Friday, November 30, 2012

So Long November

Well gang, here it is. The last day of November. The last day that I have to be thankful. Just kidding, but after today I'm going to have to find other things to talk about. For today though, for my final post, I'm going to talk about good health. It's one of the things that you don't think about until you're dying from ebola like I currently am. Ok, so it isn't really that bad, just a cold that probably required black magic and an animal sacrifice to summon. Ok, fine, so I'm just starting to feel the onset of potential illness. I'm at the point where my ears have the weird feeling that comes right before a soar throat. Ugh, I hate that. It's like your ears itch on the inside. Anyway, I'm thankful for when that doesn't happen to me and my ears and totally normal and fully functional. And with these wonderful words, I'm going to bed. So I abide you, November, and hopefully  annoying itchy ears adieu.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Defying the Spiral

I few days ago I watched a movie BYU made about the origins of the Christmas hymn Silent Night. The movie was alright, but I was surprised at the story behind it and how the song was written almost as a symbol of hope and freedom from oppression. So tonight I'd like to give a shout out of gratitude to those who have had the courage to stand up for what they know is right. Or rather I guess I want to say those that stand up for what they believe. Even if I disagree with someone usually I'll admire them for sticking to their guns and not caving, especially if they are in the minority. To use a term that I learned in Comms 101, those that choose to defy the spiral of silence. Isn't that such a cool term? Spiral of silence. All it really means though is that people have a tendency when they are in the minority to not voice their opinions. Anyway, I'm grateful for these people and the example that they provide. It helps me and inspires me to live a better and more honest life.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The topic for today is good company. By company I mean the company of others, rather than you have company over. I've just been thinking about and been thankful for how having good people makes situations so much better. As I'm sure you all know I've been pretty whiny about my Japanese class this semester, and while I'm still tired of learning the language, I really enjoy the kids in my class and my TA's and so I have fun.
On the other hand, I don't really like my dance teacher's style of teaching. It confuses me. So even though I like dancing, I don't like the class.

 It's not that you can't have a good time alone, but good company always seems to make a situation better. I went to a dance lab tonight where I really wasn't expecting to have much fun. My frustration with my class has kind of cause me to resent dancing. I don't mean to sound angsty or dramatic or anything, just that my feelings of annoying were being projected onto dance itself an my attitude towards it had started to become a little less than positive  At the lab though I ended up having a pretty good time. I knew a lot more people there than I thought I would (apparently a lot of my associates are in to dance) and we were able to talk and dance and just have fun. I even got a chance to talk to my old teacher. Sure I messed up some (ok a good amount) and we crashed into people and people crashed into us and feet were stepped on and what not, but I was with good company, so I didn't care.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Modern Day

I'm back in Provo which means that regular internet connection has returned! That's also why if you've noticed there have been burst of posts. It was due to lack of internet. But now all should be right with the world.

I'm thankful today for modern technology. I know I kind of talked about this when I said that I was grateful for reception and internet and stuff but today I just generally mean technology and also that people are still innovative, still curious, and still always trying to improve and be better. I can't remember when but some time in the beginning of the 20th century or something the US patent office said that all of the things that would be invented had been. Right..... I'd like to show those people modern day.  So I guess what I'm saying is that what I'm really thankful for is the spirit of innovation and the "anything you want to, do it." type of attitude. I know that often I can get really frustrated when things don't go well or when there isn't something I want or need around, but necessity breeds ingenuity and I'm glad of that and I'm glad that humankind has embraced that and despite setbacks continues to push on.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

So I know that Thanksgiving is over now but it's still the month of November, so I've still got a few more days of being thankful. Now that it's the Christmas season though I can finally say Merry Christmas! And so Christmas of course is what I'm choosing for today. Hmm, what to even say about Christmas? I love the atmosphere of Christmas, I love looking for presents to buy for people, I love the food and smells and sights associated with Christmas, everything about it is just fantastic. You hear a lot about people bewailing the commercialization of Christmas but I really don't think that it's as bad as a lot of people say. All of the symbols of Christmas, at least all of the ones that I can think of point to Christ. When the symbols no longer point towards and are designed to remind us of Christ than I'll start by bemoaning. By the way, have you noticed that a lot of our "Christmas" songs are really just winter songs? Like winter wonderland of Frosty the Snowman? It's kind of funny then that we only sing them around the Christmas season, especially since technically most of the season isn't even in winter. Anyway, I'm done being annoying about the seasons. I hope you all have a magnificent Christmas season. I'm excited for the season and I certainly intend to, and don't forget to remember the symbolism and think of Christ.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving! Obviously today I have to be thankful for that. Like I mentioned yesterday, I'm glad for hospitality and especially the hospitality that I've received here and really when it comes to Thanksgiving what it makes me think of and what it makes me most thankful for is families.

