30 December 2012

So I got a job...

...which means only one thing...


I can finally afford the fancy stuff! Nectar from the gods! I am in HEAVEN! 

Happy Sunday: 26 Reasons to Have Hope for Humanity

Read this list of "26 Moments that Restored Our Faith in Humanity This Year" from Buzzfeed. I LOVE it. As the die hard optimist that I am, it makes me feel like I'm annoying the universe a little less. Haters gonna hate.

If everyone who reads this could add one more reason to the list, we'd have...27? 30, even, reasons why life is good, people are beautiful, and God is great!!

In the spirit of observing all the extraordinary moments of ordinary life, here's a cheesy Pinterest idea that I'm actually going to do this year. I feel a new tradition coming on...

"Those whose works are good reap eternal happiness." (Alma 3:26)
Happy Sunday,

21 December 2012


I'm trying to get a security clearance for work. The application required me to list the addresses of all the places I've lived since 2005. No big, I thought. And then I actually thought.


Who in hell's tarnation moves 16 times in 7 years?
I didn't event attempt to track down the 6 different addresses I had in Romania/Moldova, bringing the actual total to 22. "Crappy Communist block down pot-holed road from gypsy camp" should suffice.

It took me, like, thousands of hours to dig these addresses up. I racked my brain. I called old roommates. I got distracted and reminisced about...

...freshman year in the old Deseret Towers at BYU---so old they were being torn down while we were living in them.
...my first apartment. The one with the mildew on the bedroom ceiling.
...my host mom's apartment in Paris, with the off-limits piano room that my roommate and I were banned from.
...the town house where the first of a series of show-stopping dance parties took place.
...the duplex with the 70s-inspired wood paneling on the walls and the toilet that clogged every other day.

I had to review titles from past blog posts to ensure that I hadn't already used Vagabond. I've got Rover, Homeless, Hobo, and Hobo Pt.II. This goes to show what a roving, homeless hobo vagabond I am.

16 December 2012

Happy Sunday: Peace on Earth

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the words of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" while sitting at the bedside of his son Charles, who had been severely wounded in a Civil War battle. At the time, the Longfellow family was still mourning the recent death of their mother in a house fire. In the face of war and the tragic loss of loved ones, this beloved and inspired poet never doubted the existence and love of God. May his words serve as a reminder to all of us that He "is not dead, nor doth he sleep."

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said:
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

15 December 2012

No Words

Last week I let the children do the talking. I'll let this little one do the singing today. For I have no words.

10 December 2012


I just want everyone to know that WE MADE THIS HAPPEN!!!!!!!!!!

WE did. 

LEFT: Now trending on Pinterest. RIGHT: Bought these in May in Chile at a
janky market, with the sole purpose of making our lives even more awkward. 

09 December 2012

Happy Sunday: Merry Christmas from the Kids

I just love kids. (Especially the real turdy, mischievous ones.) Hence, the Charlie Brown post from last week and my obvious obsession with Paint, which I started around age 10 and never grew out of. So I'll let the chillins do the talking on this Happy Sunday.

How to do NYC on the cheap

1. Make sure one of your friends is in the military. 

There is a place called USO (don't know what that acronym means but I'm calling it Moocher's Paradise) somewhere near Times Square where military peeps can go for discounted Broadway/off-Broadway tickets. We went to see what they had to offer and low and behold--FREE Blue Man Group tickets! [Disclaimer: This show is disturbing and hilarious and mostly weird. But enjoyable nonetheless because we didn't have to pay a cent for our $90 seats. Basically what I'm saying is, don't go to this unless it's free.] On top of that, there is a whole lounge area with piano, Foosball, leather couches, computers, and enough free soda and Girl Scout cookies to feed an army (no pun intended).

2. Disregard all "suggested donations."

If you don't mind the awkwardness of the cashier at the Metropolitan Museum of Art cursing you in her head as you hand her a few scrappy dollar bills for a group of 4, when the "suggested donation" is $25 per person, you will save yourselves a collective $96 that can otherwise be spent on dinner...for, like, a week....unless you just eat Girl Scout cookies at the aforementioned USO...

3. Sit on the cold pavement in the wee hours of the morning.

For the real nitty gritty taste of NYC, one must spend at least a few hours bumming like a hobo on the ground, inhaling the exhaust of passing delivery trucks, inches away from gutter trash, un-showered body and un-brushed teeth. All in the hopes of getting *extraordinarily* discounted Broadway tickets. After 3 hours of  numb toes, morning breath, and trivia games to pass the time, we got $40 tickets to "Once"  (reg. price: $97-$252). If that wasn't good enough news, turns out we got our own private box seats!

02 December 2012

Happy Sunday: A Charlie Brown sort of Christmas

To get this season off to a proper start, a clip from my favorite Christmas movie:

Amid all the thousands of holiday specials on TV throughout the month of December, this is the only one you will find that addresses the true meaning of Christmas and straight up word-for-word recites Luke's account of the birth of Christ.

It's very touching. A Charlie Brown Christmas has withstood years of persecution from Atheists, political extremists and others who misunderstand the Constitution to read "Freedom FROM religion" instead of "Freedom OF religion." And on their mission to promote fairness, they smother what is most precious and sacred to so many.

I purchased the show on DVD in preparation for the day it would be tragically ripped from the airwaves in the name of political correctness. I certainly hope that day never comes, but you gotta do what you gotta do if you want your children to grow up with the slightest notion that pure, unadulterated religious content was once a part of American media.

I am so excited for this Christmas season. I am excited to keep Christ at the center of all that I do and think. I am excited to prepare spiritually every day so that Christmas day isn't just another busy day that I get distractedly and materialistically caught up in. I'm ashamed to admit that every Christmas isn't as pure, real, simplistic as I'd like it to be. But it has been before. And it will be again.

