Thursday, September 26, 2013

Rita's Visit. Week 3

We had a visit from Rita. Rita is a spunky little red car who belongs to my friend's parents. Rita came to stay with us for the week, which was excellent. We took advantage of her presence.

Monday was one of those Rita afternoons. We drove 40 minutes to the closest Chipotle, which was totally worth it. We also had to hit up Target to get some essentials - toilet paper and the like.

It was dear Becca's birthday. So glad we decided to let her know how much we love her!

A great part of college life, no? NO.

We went to see Mindy Gledhill and Book on Tape Worm at our hipster venue. They were SO great, and we had an awesome first suite date night.

So, I technically had to see it for class, but I was so glad I went to EviDANCE. It is an international dance show that the university dance companies put on each fall. The tech/effects were awesome, the performers knew and rocked their stuff, and the music was AMAZING. I'm so glad I go here.

HOLY WAR. Whenever I hear that I think of the Florence & the Machine song, Seven Devils. It's the first line. "HOOHHH-LEEY WAR!" Anyway... We played our rivals on Saturday, and unfortunately, we lost. BUT. I had a great time with some cool people.

Sunday, I participated in a long tradition of tunnel singing here on campus. We go to a tunnel and sing hymns for an hour. It's beautiful. Halfway through, everyone sits down except the people who received mission calls that week. Then we go around and they announce where they're serving. It's an amazing energy to feel the genuine happiness for those who received a call. Then we stand and sing Called to Serve. Awesome thing.  

It was a good week. Crazy, but fantastic. Again, I'm so grateful to be here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

This is Real Life Now. Week Two

So, I think that I'm adjusting pretty well to the demands of college. (Who am I kidding, it's been fan-freakin-tastic.) Even with a lot of homework, I'm able to eat, sleep, spend time with friends, and do fun things around Provo.

This is the 9am crowd walking up to campus. It's fun to see everyone streaming out of the dorms and coming from northern off-campus housing. Then we all struggle up this hill. I've heard that there are warm pipes underneath most of it, but it gets really slick at the top during the winter. I am totally going to biff it at some point. Oh well. It's unavoidable.

A and I have 40 minutes between our 8am math and our next classes, so we usually sit on a bench and read. We always see someone we know walk by, and that is the end of reading, but it's a fun time (when the weather is nice).

It was a beautiful day Wednesday. I love the sky. There is something about the sky here that just makes me feel close to Heavenly Father. He created a beautiful world!

Thursday A, Becca, and I went to the library to study. It was so crazy quiet in the reading room. The loudest thing in the room was the air coming through the vents.

Friday, I got to see my friend Karl before he left for his mission! He's leaving Wednesday, but he came down to campus to hang out before he left. We always end up at museums - we think it's a good thing. He is going to be such a great missionary. Look out, Kansas! He's headed your way.

Saturday night we went to a concert at a venue downtown. It was so great. I loved the venue, and the bands were awesome underground bands. The vibe was excellent.

Another picture was also from the concert...

It was an excellent week. I've been working hard and having fun. My school is *literally* the best.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Go Cougars! NSO and Week One

I started college at one of the coolest places ever: BYU. I'm really excited to spend four years here. One thing about moving more than 2000 miles away from home is that your family doesn't get to participate in your day to day life. So, my mom asked me to send her a picture every day. EVERY DAY?! A picture every day. My life cannot be that interesting. However, I started doing it, and I'm really excited about this project. I'm going to share this project with you. It's mostly so my mom and I have everything in one place. I'll probably use parts of the captions I sent my mother on the photos here. Of course, some things are between my momma and me.

This was the first picture I sent my mom. The caption was "BYU Incoming Class of 2013!" New student orientation is rockin', yo. Also, can I just say: SO MANY MORMONS.

The next day, I went to the Honors program information session. My roommate and I decided to register for the Honors Seminar. It's a 1 credit lecture series that introduces students to various disciplines and how those fields attempt to answer "Great Questions," such as "What is knowledge/justice/happiness, and how do we attain it?" This is the textbook for the class.
At some point I made friends. This is a picture of some of those awesome people. My three lovely suitemates are also in this picture.

