Monday, December 27, 2010

Called to Serve

In case you don't already know, I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I'm going to discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better.

I have been spending the last week with my wonderful family. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't be with them for Christmas! It's just not truly the holiday without them.

However, I have been missing my sister this week.  As I've mentioned, she is currently serving a mission for our church in the Texas Houston East Mission.  You can read more about her adventures on her blog (which I update for her).

What is a mission?

The Lord has declared that missionary work is the responsibility of all who follow Him. Members of the Lord's Church can, by the goodness of their lives and the strength of their testimonies, share the gospel message and help prepare family members, friends, and other acquaintances who are not Latter-day Saints to be taught by the full-time missionaries

There are a few different ways to do missionary work.

One is a proselyting mission, which is what my sister is doing. Young single men and women are called for 18 months (women) or 24 months (men) with the primary goal of sharing and preaching the gospel to those who want to learn more.  These young men and women do not get to choose where they go, but are assigned missions based where the Lord and church leadership feels they should go. They are aided by members in their areas who are introducing friends to the gospel, or they may find people to teach through knocking on doors or contacting people on the street. They are the nice young people in white shirts and ties (or nice dresses) you'll see going about two by two with nametags on.  Since their primary goal is to serve the Lord and the people in their missions, they follow strict rules, like only listening to Church appropriate music and only calling their families on Mother's Day and Christmas (it was a precious 30 minutes for us on Saturday).  They are expected to write home once a week, and it's always a highlight of my Monday!

Another option is a mission for a senior couple who have retired and are able to leave their family and home obligations for 18-24 months.  They are also called wherever the Lord and church leadership sees fit.  They usually are called to fulfill service opportunities, like serving in the temple, as my grandparents did in London a few years ago, or Family History Centers, or otherwise supporting local church leadership in a different country, as my mom's cousin and his wife are doing in New Zealand right now.

There are other service missions, either served by senior single sisters or young people who are unable to serve a full-time mission for medical reasons.  These are often served for shorter periods of time, usually close to home (though senior sisters may be called elsewhere).

Finally, there are member missionaries.  That's supposed to include all the rest of us as we share the gospel to those we come in contact with, even if it's living our lives in accordance with the gospel and being examples of faithful members of the church. Blogging about church topics every Sunday is a form of missionary work as I help you get to know more about us, even just to help us be less misunderstood.  I'm also always happy to answer questions about my faith, here online or in person.

As for the rest of my family, my brother served in Atlanta, GA, until sidelined after shattering his elbow, then completed his mission in Baltimore, MD. My mom served in Quito, Ecuador, and my father in Salt Lake City, UT.

In case you were wondering, I have not served a full-time mission. Young men are expected to go, but it's a choice for young women. Instead, I choose to be an example of my faith and share my beliefs whenever appropriate.

Non-Mormon readers/friends - now you know who those young men in the white shirts and ties on bikes are!

Mormon readers/friends - I'd love to know where you served a  mission!  What did you love most about it?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

All is calm, all is bright

Dear Mssrs. Gruber and Mohr,

Thank you for writing a beautiful Christmas hymn. Stille Nacht has always been a favorite because of it's beautiful melody and simple statement of reverence for the Savior.  I'm sure I'm butchering the language when I sing it in German, but I'm also sure you don't mind.


Dear Mr. Young,

What is UP with your translation? Thanks to you, I JUST figure out what was "round yon virgin" and that "beams" is a verb. A verb!! Trained musicians, particularly vocalists, look for phrase markings and punctuation marks for their musical phrasing, but even they fall victim to phrasing with the sound of the music, and this song DEFINITELY has distinct musical phrasing. Your translation cuts off the phrase and the meaning of the words doesn't exactly follow it.  "All is bright round yon virgin" is totally different from the way people mindlessly sing it - "All is bright. Round yon virgin" The same problem exists with the third verse, which most sing as "Love's pure light. Radiant beams from thy holy face" instead of "Love's pure light radiant beams from thy holy face".  Once again, beams is a verb!? I had no idea.


Mostly kidding because I still love this song,

Here's a more clear translation of the original German - clicky.  My goal from now on will be to sing this song with the proper phrasing, so that those who hear me sing it will know that beams is a verb.

A verb!

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's coming on Christmas, they're cutting down trees

In case you don't already know, I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I'm going to discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better.

"Easter may be our most revered and important holiday in our church, but Christmas is the most joyous." - Bishop Ernest Istook

I LOVE Christmas. You know this by now. Because it's this week(!) (As Cabeza said a few days ago in reference to it coming on so quickly: Christmas is starting to feel like that weird guy that quietly sidles up next to you at a party..) and I'm on a plane Utah-bound, I'm using this Sunday Series post to share some of my new favorite quotes about Christmas and the Latter-day Saint.