God bless you all, and may the miracle of Christ's birth and the light He brought into this world guide the season.

Happy Sunday,

29 November 2012

Untraditional Thanksgivings

I haven't spent a Thanksgiving at home, with my family, eating typical Thanksgiving food for what is now the 6th year in a row. I kinda like it that way. I've grown accustomed to the lack of custom. No tradition is my new tradition! One year at the Zion Lodge, they ran out of turkey. So we had Thanksgiving ham. In Moldova and Romania, we ate American delicacies like A&W root beer and marshmallows from the US embassy. In Mexico: fish tacos. And last week in NYC: pork, flan, and other Dominican dishes. Next Thanksgiving, I want to throw it back a couple centuries and celebrate at Plymouth Rock. 

2008: Zion National Park
2008: Zion National Park
2009: Chisinau, Moldova
2010: Bucharest, Romania
2011: Gonzaga Bay, Mexico
2012: New York City

26 November 2012

Personality Disorder

Those of you who know me best know that I'm super into personality-type tests. Ever since we met a shrink who specializes in human temperaments, it's become a pastime of mine and my family's to psychoanalyze people. That's not weird or anything.

So obviously I was sold on the organization I now work for when I was required to take 2 said personality tests within my first 2 months. GOLD. 

Upon reviewing the results of the latest test, I have discovered that I'm a lot weirder than I originally thought. I've always had cause to doubt, but things just got a lot more real here. It's time for serious self reflection when something like this happens:

One of these things is not the like other.
Yes, that abnormally long line spanning across the Blue and Red Zones is me.
Let me take the liberty of interpreting this graph for you:

Well in case you weren't sure before, now you definitely know that I AIN'T NO FENCE SITTER, PEEPS! 'Extremity in all things' is the philosophy I prefer to live by. GO BIG OR GO HOME, YA'LL. 

20 November 2012

Jewish Christmas Spirit

The following quote is from my man, Ben Stein. We need more Americans like him in this godforsaken country.

PS: I'm proud to say that I have served this man a burger at the ol' Bottle Bay Resort & Marina, where he was a patron. So I'm hoping that by having shared breathing space with him, his wisdom as rubbed off on me.

"Herewith at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart:

I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important? I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is, either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife.

Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. Is this what it means to be no longer young. It's not so bad.

Next confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?

I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to

(Source: Ben Stein's personal website, so no playing telephone here, people)

18 November 2012

Happy Sunday: Disaster Relief, or the Pure Love of Christ

Today's Happy Sunday post is brought to you by my conscience.
I sat here on my comfy windowsill bench and watched this and immediately felt guilty and lame for not being up in NY/NJ helping those who were hit the hardest by Sandy.
I'm so proud of my fellow Mo's up north for canceling church meetings every Sunday in order to help out with all the clean up.

Hurricane Sandy Helping Hands from Joshua Brown on Vimeo.

"And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things hopeth all things, endureth all things. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have no charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things but fail.

But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure." (The Book of Mormon, Moroni 7:45-48)

08 November 2012

Election Shmelection

In the spirit of political elections and writing about Halloween a week after it's passed...

So I was Leslie Knope for Halloween. It's the perfect costume for the workplace. More importantly, it requires little to no effort, which is my main goal when it comes to creating a Halloween costume. The problem with going as a TV sitcom figure is that not everyone watches the particular show. The problem with going as Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation is that every woman in Washington, DC looks like her every single day. So naturally I was questioned by a suspicious and skeptical Chipotle employee when I showed up to claim my $2 burrito for all patrons in Halloween costumes.

If only Leslie Knope won the presidency on Tuesday night instead of Barack Obama...Any further political commentary from me will be found on Twitter and nowhere else.

My co-workers and I attempting election stress relief as the results come in...

Never heard of Parks and Rec? I'd like to think that I've converted thousands of wayward TV watchers to the show using this clip. Gateway drug, if you will.

04 November 2012

Happy Sunday: Adopt a child. Or 154 of them.

READ THIS. It's the perfect use of your day.

This woman is living my dream.

"...and [Jesus] too their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them....And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones. And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them." (3 Nephi 17:21, 23-24; The Book of Mormon)

Happy Sunday,

29 October 2012


I figure I'll write this while I still have juice in my laptop and a functioning light with which to see it.

Though I admit I'm skeptical about Sandy.

I grew up in earthquake territory, where if disaster is going to strike, it will do so with no warning. No news bits every 20 seconds sensationalizing and politicizing the approaching catastrophe. No lines pouring out the doors and winding around the corners of hardware stores. No hiding your kids. No hiding your wives.

Not to mention the constant weather graphs tracing the path of the storm. Are we really supposed to make sense of those? They look like a kindergartner's fingerpaintings. Perhaps they were created in Paint.


Looks like I just landed myself a job with Good Morning, America. I didn't realize what a natural meteorologist I was until now. 

Oh no! We're being attacked by fake spider web Halloween decorations!

Oh no! We're being attacked by a rogue black light dance party!
No but for real, I'd so much rather not know about impending disaster. I prefer to live my life in blissful ignorance, if you will. That is the West Coast mentality in a nutshell. Roll with it. Oh it snowed a billion feet? Ain't no thing. Forest fires? S'mores for dinner! If my memory doesn't fail me, school was canceled ONCE in my life and that was because it was 40 below and too cold for the buses to start.

Here, all it takes is the POSSIBILITY of a hellish storm to shut down functioning society. I write from the comfort of my bedroom window sill because the entire federal government canceled work today. And without them, my office really serves no purpose.

It's raining outside. That's it. Am I missing something? Rain like this would never shut down businesses in Southern California. And if it did, it would be because people are out swimming in it because it rains maybe twice a year (in the Inland Empire, at least, where my parents live).