I'm so thankful for the family that I have. I know I don't always show it or act like it, but they really mean a lot to me. Thanksgiving is one of the busies times at the jail I've heard because families get together, get drunk and have at it. I'm glad I've never had to and hopefully never will have to worry about something like that. I'm thankful for Thanksgiving and that it gives us a chance to reflect and to think about our lives and how truly blessed we really are. I'm also Thankful that it hasn't suffered from commercialization really like many holidays. I guess a little in the promotion of food, but in general I think that it's hard to lose the true spirit of Thanksgiving and forget what the holiday is really about. 

So here's to Thanksgiving! Now get off the internet and go spend time with your family. In my family, we have a tradition of sitting around in a circle and listing three things that we're thankful for. Since I can't be there to do that than I guess I'll do it here, even though by now I'm sure you're all pretty tired of me telling you that. 

1) Being in an area with internet access and cell phone reception and that these things even exist! I'm lacking both out here which is why you won't get to see this post for awhile. These are both things that I don't even think about not having but when I don't it's a big inconvenience! 
2) I know I already mentioned it but family. Both my own family and just the consept of families themselves. They really are wonderful things. I love the definition that I learned way back in middle school health class. The family is the basic unit of society. I really hope that always stays true. Also, my knowledge of eternal families. It really just helps to put things into perspective and makes me want to be better so I can be with and love my family forever.  
3) Beds. I don't know who invented beds but they are awesome. They lull you to sleep when you're exhausted and they're comfortable to read on or work on or whatever. Also, I don't know why but one of the greatest feelings ever is to come back home after a ways away and to fall asleep in your own bed. Whenever I get to go home I love sleeping in my bed. The bed at my apartment is actually to short for me, but hey, it's still great. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Today it's all about hospitality. I'm just really grateful that I have a family that was willing to take me in for Thanksgiving, even after I'd been here before and they knew how crazy I could be! When we got here last night Autumn's little sister Amara had cleaned out her room and insisted that we take it and left for us on the beds a chalkboard with our names, a note and a set of scriptures. It was just the nicest thing ever. Today we got up and went into Twin Falls with Autumn's mom who works there and we spent the day wandering around the town. Idaho might be a frigid bramble, but all of my experiences there so far (all three) have been very kind and caring.

This evening we went to Autumn's grandma's house for dinner and a few of her cousins and their kids were also there. We played scrabble and talked and played with the little kids for a while and it was nice to be around a family. Granted it was a family that I hardly knew anyone in but it was very inviting. So I'd like to give a shout out and be thankful today for that and for hospitality in general.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Walking Around

I'm thankful for walking today. And yes, I do realize the irony of this considering the fact that I just got out of a 4 hour car ride. When I first moved to Provo the apartment where I lived was a little over a mile away from campus and I didn't have a car. I was worried that I was going to be miserable having to walk 2 miles every days just to get to school and back, let alone anywhere else that I wanted to go that day, but that really didn't happen. While it's true that the time that it took could be frustrating, especially when I was in a hurry, the walking itself never bothered me. When I was just walking around without any kind of deadline it was great and a lot of my favorite times were spent walking to somewhere or just around. For some reason when you walk to the movies or some place it seems like your really doing two activities. The walking and the whatever else you were going to do.

Actually, I just remembered that occasionally I did have heavy stuff to carry, like when I had my suitcase or a backpack full of groceries, but that doesn't happen all that often and hey, that just gives me more opportunity to be thankful for help right?

So long story short it turns out that I'm one of those weird people who likes to walk. Not just long walks on the beach but just regular walks. Actually, walks on the beach are great and all that but I think that I'd prefer if it's just strictly walking to be somewhere else. Most of the beaches that I've been to are windy and cold, and while they're awesome they hurt your ears after a while. But walking is great, I like it. Not running though, running is terrible.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Food Glorious Food

Today I'm thankful for taste. It's kind an awesome thing if you think about it. I mean you only have so many taste buds and they can only register so many different kinds of tastes and yet they can combine together in such a way that can be unmistakable. Even different kinds of things like different variations of the same dish can taste drastically different even though they're pretty much made up of the same thing.

With taste of course come food. I have a hypothesis that food is magic. Food is a science in the way that its components go together. At the same time though it is an art form in its presentation, its variation and so many other creative elements. Food perfectly combines the two areas of the brain and our life and creates something amazingly delicious. Not only that, but you need food in order to function and survive. While I guess technically you could function if you just had an IV stuck in you or all you ate was MRI's, no one chooses to do that. You need food, both that art and the science. Without food you will die just like you'll die without what it embodies, the two halves of your brain coming together to not only fulfill a basic human need but also to create pleasure and joy. It's like that magical moment when you realize that religion and science can not only coexist but can also build and support each other and that you can (and I think need to) have both in your life. It's the same with food.

