Monday, June 30, 2008

I love me a good productive weekend - even if I did ditch out on paying for lunch


I really like good productive weekends. I do. I mean everyone wants to fill their weekend with activity right? Course! Sometimes it just doesn't happen - which is fine. I also enjoy those weekends at home with a movie, a personal pizza, laundry and cleaning. Those are okay too. However, this weekend wasn't one of those.
(Nik and John- great lighting!)

(Behold the cat bundle! I should've bought one - what was I THINKING!)

Friday, after a rousing day at work (shaking head emphatically nooooo), I went to SLC and attended the Utah Arts Festival. This Festival draws a...unique crowd, and although the booths, art, jewelry, hand made crafts, food, live music, and exotic spoon stands are always enjoyable - it's really the crowd this very hippie-esque Festival draws that's half the fun! I'm a people watcher - love watchin the peoples - thus the Utah Arts Festival is a people-watchers dream. Such variety! Such interesting dress and grooming(?)! Such...alternate lifestyles! Many, many alternative lifestyles. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Cough. SO!! I met up with my good friends Nikelle and John (seen above). We perused the booths, commenting on the assortments of puppet cats and...once again...the exotic spoons, listened to the fantabulous live Jazz Band at one end of Pioneer Park and moved through the Samba dancing and Reggae at the other end, enjoyed ice cream and a Orange Pina Colada Maui Wowi, and eventually settled in on the grassy amphitheater atop the SLC Library to listen to some alternative tunes from yet another live band. I think that pretty much spells "good times" all around - as the pictures illustrate.

(Pay no attention to the funny looking glasses girl standing in the photo - no attention - No!)

(Maui WOWI! Sip sip sip - great earrings, right?)

Saturday was also a day of fun and productivity. I actually got up (before 10) and ate breakfast - so there's a good start. I then ran me 5 miles and readied myself for the day. These 3 things in and of themselves spells out "productive Saturday," but the fun doesn't stop here! NO NO! I lunched with Europe Friend Steve - talked some business - and while eating a delicious BLTA - hold the T (stupid salmonella...grumble mumble) - we saw a preview for the movie WALL-E. Gasp!! Steve! WALL-E! We must!! So we literally hopped up after talking for about 30 minutes and ran to see if there was time to see WALL-E. Once we make those decisions - there's nothing stopping us. As luck would have it - the next showing was in about 30 minutes -just enough time to buy tickets, snag some frozen Jr Mints of deliciousness, and find a seat. The movie was fantastic (see side note of blog for details), and ended around 4:00. Just in enough time for me to go get some salad fixins for the next round of Saturday fun productivity to begin: Work BBQ at Caye's (see post "cool boss lady"). As I was gathering up the salad fixins and getting ready to pay - I thought back to lunch and how I didn't remember signing a receipt for my meal. Huh. We had split the check...but I don't remember paying. Did Steve pay on the sly? No...I don't think so. I started to panic. Did we not pay? DID WE NOT PAY!?!?! So I called Steve and left a message on his voicemail:

"Steve...dude...Idon'tthinkwepaidforourlunch! CALL ME BACK! grumble...stupid phone on silent....mumble...pay...didn't...hell...we will...burn...didn't pay....click." So Steven calls me back, "Uh...yeeeeeah...I didn't pay either. I will go pay now." Awesome. We felt like a couple of goons...fools...dips..."special" people. But got it taken care of.

(Oodles of Chips. Mine are the Salt N'Vinager ones in the back...see?)

Lastly the BBQ. Awesome. That's all that can be said. WE played a little tricksy trick on Caye of course. What's a work BBQ without giving the Boss a hard time? Not 3 weeks ago, during a staff meeting, she told us about a BBQ her and her husband had hosted for all the students in a class he had taken. They were college students - 20 somethings - and they told them all the bring something. A pot luck if you will. Well, they all being college students they all brought chips. Chips chips chips. They had Blind Man's Chicken (her husband is legally blind - and he makes GREAT BBQ chicken - thus Blind Man's Chicken) Burgers, and chips. She implored us "PLEASE - more than chips." Of course we being a little older and slightly (slightly) more mature than 20 young undergrads - sent out a sign up sheet filled with potato salad promises and baked bean dreams.
(Miranda and Rachael...BFF! Livin the Dream)

Then I, being the one to rock the boat here at BYU IS, emailed everyone sans Caye and asked them "Guys, bring chips. Chips chips chips. Leave your "real food" in the car - and come in with bags of chips. It's gonna be awesome." And it was awesome. Poor Caye! The focus of my trickery! We all came in with excuses of "I'm sorry - I was busy- so I just brought chips!" Bags and bags! After letting Caye stew for awhile - mumbling about the incompetence of her employees and how we must not listen to a thing she says in staff meeting - we brought in the real goods and had a good laugh. Goods...good laugh..get it? I....ahem. I like BBQ's.