"Of all holidays there is none that enters so fully into the human heart, and stirs so many of the higher sentiments. The thoughts, memories, hopes, and customs linked with it are bound by antiquity and nationality collectively; and by childhood and old age individually. They embrace the religious, social, and patriotic sides of our nature. The holly and mistletoe entwined among the evergreens, the habit of giving gifts to those we love, the presence of the Christmas tree, the superstition of Santa Claus, all combining to make Christmas the most longed-for, the most universal, and from every standpoint, the most important holiday known to man” Clarence Baird, “The Spirit of Christmas,” Improvement Era, Dec. 1919

“Christmas, to the Latter-day Saint, is both reminiscent and prophetic—a reminder of two great and solemn events, which will yet be regarded universally as the mightiest and most wonderful happenings in the history of the human race. These events were [foreordained] to take place upon this planet before it was created. One of them was the coming of the Savior in the meridian of time, to die for the sins of the world; and the other is the prospective advent of the risen and glorified Redeemer, to reign upon the earth as King of kings.” - The First Presidency, 1908

"The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul and we look out upon the world and its busy life and become more interested in people than in things. The spirit of Christ is something I hope all of us would have within our hearts and within our lives, not only at this particular season, but throughout the years." - President Thomas S. Monson

"6 more sleeps until Christmas!" - Me, Just now, 30K feet somewhere over somewhere between DC and Utah

Friday, December 17, 2010

FEVER! When you kiss me, fever when you hold me tight

The cough set in late Monday night. I'd had a weird tickle all day, but suddenly it went from polite throat clearing to painful barking my lungs out. I had cough syrup (why we can send humans to outer space but not create a decent tasting cough syrup is beyond me), but I didn't sleep so well.

Tuesday I was doing pretty well. I was still coughing and it was still painful, but at least it wasn't often. But by that afternoon, I started feeling flush and achy. I made it through work and a run to the grocery store for sore throat supplies (I had run out of cough drops AND honey) before going home and taking my temperature.


No big deal. I laid down for 30 minutes, snuggled in fleece jammies and heavy blankets, and then took my temperature again.


That's cool. I can handle this. I was feeling well enough, I thought, that I could still go to the Institute choir concert, but only sing in the nontet and play my finger cymbals.

The fact that I was double dressing to go sit in a chapel didn't clue me in otherwise. Two shirts AND a sweater plus pants and other pants. Oh, and my snowboots with fuzzy insides and slipper socks. I mean, it was a cold day, but this is what I wanted to wear for an inside thing.

I made it through. Barely. Afterward, I came straight home and went straight to bed. It was before 10 PM.

At 7 AM, I woke up and took my temperature again.


Now, I don't have health benefits and I don't get sick leave, so the didn't make the following decision lightly.

I called in sick.

I haven't done that since I started this job in summer 2006 because I haven't felt this sick during work hours since who knows when. (I almost took a sick day after bringing home something nasty from Egypt, but my stomach was only rejecting my offerings during non-work hours. It was mostly fine from 9-5.)

After making three calls, I went back to bed and stayed there until almost 1 PM. At some point, I'd taken a phone call from my Dad and I'd considered getting up for food more than once, but I always kept falling back asleep.

Sleep is good.

After 15 hours of sleep, I finally succumbed to hunger and foraged for a few bites of applesauce and a string cheese. Applesauce bottles are COLD when you're feverish.

Once I fed myself, I was lying down again, this time on the couch. I had food, appropriate meds for my symptoms, and a blanket. I was still shivering, but I didn't have the energy to get up for a warmer blanket.

I watched tv, I took a nap, I considered doing things on the computer but declined the idea a sitting up for longer the necessary and figured my brain couldn't handle computing anyway. For a few exciting moments, I had a nasty nosebleed. I decided it was the run off from my brain boiling inside my skull. That was fun.

By sometime in the evening, my fever was down significantly and I was able to set up a makeshift humidifier with a pot on the stove AND heat some leftover soup to eat. It was glorious.

Around 10 PM, I was even feeling up for a visitor, namely my home teacher, especially because he came bearing gifts of Kleenex, Gatorade, chocolate, and a cool microwave potato that the Republican senators got in their gift baskets at lunch today.

Kyle pretty much rules.

My fever was back by the time I went to bed, but another 9 hours of sleep was enough to make it go away for good. I feel 18 bajillion times better today. I got to go back to work and even partook of Building Holiday Luncheon Part 2: The Leftovers Edition. I hope the food was better yesterday; I'm kind of glad I only had to eat it once. At tonight's choir concert, I was wearing my snow boots again, but that's because it snowed. I still have a cough and I can only breathe through both my nostrils on special occasions when I concentrate on doing only that, but without the brain boiling, I still feel pretty awesome.

I'm so glad this flu thing only lasted a day or so. Of course, not having it at all would have been preferable, but at least I'm getting better now.

Fevers. Are. Lame.

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Greeting cards have all been sent

One of my favorite things to do when I go home for Christmas is read all the Christmas cards and letters that my parents receive. I especially love seeing the pictures and wondering how on earth that cousin or family friend’s child got so big! True, I get a few holiday greetings of my own, but not nearly to the extent my parents do.

Now that I’m an adult, supposedly, it’s about time I start sending my own Christmas cards. My generation is already up in each other’s business all the time with the Facebooks and the Twitters, so I don’t know that I need to do a whole Christmas letter, but perhaps a little card to friends and family saying “Hey, I’m thinking about you – have a most lovely holiday!” would be a nice gesture. We already know how I feel about sending mail, so why not Christmas cards?

This year, is doing a special holiday card promotion – 50 free cards in exchange for some blog love. With designs like these, I certainly don’t mind giving them a shout-out!

They also have calendars, invitation cards, and other fun photo gifts.

The only thing I’m at a loss for is what to put on the cards, since I don’t have adorable children or pets. Perhaps instead of a cute holiday themed photo, I’ll do a picture collage of my year. It’s been a pretty great one after all!