This is the Maeser Building. It is awesome. It is one of the oldest buildings on campus, and is dedicated to one of my personal heroes. Karl G. Maeser and his wife were the first people baptized in Germany. It was then against the law to be LDS, so they fled to America. Brother Maeser was a highly educated man, and had worked as a professor in Europe. When they arrived in Utah, Brigham Young called him to open a school in Provo. It started as Brigham Young Academy. Brother Maeser saw BYA through extremely challenging times, and it is because of him that BYU is the way it is today. When he was called, Brigham Young said to him: "Brother Maeser, I want you to remember that you ought not to teach even the alphabet or the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God. That is all. God bless you. Good-bye."

Labor Day! We hadn't started school yet, so a group of us decided to walk to the nearest Indian restaurant, which is south of campus. We thought it would be six or so people, but we ended up with TWENTY-SIX. We all walked the mile from where we live on campus to the restaurant. It was a blast. Plus, we started Ethnic Food Night, which will take place once a month.

Then we had the first day of school! WOO! It was really exciting. I had three classes that day. (Starting with an 8am class. I thought 'Oh, I've done four years of early morning seminary.' Turns out that waking up in general is hard.) It went really well, and I'm pumped to be here. I'm also grateful to be on such a beautiful campus.
Bonus picture! My duvet cover finally came, and I had to send a picture of my completed room. I love it! It's really happy.
This picture is from the lobby of the Eyring Science Center. I have my geography class in this awesome building. All throughout the lobby, they have hands-on science displays. It's a blast to hangout in. Also, the planetarium there ROCKS.
Thursday was day of classes. I didn't remember to take any interesting pictures. When that happens, you get this - homework selfie! Terrible, I know. But it's what I sent my mom.
Spirit Friday! Our girls went all out. These are two of my fantastic suitemates. (Otherwise known as "sweetmates.") My third lovely suitemate was behind the camera (cellphone in this case).
The next day, we played Texas in football. We went to the game two hours early like dedicated fans, sat there for a while, and then entered the twilight zone. A black cloud of death rapidly moved over the stadium, settled right over us and then let loose. The BYU website said that it was "a rainstorm that would've impressed Noah." True story. We huddled for safety under the bleachers. Once the game actually started, we won by 19! I guess that's a good story.
Bonus pictures (From BYU Athletics):

Sunday was excellent. We had church and a CES broadcast from BYU-H with Elder Nelson. He was to the point and blunt with us. I loved it. If you didn't get to watch it, here is the link: September CES Fireside.
NSO plus my first full week at BYU were a success, if I do say so myself. I like the way my classes are looking, I have fun friends, and my roommates are AMAZING. I feel the Spirit regularly, and I've had a lot of fun. Here's to Fall 2013!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Our Fascination with Suffering

Last night, I saw The Hunger Games at AMC's Summer Night program. What it is is AMC brings back 6 or 7 big movies to replay for 3 nights a week in July and August. Best part: $3 tickets. It was a lot of fun. The week before, I saw The Amazing Spider-Man. The week before that was Dark Knight Rises, which I didn't attend. After watching The Hunger Games again for the first time in more than a year, I started thinking. (That's never good.) Why is my generation so obsessed with The Hunger Games? Why do we enjoy watching totalitarian governments abuse and destroy human beings? What is the draw? We can't relate to it - we've never been torn away from our families and forced to fight to the death. We don't live in shacks, and we don't have to hunt game to keep from starving. Why does our generation devour it so greedily?

My mom said it was due to us being raised on violent media. That is true. We are desensitized as a whole. We play video and computer games, watch movies, and hear news stories filled with graphic violence. However, if you talk to the average American teenager, I doubt they would say they want to see a murder take place outside their bedroom window. The question remains then, why does The Hunger Games speak so loudly to us?

Constantly being controlled by outside forces

I have another idea. It is fear of being out of control. Katniss (the protagonist of THG) lives in the poorest district of her country. Her father died in a work-related accident, and her mother suffers from depression. She has been thrown into a pretty rough life, and this is before she is shipped off to fight against 23 of her peers in a death-trap of an arena. The whole time, Katniss is struggling to take charge of her fate. "May the odds be ever in your favor" is not a reassuring phrase. She doesn't want to be controlled by "the odds," by the government, by her mentor, by the sponsors, by a relationship, or by other forces that appear over the course of Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Her short life has always been defined by outside events, and she is constantly battling against them. In the end, she must be in control for her to be happy. Ultimately, she does place herself in a situation where she is always in control, even if it isn't always for the best. (I don't want to say too much about the epilogue, even though I could go on for a while.)