Food seems to have a way of bringing people together. I don't think it's a coincidence that almost all of our holidays have certain foods associated with them. Food seems to link so easily to emotion. Maybe that's why 90% of dates involve food. And while the food itself is great, some of my favorite activities, date or not, have been making food with others.

 Even if it turns out horribly (and as I'm thinking about it now of course I remember countless times where something with the food went wrong) or some other kink occurs it doesn't matter. The fact that you're making something together seems to be good enough. Once Hillary, Josh and I were making some Japanese dish for school and we were sure we had under cooked the meat and were going to poison our class. Once Aaron and I were making dinner and the oven was so slow it took 2 hours for the chicken to cook. Once the oil our family was heating for fondue almost caught on fire. The list goes on and on, but it doesn't matter because each disaster is a good memory to me.

Food is magical. It preserves life, it brings people together, it combines art and science together in unity, it both defines and bridges cultures and so much more. This Thanksgiving after you've beaten your cousin in your 4th wrestling match, go help prepare the food. And during the meal take a minute and think about the food that you're eating, who it is your eating it with, what it means to you, and why for it you should be thankful.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stuff To Do

Today I want to talk about how I'm grateful for the opportunities that I have to do things. Earlier tonight I was kind of frustrated because I felt like there wasn't anything to do that was in the general area or didn't cost an arm and a leg and I'll admit that I was somewhat vocal about my annoyance. Thinking about it though I realize that's totally silly. While I obviously can't always be entertained, I have countless opportunities all the time, especially here. Just earlier this week I had the chance to be part of a live studio audience. In a few weeks I'll get to work in Temple Square so the sister missionaries can attend the Christmas Devotional. And speaking of which, about a month ago I was able to attend General Relief Society Conference at the Conference Center. General Authorities and other cool people come talk to us all the time and I'm pretty sure I could go a month without buying groceries if I attended all of the activities and events on campus. I guess what I'm saying is that I need to stop being a bum and start being more grateful for all of the stuff to do and opportunities that there actually are here. So today that's what I'm thankful for and I'll keep working on being thankful for it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Get By With A Little Help From...

I had a cool kind of throw back to olden times experience today, at least for me it was. Because of the weird way that my classes are set up this quarter on Tuesdays and Thursdays I have about three hours between classes. Usually I stay on campus and do homework or some other half productive something or other, but today I didn't really have anything to do so I went home for lunch. Whenever I think of people going home for lunch I think of like the 50's or earlier where kids would walk home from school and parents would come  home from work and then they'd all eat and then go back about an hour later. Maybe people still do that and I've just never lived close enough to school or at a school that would let you, or in Spain where people take like 3 hours for lunch and a nap, but I think of it as a "back in the days" moment.

While I was back at my apartment I had a somewhat frustrating experience that lead me to my topic for today. For lunch I was going to saute some mushrooms with cheese, grill a salmon fillet, and have some rice (no, I don't usually eat this fancy I just happened to have this stuff today and thought it all sounded good). Everything was going just fine except that I couldn't open the jar that had the rice in it open (it didn't come in a jar, it was just being stored in there).

I tried every single jar opening technique I knew to get the darn thing open, which apparently isn't really that many, but they all failed. No one else was home either so I couldn't get someone to help me with it. Finally I was ready to just break the it, which I realize is kind of a harsh reaction but hey, I was frustrated. Right before I was about to break it on the counter I tried one more time and it finally opened (was it even worth it? Actually yes, that lunch was delicious so yes it was).

It was actually almost this dramatic

So I realize that a girl having trouble opening a jar is like the stereotype for needing help, or at least masculine help and it reminded me of another instance that happened last year. I was coming back to school from the two week break between summer term and fall semester and had to carry my suitcase, backpack, and laptop from the greyhound station to my new apartment. I total distance of  2.7 miles. Also, my suitcase was a few decades old and the wheels were broken, so I literally had to pick it up and carry it. All 70ish pounds (I'll have you know that I'm a very compact packer, I use very few bags, but as a result I'm sure not a light one). Well, I made it about an hour in before I finally gave up and called Aaron, begging him to come help me. The poor kid was asleep when I called (it was about 10 in the morning) but to his everlasting credit he got up and we arranged to meet at the library, which was near where I was.