Any suggestions? Favorite pictures you've seen of me this year that I should send to 50 of my friends?
Also - would you like a Christmas card? Email me your address! With any luck, at the rate I'm doing these things, you'll all be wished a very happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me

In case you don't already know, I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I'm going to discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better.

Based on the positive response I've received on my Sunday Series (yeah, just came up with that), I'm going to continue doing it.  Each Sunday, I'll discuss something related to my faith in a continued effort to help you get to know it and me better.

I have a few topics I'm looking forward to discussing in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, here are a few other resources for getting to know more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Official Church website

More about individual members

We're even on Twitter!

And YouTube!

And always, always, you can ask me anything!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah! Zip-a-dee-ay!

Huzzah! I did it! 30 posts in 30 days, on both my blogs! That's a LOT of blogging.

It's been really good for me.  Writing a daily list of things I'm grateful for has improved my mood and attitude, and I've had a much better month than I did in October. On this blog, I feel like my writing continues to improve. I'm not the best writer out there, and I'm not trying to be, but improvement is awesome.

I'm grateful to all y'all for all the comments - keep 'em coming!

Here's to another successful NaBloPoMo!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Yummy yummy yummy I've got love in my tummy

I love cooking. I love the smells, the magic of it all coming together (chemistry rules!), and the taste of something I made myself. Home cooking is always better than restaurant food, especially chain and fast food, even if just for the personal satisfaction of it all. This doesn't mean I don't eat out, because I do and I enjoy it, but home cooked is better. Plus, the time spent around a table with friends or family eating something you've prepared for them or with them is time well spent. And yes, I AM a foodie. I'm so grateful my parents taught me my way around the kitchen and encouraged us to learn to cook and prepare full meals.

Now, I don't cook something brand new and spectacular every day. One, it's expensive. I'm okay with making one or two family sized meals a week and eating leftovers. This also helps the time factor, reason number two. Leftovers are very convenient. Three, I don't have anyone else to cook for very often. The only time that's a perk is when a new recipe fails and I'm the only one disappointed and hungry. I like feeding other people, and there are some things that just aren't worth making for just me. I'd have more people over more often, but, Four: I only have half a kitchen.

I have a toaster/mini-convection oven instead of a full sized oven - 6 cupcakes at a time here. Two burner stovetop (like two hot plates) on my counter, with a very slow heating left burner. A microwave. And a George Foreman grill. (I also have a toaster and a blender, but those aren't as versatile.) My counter space is also very limited, and the one time I had the toaster oven, microwave, and stove going simultaneously, I blew a fuse.

Considering some places I looked at when I was apartment hunting tried pass a microwave on top of the dryer off as my "kitchen", I lucked out having as much as I do. The toaster oven came from a co-worker who knew I was apartment hunting, but didn't know I was also researching toaster ovens. She just popped into my office one day and said "Hey, do you need a toaster oven?" "Yeeess . . ." "Good, my husband bought one that I don't really like, so you can have it." It was perfect!

It's not ideal, but it's working out really well. One pot/pan meals are awesome. I'm getting really good at mise en place and timing my meal preparation appropriately. And I can still make some really yummy food!

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Believe in Christ

In case you don't already know, I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday in November, as part of NaBloPoMo, I'm going to discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better.

There has been some confusion about whether Mormons are Christians or not. Let's clear that up, shall we?

We are Christians.

I am a Christian.

I believe in Jesus Christ and in His role as our Savior and Redeemer.

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:23, 26).

It's in our name - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I believe that He was born, the Only Begotten of the Father, to live a perfect and sinless life, only to atone and be crucified for our sins. I believe that He was resurrected so that we all, everyone who has ever lived, will also be resurrected and live again, forever, with our Father in Heaven (and our families).
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful,Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
We don't have crosses on or in our churches, and don't wear crosses around our necks, though it is the traditional symbol of Christianity. This is because we choose to celebrate the Living Christ, as He is now. Instead of the cross, the symbol of our faith is our members and their lives.

Jesus Christ is the very foundation of our church and our faith in Him is the reason for everything we do.

So yes, Mormons are Christian.

I am a Christian.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I goofed up. I failed to properly promote this amazing concert I'm singing in today (The Mormon Choir and Orchestra of Washington at the Strathmore Music Center, an important DC music venue) yea, the very reason I stayed in DC for Thanksgiving, and, therefore, as far as I know, no one is coming to see me. Yes, I'll likely have friends and acquaintances in the audience, but none will be there primarily to support me and it's my own blasted fault.

Sure, I could blame the less than stellar month that was October, or the busy-ness of November, but when it comes down to it, I didn't take 5 minutes to email my friends and invite them until last night. I even have a comp ticket that I don't anticipate getting used.

I'm really bummed. I'm still excited to be part of the event, I just wish I'd made more of an effort to share it with someone.

Next time!

P.S. Reading this? In the DC area? Can make it to the 2 PM? Know my first and last name? The comp ticket is yours!

And yes, Eilonwy, this post's title is an actual song lyric AND the appropriate letter for today. Remind me and I'll play it for you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone while the orchestra rehearses since we don't come in until measure 219

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wait! What's your rush? What's your hurry?

Patience is a virtue.

At least that's what they say.

Unfortunately, it seems to be one of the hardest ones to learn, and just when you think you've learned it, you realize you haven't.

