31 October 2011

Happy Hipster Halloween

[This enticing title fooled you into thinking you were going to immediately read some anecdote about hipsters.  I'll get there...I'll get there.]

Possibly my favorite Halloween pastime is scrolling though my Facebook newsfeed to find all the photos of slutty Halloween costumes that have been proudly posted.  I love all the sexy kitty cats, sexy high school principles, sexy pirates, etc.  It doesn't matter that all you're wearing is a push-up bra and daisy dukes, so long as you are also sporting a pair of cat ears, nerd glasses, or a pirate bandanna that clearly state to the world that you are, in fact, in a Halloween costume (and that this costume is a distinct variation from what you wear every other weekend).

Good times.  Love Halloween.

With that aside (but still on the same note of fashion), I bring to your attention an interesting New York Times article written about Mormon fashion.  Wait......What?

Mormon fashion?  Hah! When I first thought about that, it seemed a bit oxymoronic (spell check, how dare you tell me that is not a word), given the strict dress code that sets us apart from the rest of the world and often evokes such words as "prudish," "bland," and "Roman Catholic nun."  Yes.  It is true.  I guess you could say we take the "I-respect-my-body-and-want-others-to-respect-it-too" approach.  We cover our shoulders and thighs and boobs and butt cracks and try not to make a habit of draping ourselves in various cuts of meat.  We are the real freaks, Lady Gaga.  Dedicate your music to us.

So, can we possibly be fashionable and modest simultaneously?  Apparently, yes.  And we're actually good at it!  I use the term "we," though I would not venture to group myself into the category of highly fashionable Mormons.  My love of jeans and basic tees prevents me from ever being considered as such.  I actively follow this awesome modest fashion blog and sometimes think that maybe I'll apply her style advice to my own wardrobe one day.  But let's be real, peeps....

After reading the article, I thought, "hmm....perhaps Mormons really ARE more fashion-savvy than I give them credit for...I ought to look around more."  And so I did.  I looked around.  And who did I see but Elder Jeffery R. Holland chilling in Anthropologie in SLC this weekend.  Homeboy knows how to dress, too!  He was such a rockin' hipster!  Wanting to avoid being some awkward gawking fan, I didn't catch his entire ensemble, but the suede boots, suit vest with jeans, and just the fact that he was in Anthropologie proved to me that Mormons are hip.  Case in point, New York Times.  Shoulda interviewed Elder Holland to strengthen your argument and broaden your audience, but I still take my hat off to you.

Oh, and Happy Halloween:)

30 October 2011

Happy Sunday: Arches Nat'l Park (or, All Things Denote There is a God)

I had the opportunity to go down to Moab a few weeks ago to get some footage for a short documentary we're producing at work.  It was a rather spontaneous gig.  I overheard my boss talking with a kid in our lab about the fact that no cameraman is available to do the Moab shoot.  Having never been there and always up for a free trip to basically anywhere, I half jokingly suggested, "Teach me how to use the camera and I'll go!"  "Done.  You're going," he said.  "Wait...what?  For reals?"  I started getting nervous, thinking that the trip wouldn't be worth the responsibility of lugging around $10K of camera equipment.  I saw headlines: Girl Drops Camera Off Cliff and then Plummets After it to her Death.  

Well, in the end, obviously I'm glad I went.  I shot mostly film, but I do have a handful of photos (click on 'em to make 'em bigger).  Arches Nat'l Park is phenomenal and once again I was caught in the rapture of nature and the closeness to God that it evokes.  In case you've forgotten from my other posts about the natural world and the existence of a Divine Creator, let me remind you: "All things denote there is a  God...

...yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form  do witness that there is a Supreme Creator." (Alma 30:44)

Happy Sunday,

29 October 2011

Y'all Gonna Learn Chinese!

Ok, not Chinese.  Romanian.  But there are no awesome Romanian rappers who have come out with a video like this.  Yet.

But enough of this beating around the bush.  Who's gonna be BYU's latest and greatest Romanian teacher come Winter Semester???

THIS girl.  


Call me Professor Holden.  If you want. 

Ok, just Student Instructor Holden.  But that just sounds lame.  So I'll just go by Sarah.  

My Beginning Romanian students are going to luf me.  