The library was about 1.3 miles from the bus stop and it had taken me an hour and 20 minutes to walk there. When Aaron arrived, he grabbed my ridiculously heavy suitcase, swung it up over his head, and we walked the rest of the 1.4 miles in 45 minutes. Yes I know, I'm a wimp.

Anyway, my point of these stories is that I'm thankful for that help that I receive from others.I don't just mean masculine help when I'm being a wimp and have no muscle strength, even though both of these stories have to do with that, but all of the help that I receive. I have been so blessed and served by so many people in so many different ways and I'm just really appreciative of it. It seems that in general people are always being kind and doing things for me or giving me things or whatever. I'm also grateful that I'm learning to accept help more. I feel like pride is one of the easiest vices to fall into and I'm certainly no exception to that. I want to do things myself and I want them done my way (I just thought of another story that involves pioneer treks, airplanes, and toughing out heart attacks, but I'll save that for another day) but I'm learning a little bit at a time to admit when I can't do it on my own. And that it's perfectly fine to let a friend or family member help you reach your metaphorical bootstraps that allow you to pull yourself up again. So, thank you to everyone. If we've met before, chances are you've probably helped or served me in some way, and I want you to know I appreciate it and can't thank you enough.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Working Stiff

Yesterday was my first day of working at the bakery, which is why I didn't get a change to write, but I can use it for my topic today. My grandma and my mom would always try to tell me to "just be thankful that you can work". Well, I'm not to that point of gratitude yet, but I'm further along.

I am grateful that I was able to get a job. I realize that it's not that great of one and that I'm being payed less to do more work than my last job, but it's something and it means that I'll have some income to work with. I think the biggest thing that I'm thankful for with both this job and the one I had over the summer is that I don't particularly like either. I know that sounds weird, so let me explain. My job working at the pool over the summer mostly consisted of sitting watching kids. I wasn't really doing anything and even though I  guess I was helping to keep kids safe I felt like I was being unproductive with my days. It taught me that I need a job that I can be actively engaged in and that I won't be happy somewhere where I can just sit around and rake in the the dough. If I'm going to do work I want to do something, see proof of my efforts and hopefully make some kind of a difference.

This job I'm defiantly more active, but at the same time I realized that this is pretty mundane work and that I have the potential to do a lot more. It reminds me what it is that I'm working in school for. So that I won't have to have a low income, get yourself through college job, but also that I won't be satisfied just being payed for nothing. I want to make a difference doing something that I enjoy.

So I'm thankful for the money that I'm making, but most of all for the lessons that I'm learning. That this is why I'm doing my best in school, so that someday I'll be making a real difference doing something that I truly care about.

All of that aside, the job itself is ok, and kind of a work out too. Four to five hours of pushing and pulling and lifting inside of a bakery, which is essentially a sauna, can get you working up a sweat. Also, I'm probably set for all of the half stale or misformed baked goods I could ever want.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veterans Day

I'll confess that I was pretty miffed that we had to go to school today instead of getting it off for Veterans Day but, whatever. Thanksgiving break is a week from tomorrow anyway so I should probably stop complaining. Wow, I can't believe Thanksgiving is in a week. The end of August, September and October seemed to have dragged by but November seems to be just speeding by. It feels like the end of the semester is right around the corner and the stress of it is coming too. A month from tomorrow will be the last day of finals. So one more month and then I'll be home for Christmas break.

Today since it's the public celebration of Veteran's Day I'd like to talk about that. I guess that I don't really have any stories to go along with that personally, but I do have a lot of members of my family on both sides who have had the courage and valor to serve our country. I know that a lot of countries make it mandatory to serve in the military for a few years (So really it's kind of funny that people freak out about the draft when it happens. In many countries not serving isn't even an option) and so I think that not only is it amazing that our military is almost always supported entirely by volunteers but also that we are given the freedom to choose if we want to serve or not. That's a gift that I know is taken way to far for granted, especially by me. I've never really heavily considered joining the military but even the fact that I can consider it is amazing.

I'm so grateful to live in this country. I know a lot of times, especially with the election having just ended, people whine and moan about everything that's going wrong and how terrible things are. I don't want to say that things couldn't be better and that some things don't need to be changed, but it's also important to realize that we have so much here that others don't. And I'm eternally thankful for those who were and still are willing to take a stand and defend those rights, freedoms and privileges.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

School Days

A few days ago I had the opportunity to meet with my academic councilor and map out my plan for graduation. Assuming that everything goes well and I get into all of the classes that I need I'm set to graduate either Fall 2014 or Winter 2015 just depending on when I do my internship and how things pan out. So, I'm sure that you're all asking yourself, "What? 2015? That's 4 years from when you graduated high school. If you're just going to graduate then anyway, what's the point in doing AP classes and Running Start?" Well, even if you weren't asking those questions I was, until I started thinking about it.