I usually have no problem waiting for things when I know it's going to be a short wait and I'm not in a hurry, like today when my laser hair removal was interrupted by an overheated machine or even when I was stuck in Germany for 9 hours longer than I anticipated because I missed my morning flight. I do get a little testy when, say, I'm in traffic and trying to get somewhere that's anywhere other than my car in the middle of a packed freeway, but I try to relax and take advantage of the wait with a car dance party or sing along.

But what about when I have no idea how long I'm going to be waiting and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it?

That's when it gets difficult.

Whether it's something as simple as waiting for the phone to ring or as big as pieces of a life changing puzzle to fall into place, exercising patience obviously not the easiest to do.

The key I've found for myself is to do what I can when I can, and then let the other things happen as they will, and, most importantly, try not to stress about it in the meantime. There are other things I can be doing while I wait.

As Jewel said:

If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we're all OK
And not to worry 'cause worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these
I won't be made useless
I won't be idle with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear

Easier said than done, of course, but I'm sure going to keep trying!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Very Extraordinary

Today, I was a Thanksgiving refugee. Unable to travel to see family this year, I'm so grateful for a group of fellow refugees and friends to gather with today and share a meal and reflect on our blessings.

As one of these friends mentioned, the wonderful thing about Thanksgiving is its simplicity. The best thing about any holiday is the food and the loved ones anyway, and that's all that Thanksgiving is about. No gifts to stress about, just good food and good people.

I definitely enjoyed good food and good people today. Yes, I missed my family, but I'll see them soon. I've never had to spend a major holiday alone and I feel truly fortunate for that.

I live such a blessed life. I have everything I need, so much of what I want, and I could never truly enumerate everything I am thankful for.

Is my life perfect? No. But it is so, so good.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Umbrella, ella, ella

This will be a brief Thanksgiving Eve post, since I have a CLEAN ALL THE THINGS MAKE ALL THE DESSERTS KITCHEN DANCE PARTY to attend to, nevermind that it's quite late. I have music playing, clothes drying, butterscotch-peanut-chow mein noodle no bakes freezing, and a chocolate pumpkin tart baking. Once that's cooled off enough to refrigerate, I'll probably adjourn the party for a sleep break and resume the good times tomorrow.

But I'd like to take a moment to express what I am most grateful for this year and that is you. Thank you. You and all the other people in my life who make it worth living. You who let me stand under your umbrella, so to speak. You who give me reasons to travel just so I can spend time with you and get to know where and how you live. You who get me out of my apartment for a much needed friend's night. You who call me/answer your phones. You who comment on this here blog. You who just read this blog. You who hug me.

You who love me, like me, or even just tolerate me.

You for everything you do and are.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Troll the ancient Yuletide carol

Work and choir rehearsals. That is my life right now. Soon it will be work and choir performances. Such is the life of a musician in multiple church choirs around the holidays.

The good news? I love it. I'm expanding my vocal repertoire and continuing to develop my musicality. Plus, I'm having fun! I love Christmas music, and I love most of the songs we're singing.

Except this one.

It makes me do this.
I'm also learning new things. Like the definition for the word troll.


–verb (used with object)
1. to sing or utter in a full, rolling voice.
2. to sing in the manner of a round or catch.
r of a round or catch.

–verb (used without object)
to sing with a full, rolling voice; give forth full, rolling tones.

This came up because in a version of the carol "Deck The Halls" arranged by one of our choir directors, he'd edited the line "troll the ancient Yuletide carol" to "toll the ancient Yuletide carol" which didn't make a lot of sense. So, being a nerd with a compulsive need to know, I looked it up in my dictionary app and shared with the choir. We've changed it back to "troll" and I'm going to try and use it in my personal vocabulary more often.

Then tonight, this thing was set up right in front me and it was huge!

Discussing it with my fellow sopranos, we decided it was probably a conductor's stand. But probably wasn't good enough, so I did a Google image search on my phone and confirmed it. Compulsive need to know strikes again!

Learning new things is awesome.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Somewhere that's green

Some people have a dream house. I just have a dream next apartment.

Don't get me wrong, I really love my current apartment. I need to get it clean again and take you all on a little tour, and I do mean little since it's about 300 sq. ft. based on my mental estimations. As a visual aid, I can vacuum my entire apartment in under 8 minutes from one electrical outlet.

Anywho. This was supposed to be about my next apartment.

The key to my next apartment will be space and sun, two things my current apartment lacks. As much as I love that my bed is my dresser is my storage space and my dining room is my sewing room is my food storage room, I wouldn't mind separating these things a little bit. I look forward to the day that my bedroom is my bedroom is my bedroom with maybe a dresser but very little else.

And sun? Oh how I miss natural light. I've had a basement bedroom for 8.5 of the last 12 years, so I'm used to having very little natural light in my bedroom, but there's always been a sunny spot somewhere else in the house. Now, I don't have any windows in my bedroom/living room, and the tiny windows I do have look out into the window wells and are over my toilet (making the rare times when there is someone in the backyard potentially awkward) and the back of my kitchen and dining room. I'm not totally devoid of natural light, but it hardly does anything to allow me to see and certainly doesn't warm up my space at all.

Space. Sun. I wants them.

I also want a dishwasher, a real oven, and a real stove. This half kitchen thing works, but it's certainly not ideal.

Oh, and a bathtub. I have a standing room only shower with terrible water pressure. No soaking sore muscles after a long day. Washing my long hair is such a chore, and if I use my Big shampoo from LUSH, I usually don't quite get it all rinsed out. One of my favorite parts of any of my travels is getting to use a shower with decent water pressure, which is kind of sad. I can't even remember the last time I had a bubble bath - probably just before I moved to this place. One of my Christmas presents to myself will be a soak in my parents' garden tub. I can't wait.