Anyway, should Hurricane Sandy worsen drastically and you don't hear from me for a few days, I'll be in the basement, surviving off the industrial-size crate of VitaWater and triple-ply toilet paper. All set!

27 October 2012

The Public Education System: A Vacuum of Creativity

I always said I would never be a teacher. Ever. It was the furthest possible career path from my radar.

And then I went on a mission and ironically my favorite moments were when I was teaching. I was in my element.

But I still had no desire to be a teacher. In a classroom. With students whose minds I could mold. Wearing a vest with felt cut-outs of snowmen in winter and Easter eggs in spring. Assignments to give and assignments to grade and rules to enforce and corny mnemonic devices to invent to help the little brats learn the order of American presidents.

One day, whilst still in Romania, I happened into a conversation with a 16-year-old boy who had no idea who Adolf Hitler was [if you ask me what Adolf Hitler had to do with this conversation, I honestly can't tell you. I was probably using him as some horribly extreme, tasteless metaphor for something]. I could hardly wrap my mind around the fact that this boy knew absolutely nothing of Europe's greatest genocide and the man who perpetrated it. After all, it practically took place in his backyard.

Suddenly I was interested in the public education system of Romania. And after much research and reflection, that interest is not only still burning, but it has expanded to the system in my own country.

Oh and let's not forget that somehow, randomly, I end up teaching Romanian at BYU my last year of undergrad.

There seems to be some sort of invisible force, pushing me towards education. No matter where or how hard I try to venture in other directions, I find myself continually pulled back.

I am not a natural learner. Good grades happened in my life, but they didn't come easily. Unbeknownst to many [including myself], I struggled quite a lot through secondary and post-secondary education, seemingly running triple the paces to keep up with my peers who appeared to produce extraordinary work so much more easily than I could. I wasn't always aware I was working harder--I thought it was equally difficult for everyone. Turns out that wasn't always the case. In no way did this realization cause me to doubt my intelligence--I knew I was bright, smart, creative. But test scores rarely reflected either of those things. Instead of questioning my intelligence, I questioned the system. It works for many, but not all. This system of teaching to examinations and grading students based on the scores they receive is a creativity killer. It is easy and logical, but it marginalizes a massive portion of learners whose learning styles simply just don't match up.

I love the way Sir Ken Robinson sees it. Creativity falls by the wayside in our current, exam-driven, bureaucratic public education system. Before we know it, the brilliant, inventive young minds who enter kindergarten at age 5 are sucked dry of innovation by the time they graduate high school at age 18. This isn't to say that our nation's school are filled with a bunch of brainless walking corpses, but just think how different the atmosphere would be under a system that fostered creativity!

Suddenly I'm interested in education reform.

Funny where life leads you.

My lovely students of Romanian 100, Winter Semester 2012

21 October 2012

Happy Sunday: Eyes to See

If you have yet to be inspired today and/or you complain about having a difficult life and/or you let your inadequacies prevent you from pursuing your passions, watch this:

Uuum, I now feel like I have accomplished zero things in my life.

I take so much for granted. "They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not." (Psalms 115:5) That scripture is basically referring to me.

My mind is blown by this man's incredible attitude. I'm so glad people like him exist on this planet.

Happy Sunday!

20 October 2012

'Tis the Season!

Nothing says Fall like fiery orange and red-leafed trees, pumpkin patches, a freshly picked bushel of Pink Ladies, apple crisp with spice ice cream, and watching BYU predictably lose another football game. 

18 October 2012

Priorities, or A Lesson in Budgeting

My first day of work started with an all-staff meeting where the organization's annual budget was discussed. We talked about where to cut costs. Like not printing everything on fancy shmancy paper with pounds of CMYK. And not throwing laptops around like Nerf balls, so they last a little longer (buzzkill). 


This is me in the office every single day. MAY I MAKE ONE SUGGESTION? How about we turn the A.C. down???  I guarantee it will save trillions of dollars. It's like frickin Siberia in this place.

On the bright side, the bagel budget was not slashed and we still get tasty bagels every Monday and Tuesday and there is about $200 worth of assorted cream cheeses in the kitchen at any given time. So I have that to warm my soul. 

14 October 2012

Happy Sunday: Why I'm a Mormon

I like this man's story. His reasons for becoming a Mormon are simple and pure. Having grown up in the segregated South, he states that he "didn't join  the Church for cultural reasons...obviously."

That rung true with me.

I am not a member of this church because it is trendy...obviously.
Nor because I have loads of free time and have nothing better to do than attend church meetings and other activities, like, thousands of hours each month (only semi exaggerating here)...obviously.
Nor because I feel "at home" when eating funeral potatoes and Jell-O and rehashing family pioneer stories...obviously.

Mormon culture is so far from who I am I often feel like I'm on the outside, looking in. But that doesn't bother me. That doesn't make me question my beliefs or doubt the lifestyle I've chosen to live. Because the only reason I am a Mormon is because of the doctrine--the doctrine that makes up the pure, unadulterated, divinely-restored gospel of Jesus Christ . It is true and I cannot deny it.

Happy Sunday,

08 October 2012

The Fruits of my Labors

Here's another video that we produced in ARCLITE my last semester at BYU. The editing was FINALLY finished this month!  For this piece, I did all the interviewing and wrote the script (cuts and sequences). Looks good, eh?

03 October 2012

The Age-Old Pregnant v. Fat Dilemma

TWICE in the past week, whilst riding the DC Metro, contentedly sitting in one of the few and highly-coveted seats, a woman of questionable circumstances has saddled up right next to me, crammed against a dozen people and gripping the microbe-infested pole to keep from being flung across the train as the psycho driver slams on the brakes at least 5 times before pulling into the station.

Longest run-on sentence ever. My 9th grade English teacher would be ashamed.