In order for a student to graduate in four years without taking any college classes before hand, she has to take most semesters at least if not more than 15 credits, which can be really stressful. So a lot of times she end up staying for another year or at least part of one or working through the spring/summer. By taking classes earlier it means that I don't have to ever take more than 15 credits. In fact, most of my semesters I'm taking less than 15. I'm still going full time, but with 13 or 14 credits. Sure I could overload and graduate in 3 years or something, but why stress myself out when I don't have to. Aside from peace of mind, less credit hours also gives more more time to do things. That means that I'll be able to "enjoy the college experience" more and that I'll have more time to work so I'll be better financially prepared. Since I still have a little open room in all of my schedules if for some reason something did go wrong with a class, I could fit it in and still not have to go overtime. Also, if nothing goes wrong, it gives me room to take fun classes like ballroom or Intro to Wilderness Exploration ( I really wanted to take this one but it was full).

 I could technically graduate really soon if I wanted to push myself like crazy, but why do that? I already had  crazy two years my last two years in high school and besides, if I graduate too young I'll actually have less chance of being hired because of my age (it's already a big enough pain that a lot of times people are reluctant to listen to my advice or take me seriously because I'm younger than they are).

So was the AP testing, college in the high school and running start worth it? I think so. Out of the deal I was able to challenge myself more in high school, I think make and keep better friends, save some money on tuition, get a more diverse education, and get a leg up on college. And even though a college jump start won't  necessarily  get me out of University faster, it will allow me to have a better time here, make more money, be less stressed, and make sure that I graduate on time.

Where was I going with all of this? I'm thankful for something right? Well then I guess that I'm thankful for my education. For all of the wonderful opportunities that I've had to further it and to learn and grow as a person. I've had a lot of amazing programs and people that have helped me get the most out of my educating years and I'm really grateful for that. Also, that I had an awesome high school councilor and parents who taught me how to plan for classes and the future like a boss! I just remembered a whole lot more that I want to say about education, but this post should probably end soon, so maybe I'll talk about it later!

Friday, November 9, 2012

First Snowfall

Holy cow today's weather has been crazy. It's been kind of slushy and gross for most of the day but recently it's started snowing for real. There's already a few inches and it's still coming down strong. Um, I don't really have any stories about snow, it doesn't really snow all that often at home. Usually we get about two or three days of snow a year. Before I came out to U:AFWTD on the first snow day of the year I would go down to Riley's house and we and the other kids that lived around would sled down the streets. Sometimes we'd have snowball fights and we'd always just walk around and look at the snow for a while. My last year home after we froze out, we watched How to Train Your Dragon and drew this super random picture. In defense of how strange it is, we took turns. Riley would draw one thing and then I'd draw a thing so we didn't know how it was going to turn out until it was done.

 It was always nice that it snowed, but not a lot. That way you were still excited for it. I've found out that after about a week or so I get tired of snow, especially if I have to walk around everywhere in it like I will here. At home though it snows enough that you can enjoy it without making you sick of it.

So for today I'm thankful for snow. It can be a big pain sometimes, but I've had a lot of good times with it and I'm glad it's a thing. On the other hand though, I'm also thankful for warm clothes, heaters, and indoors so that I don't always have to deal with the snow.
Brandi made this a few years ago. She'd probably been reading too much Calvin and Hobbs. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Halloween Miracle

Today's story kids is about a pinch of Halloween magic . A few weeks ago our dishwasher broke. I don'r remember exactly when, but I'm pretty sure that whenever that was I mentioned it on here, so you can go find out if you want. Anyway, our landlord's husband came by to look at it and discovered that the engine was shot because we had been using too old of dish washing soap. Apparently, the old soap wasn't dissolving  and was stopping the water from coming through. This meant that the engine was running dry and overheated . He told us that trying to fix it was a lost cause and that he would order a new one for us.

While we were waiting for our new dishwasher we were washing dishes by hand and placing then in the dishwasher to dry. So the door was being opened and closed a lot. Well, on Halloween our dishwasher decided to rise from the dead, much to everyone's surprise  No one even pressed start, we just heard it running later that night.

When we discovered that it was working something along these lines occurred. 

The next day we got an e-mail from our landlord saying something along the lines of "Great news guys! Your new dishwasher will be here in a day or two!" with a follow up e-mail a day or so latter telling us that the new dishwasher was scheduled to go in the next day. Um..... right...