26 October 2011

Someone, please pay me to eat cookies

There comes a point in every young, white, middle-class, Mormon girl's life when she desperately wants money and will go to great lengths to get it (without having to work, obviously).  I already sold all my books on Amazon and have looked into the qualifications for donating plasma.  Maybe even a kidney.  So, I've decided to take the scholarly approach and apply for research grants and scholarships.  For anyone considering this option, just make sure your research costs NOTHING so you can keep all the grant money for yourself.  

Anyway, there have been many a late night of writing, critiquing, rewriting, dazing into space, and writing some more.  When I am in Will-Write-Extensive-Grant-Proposals-For-Money phase, my diet typically consists of cookies.  I'm talking Oreos by the sleeve-full.  And I have this disease that makes me think when there's still milk in my glass, I have permission to eat cookies until it disappears.  I only half blame myself because I purchase Oreos on a weekly basis.  All other cookies magically show up on our doorstep.  And they complement Oreos so well!  Downside of the Relief Society...

Given the repeated pattern of the past, like, 8 nights, I am starting to think that maybe this diet is not such a good idea. 

25 October 2011

Guest Speaker Addresses the Inner-Workings of the Female Body

I am re-blogging the following post, mostly because I laughed about it all day yesterday.  It is written by my beautiful, feminist, existentialist, neuroscience-major who is on her way to tour the country attending, like, 80 different medical school interviews.  Homegirl's got sass.  Read on.  Unless you're weirded out by stuff like this...  Read Sierra's blog here.  As I commented to her, I'm so happy that someone finally explained this to me without using the words "flower," "cherry," "hee hee," "hoo hoo," or "ho ho!"  And without further ado, I give you...

"The Cycle" Explained

Men, this post is about "the cycle." If the acknowledgment of the existence of female hormones causes you unbearable discomfort, I recommend leaving this webpage and checking out The Art of Manliness instead. Your testosterone level is guaranteed to rise by as much as 0.5%! To my female friends, you can probably commiserate on the subject.

First of all, I'd like to dispel some popular beliefs about the cycle. The cycle:
  • does not correlate with the phases of the moon
  • contrary to popular belief, menstruation is not the most hormonally dangerous part of the cycle (it's ovulation you gotta watch out for! I'll explain why later...)
  • does NOT incapacitate women from effectively serving their fellow humans :)

With that knowledge safely tucked away in our brains, I will now explain how "the cycle" can influence women's emotions and perceptions throughout its 28 days of biological mayhem!

Day 1-7: Menstruation, which means the lining of the uterus decides to exit the body in the most violent manner possible. Hormone levels are reasonably stable, so it's not "hormones" causes the women in your life to chase you with an ax; rather, the muscular cramping, low iron levels, fatigue, and sheer annoyance of perpetually bleeding puts women into a fearsome state. For women with endomytriosis, this part of the process is extremely painful and can knock them out for a few days. Be very wary of a woman on days 1-7.
Days 7-13: Proliferation. The uterine lining is fattening up, hoping to have a fertilized egg happily implanted into its snuggy warmth. Estrogen levels are on a steady incline, which means women have inexplicable giggling fits and think puppies are more adorable than usual.
Day 14: Ovulation. The scariest day in any single woman's life. Why? Because this is prime baby-making time! Every hormonal signal in a woman's body on this day is telling her to get impregnated and to do it NOW! FSH, LH, and progesterone levels all shoot through the roof. All men are attractive. Public nudity may occur. It is the only day of the month that a NCMO sounds incredibly appealing. Women on day 14 are downright dangerous, and the single ones should probably be quarantined for the day.
Days 14-28: Luteal phase. Basically, the woman's uterus starts to realize, with some disappointment, that it is not enjoying the company of a fertilized egg. Out of sheer frustration, it prepares to forcefully eject the uterine lining when the cycle repeats on day 1.

23 October 2011

Happy Sunday: Wise Words From a Russian Novelist

I just finished reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.  Wow.  WOW.  The man had an incredible grasp on the Atonement.  

At one point in his life, he was sentenced to death for I don't even know what.  Probably something unpardonable, like, expressing his opinion or something. Early 19th Century in Russia was rough.  Anyway, seconds before the poor guy was about to go the way of all the earth, a messenger rode up with news that the sentence had been changed to four years in prison.  Shortly afterwards, Dostoevsky wrote a letter to his brother.  Below are some excerpts.