Anyway, so there I am. Reading my book. I look up to see a huge belly staring me in the face. My first instinct is to get out of my prime seat and offer it to the belly's owner. She is clearly pregnant. Like, about to pop. Mid-way out of my seat, it hits me: Is that a pregnant belly or just a super fat one? Suddenly I find myself in a terrible bind. The kind of bind that Odysseus faced when he was caught between the 6-headed sea monster and the whirlpool death trap. Yes, people, we're talking a bind of Homeric proportions.

WHAT DO I DO? Risk looking like a complete tool for not giving up my seat for a pregnant woman, or risk looking like a tool for assuming an obese woman is pregnant? It's a lose-lose. Major tool-age either way you look at it.

So I did what any short, blond, educated, God-fearing girl would do and kept my prime seat and continued to read my book. And avoided eye contact at all costs. Both times.

30 September 2012

Happy Sunday: The Will of God

God's plan for each of us is far greater than the plans we make for ourselves.

Happy Sunday,

24 September 2012

Happy Monday: The Worth of a Latter-day Saint Woman

Happy Monday, faithful readers (uh...Mom)! I'm pretty sure I missed about a month's worth of Happy Sundays so here's a Happy Monday to shake things up for you traditionalists.

I had the fabulous opportunity last night of going to hear Joanna Brooks (author of "The Book of Mormon Girl" and renowned blogger) speak at a casual forum held at some rich dude's house--nay, castle--in Potomac.  Background: Joanna Brooks is a liberal feminist Mormon who responds to questions about the LDS faith and Mormon culture with unorthodox, real answers, and sheds light on the obscurities of our religion (and the unique culture that accompanies it) in a way that is responsive to the most average of people. It is not doctrine. In no way does she collaborate with officials of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She merely offers insight through an unconventional perspective.

She read from her book for a bit and then opened it up to Q&A. I braced myself for extremism, which most definitely happened. Starting with, "If you had the chance to sit down and talk to the First Presidency, would you ask them for the Priesthood?" Yeah, I won't even bother giving that question any more attention.

Most of the discussion was very insightful. People of all ages rang in with their varying views of gender roles in the Church and Ms. Brooks addressed them with poise and honesty.

But then she posed a questions specifically for the young women of the Church. She was curious to know their perspectives of gender roles and how they view their womanhood based on what they're taught in church. Cue: blood boiling.

The first girl--probably 13 years old--responded with a melodramatic, "It feels like we're not important! It feels like we don't matter!" Blah blah blah.

A 20-something traced her feminism back to EFY (church summer camp) when her counselor had the gall (sarcasm font) to tell her that one day she will make a wonderful mother. A wonderful mother?!?! The nerve! How DARE he!

This girl twisted one of the most lovely compliments into a threat to her womanhood and has been embittered ever since.

Since when did motherhood become a degrading gender role? It's not like her counselor told her that one day she'll make a fantastic house cleaner. You have a divine endowment to raise and nurture God's own children.  THE HORROR!

This comment and others were filled with self-induced disastisfaction. It's a matter of perception. If you preceive that you are being wronged, cheated, or limited, then that is truth for you. As our own free agents, we have the liberty to choose how we want to perceive things. Perceptions and reactions are a CHOICE. That said, don't go whining about the Church doctrine and curriculum when the true power of change is in your own mind.

Let's face it, the Young Men (12-18 year-old boys) get to do awesome activities like intense mountain climbing and camping out in the wild. Activities for Young Women are super lame in comparison. But never once did that cause me to feel inferior to men, or that my potential as a woman was somehow limited. Or to question the verity of the LDS Church. OR TO DOUBT GOD'S LOVE FOR ME. And this perspective isn't coming from someone who grew up in the traditional Mormon home where perhaps one would be conditioned to act in submission to all Church customs. I can trace my pioneer ancestry all the way back to my mother. My father is not Mormon, nor is anyone outside of my immediate family. I had a more liberal upbringing in the Church. I was taught to figure things out for myself and develop a personal conversion on my own.

That conversion is based on the spiritual enlightenments that I have experienced over the course of several years, and how those enlightenments have built and strengthened a relationship between me and my Heavenly Father. Nothing else.

My friend Victor, as a fairly recent convert, posed the question to Ms. Brooks: "I didn't grow up with Church curriculum. I don't know Primary songs. I was never in Young Men. What is it that keeps you in the Mormon church? Because ultimately everyone needs a personal conversion, regardless of all the Mormon cultural quirks." (not verbatim)

We all ought to ask ourselves this same question every now and again.

I know that God has endowed me with a divine role to be a mother. I am honored by that. I don't feel constrained because of that. I don't feel like I'm damned to the walls of a cookie-cutter home, with a mop in one hand and a nursing baby in the other.

But I don't know. I guess that's just my perception.

23 September 2012

I WILL NOT back down

and start speaking like East Coast people.

Starting with that word. People. PEOPLE.

Here, it is folks. 

"We have a briefing with the folks at corporate today."

"Over 60% of folks in the workforce leave their job because they feel under-appreciated."

I'm sorry, but I just can't take anyone seriously when they refer to people (especially at the professional level) as folks.

THIS is what I picture the hypothetical "people at corporate" to look like:

Also, I will not break down and buy a power suit. I hate/loathe/despise/shutter at the thought of wearing a suit. I miraculously went through a whole internship in the Senate without ever wearing one. When it came time to serve a mission, I didn't even acknowledge it on the list of required items to bring. Other women can look fab in them---Me? I feel my personality choke and die and the birds suddenly stop singing and my petite, girlish figure turn into a 58 year-old sagging congresswoman desperately running for re-election.

Welcome to D.C.

30 August 2012

DIY Juice Detox

It's what everyone needs after a steady diet of pork, french fries, bread, and vegetable oil through a straw (not literally, but it may as well have been).  7 weeks of Romanian food is enough to make any young, healthy, robust human being feel like death warmed over, fried in pig fat, freeze-dried, reheated on High, sprinkled with lard and salt, and slathered over white bread.