Well we all felt pretty sketchy accepting a new dishwasher when our old one was no longer broken but what were we going to do? The thing was already here and ready to go in and our dishwasher had broken once so who knows if it would do so again or not. We ended up e-mailing our landlord telling her about the Halloween happenstance and we were unsure on what grounds it had happened, and who knows if the dishwasher would fall apart again. So..... we didn't end up getting the new dishwasher, but our old one is still working so who knows.

The moral of this wonderful tale is that I'm thankful for a conscious that helps you out when you're tempted to do something wrong, even if it means that you don't get a new dishwasher and also for the relief that comes with a clear one. I'm also thankful for our dishwasher. Yeah it's old and junkey but hey, it's still functioning. And finally who can forget "Halloween Magic." It's a thing I guess. I mean who knew, I figured that was just a Christmas thing but hey, how silly of me to not believe. Halloween "miracles"  (at least broken appliance related ones) do come true! The Great Pumpkin is out there guys!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election 2012

Well, the election's over. I'll admit, I was disappointed. I was really hoping for Romney. But I think that the best thing we can do now, no matter what party or person we were supporting, is focus on what we can do to keep our nation progressing. It's important that we don't become either sore losers or arrogant winners. This isn't just a contest about beating out one team or party over another, it's about providing what's best for the country and the people. Some people have different views than others, and on some issues we will most likely never agree, and that's ok. All we can do it try to be civil, respect and understand a difference of opinion, and work hard to do the best we can with what's we've got.

It's important to remember that the fact that we even have the ability to vote for our leaders is a huge blessing. After the results were announced I was reading an essay by Stanley Fish about multiculturalism for a class and I came across this quote. "That is to say, we have rights not as men or women or Christians or Jews or blacks or Asians but as human beings, and what makes a human being a human being is not the particular choices he or she makes but the capacity for choice itself, and it is this capacity rather than any of its actualization that must be protected."  The right of  fully functioning capably minded adults to choose for themselves based on thought and long consideration must be protected and respected, regardless of what that choice may or may not be. Without getting to crazy here obviously, if you choose to harm someone else clearly that's not going to fly (The idea is the right to opinion and choice rather than turning a blind eye.). I'm a big believer in God given agency and the right to exercise it. Force is the opposite of agency, and just because someone exercises it differently doesn't necessarily make what they have chosen or them evil or wrong, just different.

I think that we should try to follow the example of Mitt Romney during his speech last night. He congratulated President Obama and wished him the best of luck, and encouraged everyone to pray for the President and the nation and to avoid pointless bickering. If the man who just lost the presidential election can be humble and civil enough to do that than I'm sure we can too.

I made a commitment for the month of November to look at things with an aspect of gratitude, and that includes this election. So here we go. Like I said earlier, I'm grateful for the right to vote and for people to voice their opinions. It's a blessing that is often neglected. More specific for this particular election though, I'm grateful for what I've learned. Four years ago during the last election I had just turned 15, and so this is really the first one that not only have I been able to participate in but have actively payed attention to. A lot of the friends that I've made here are highly involved or interested in politics and as a result I've followed this one from the pretty much the beginning to the end. Along the way I've learned a lot about how politics work, different issues going on, and also more about myself; the kinds of things that I support and what I want and look for in a candidate. So even though the election didn't turn out the way that I was hoping, it's still been a benefit to me.  

Oh, and to everyone going crazy about President Obama being re-elected, I realized that you're excited, but try ( I know it can be hard) to not be obnoxiously arrogant. Just like people bemoaning the "signs of the times" wont change the outcome of the election, jazzy F*** you Romney songs and self-righteousness won't either. So please, stop. It's just making you look bad.

Monday, November 5, 2012

How Japanese is Like the Female Mind

That's right, Japanese and the Female mind, probably not two things you would usually put together, but that have more in common than you might think.

Difficult to understand 
I can't remember the exact details but on the first day of class our professor told us that when the government trains people to speak Japanese it takes about twice as much time as it does to learn a Latin based language because of it's difficulty to learn. And I think it's safe to say, heaven help the man, woman (yes, we can't even understand ourselves sometimes), or child that tries to fully understand the female mind.

Overly complicated. 
A girl will analyze something a hundred different times and a hundred different ways before deciding to come back to her original interpretation. Words always have to mean something else and hints or clues are a big part of communication. Japanese has two different "alphabets" (it's more of a phonetic thing that alphabet the way we think of roman letters) and a huge set of pictorial characters and you have to know all of them! There are different words and phrases for how far apart you are in status you are to a person and theoretically you can tell two people's relationship to each other entirely from the grammar that they use. You even use different words depending on what gender and how old you are.