To sum up, my next apartment, if I can at all help it, will have 2 bedrooms, 1-2 full baths, a full kitchen, and windows. Plenty of windows. I'll use the extra bedroom as a hobby room of sorts - where I can set up my sewing machine, books, musical instruments, whatever.


For now, I'm going to get off my futon that is my couch that is my "guest room" that is my secondary shoe storage (underneath) and move the three feet and three steps up to my bed. I haz a sleepy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

We can be together forever someday

In case you don't already know, I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday in November, as part of NaBloPoMo, I'm going to discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better.
I love my family.

I'm so lucky and blessed that they are some of my best friends.

Sure, we have our disagreements and times we don't get along.

But we always love each other.

The best thing? We always will, and I mean always.

We believe that when married by the proper authority in the temple, couples and their children can be sealed together not just for time, but for all eternity. It's not just until death do we part.

Being with this crowd forever?

That promise makes me very happy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Round round get around

Since 5:30 last evening, I've put 120.8 miles on my car. Considering I might put 10-15 miles on my car on any normal day, 120.8 miles in 28 hours in quite a lot for city driving.

From the gas station (which is where I reset my tripometer), I drove home, where I killed some time eating cornflakes and curling my hair, though not simultaneously. I'm talented, but I have my limits.
The evening's festivities were watching Harry Potter 7 with my crew. Free movie theater popcorn thanks to a friend's MovieWatcher card for the win! Oh yeah, and the movie and my friends. They were pretty good too.

This morning, I had a choir rehearsal (it seems I always have choir rehearsal these days) in Maryland and had to drive from where I live southwest of DC to a church building northeast of DC. Thanks to construction and a Penn State game (surmised by all the cars with Penn State stickers and flags filled with warmly dressed people), this took well over three times as long as it should have. It could have taken even longer if I'd only been 30 seconds later! Right behind me (and I mean right behind me), they blocked all four lanes of the Beltway and didn't let anyone go anywhere for 20 minutes. I learned about this when a few other choir member friends arrived much later than I did, and I was very late.

After rehearsal, I had to drive all the way back around DC and several miles west to Chantilly to meet someone with whom I may be partnering to teach dance lessons and we met for approximately 30 seconds. Weird that. We'll see how that shakes out.

Then back home. Took a nap. Finished my Q book. Rock on.

Tonight, I had my third of three pre-Thanksgiving dinners at another church building, fortunately in my city. The only problem is that there is a lake between us, so it's a long drive around and back.

It's a good thing I like driving (minus riding the clutch in 5 mph stop and go traffic). Driving gives me time for thinking, sing a longs, phone calls to and from the parents, and dance parties.

Tomorrow I have to drive to and from Maryland (for a choir performance this time) again. Hooray!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quit playing games with my heart

I've been having incredibly vivid dreams lately, including every night this week. Unfortunately, I don't really remember all the details, just that they were quite detailed and felt real while I was in them.

I quite enjoy dreaming. I don't know if dreams really have meanings all the time, but I do believe that they can. When I remember a dream that was not obviously just my brain's regurgitation of the previous day's events, I like to look up the meanings of the various symbols. Sometimes it feels applicable to my waking life, and sometimes it doesn't. Either way, unless I record it, which I rarely actually do, I soon forget all about it.

The curious thing about my dreams lately is that there seems to be a recurring theme of my being married or getting married. And kissing. Always kissing. What bums me out though, is that while I do get to see and recall the face of my husband, it's no one I anticipate marrying in real life.

One has been Logan Huntsberger from Gilmore Girls. He was protesting our getting married and as I chased after him, in my wedding dress though some castle ruins, I ran into a different real life friend with whom I burst into a duet, then kissed, then woke up.

Another night, I dreamt I was married to (and kissing) an ex with whom I have no intention of speaking to ever again, if I can help it. Besides, he's since married someone else anyway.

There was a third married and kissing dream this week, but I don't remember the male lead.

So what does it mean? Is all the kissing my brain saying, "Well, you're not getting any of this in real life, and I feel badly for you, so here's a taste to tide you over"? In dream interpretation, popular theory states that if you're kissing someone from your waking life, it's your subconscious telling you that you want to get to know this person better. (Which is why you shouldn't worry if you dream about kissing a family member.) But that doesn't really seem to be the case here.

So, while I guess I'm enjoying the kissing, sort of, my conscious brain would like some different co-stars. Maybe Jake Gyllenhaal.

Do you remember your dreams?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, November 19, 2010

Purple People Eater

Here it is. My annual cop out post. I didn't get home today until 11:15 PM. So, it's been a long day and I'm tired. It's been a good day, to be sure, but long.

My day went like this: Work, dinner with X10, choir rehearsal, pre-Thanksgiving dinner, home.

My conversations today were peppered with discussions about beautiful high chairs, delicious food, and travels to foreign lands.

I wore these all day:
I may have rolled up my jammie pants and put the shoes back on to take that picture.

Like I said, it was a good day. And now it's time for bed.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Only a cockeyed optimist

I am a glass half full type of person. I choose to look for the best in the everything, and because I look for it, I can usually find it.

Does this mean that I don't get sad or angry and think the day ahead looks bleak sometimes? Of course not. I'm human after all. But just as arguments and anger can spin out of control and pile irrelevantly onto each other, so can joy and compliments and happiness.