I started planning a detox before I even left the country. My research led me to a juice cleanse.  Nothing sounded more appealing than fruits and veggies at the time. So as soon as I deplaned in California, I laid out my plan for a 5-day juice detox regime. My kitchen looked like it had been overrun with those ever-growing  devil vines from Jumanji that take over Kirsten Dunst's house.

My plan (based on professional juicing programs from Blue Print and Ritual Cleanse, for which I was not about to pay loads of money) was as follows: 6 juices a day (3 green drinks, 1 red-ish drink, 1 lemonade, and 1 cashew milk for protein). I borrowed my aunt's $200 juicer. Clearly it's a very high quality product, but why the hell a contraption for sucking juice out of seemingly juice-less things must cost that much is unfathomable. But the thing works like magic, that's for sure. I don't doubt that I could put in Ritz crackers and it would somehow give me cracker juice.

Here are the recipes, should you choose to not read-on and follow this exact cleanse. It's effective, I'm sure, or all those juice companies would be out of business. But do yourself a favor and read on past the recipes for a dose of non-sugar-coated reality.

Green Drink (each recipe makes one bottle, sometimes a little more)
Big handful of kale
Big handful of spinach
1 kiwi
2 Granny Smith apples, cored
1 banana

(Warning: Put all the ingredients through the juicer EXCEPT the banana. Puree the juice with the banana in a regular blender.)

 Red-ish Drinks (take your pick)
1 beet
1 large carrot
2 red apples (any type)
1 lemon


1/3 of a large pineapple
2 red apples
1 cucumber

Spicy Lemonade
Juice from one lemon
1 tbsp. honey
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Filtered water

Put a little hot water in a bottle and use it to dissolve the honey. Then add the lemon juice and cayenne. Fill the remainder of the bottle with filtered water and shake it up. 

Cashew Milk
2 cups raw cashews, soaked for a few hours in water
1 cup water
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Pinch of cinnamon, cardamon, and nutmeg

Blend all ingredient in a blender. Don't use the juicer for this one. 

There you have it. Now go off and buy all the ingredients and make all the above drinks and SUFFER. OR, read on.

Day 1: I woke up, SO excited to try all my juice concoctions (I made enough for one day. Don't make them too far in advance, as they're not very tasty after a couple days). I had a Green for breakfast.  DELICIOUS!  Doesn't taste like garden weeds, I promise. I then dashed off to the temple. About half-way through any temple sesh, I usually get ravenously hungry and my stomach starts making the sounds of a pig who hasn't been slopped in months. Surprisingly, however, the Green held me over for at least 4 hours. When I exited the temple, it was grotesquely hot. I was stoked to throw back a refreshing lemonade, which I packed with me in a little cooler. A nearly choked and died and then died again. A similar reaction to Glozell's when she did the cinnamon challenge. I used to think nothing was more disappointing than hot water from a bottle left in the sun after a run. I was wrong. It is burning spicy "lemonade" in 110-degree weather after a temple sesh. MISERY. I think it was my own fault, though, as my "pinch" of cayenne pepper was 1/4 tsp. Bad mistake.

And then there was the beet juice. Not bad, but not good either. It tasted like cold borsch and I love borsch, but I wasn't prepared for that, mentally. It'd probably be great if you eat it from a bowl, with a spoon, instead of drinking it from a bottle.

I admit I was most excited for the cashew milk. It looked so creamy and pleasant and smelled so cinnamonny and delicious. WRONG. This was harder to get down than the lemonade!  It tasted like my dog had been chewing on pieces of a cardboard box, then spit them into a blender and added water. I kid you not. Another disappointment.

Day 2:  I was nevertheless determined to stick to a juice cleanse, but needless to say, I altered the recipes or made up completely new ones. I knew what vegetables and spices are key for detox, so I still stuck with those. I did chuck out the cashew milk recipe, however. So for a few days I wasn't getting any protein which probably isn't great, but I'm still alive.

I kept the Green drink, as it is delectable. I replaced the lemonade with THIS:

Sarah's Lemonade
2 lemons (just pop out the seeds so they don't ruin the juicer, but keep the peel and everything)
2-3 red apples
2 large carrots
Pinch of cayenne

It's sweet and tangy and tastes how lemonade should taste. I fell in love with this stuff. And just a pinch of cayenne gives it the tiniest zing. 

I replaced the beet juice with this:

Sarah's Pineapple-Strawberry Delight
1/3-1/2 of a pineapple
Large handful of strawberries
1 large cucumber
A pinch or two of ginger

This drink is frothy and heavenly and refreshing. 

Day 3: I quickly discovered on Day 1 that 6 drinks is kind of overdoing it, as they really are quite filling. By Day 3 I was down to 4 drinks a day--2 Greens, 1 Red-ish, and 1 Lemonade. I never felt hungry and I'm no pansy eater. I didn't feel all that more energized, like a lot of juice-fasters say. The whites of my eyes weren't whiter, my thoughts weren't more profound, etc. My skin did look healthier and glow-ier, but I can't decide if that's because of the juice, the lighting in my house, or the microderm treatments I had just had. Maybe all three.

Day 4: I watched 2 full episodes of Bizarre Foods of America because I am a sick masochist. One may not think that watching some dude chow down on sheep brains and chicken hearts is torture by any means, but when your only craving is something "chewable", anything looks good. I ain't no quitter, but I was ready to toss in the proverbial juice towel and call it success.  I wasn't doing this cleanse to lose weight. I was doing it to detox, and I'm pretty sure that 4 days of a pure liquid diet rid me of all Romanian nastiness in my system.  I frickin peed every hour. I'm pretty sure that there alone worked wonders.