It's all about the little details 
Japanese has an interesting characteristic known as particles. For those of you who don't know, it's kind of like speaking your implied grammar. You say things like "object marker", "topic marker",  "place maker", "possession marker" etc. So you say things that in English are usually implied by tone and emphasis. As a result the particles that you use can drastically change what you are saying means. I think we all know that girls are big into the details. This goes along with being overly complicated, but to a girls, one word you use or don't use or the way you look or a tiny thing can make all of the difference in how they feel about what was said.  

Clicks are where it's at 
While hopefully girls grow out of this eventually, they seem to travel in packs together. Rarely will you see just one girl doing something or standing somewhere and if girls do go somewhere by themselves, they generally tend to congregate towards other groups of girls and form new groups. In Japan the whole culture almost revolves around "in" groups and "out" groups, which seems to me to just be the adult word for clicks. The way that you talk to people in your out group changes from the way that you talk to people in your in group. The way that you treat those people and the way that you act around them is different too.

The less direct the better 
I feel incredibly sorry for anyone trying to DTR in Japan because I can only imagine what kind of a nightmare that would be. As a general rule in Japan the more cryptic and less specific you are the more polite it is. So whenever you can you try to be vague. Girls are always being cryptic. Although, the reason for this is a little different. In Japanese you aren't specific because it's polite ( I guess) but girls aren't specific because they want people to guess what they've left out. Girls play this weird game where they think that if a person knows them well they'll be able to read their mind and pick up on the hints they leave for people. The problem with this is, not only is it weird and a crazy thing to assume, but half of the time girls don't even know what they want, so I don't know how they expect anyone else to know. So the reasons are different but the outcome is the same, intense indirectness. 

Don't offend 
It seems like every other word in Japanese is a way to say "I'm sorry". Being polite is a huge deal and even if you didn't do anything specifically you seem to be apologizing all the time. It's the same with girls. Always they seem to be apologizing and freaking out and worried about offending other people and their feelings. I'm not necessarily saying that it's a bad thing, just that it happens. 

So, Japanese and the Female mind, more alike than you might think right? So what does this mean in terms of seeing things with gratitude? Well obviously I'm grateful that now guys can learn Japanese and better understand how the female mind works! In all seriousness though, I'm grateful that I'm finally (at least I feel like) starting to get a handle on this darn language and even with all of my whining about  a month ago I'm starting to like it again. I really like the kids in my class, my TA's and even the teaching style and I feel like I'm learning new enough things that it's more interesting and I'm a lot less tired of it now. While I'm not always super excited, I'm enjoying it a lot more and best of all I can really feel myself learning, which I'm grateful for. So, in summary, I'm thankful that I'm starting to understand Japanese, that I'm enjoying it more and really learning. Most of all though, I'm thankful that even for something as small and seemingly insignificant as studying Japanese, I was able to have a change of heart. And if I can change my attitude about that, than who knows what's next.

Oh, I couldn't think of anything to draw pictures of so maybe next time!  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Whole World Is In My Hands

Sorry guys, but I don't think you're going to be getting any more pictures. Those took me forever to draw and they weren't that great. I hope this doesn't devastate you all too much.

For my Composing Personal History class we have to read a memoir and I've been reading Julie and Julia. If you don't know what it's about, this girl Julie Powell who lives a regular life with her husband in New York, decided that she wants to cook her way through Julie Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. There isn't really any big amazing thing that happens or anything, it's just her cooking and whatnot. Anyway, I was reading a part today where she was talking about cooking lobster and having to kill them. I've never killed a lobster myself (I think that I would defiantly opt for the boiling method rather than the sever the spinal cord method) but I've seen my parents do it.

The most recent time that I remember having lobster we had put them in our fridge before we were going to eat (still alive mind you) and later my sister went into the kitchen to find them crawling around on the floor! I don't know how they got out of the fridge but the poor things were clearly trying to escape.

Ok I lied, here's one picture for you.

So reading about those lobsters and thinking about similar experience that I've had, with a perspective of thankfulness, has got me thinking (warning, somewhat hippie like statement to follow) about how I'm grateful for the earth and the stewardship that mankind has been given over it. Over the past year or so I've been thinking a lot more about nature. Maybe it's just the contrast between where I live now and where I'm from or maybe all of those crazy eco-nazi people finally got to me, I don't know, but I've recently come to realize more ( I don't want you to think I was totally oblivious before or something crazy like that) just how awesome it can be. As I'm sure you all know, I believe that the Earth was created under the direction of God, for the use and benefit of mankind, but also that we are trusted with the dominion to be righteous stewards over it. So everything on the Earth, while it is to profit mankind, must be use with righteousness and gratitude. Although, not gratitude to the earth itself in a "mother gaia" sense, but gratitude to God, in the gift of the earth that He has given us.