Never before have I felt welling up in me such abundant and healthy reserves of spiritual life as I do now.
When I look back on my past and think how much time I wasted on nothing, how much time has been lost in futilities, errors, laziness, incapacity to live; how little I appreciated it, how many times I sinned against my heart and soul—then my heart bleeds. Life is a gift, life is happiness, every minute can be an eternity of happiness. If youth only knew! Now, in changing my life, I am reborn in a new form. Brother! I swear that I will not lose hope and will keep my soul and heart pure. I will be reborn for the better. That’s all my hope, all my consolation!
I am neither downhearted nor discouraged. Life is life everywhere, life is in ourselves, not in the exterior. I shall have human beings around me [in Siberia], and to be a man among men and to remain one always, not to lose heart and not to give in no matter what misfortune may occur—that is what life is, that is its task.

Nothing like death row to make you appreciate the value of life.  The following passage from another letter he wrote deserves at least two careful readings:

I have shaped for myself a Credo where everything is clear and sacred for me. This Credo is very simple, here it is: to believe that nothing is more beautiful, profound, sympathetic, reasonable, manly, and more perfect than Christ; and I tell myself with a jealous love not only that there is nothing but that there cannot be anything. Even more, if someone proved to me that Christ is outside the truth, and that in reality the truth were outside of Christ, then I should prefer to remain with Christ rather than with the truth.

I won't try to add anything to Dostoevsky's words.  Life is precious.  Love every minute of it.

22 October 2011

Facebook Photography

I've contemplated long and hard on the phenomenon of Facebook creating a slew of amateur photographers.  In some ways (rarely), it has done wonders in producing quite remarkable photography skills.  In other ways (nearly always), nothing but narcissistic Profile Pic photo shoots on train tracks and in graffiti-adorned alleys have resulted.

Today, I found this.  THIS is what I'm talking about, peeps.

Take a gander through the following prime examples of the photography monsters that Facebook has created (I kid you not, I pulled these off of random Facebook profiles just now in about 5 minutes.  I might be friends with some of them....Hopefully they don't read my blog...).

"Man, do I really look that good in the morning?  I'm running late for work but I gotta go get my camera.  People need to see how hot I am post-shower."

"Maybe if I seductively cover my face with scraggly bangs, people won't know that I have cataracts on one eye and a pirate patch on the other."

"Look at me, I'm a contortionist!  How abnormally can I contort my head to freak people out and make myself look like a crazed Chuckie doll?!"  

"Yes, everyone, I'm pregnant!  Weeeee I'm so excited to be a mommy!  And as you can see from this super cute profile picture, my hubby and I are expecting a plucked chicken!"

"Rawrrrrr!  I'm so sexy!  Ima seduce you with my cat-like stare of death!"

"If eating sand doesn't turn you ladies on, I don't know what does."

"If chugging beer from a flower vase doesn't turn you ladies on, I better go back to using the sand-eating picture."

19 October 2011

Missing: The Tamale Lady

Cute little Mexican mamasita.  Toting fresh tamales on a make-shift wagon.  Selling them on select street corners for a buck.  Pork, chicken, and cheese. 

For months and MONTHS I saw this lady working her little biznass in the neighborhoods south of BYU campus.  I always thought to myself, "One day...just ONE DAY...I will purchase one of her tamales."  You know, help a madre out.  This train wreck of an economy leaves no one unscathed--not even the street peddlers.  But alas, my road to Hell kept getting longer as I continued to lay brick after brick of good intentions.   

Three or four weeks ago, while descending the South Campus Stairs of Death, I spotted the Tamale Lady across the street.  "ARRRRIBA!"  I exclaimed, inwardly.  "I'm actually NOT in a hurry and, whoa!, there's even a one-dollar bill in my wallet (both rarities, indeed)!!" 

I approached the Woman of the Hour, working up enough courage to practice the 5 words of Spanish I picked up off the streets of So Cal as a small child.  "Uh....unu....tamale...uh, pollo!  Muchos gracias!"

It was delicious.  Heavenly.  Best tamale I ever did eat.  And sadly, the last...