For example, my gratitude blog is so much easier when I write it regularly. I start looking for things to be grateful for all day, and I find them. Most days I only write five things, but that doesn't mean I was only grateful for five things.

I make an effort for most of my communication to be positive and uplifting. Yes, I need to vent on occasion, and if you ever bugged my office, you would occasionally hear me blurt out something in frustration. If there is something I don't like that doesn't even really affect me, I don't even do that much. I just let it slide. Why spread the negative? If I am mad enough about something that I feel the need to talk about it with a human instead of my desk monkeys, then of course I do, and I appreciate the people I have in my life to discuss the less than pleasant happenings.

Desk Monkeys!

So, in a world full of ugliness, how do I keep my chin up?

I read at least parts of this morning and night, because it's taped up by my bathroom mirror.

The Optimist Creed

by Christian Larson

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

I count my blessings.

I do things that make me happy.

And most of all, I just choose it. I choose happiness and optimism and love!

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."
Maya Angelou

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Never gonna give you up

With the news that Prince William and Kate Middleton are finally engaged, many women around my age are joking that their teenage dreams (or even grown-up) dreams of being the next English princess are now crushed.

As for me, I never really had a thing for Prince William or Prince Harry. But if any of these fellows tie the knot, my teenage self will be devastated.

Jonathan Brandis (sadly, he committed suicide in 2003)

Andrew Keegan

Rider Strong

Devon Sawa

Jonathan Taylor Thomas

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

So you want to set Amanda up on a date?

Congratulations! You've chosen a hobby that will, at best, give two of your friends everlasting happiness (not to be confused with Everlasting Gobstoppers, which are lovely, but Amanda can get those on her own) or, at worst, cause two of your friends to never speak to you again because it failed so spectacularly.

Would you prefer it to be the former?

Then let's set up a few ground rules.

1. Both parties must be single. If one person is already juggling four other people, it's probably best you don't throw another one into the mix.

2. If asked in advance, both parties must have given permission.

3. You should probably ask in advance. Surprises of this magnitude rarely go over well.

4. You must have a reason why you think these parties should meet - a mutual interest or hobby, for example. Reasons Amanda has heard that are less than acceptable:
a. You're single. He's single. Go for it!
b. He's a nice guy, you're a nice girl. I'm sure you'll get along great!
c. You won't be a jerk to him. He could use that.
d. I just met him myself, but he seems like a good guy to me.

Following these simple guidelines will not necessarily guarantee success, but at least it won't be a total catastrophe. Your friends will appreciate that you care about their happiness.

We thank you for your attention, and wish you the best of luck in your endeavo

Monday, November 15, 2010

All over the world

In case you don't already know, I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday in November, as part of NaBloPoMo, I'm going to discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better.

One of the blessings of being part of a worldwide church is that no matter where I go on the planet, there is a congregation of other Latter-day Saints somewhere nearby. They believe the same things I do, as the doctrine is exactly the same throughout the church. The format of the meetings, the organization of the congregations, and everything else is just the same as it is my own congregation as it is in the African bush. Efforts are made by the leadership of the church to standardize teachings, doctrines, manuals, and scriptures used by the membership. We even meet as a church every six months, via satellite broadcast, radio, and Internet for General Conference.

In my life, this church network has helped me find roommates when I moved across the country to a city I'd never even seen before. I know that my family and friends in other congregations are having the same Sunday School lessons I am, at least within a week or two of each other. As I have traveled, I have attended Sunday meetings in England, Egypt, and many states, and every time I have walked in, I have felt welcome and at home with others of my same faith. And I know that if I move to yet another new city, I'll immediately have a network of people to call on for my spiritual well-being and even temporal help as needed, like calling and asking for help unloading a moving truck.

It's comforting, and I'm grateful for it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Love, love, love, love, love

What is love?

Some may say:

Bianca: There's a difference between like and love. Because, I like my Skechers, but I love my Prada backpack.

Chastity: But I love my Skechers.

Bianca: That's because you don't have a Prada backpack. -- 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)


Oliver Barrett IV: Love means never having to say you're sorry. -- Love Story (1970)


Love is unselfishly choosing for another's highest good-C.S.Lewis


4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. - 1 Cor. 13:4-7

For the record, I agree with all of these definitions, except maybe the second, because I think that an important part of love IS recognizing when you were wrong and making amends.

Most of all, to me, love is a verb

Hanging on a wall in my parents' house is a picture of two prairie dogs, one of them seemingly handing the other a flower. The caption reads, "If you love someone, show it!"

Simply saying "I love you" and not acting on it just doesn't cut it. In other words:

Don't tell me you love me; show me that you do.- Omage Jossy

Don't talk of love lasting through time.
Make me no undying vow. Show me now! - Eliza Dolittle (My Fair Lady)

Words are so easy to say, oh ah yeah
You’ve got to show me love - Robin S

Some people do show love through Words of Affirmation. Others through Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Affection, or Receiving Gifts. For what it's worth, my love languages are Quality Time first, Receiving Gifts last.

Knowing your love languages and those of the people you love is important, but more important is that you express them and actively love others.

This can and should apply to all flavors of love - family, friends, romantic partners. It's rarely convenient, and sometimes you might feel like you're giving more than you're receiving, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't make the effort.

Only love can be divided endlessly and still not diminish. - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

So, get out there, share your love! If you love others, others will love you in return.

Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new. - Ursula K. LeGuin

What does love mean to you?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Killing loneliness

I'm a solo librarian, which means I work alone to run this library. I also live alone. Needless to say, I get a LOT of alone time. This is great, because I'm an introvert and I like that kind of thing. But there is such a thing, even for me, of too much alone time.

Remember all the snow where I was stuck inside my house for DAYS on two separate occasions this last winter? Yeah, I was ready to start hanging upside on my furniture I was so tired of being cooped up and away from people.

One of the benefits of living by my lonesome is that I get to choose the amount of social interaction I partake in, so on days I'm feeling socially off, I don't have to wonder who is going to be in my house.

One of the downsides is that when I do want social time and to see friends, I don't automatically have one around and I don't always have the success I'd like of getting together with the people I don't live with.

That's when I get lonely.

I can get discouraged easily when seemingly everyone and their dog says they have something else going on. If I'm discouraged and disheartened by my social situation, I find myself even more willing to just go somewhere by myself, or stay in and watch Netflix. I like myself, and I don't ever bail on me.

The key, I've learned, is not to give up when I don't have someone readily available and willing to spend time with me. Sometimes, I have to rack my brain to think of others who might even be remotely interested in getting together AND available at the same time.

But, as I remind myself, I do have friends, and many people I don't yet know well who might want to be friends.

William Butler Yeats said, "There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met."

I just have to reach out and be a friend to find a friend. "I went out to find a friend and could not find one there. I went out to be a friend, and friends were everywhere."

Easier said than done sometimes, but the rewards can be eternal!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Just Dance! Gonna be okay

Dance break!

There are all kinds of benefits of dancing. Flexibility, strength, endurance, not to mention a healthy sense of well-being. It's my personal favorite form of exercise, but it hardly feels like exercise at all. When you're concerned with technique, it can be hard and feel like work, but the good kind.

But just letting go and dancing with abandon? Awesome.

I love random kitchen dance parties. Or office dance parties. Or car dance parties. It just feels good!To encourage you to just get up off of that thing, shake it, and feel better, here are some of my favorite dance songs. If I'm missing one of yours, just let me know!

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

And if that's not enough dance music for you, here are a few other playlists: Here and here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

If I were a wealthy gi-irl

When my parents were first married, they lived really close, within walking distance, to a an inexpensive grocery store. It was cheaper and walking there saved gas money, but it was dirty and gross, and they were poor college kids.

One night, they were out with another couple and they all went on an ice cream run to Albertson's. To my mom's eyes, it was so cool. She asked my dad, "When we're rich, can we shop at Albertson's?"

When we moved back to Utah when I was 14, my mom started shopping at Albertson's. We must have been rich! We'd still shop there, if it still existed in my home neighborhood.

Now, I know I have plenty, and I live relatively comfortably, but I don't feel rich, at least monetarily. Still, I've been thinking, what seemingly insignificant thing would make me feel like I am rich?

I've thought of two things:

New, not used furniture and appliances - I love most of my hand-me-downs, but some of them don't always work and I'd prefer a bed that has always been mine and only mine (and, one day, a partner of my choosing).

Season tickets to a local theater - The nicer the theater, the richer I am!

What would make you feel rich? And if you are rich, will you Adopt a Recovering Grad Student?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Six years ago in London, I saw A Dog in the Manger, a Spanish Golden age play by Lope De Vega. The synopsis, as I wrote in my theatre journal that night is this:
Diana falls in love with Teodoro because she is jealous that he professes love with one her ladies, Marcela. Marcela finds love with her man because she is jealous of Teodoro and Diana. So, basically, everyone is jealous of someone, so they fall in love with someone else.

It's madness. There are schemings and secret meetings and lies and it's all very fast-paced because this is a comedy and finally in one scene, Teodoro drops to his knees and shouts. "I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT'S GOING ON!!"

Ever since I saw this show, whenever I'm completely confused by something, I shout (at least in my head) the same thing. It looks a lot like this:
I'd say it out loud more often, except that it's more fun when you're quoting something for other people to have seen the same thing.

Usually, I say/think it in a humorously confusing situation, like today's chat with Mr. T.

2:16 PM T: >:3
2:18 PM me: ?
T: !
me: *confused*
2:19 PM T: easily
me: ha
2:20 PM wait, are you saying I'm easily confused?
That's not very nicel.
2:21 PM T: ha

It's a way of diffusing whatever it is that's gotten me so lost.

So, now, if you ever hear me say it, you know where it comes from.

Anything you quote or re-enact even if no one else knows what you're referencing?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Good news!

Time for a Good News Minute! My week started off on a great note, and I want to share!

I was invited for a phone interview for a job I'm really interested in. I don't want to say too much, but I'm looking forward to taking this next step, and I could very much use your prayers and/or positive thoughts next Monday morning.

Snack's partner, Cor, had a successful double mastectomy today. Cancer sucks, but a successful surgery is always good news. They've been in my thoughts constantly today, and I'm so glad things went well. Chemo's up next, and I'm praying for it to go well too. You can follow Cor's cancer journey here.

Sisterpants had an awesome week on her mission, and her letter was inspiring. Hearing from her every Monday makes me very happy.

Ender and his wife are having a baby today! Like, right now, as I type this! Actually, their birthmother is doing the birthing part, but then they get to be the parents! They've waited so long. Yay adoption!

My group built a sweet castle at FHE tonight.
I'm ordering a new blender. Daily breakfast smoothies should not mean daily fights with a blender that doesn't really blend.