(That's....steep...hu..hu...steep...)

(Who else loves BBQ's? Naomi and Andy DO!! Er....right? Usually? Salad?)

(Co-worker Lauren and her favorite pastime - eating - well, second fav - the first would be anything to do with her hubby - arm seen in this pic - good enough!)

Lastly and finally - what better way to wrap up a Saturday of productivity then by playing a few games of volleyball. Which I did - in my skirt. No pics of that but you can imagine.

(And what post would be complete...)

Sunday is always a good day(no really, I'm not just saying that. I LOVE my Sundays). Church, dinner, watched a little Return to Me (my fav romantic comedy...that and Notting Hill) tried to Visit Teach, and the roomies and I were up for Ward Prayer Spotlight. We took the ickle kitty kitty to introduce as well. No one found it amusing - tough crowd I guess. Psh. At any rate - it's always good to have a weekend of productivity. I guess the one draw back is it makes Monday come faster - but it is a holiday week - so that's not so bad either. I get the 2nd through the weekend off and am very much looking forward to it. It will be yet another weekend of productivity - packing up books to move to Grandma's for the Europe adventure - celebrating Seth's (little bro's) big 23rd Birthday - and camping with the family. I won't be seeing them for so long - it will be good to be with them for an entire enjoyable (and of course productive) weekend. Maybe we can eat with some exotic spoons. Oooo...yeeeeeah.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Weak Sauce

As previously posted - I ran the Wasatch Back Relay last weekend. So, I've been taking a little "break" from running. Ya know - just for a couple of days. I feel I'm owed it. I played volleyball for a good solid 3 hours on Tuesday night - and felt that was decent enough exercise for the day.

Well yesterday - it being a Wednesday - I thought it was time to get running again. I just enjoy it. I really do. It was blisteringly hot - so I waited until about 7:30 to start out my 5 mile loop. Also in my pride I thought, "I've run in MUCH hotter than this - in fact, I ran in blistering heat just last weekend - TWICE!" So I grabbed the Ipod - changed into some running attire and was off. About a mile into it I wanted to die. Really! I had all sorts of cramps rolling around my insides and my lungs felt like they were working double time - and I was running DOWN HILL! I was disgusted with myself. So disgusted in fact I ran faster. Well - about 3 miles into my run I had to (I can't believe I had to) stop. STOP! And WALK! The shame! I was kicking myself the whole time I walked (and heaved and puffed).

Granted it was hot (but I'd run in hotter). Granted my asthma decided that yesterday was the day to really act up (but it had acted up before). Granted I had just consumed a large Orange Julius brimming with refined sugar (but I'd consumed sugary substances before running before). Granted I was a little stiff and sore FROM the 3 hours of good volleyball I'd played the night before. Granted I've been working the 6am-3pm shift all week and not getting much sleep (I've been stressed - and when I'm stressed the insomnia peaks...and peaks GOOD!) And lastly, granted I had just gone to the eye doctor and my eyes were dilated to the size of saucers and extremely sensitive to the light THUS I had to wear sunglasses (I've never worn sunglasses before...ah ha! That must've been it!). Even so. Even taking all these things into account - I felt like weak sauce having to walk not once, not twice, but FOUR TIMES during my usually "run the whole way" 5 mile loop. I didn't even ATTEMPT the death hill at the end - but casually walked up it - listening to some soothing MoTab. Sigh. And if that weren't enough - when I got home I felt like my body had been hit by a truck. I was so sore and stiff and achy. What the? How is it possible I had just run 3 legs, some in grueling heat, one at 2:00am, with no sleep and Luna Bars for energy just fine and couldn't do a mid-afternoon familiar 5-mile loop?