...BECAAUUSE, the Tamale Lady is nowhere to be found!  Is this some cruel joke?  Some vicious prank being played by the Mexican food gods that watch over us day and night from up on MontaƱa Olimpo?!?!  For months I saw this lady nearly every day and once I FINALLY partook of her ambrosial goods, she left me high and dry, my mouth still salivating and my mind in a trance.  

There's no other logical explanation for her sudden disappearnce other than....that....she is an angel.  She was just waiting to bless one last soul--for me to buy a delicious home-made tamale before she could spread her wings and leave this God-forsaken land of vending machine chimichangas and microwavable burritos.  Her work in this life is finished.  Well done, thou good and faithful tamale peddler. 

16 October 2011

Happy Sunday: I am a Mormon

And so is Brandon Flowers, the lead singer of The Killers. I'm pretty sure I've had a mormon.org account for longer than he has......I'm still waiting for them to make a video about me.

"I want to be a positive force in the world and I want to uplift people."

"A lot of people love to come up to me and tell me they were raised in the Church and they expect there to be this camaraderie about 'oh we've outgrown it now and we're smart enough now to not be in it.' And it started happening so often that it really made me take a look at myself, and I realized, I was raised in it and there's still a fire burning in there."

Click on the button on the right to check out my profile and read other people's stories about why we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

10 October 2011

Unfortunate Tragedy #42 Follow-Up

For those of you who lost sleep this weekend worrying about the condition of the world's cutest Scottish wallet:



Shortly after writing that tragic post, the call indeed came.  It went something like this:

CEO of Trash:  Is this Sarah?
Me:  Yes it is!
CoT:  Are you in the library?
Me:  No but I can be in 30 seconds.
CoT:  Meet me in my office.
Me:  Pronto.

I reached his office in a jiffy lube, all ready to do me some dumpster diving!  Sadly, he informed me that I need to sign a waiver to legally throw myself into a giant garbage receptacle and that he doesn't have one of those coveted waivers on hand.  NOOOO!

All of a sudden a glowing halo formed around his head and he sprouted a set of angel wings!  This God-sent being was offering to dumpster dive FOR ME!  I couldn't believe it.  Sometimes I forget that really good people actually exist in this world.  So this served as a solid reminder.    

God-send pulled on a pair of heavy duty gloves that looked like they had been do Dante's inferno and back.  "Follow me," he said.

I followed him down...down...down...to the underground lair of BYU waste.  Just imagine the Phantom's swampy digs beneath the Garnier Opera House.  I feel like this place possibly could have served as inspiration for Gaston Leroux's novel...srsly.  On the journey to the underworld, our conversation went like so:

CoT:  So, let me get this straight.  You threw away your wallet?
Me:  Hilarious, right?.....heh.......heh........?
CoT:  I will sort through the trash and as the bag gets full I'll need you to tie it up and give me a new one.  I don't know why, but the garbage smells like fish today.  It might get a little dirty.
Me:  It's ok, I've done lots of dirty things in my life.

I regretted that last comment immediately.  He just kind of gave me a quizzical look.  Like when you're scolding a puppy and he cocks his head to one side, all innocent-like.

Long story short, after 35 minutes or so of the gnarliest trash-digging I've never participated in, the wallet was found!  'Twas a miracle of miracles, as Motel from Fiddler on the Roof would say.  Oh man, I just had the BIGGEST urge to listen to that soundtrack.  Done.

Goodnight, folks.
PS:  I realize this post is lacking a cartoon but I can't be bothered right now.  I have homework to do and Fiddler on the Roof to listen to.  Thank you for understanding.

09 October 2011

Happy Sunday: Kyiv Ukraine Temple (or, Making Lives Beautiful)

This is a video of the celebration that took place during the Ukraine Temple dedication last summer. I can't help but shed a tear of tremendous joy and deep gratitude for the faithful Latter-day Saints of Eastern Europe who sacrificed so much to be there. A handful of members from a little branch in northeastern Romania attended the dedication and were absolutely brimming with happiness upon their return. Their elation and edification could hardly be expressed in words, but it was felt by all who heard their accounts of the experience.  [For more on LDS temples, refer back to this post].