I found fennel/anise, even if it took me two grocery stores. I'm really looking forward to dinner tomorrow.

What's your good news?

Monday, November 8, 2010

And while He lives, I'll sing!

In case you don't already know, I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday in November, as part of NaBloPoMo, I'm going to discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better.

I was baptized shortly after I turned eight years old. We believe that baptism by immersion is symbolic of being washed clean of sin and covenanting with God that we will keep His commandments and, in turn, He will bless us with all that He has.

At least that's the basic idea, and that's what I would remind myself of when partaking of the Sacrament (which is the opportunity to renew our baptismal covenants in a manner symbolic of the death and Atonement of Jesus Christ).

Then I re-read the actual baptismal covenants as found in Mosiah 18:8-10 in The Book of Mormon, emphasis mine.
8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are adesirous to come into the bfold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

9 Yea, and are awilling to mourn with those that bmourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as cwitnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the dfirst resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being abaptized in the bname of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a ccovenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

There is so much more than I remembered! Both the promises we make and the promises the Lord makes are more specific than just "keep the commandments" and "receiving His blessings," and wonderfully so. There is so much more to do, but the blessings are so much greater as a result. There is so much to look forward to!

With that sentiment, the scripture immediately following this seemed so perfect.
11 And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts.
That's exactly how I feel! When I was standing in the font, waiting for my dad to begin the ordinance, I was bouncing up and down on my toes I was so excited! And, fortunately, I still am.

Living this gospel makes me happy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

For the strength of the hills

I've been taking rock climbing lessons lately. The more physical activity I can participate in, the less I get bored. I'm now accepting sponsorships and donations to the Amanda Needs Rock Climbing Gear Fund. Please contact me for how to donate.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone while I play Rock Band with my peeps

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Each life that touches ours for good

R.I.P. Steve

We had a short life together. It seems like just yesterday I brought you home, a reminder of a wonderful vacation. Knowing cactus life span, you probably had a wonderful 10 to 15 years in your native Arizona before coming to live with me. But for some unknown reason, our time together was not meant to be and you were called home to that great desert in the sky.

I followed all the directions. I only watered you once, the month after you came to me, but you were already looking a little wilted after our first 3.5 weeks, so I also brought you to my office so you could get some more sun.

But it was all for naught.

And now, I must bid you a fond farewell. I will miss you. Thank you for blessing my life for as long as you could. I'm sorry I failed as a cactus mommy. Again.

Love always,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Don't got much baggage to lay at your feet

The Twitter meme today was #tweetyour16yearoldself. Several people talked about regrets like "dont chase after dude. he's not worth it." or "Also, that bleach isn't going to work and your blue hair dye's going to come out black. Just so you know." Loads of women reminded their younger selves that they weren't fat, ugly, or otherwise unattractive. And a lot of people encouraged their 16-year-old selves by one way or another that "It gets better."

But try as I might, I couldn't think of a single thing I felt the need to tell myself from 10 years ago, because, you know what? I LIKED being 16. No, scratch that, I LOVED being 16.

16 was a good year. 17 wasn't my favorite, but 16 was pretty much the awesome.

I had great friends that year.

I had a pager.

I loved my classes (Geology, Spanish AP, Acapella choir, US History AP, Calculus AB AP, Dance, English [okay I actually hated my English class but two years later I would fall in love with the boy who sat behind me and we would date for a year], and Seminary).

I had a vehicle. The best baby blue 1985 Nissan standard transmission pick-up you ever did see.

I had my first kiss. At EFY, natch.

I had my first secret boyfriend, a senior even. Who I never kissed (until we dated again when I was in college). And was in a different state from for half of the three weeks we were "together."

I had a great little job with increasing responsibilities based on my excellent performance and it didn't involve food (except for the "secret" cabinet I had access to after my promotion).

I had my second kiss, with a boy 4 years my senior. It took me by surprise and I told him to take a hike within a week.

Yes, I had braces, and the secret boyfriend broke up with me and that sucked, and sometimes I had to keep my truck's doors closed with bungee cords, but it was all worth it. As @thebookpolice said, "
I get the IDEA of #tweetyour16yearoldself, but guys, how unhappy *are* you? You wouldn't be who you are now without the crap you endured."

But if there was something I would want to myself then, or any 16 year old, or hey, ANYONE. It would be this (warning: there is a swear):

Anything you'd want to tell your 16 year old self?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Can I kick it? Yes you can!

While a "bucket list" may seem daunting, which is why I wrote a joy list instead, I do still have things I want to do, at some point in my life. I want to share them with you.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, and is in no particular order, but:

Things I Want To Do At Some Point In My Life

Visit all 7 continents (3 down! 4 to go!)

Visit all 50 states (side mission: figure exactly which ones I've already visited)

Learn to speak French

Learn to play the guitar

Dye my hair blue

Work in a university library as a professional librarian (not just as a student like I did in undergrad)

Take at least a week's vacation in a tropical location without any agenda at all

Own a house

Get married

Have children

Compete in a triathlon

Live debt free

Host regular dinner parties


Become a certified actor-combatant

Learn to really sew, not just hack it like I do now

Play the Baker's Wife in Into the Woods

Play Cathy in The Last 5 Years

Live in a walking neighborhood

Get a second Masters' degree

As my email signature says, "Imagine you're 80, looking back on the fulfilling, beautiful life you've led. Now go do that."