Okay, so the average millennial is afraid of being out of control. We could go one step further and say that it is a fear of the unknown. As a group, we have everything. We have food, water, education, air conditioning, cell phones, iPods, cars, Burger King, Angry Birds, and even whole industries that wait on us hand and foot. We are protected from violence (I know that there is terrible violence in some homes and neighborhoods, but I am generalizing), we are protected from want, and sometimes even protected from work! We're afraid of poverty because we wouldn't know how to behave or survive. (Let's be real - if your average suburban teenager was placed in The Hunger Games, it would not end well for them.) It's the unknown and unfamiliar that scares us.

Revolution: the blackout changed us
Apocalypse movies and TV shows are rampant. We are afraid of pollution and using up our resources (After Earth, Elysium, Wall-E, Firefly, Revolution, Oblivion), of epidemics (World War Z, Contagion, any other zombie movie ever), of unexpected attack (Pacific Rim, Falling Skies, Red Dawn, Apollo 18, Pretty Little Liars), and even our own desires (Secret Life of the American Teenager, Juno, Hannibal). We are afraid of things beyond our control, that we don't know and cannot know. Think about the traumatic events of the last decade or so. We have had terrorist attacks, natural disasters, swine flu scare, and an economic collapse. All of those things come out of the blue, and children/teens have no way to emotionally prepare for them. Our enemies have not been countries we can identify and prepare to defend ourselves against. Of course we are afraid of the unknown, of chance, or of helplessness. We have felt this way, and Hollywood and New York respond to those feelings.

I feel that the perfect example of this is Pretty Little Liars, a show on ABC Family.
AttAcked by the unknown
Four regular teenage girls are thrust into a world of fear when their best friend suddenly goes missing (and is killed). They are haunted by "A," the unknown tormentor and hoarder of their secrets. A sees everything and is not afraid of hurting - or killing - those who get in her way. To the rest of their world in a idyllic American suburb, they are just strange, but they are being targeted and emotionally (sometimes physically) harmed through the texts and actions of someone they do not know.

Before I mentioned The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises. Could we list all of the superhero movies that have been released in the last couple years? Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, The Avengers, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Green Hornet, X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, Man of Steel, and we have Wolverine and Thor: A Dark World coming out this year. Those are only a few of the many superhero movies that have been released recently. Why is this genre so successful now? Don't get me wrong, I enjoy superhero movies, but there is only so much one can do with a superhero film. The hero has a bit of self-discovery, and then saves mankind from a perilous teeter on the edge of oblivion.
Super strength and super morals
Our generation is looking for a hero. We want to believe that there is a person who can defend us from the unknown and unexpected. We are looking for someone stronger than we are, someone with superpowers, whether it be super strength, time travelling abilities, magic, or ridiculous intelligence to protect us. We want to know that when General Zod comes from space, Superman will be there. We want to be able to sleep knowing that if Daleks come, the Doctor will be there too. We want to believe that if there is a serial killer in the night, Sherlock Holmes will find him. The unknown and uncontrollable terrifies us, and we want to believe in Something Bigger, Someone in control. If only our generation understood what they were asking. Some of us already know the answer.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Goodbye, HST

I was waiting to post about HST until I was ready. I still don't think I'm totally ready, but here goes...

I have been blessed with HST for nine years. What began as, "Sure, Mom. I'll take an acting class," became hundreds of hours of work and play. I have been able to participate in nine Showcases (2 years Acting, 6 years Choir, 5 years jazz, 5 years tap, 3 years Irish, and 1 year of Dance Intensive), 3 Junior Troupe musicals, 4 Senior Troupe musicals, 2 AI Coffee House shows, and several Varity Shows. I have been in troupe with exactly 80 different people. I have had leads and chorus parts. I have sang solos and in 5 part harmonies. I have tap danced in overalls, tux t-shirts, fedoras, and while holding giant hearts. I have danced with a stroller, a glass, and a table in the same number. I have been in numbers such as "Mr. Roboto" by Styx to "You Make Me Feel So Young" by Frank Sinatra. The 13 minute DI number will always be a personal favorite for me.

Showcase finales in and of themselves are memorable. Bad example: I don't remember anything from my first finale except Mrs. Mullan frantically waving my line through the bow and offstage. I do, however, remember "Joy to the World," "Sing Sing Sing," "One," "Human" by the Killers, the random Japanese "Shining Star" one, "We Are Family," Wolf's amazing original "Can You Hear Me Now?," and that awful one we signed to while wearing various hats. I remember watching the "big kids" swing dance and Nick W. wearing that bullfrog hat. I remember the night the boys Tebow-ed at the end of the show. Most of all, I remember screaming with joy at the end of each Showcase performance once the curtain closed.