Day 5: Cereal! Chicken! Pasta! Ironically, I was craving juice...


28 August 2012

Social Media Slave

In a feeble effort to simplify my life, I recently initiated a FBoo friend purge. Just a way to eliminate anyone who I have no history with, haven't spoken to in ages, don't plan to ever speak to, etc. No need for the entire world to know every detail of my life. I even contemplated deleting my account.  But that would hardly make me anonymous in the social media world, considering you can find me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Blo....Crap. There's no hope for me. I am a slave to the interwebs.

The Social Media Monster, asking me his favorite invasive questions. 

And for your viewing pleasure, this:

And this (since you all know food-tography is something I love to hate):

23 August 2012

My Racist Dog

Anyone who has met Beau knows that he is the most darling dog on the face of the planet. Often energetic to the point of psychotic.  So playful that he thinks anyone who comes over to the house is there solely to toss around his slimy dog spit ball.  He's an avid runner and champion fetcher, being half Rhodesian Ridgeback and half Golden Retriever. And the loviest, doviest, cuddliest pooch who has mastered the many facial expressions of a puppy who gets what he wants. He will love you until his dying day.  Truly man's best friend.

Unless you're Mexican.

Somewhere between being adopted as a 6-week-old pup and being raised by an adoring yet disciplining family who loves all races, ethnicities, languages, and religions under Heaven, Beau developed a sincere distaste for non-white folk. I say non-white, but I mainly refer to Mexicans, as I have never in my life seen a black person in Forest Falls, California. I don't know where we went wrong with this dog, but, unchecked, he will be the next leader of the KKKK (for Kanines...heh...heh. Bad joke?).  I claim no responsibility for his actions, but I do claim all the embarrassment as he chases after and jumps on anyone who looks like they might be a Rodriguez, Martinez, or Hernandez.

His racism goes beyond human bounds. He also hates Mexican dogs. Our neighbors to the back have a Chihuahua who Beau detests above all creatures. A stroke of compassion is the only thing that prevented him from eating the worthless brute (that Chihuahua really is the most obnoxious dog I have ever met) when he had him cornered once in our backyard.

My parents disagree with my Racist Dog Theory. My dad's rebuttal was that he chased after some lady speaking French one time.

Case in point.

Beau is not just racist. He's xenophobic.

What do I do with this beast???  Look at this face!! How can I say no??

19 August 2012

Happy Sunday: In the Words of Charlie Chaplin

In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written ” the kingdom of God is within man ” – not one man, nor a group of men – but in all men – in you, the people.

You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Happy Sunday,

18 August 2012

An American in Paris

When it's 1:00 am and you're sitting on top of your luggage in the Charles de Gaulle Airport because you're far too cheap to pay for a hostel that you'd really only be using for about 7 hours, and you have resigned yourself to staying up all night because you don't trust what might happen should you close your eyes for 2 minutes...

...you watch My Big Redneck Wedding, a CMT gem that conveniently offers one free episode on iTunes.

Nothing says charm like a marriage in a mud bog, under a beer can arch.  And nothing says class like watching this show in Paris. This is how you feel truly American. No shame at all.

17 August 2012


...should be the determining factor in whether or not a country is considered "first world." The ability to create a civilized queue.  To honor order.  To respect personal space. Lines.

I wait in a line
Suffocation, no breathing
Spooning with Asians

If there's one thing that really pushes my buttons--gets my panties in a twist--shivers me timbers--it is people who don't know how to form lines. And when those same people get all up in my grill, completely ignorant of personal space, as if that is going to make the line go faster. Especially after 32 hours of trains, planes and airports, I have no tolerance for such people.

In line for passport control at LAX, home girl was seriously pushing her luck. There were veritable acres of free space around us. Room enough to do a set of 10 cartwheels. She could have stood anywhere.  But some neanderthal, barbaric instinct in her made her stand right up against me. I would inch up. She would follow. This went on for a couple minutes until I couldn't handle it anymore and started inching backwards, backing up into her. I still don't think she got the point.

Below, the white dotted line designates my personal bubble. IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK??? AM I REALLY THAT DEMANDING??? 

05 August 2012

On the Olympics

Thoughts and observations during the first week of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

-Roger Federer has beautiful hair.

-The position of middle ball girl/boy on the back wall of the tennis court should be an Olympic sport of its own.

-The underwater cams used in Men's Water Polo are disturbing and completely unnecessary.

-To my dismay and severe disappointment, the one broadcasting company in Romania that covers the Olympics for some reason hates beach volleyball and loves fencing. Kind of depressing.

-Swimmers are always forced to present themselves on the podium and be praised and applauded directly after exiting the pool, looking often like wet rats.

-Nevertheless, this wet-rat syndrome doesn't seem to affect the men of Team USA, who are clearly carrying genes of demi-gods.

-No matter they just accomplished one of the greatest feats of athleticism, the fame of Olympic athletes is solidified the moment they are tweeted about by Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga.

-Women weightlifters are not actually women.

-Rowing events would be a million times more exciting if they were being chased by man-eating sharks.

-China definitely traffics child slaves to win medals. Their ages are more and more dubious each Olympics. 

 "I root for anyone who is playing against a North Korean. 
Mean, I know, but I just hate that horrible regime and
don't want any glory for that country and it's current despot.
I'm not crazy about China either as I just don't trust them." -My Mom

Happy Sunday: The Work Goes Forth

This week's Happy Sunday post is devoted simply to this darling couple and the work on which they are about to embark, as well as to the other stalwart members of the Church here in Romania.

Brother and Sister Radu are Romania's first senior couple to serve a mission.  They have been called to serve in the Bern, Switzerland LDS Temple for 2 years, starting tomorrow.

