Monday, October 8, 2012


Happy Columbus Day? HAPPY COLUMBUS DAY?! How DARE you insult my 21st century morality and perspective by telling me to celebrate the arrival of an invader, conqueror, and thief!

Okay, wait. You mean Columbus wasn't out to steal from people? You mean Columbus didn't know he was carrying deadly illnesses to a people who had not yet built an immunity to it? You mean Columbus didn't realize that he was upsetting a way of life that had been in practice for hundreds of years? You mean that he might have actually thought that he was HELPING PEOPLE? What the-

I love history, and I have studied it in depth. My knowledge is not perfect, but I am passionate about the subject. One thing I've learned from my studies is that you cannot take the narrative as fact. You cannot only believe what you read in your 5th grade textbook. It has been dumbed down, and is typically rampantly biased either to the left or the right. As a student of history, you are a seeker of truth. You are looking for the answers to questions people have. Of course, history is a social science, and you have an issue called "perspective." Two people who witness the same event may recount it in completely different ways. The people hearing those retellings have their own beliefs through which the facts are filtered once again. Today, we try to judge historical players by our own code of morality. Is this fair? I want to write a little about Columbus Day.

Imagine landing on an alien planet similar to Earth when you didn't know you were going there. The inhabitants look different, speak a different language, and have a completely different lifestyle. You try to trade supplies with them, and they willingly give you diamonds and Chipotle burritos for raisins and pony beads. You can't believe your luck - these people are so kind! They seem to live in a way that would be considered poverty where you are from. You try to teach them how to build roads and install water pipes. You don't stop to think that your descendants will use this exchange to lambaste you for years to come.

I personally get offended when people speak of immigrants to the United States as "evil thieves". I understand the point that a way of life was terribly and cruelly disrupted. It makes me grieve to think of those who suffered injustices. Yet, I also have the opinion that the time has gone. Why should I feel guilty for the actions of people who lived hundreds of years before me? Why should I feel that I am a visitor or invader in my homeland? My literal ancestors came here in the 1600s to flee religious persecution and economic hardship, not greed. I had grandfathers who fought in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the World Wars. My own father served his country for 18 years as a federal official. My ancestors struggled through the Great Depression, toiled across the plains, and poured their blood, sweat, and tears into farms and businesses in Virginia, Ohio, Iowa, Utah, and Illinois. This is MY country. My forefathers earned the right and have given me the privilege to say those four words. I am hurt when people try to tell me otherwise. Also, what does this say about more recent immigrants? Are they not a true part of this country? Of course they are. We thank everyone for their contributions to our country.

If you've studied history, you understand that it tells a story of a constant exchange of land and power among rulers, peoples, and empires. Egypt has never been purely "Egyptian." The land has belonged to countless empires and peoples. What even is "pure Egyptian?" Shouldn't it just be someone who lives, works, loves, and dies there?

I belong to this land. I am grateful everyday for that fact. I rejoice in its triumphs and mourn its sorrows. May we all remember our own heritage today in a way that would make our ancestors proud that we carry their name.

I am proud to be an American. I am proud to be a true American, not a German-American, or Anglo-American, or Euro-American or whatever name society might choose to give me.

God bless America, and everyone in her.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

15 Things You May Not Know...

After a year of our one-sided conversation, I feel that it's time to let you guys in on some facts you may not know (or really want to know) about me:

1. I am obsessed with pictures. I have photos all over my bedroom, computer, and I can never decide on Facebook photos.

2. I hate elevators. I especially hate the one in the parking garage by Target. Because of this, I refused to go on Tower of Terror at Disney World until I was 16. Yup. But don't worry - my love of Twilight Zone beat out my fear of falling to my death on a theme park ride.

3. I have been to around 43 US states. I need to hit up Alaska and Hawaii, parts of New England, the Pacific Northwest and North Dakota. I haven't really thought of a reason to go there yet... I'm working on it. I'd love to have visited every state before I graduate from college.

4. I have a bucket list that I have written down and hung up on my wall. It is comprised of more that 300 items and is constantly being added to and crossed off. It ranges in seriousness from things like "be in a paint fight" to "get married in the temple." Ask me about it sometime.

5. I have been a DJ before. It is something really fun and random that I love to do. Sometimes it means dressing up and being the most excited person there. It's right up my alley.

6. I love pranking. Before you judge, let me clarify - I love nice pranking. Things like heart-attacking, or doorbell-ditching cookies on their porch, or forking their yard with hearts and notes. Plus, you get to wear war paint.

7. Some girl friends and I came up with B.F.D.s, or best friend dates. Sometimes, you just need to go out and do something one-on-one with one of your best friends. It's different than hanging out in a group or talking on the phone. If you ever see one of us use the hashtag #bfd, you now know what we are referring to.

8. I love going to the movies. I know that some girls hate going to the movies on a date because it's "cliche," but I love movie dates. Most of the movies I see in the theatre, I see more than once. I also collect movie ticket stubs. I have a whole bin full of them. I actually gave up a discount once because they were going to take my ticket stub. It was on a bfd with one of my friends... She was embarrassed. I have my The Amazing Spider-Man 3D ticket stub though. It was worth it.

9. I wake up around 5am every school day to attend Seminary. No, I'm not becoming a priest (that wouldn't work), but it is a four year program that goes in depth in studying the scriptures. Each year, we focus on a different book of scripture: Book of Mormon; Doctrine and Covenants & Church History; Old Testament; and New Testament. I am a senior in both high school and seminary. It's a lot of work waking up that early, but I have been so blessed because of my attendance at seminary. I'm grateful that I'm able to spend time with Heavenly Father every morning in a place where the World is silent.

10. I have a lot of opinions and ideas, but I don't often put them into words whilst having a conversation. That is one reason why I write! I love it, and I am doing it constantly.

11. I have the best friends in the world. For real. I struggled a lot to find good people to spend time with and really learn from, and I've finally found them. I thank God everyday for the blessings that they are in my life.

12. My family has driven across the USA so many times that I have lost count. We have traveled all over the States, from NY to Florida, from Idaho to South Carolina, from Wisconsin to Texas and everywhere in between.

13. I love the number 13. It has always been lucky for me.

14. I love sweaters. I don't know if you've ever noticed, but I have a sweater as a part of almost every outfit I wear. They are just perfect! They make things modest, classy, and I don't have to worry about anything. Gosh, I love them.

This is Nathan & I on location. I'm the psycho one with my arms up.
15. I made a movie this past summer with my friend Nathan. It was Church film documenting our stake's Youth Conference to Palmyra, NY. We interviewed more than 50 teens, and worked out logistics for filming, equipment, interviewing, and legal junk. (We had to get around 150 teenagers to get their parents to sign a "image use" form. THAT was tough.) It was such a neat experience though. I was blessed to hear all those kids testify of their faith and knowledge of the great work our Heavenly Father has, and is, doing in the world and in their lives. It was fabulous. It premieres this fall at the D.C. Stake Center. Come check it out!

So that's a little bit - okay, a lot - about me. Ever wondered anything about me? I'm opening it up for questions... I know that's dangerous, but come on. You guys already know everything about me. ...Or do you?

Peace  from the East,