Junior Troupe memories are crazy. My first Jr. show was "The Lady Pirates of Captain Bree." That was a hoot. We had probably 25 kids with 12 names between us. It was great. I remember being on the younger side with a huge number of 8th graders. THAT was exciting. It was my first musical, and it made me love telling a story through theatre. The next year was "Tom Sawyer," and that was probably what got me hooked. I still love and stay in touch with pretty much everyone from that show. Eighth grade was "Snow White" year, and Mrs. B gave me a chance to push myself. I loved having a small cast (18 people) and a very colorful show. It was awesome. One of the best parts has been watching the youngest kids from that show grow up. The little cat was nine years old for that show - he's going to be a freshman in high school this fall!

 I joined Senior Troupe in HST's 15th season - just when Sr. was doing HST's 50th show! It was a milestone year, so we had to do a milestone show. We did "Crazy for You," which was HST's first ever dance-ical. With a psycho number of full cast dance numbers, including multiple tap numbers, CfY was a riot. I was shepherded by so many kind people who helped me find my footing in the deepend of the HST pool that is Senior Troupe. Thank you. You know who you are.

Sophomore year, we did "Little Women." I've already written a long post about my experience and the things I learned from that show. I guess I'll say: it was a huge blessing. Seriously. If you have a chance to even see that show, go. It was a very uplifting experience.

Last year we did "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying." It was a bit of a rough transition from a spiritual, family-centered show that addressed real issues to a high-powered (see what I did there?) comedy. I admit, at first I was not completely sold. I mean, I had liked H2$ for a long time, and I was excited to be doing it, but as I said, it was a rough transition. I made it, however. It remains one of my favorite performance experiences. There were so many amazing people who participated in it. I loved it.

Lastly, "Gone with the Breeze." Oh, dear... It came as a shock. Doing a Pioneer Drama in Senior Troupe had become outdated and almost out of the question. Yet, here we were, working on one. We took a show with many flaws and carved, sanded, polished, and scrubbed it until it was beautiful. It was a great show, and I regret nothing. I don't mind that my lead was in a show future directors won't know. That's fine. I enjoyed learning, performing, choreographing, etc. in that show. It was a great experience. Also, the group of people was one of the best I've ever known.

I have met so many amazing people in HST or through mutual friends I know from HST. I cannot imagine what my life would be like without those people. I would probably be at school. I would know 1 person in my graduating class. They are all good people. When teens talk about peer pressue to do things they aren't comfortable with, I can't relate. My friends are people with high standards and Christian values. I have grown up with these people. I guess it's kind of like living in a small town - everyone goes all the way through school together. They all remember everyone's awkward phases, who they dated, and the changes they have made. But, HST is like a family in that they know all of those things, and they don't care. They love you anyway.

Not only have I met so many friends through HST, but I have been introduced to amazing, Christ-like women. They have shown me what it means to be a mother. They have proven to me that no one can tell me I am not good enough to teach and raise my own children. They have shown me how you can use your talents to serve others. They have taught me many, many lessons. Just to name a few: Mrs. Alexander, Mrs. Beardsley, Mrs. Rodriguez, Mrs. Bleakley, Mrs. Hackett, Mrs. Howard, Mrs. Burns, Sister Higham, Mrs. Hsu, Mrs. Tallman, Mrs. Elkan, Mrs. Atkinson, Mrs. Elhallal, Mrs. Neff, Mrs. Morrison, and Mrs. Robertson. That was just naming a few! Thank you so much, HST moms. You are the greatest. Thanks for doing an awesome job with your children. They are fantastic people.

I guess, I'm going to end this nostalgic trip down memory lane with an open letter to HST.

Dear HST,
Thank you. You have been a major part of my life for almost a decade. Thank you for teaching me that I love theatre. Thank you for teaching me that I can do anything I decide to. Thank you for helping me learn grace, kindness, service, and watching out for others. Thank you for allowing me to explore. Even though you knocked me on my butt a couple times, I forgive you. The positives outweigh the terrible moments. Thank you for creating a safe environment for me to grow into the woman I am and to meet amazing people. I will always remember you as a blessing, synonymous with both childhood and high school. I cannot wait to see what you create in the future. They are always beautiful. Keep on loving the way I know you do. You have something rare. It is not only special, it's sacred. I know that God smiles when He looks down on you. You are a training ground, an incubator for tools for His works. You have great things ahead of you.

I love you.