My heart is so full of joy, seeing this sweet couple dedicate their time, money, and energy to serving the Lord and His children. They are a tremendous example to the other members here in Romania, and evidence that the Church truly has grown and developed since entering these borders in 1990.

There are so many wonderful, faithful members in this country.  The Radus, I'm sure, are the first of many senior couples from Romania who will go forth to share the gospel as represents of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And this is Andreei, a young man from Ploiești who was here in Cluj a couple weeks ago for a joint Cluj-Ploiești youth activity.  At the activity, he showed off his own "I'm a Mormon" video that he made himself.  This video alone speaks volumes to the incredible faith and strength of the youth here. Andreei is currently waiting for his mission call and undoubtedly will serve with all his heart, might, mind, and soul wherever he is called.

And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God. (D&C 42:6)

29 July 2012

Happy Sunday: We Seek After These Things

In the LDS Church we have what are called the 13 Articles of Faith.  These articles were written by the prophet Joseph Smith in a letter to Chicago Democrat editor John Wentworth, as a response to his question: "What do Mormons believe?"

I'd like to devote a few inches of blog space to the 13th Article of Faith, which reads as follows:

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul--We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and we hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, we seek after these things. 
Ok yeah, so I saw Magic Mike last night, which basically violates every word of the 13th Article of Faith. Don't get me wrong, Channing Tatum.  You are lovely. But you are as far from virtuous as Tug O' War is from being an Olympic sport (oh wait...).  My naivete strikes again! Next time I see that a movie is about male strippers, I won't assume the best and fancy the idea that perhaps it is about male strippers finding Jesus  or male strippers teaching blind children to play the piano. I'll just accept that it is about male strippers...stripping.

By means of repentance I tried to extract any shred of moral goodness that could possibly be found in this movie.  That failed.  So I nursed my bruised conscience by reciting the 13th Article of Faith in my head.  It really is a good one. And perhaps the easiest to forget.  How often can our entertainment, topics of conversation, etc. be constituted as praiseworthy and virtuous?  I'll throw out a completely fabricated statistic and say about 30% of the time, or less.

Little children are far better at living the 13th than anyone else. They are so pure and think and act so purely. I mean, look at these kids!  They're brilliant and angelic in so many ways.  Watch this. And then consider your personal devotion to seeking after honest, virtuous, lovely, chaste things.

Oh, and Happy Sunday.

27 July 2012

...aaaand we're BACK!

...by popular demand!

My 15 minutes of fame spread from regional to national, as I made an appearance on TVR1, Romania's national news station.  Apparently they liked what they saw on Transylvanian news a couple weeks ago and wanted in on the fun.

Again, I really don't understand the fascination.  There really is nothing of interest to report on.  No one cares that the Romanian government collapsed and that President Basescu is suspended from office.  And the "luxury" sex trafficking of young girls to government officials is no biggie. Nor is the fact that there are daily protests against the new socialist prime minister.

Nah. None of that is nearly as captivating as the fact that there are a group of foreigners living in Cluj, learning Romanian for the summer.  We had them at "foreigners."

My colleague, Daniel, and I were invited to be interviewed live by one of the anchors at TVR1 last week.  A 30 min. special all about us. The hot lights and cameras in our faces.  The anchorman desk with bar stools.  The commercial breaks.  I've lived one hour away from Hollywood for the majority of my life and yet I had to come all the way to post-Commie, 2nd-world Romania to make it on the big screen.  

The show isn't on-line, but they're sending me a copy of it in the mail, so I'll see what I can do about getting it up here so you can all see me look like a silly fool.  Some stupid language mistakes but it wasn't entirely horrendous. The best part was that the anchorwoman was definitely not dressed in the typical sold-colored blazer that we're used to seeing sported by our media figures in America.  Oooh no!  Why should she be constrained by codes of professionalism and class, when she can look this this! 

24 July 2012

European Nightlife, Part II

You got a taste of the Cluj scene in Part I.

Now it's time to introduce you to the nightlife in Romanian villages.  And when I say village, I mean so far away from urban civilization that the horses far outnumber the cars and the streets are stained with dung instead of oil leaks.

Welcome to Ieud (Yeh-ood). Say it out loud.  This village embodies its name.

Upon our arrival in Ieud, we were greeted by open-mouthed stares on behalf of the villagers. I've never felt like such a novelty, and that's a lot coming from a short, blonde, fair-skinned Mormon girl in Romania. It was a Saturday night, so obviously we were dying to experience the Ieud party scene.  This is how it works:

After a 3-course mama-made meal of ciorbă, sarmale, mămăligă, papanași, and backyard-brewed țuică (those of you who know what these are also know that I didn't drink the țuică, but I can tell you it smells like nail polish remover), you go to your room in the quaint, traditionally-decorated farmhouse and let the vegetable oil settle for an hour or so.  Then, you make your way past the giant wooden gate that came straight from Middle Earth.  You head out on the town (which consists of one road, about a mile long, lined with more farmhouses) in the pitch black, by light of cell phone, being careful to avoid any piles of manure or bails of hay that may obstruct your course. 

You anxiously scan the horizon, squinting your eyes in search of any fleck of light that might signal a form of life.  You find something about a 1/2-mile down the road.  Romanian pop covers filled with plenty of accordion and electronica beats can be heard. This is it!  Ieud's one and only pub/club/social gathering hot spot that isn't a church. 

You enter through the veil of smoke that is signature of any public establishment in Romania.  All eyes turn to you.  All 10 of them. It doesn't take long to number the 5 people sitting round the tables inside.  All are men. You order a beer if you're Dutch, a Fanta if you're South African (both of which were cheaper than the water), and nothing if you're an American who never uses vegetable oil, let alone eats an entire bowl of it for dinner. You take your seat at a table and look on as the 19-year-old in charge of the tunes practices his DJ-ing skills and seeks your approval as he proudly plays one horrendous cover after the other. Some more locals will show up, after they were undoubtedly called up by their friends to come on down and see the foreigners.  One of said locals will wink at you if you're Dutch.  You will get uncomfortable because you're male and so is the winker.  Then you go home. 