A few months earlier I had been living in a town in the more south-central part of the country. There, I met a man who epitomized Anne Shirley's classic definition of living "in the depths of despair." I won't go into the miraculous story that ensued. Perhaps another day. Or maybe I'll even let him tell it. Last month, this man was hardly entrenched in the depths of despair in which he had been wallowing about a year earlier. He had the blessed opportunity of attending the Ukraine Temple where he made beautiful and binding promises with his Heavenly Father. His life is now filled with light, meaning and profound joy from actively living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It doesn't require a 180 life-adjustment to see and feel the blessings of attending the temple. It makes the sad happy and the happy even happier, though in my current state I feel like I couldn't possibly be happier.

On his baptism day.  He is the one with the dark hair.

07 October 2011

Unfortunate Tragedy #42

Welp.  I lost my wallet.  My precious little Scottish wool plaid wallet that my mom bought me in Edinburgh this summer is now drowning in the dregs of a cesspool, fighting for air among rough draft research papers, empty Creamery chocolate milk bottles, granola bar wrappers, and notebook paper with a 4-year plan written on one side and a game of MASH scribbled on the other.  Typical treasures found in the BYU library trashcans.  Yes.  Yes.  I threw away my wallet last night, ok.  YES.  What!  I was delirious!  It was 11:30 p.m.  I had been slaving away on a paper that I somehow thought was due at midnight (it wasn't).  My dinner consisted of one of those giant Grandmother's sugar cookies slathered with a pound of delicious pink frosting and rainbow sprinkles.  I clearly wasn't thinking straight, people!  Pray tell, what would you do in such a situation?  Throw your wallet in a trashcan, obviously.

So, I'm waiting for the call.  The one that will grant me permission to have a dumpster diving rave with myself this afternoon.  Apparently it's illegal to just dive in on a whim.  You gotta talk to, like, the CEO of garbage collection to do that sort of thing.  I hope the call comes, as I really want my wallet back.  But mostly I just want an excuse to draw a picture of me flailing around in massive dumpster.

02 October 2011

Happy Sunday: Fishing, Fall, and the Word of God

Oh hey, again.  I write to you in a worn-out, dazed, yet completely fulfilled state.

Worn out from very early mornings and very late nights.  When I was on my mission, I promised myself I would sleep in for the rest of my life once I got back to America.  Yeah, that happened once, maybe.  I realized I'm just not the sleeping-in type.  I feel like my greatest hours of productivity are in the wee hours of the morning,  There's no greater time for hiking, baking, reading, working out, fly fishing....  Yes, I went fly fishing for the first time ever with my friend Conley.  I got to tromp around in Provo River wearing waders that were about 30 sizes too big for me.  I kind of just imagined I was in "A River Runs Through It" and that Robert Redford would pop out from behind the cattails at any minute.  The setting was stunning.  Catch of the day:  two bushes, several sticks, and a nasty knot in my line.  So sue me.  Conley said I had great casting form, so the way I see it, as long as I look good fishing, the number of fish caught is of little importance.

Gone Fishin'......I've always wanted to say that

Dazed from concocting and eating an array of foods deemed "Fall Foods" for a spontaneous Harvest Fest that Lani and I threw at our apartment this afternoon.  There's something about foliage changing colors that puts one in the mood for anything containing pumpkin or cloves.  On the menu:  pumpkin scones (made from a real pumpkin, folks.  Be impressed.); baby spinach salad with cranberries, pumpkin seeds, candied almonds, apples, and home-made pomegranate balsamic dressing (which may have splattered all over the kitchen and myself when I was making it); banana bread; chili; caramel apples; apple cider; and delicious spicy wassail.  You know that feeling you get after eating too much sugar?  Like your teeth are wearing sweaters?  Yeah.  Got that right now.

Photos courtesy of my roommate, Sierra Debenham

Completely fulfilled because this weekend was General Conference, a conference held semi-annually when the prophet, his apostles, and other general authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speak.  It was great.  Powerful.  Straight-forward.  Bold.  Inspiring.  Spiritual fuel.  It was confirmed to me over and over again that President Thomas S. Monson really is a mouthpiece for God and a living witness that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.

Taken on my hike to Stewart Falls last weekend

Happy Sunday and Happy Fall, everyone.