve we found the number for the singles branch bishop and called him to see if anything was going on. We went out and met up with a group of about 9 young single adults and had a pretty good time. I'm grateful for them and how fun it was despite the fact that we barely knew them. It was probably the most unique New Years that I have ever, or will ever experience.

Currently, I'm hoping they open the roads sometime this afternoon. If not, I'll be spending my third consecutive night in North Dakota. Note: I have a list of states that I plan on never living in which includes North Dakota, Wisconsin and Nevada. Being here has confirmed my feelings on the place. Streets that you can skate on, snow drifts as high as 10-12 feet, winds up to 35 mph - what's not to love?! Everything. E v e r y t h i n g .

Well, if all else fails I can just snuggle up with my motel pillows and watch reruns of House and Bones. It's a good thing HBO and good books don't require Interstate 94.