In the morning, if the 5 a.m. roosters don't wake you up, the 7 a.m. church bells will.  And then you will be sent on your merry way after a breakfast of milk straight from the cow and eggs freshly popped out of the hen. 

Click to enlarge

21 July 2012

European Nightlife

As a non-missionary visiting the land of my mission, I have a completely different perspective of this country. I feel like I'm discovering a Romania I've never seen before, namely its club scene.


Cluj has a whole underground world of pubs and clubs that weave in and out of tunnels and caves beneath the city streets.  And when I say cave, I mean straight up grotto. Phantom of the Opera-style. Musty...dark...Smeagol territory. It's awesome. 

Tanya, Rick and me. Nothing bonds like karaoke. 

And in these grotto-pubs a wealth of treasures can be found. Karaoke here is nothing like in the States. It's one big giant mob of Romania's liveliest bunch, singing along to whatever song is playing, as the actual person with the microphone struggles to see the lyrics on the screen because he/she is being thronged (or otherwise party-boy'd) by a hundred people at once.  It's thrilling. And I always thought Romanian's were all tone-deaf, but I realize now that judgement was only based on the members at church, most of whom sing the hymns louder and prouder than anyone I know, and they all sound like William Hung. But the karaoke stars I've come across so far have got some serious pipes.

Rick is somewhere in there, singing "Losing My Religion" by R.E.M.

How they have such pipes is beyond me, because they all smoke like chimneys. And as you can imagine, there is poor ventilation in a cave. My throat hurt for days and my clothes are still saturated with the smell of cheap tobacco.  

Mr. I'm-Too-Sexy-For-My-White-Capris comin' in hot on Tanya, who really
shouldn't be complaining because she's from the wilds of Africa and could
sorely use an easy escape to European residency:)

And what's a club without its stereotypical club-goer (greasy, macho, and wasted)?  Lots of gems like the one above to be had here, should you be looking for easy access to a Blue Card (the Green Card of Europe). As greasy as they might be, I am deeply thankful for them because they provide endless inspiration for the annual Euro Trash Dance Party in Provo.

15 July 2012

Happy Sunday: Be Prepared (and when not prepared, be of good cheer)

Back in the day, during some year that I don't remember, when I was significantly younger, I asked my mom (who used to be a German language tutor) to teach me something in German.  

Whatever provoked my mom to teach me the most useless phrase in the German language was probably similar to what provoked her to put me in the circus when I was 6 years old.  Nevertheless, I always remembered it. Everyone knows it's the useless things that stick with you.  

Then something miraculous happened.  Two weeks ago, I found myself in a car headed to Garmisch.  GARMISCH!!  ICH FAHREN NACH GARMISCH!!!!  I said that blessed phrase over and over, not believing my own ears.  I was actually going to Garmisch!  My mom had incredible foresight. 

Garmisch is a small Alpine town in Bavaria, right on the border of Germany and Austria, and at the base of Germany's tallest mountain, Zugspitze. 

Ah, Zugspitze.  We saw much more of this mountain than we had originally intended. 

You see, we planned for a 6-mile round trip hike.  A day hike.  A mere gander through the Bavarian Alps.  I wore spandex leggings and running shoes and had a bag of Haribo Original Gummy Bears and a sandwich as sustenance.  

The trail got steep quickly.  We weaved back and forth between Germany and Austria.  The air was hot and sticky.  We were in search of a lake, which was meant to be our final destination.  I pictured a shimmering alpine-blue oasis into which I would thrust my entire body, backpack and all, immediately after first sight. 

Sara's dad testing out the waters

The trail started getting steeper.  We persisted, certain the lake was only a stone's throw away.  Then the hiking started getting technical.  Glaciers, loose slate, scaling rocks.  Where the Garmisch is this lake???  9 miles from the trail head, we found ourselves nearly at the top of Zugspitze, beaten and exhausted, at a tiny lodging for mountain climbers.  Yeah, because people don't do this kind of thing in one day.  They were all outfitted in hiking poles and big ol' hardcore boots and looked at us like we were a bunch of clowns.  Spandex and gummy bears represent.  

Germany in front, Austria in back.

We learned from one of said mountain climbers that the top was only about one mile away, but would take about 2 1/2 hours to reach.  We wanted to take the train down the mountain, but by the time we'd get there, it would have stopped running. So we opted to head back down on foot from where we were.  Another 9 miles.  

That is me gracefully scooting down the mountain on my butt,
 creating a rock slide that could have taken Sara out as
she posed for this picture.

Moral of the story: BE PREPARED (well, first, learn how to read a trail map).  Running shoes are not meant for hiking in the first place, but especially not 18 miles of Class IV technical climbing.  Also, gummy bears are fun to eat but provide little to no nutrition.  
"If ye are prepared ye shall not fear." (D&C 38:30)    
          "Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing." (D&C 109:8) 

And when you're not prepared, BE OF GOOD CHEER.  When we finally accepted that this "lake" was nowhere nearby and/or did not exist, we wanted to tally ho and keep going, curious as to what would be around the next corner.  The view was stunning!  The scenery breathtaking!  We may have been lost, but it was a gorgeous place to be lost in and we had plenty of battery life in our cameras and gummy bears to enjoy.   
"There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us....Fear not. Be of good cheer....Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family." (Thomas S. Monson) 

The ol' Zug was the most vertical, exhausting mountain I've ever climbed, but absolutely worth the adventure.  Next time I'll be more prepared.  But there ain't no mountain high enough to keep me from being of good cheer (sorry, I had to).

Sara and me 18 miles later, with Zugspitze in the back