Don't worry, I'm not about to run out and live in the forest, become a vegan, stop using paper, or some other weird thing. After all, like I said, it's not about the "mother gaia" praise the earth itself aspect. Besides, the scriptures also say that the earth was "ordained for the use of man... that he might have abundance." and refusing to use the resources that we've been giving would in its own way be wasteful. I think what this means to me is just to go about with a greater attitude of appreciation. Especially when it comes to things like meal prayers. Instead of just glossing over them I want to think about it and really say what I mean. The earth really is a great place, I'm grateful for it, and I hope to be able to use it well.

P.S. This does not change my stance on Wall-E. I still hate that movie with a fiery passion.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Attempts At Gratitude Part One

In my Composing Personal History class we somewhat regularly have published authors and other types of people come and talk to us. On Tuesday we had a lady come in who publishes a blog in a very similar style to Hyperbole and a Half (which if you haven't read you need to stop reading this right now and look it up). So we were challenged to on our blogs write with humor. Well, I also wanted to for the month of November write about things that I'm grateful for in order to get into the spirit of Thanksgiving. You know, like I attempted to do last year but utterly failed at. So, we'll see how this goes.I'm going to attempt to draw some pictures for this, but I hope that you'll forgive me for my enormous lack of talent/skill.

Once upon a time there was me. I, being the charming social creature that I am have friends, many of which you all may know or have been introduced to in this blog. For the purposes of this story you only need to know about three of them. They are Hillary, Scott, and one who for the purposed of this story we shall call Josh.

Hillary, Scott and I had met 1,000 years ago when we were going to middle school together and we had discovered Josh in high school. The kid was great and a lot of fun, but he had the tenancy to every once and a while recede into his surroundings and metaphorically "die". Which really just meant that we hadn't seen him for a while. It also didn't help that his parents needed him to do stuff for them a lot, which seemed to keep him pretty busy.

Never ending pit of dishes he had to do.

So, every once and a while we would make spontaneous trips to his house in order to see him and go on adventures with him. Or at the very least, go on adventures ourselves since going to see him always was. The thing about Josh's house is that, well, it was full of things.

In order to get to it you had to turn down this road/drive way type deal that was off of a main road and once you did you were greeted by: at least 3 dogs, a chicken, something like 20 cats (the best of which was named Alfredo and had a Hitler stach), 5 cars, a trailer, and the house. And this was assuming that no one was home.
Ok, this was starting to take forever and I had to get to class, so try to pretend this picture
is a house with stuff and not just totally terrible

The family consisted of 5 kids, ranging from his cute elementary school sister to himself, a recent graduate, and two parents. But there were always other people around. The most consistent was a bearded man who I think was an uncle or something, but he never said anything to you. He just  look at you while you approached and then fade away.He came to be known as "the bearded relation".

Wow, who would have thought beards were so hard to make look good.
You get the idea though.

Well, one particular day Hillary, Scott and I decided that we needed to watch and mock some movie, the title of which I can't remember but I know it had something to do with magic space ships and girls that turned into horses or something. Anyway, point is, we were watching it and we needed Josh.

So the three of us piled into the car and headed over. As we pulled into the driveway/road deal we scanned the path before us to be wary of cats and relations. After a few minutes and some knocking, it appeared that no one was home. We headed back to the car, a little disappointed and still on the look out for cats and relations.

Um no, I didn't reuse my pictures...

To the side of the driveway/road thing that needs to be traveled in order to get to the house is a giant bush which does a pretty awesome job of blocking the view of the road, making it hard to see if cars are coming or not. So, in an effort to get back on the main road, we were (in the car) slowly creeping out from behind this bush. As soon as we think it's safe to go, I van appears from down the road and starts driving towards us. We wait for the van to drive past, but as it gets closer, we see the blinker turn on. Confused for a moment as to why they would be turning down the driveway/road deal, we looked into the approaching van to realized that it was full of Josh relations.

In a sudden panic to leave the house before they arrived, both to avoid the awkwardness of us leaving the house and they were arriving and in a desperate flight from the van of relations we peeled out onto the road, sped down the street, and turned into the nearest neighborhood.

After taking a minute to catch our breath, and pretty confident that they hadn't seen us, we headed back to Scott's house to watch and mock the magic space movie, unfortunately still Joshless but fortunate still in the sense that we had narrowly escaped quite easily what could have been the most terrifying moment of the week. A van full of relations.

So, the moral of this story is that in light of my grateful outlook, I'm thankful for fast transportation and get away cars. Turns out they're not just for robbers anymore. Also, wow. Time for me to take another art class.