Sigh. WEAK SAUCE. That's all there was too it. Today though - today it will be different. I'm going to go again (minus eye dilation and sugary insides) and see if I can hack it. Of COURSE I can hack it! I've hacked it countless times before. Perhaps it was meant as a humbling experience. Curse those humbling experiences. Curse them.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cough..tap tap...is this thing on? I'd like to make an announcement...

I'm going to Europe for a year. WHAT!?!??! Yes that's right. I've been working on this adventure for oh...about the past 3 weeks: working out the kinks, doing the background checks, praying praying praying, researching, emailing, calling, selling the Saturn, tanning (what?), you name it. I've kept it on the DL so far as the blogging world goes so's not to jinx it most importantly, but also so's not to to have to retract it in case it didn't pan out. Well my blogging friends, I can hold it within no LONGER! I am going to Europe for a year to co-teach two 16-year-old boys while their "well-to-do" Father conducts business in the following countries (sit back and take a deep breath): Turkey, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and possibly England (pip! pip!). What's that? Oh, you'd like me to name them again? Okay - I will be spending a year co-teaching with my co-worker/friend Steve, a teenage kid and his friend, in EUROPE for a year. Of course, all expenses paid plus a salary.

I know what you are thinking. That this isn't real. It's not possible. Who gets opportunities like this? Well, I wish I had some answers for you. But I really don't. I am still flabbergasted myself! But as of Sunday - Steve and I decided it's something we're going to do. We're reaching for the stars!! Or at least the Mediterranean and then on to Paris, Geneva, Madrid...sigh. Anyone who knows me KNOWS that I have three dreams in life: 1. Teach 2. Travel 3. Become a crazy English Professor Cat Lady. Do dreams come true? YES! Is that ridiculously cheesy? OF COURSE! Would I say it again? You better believe it! Some dreams actually do happen - and when they do it's about the most humbling experience you'll ever have in your life. When I realized it was happening - that it was a possibility - and as of July 21st (one month!) I would be beginning the adventure of a lifetime - the only thing I could do was drop to my knees and thank the good Lord for remembering me. He even remembers our crazy cat Lady English Professor travleing teacher dreams...even those...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My legs are Jello, my mind is fuzzy, my shoulders are burnt, and I'm "running" on two hours of sleep...Will I do it again?? YES! Of COURSE!

This weekend was the all-feared, quite anticipated, and most nerve-wracking, Wasatch Back Relay. And can I just say, regardless of the exhaustion, the pain, the lack of sleep, and having to use the locker room at a Jr High in Midway where the ladies have NO shame what-so-ever, I'd do it again!! It was awesome! I truly memorable experience! I'm glad I was able to participate with my great team: Run Dickie Run Jane, and have such a fantastic time. Here's a recap...and some pics...of course.

I was in Van #2 and thus, although the race is from Logan to Park City, our van started in O-Town (that's Ogden to the non-Utahn). I was the first runner for our team - and I can't even begin to explain the butterflies in my stomach or the feeling of complete dread that hit me about an hour before my leg started. It was blistering hot at 5:30 that afternoon and I slathered on the sunscreen as I trembled and waited for Vance, the last runner for Van #1, to appear around the bend, slap on the slap bracelet that was our "baton" and send me on my first 4 mile leg of three legs total. I started out "nice and easy" but the competator inside me urged me forward as I started to pass a few people. By the "1 more mile" marker I was a sweat ball of tiredness, realizing I had pushed a little too hard in the beginning, but couldn't slow down now. I finished my first leg - slapped the bracelet on Miranda (who I might add only joined our team 2 days prior to the race and was a champion!) - and drank a gallon of water. One leg down...two more to go. The rest of the team did a STELLAR job on their legs and we made GREAT time.

My next leg started in the middle of some canyon at about 2:00am. That's right - 2:00am. We tried to get a "little shut eye" when we hit the big exchange point at Snow Basin to send Van #1 on their way again around 9:00pm. Buuuuut nothing doing. We ate a burger (which I regretted later) and headed to the next big exchange point. The butterflies had not died yet and were renewing their fluttering as my time approached. Head lamp in place, huge reflective vest loosely hanging over me (it flowed behind me like a cape as I ran - I was a Superhero!), running tights secured, I started my next leg in the dark, taking it much easier than I had on leg 1, and hoping I would be able to make my 2nd set of 4 miles as memorable as the first. This leg was by far my hardest one, but also my favorite. Listening to my IPod, jogging in the cool evening in a absolutely breathtaking mountain range, lake on the right, sheer cliffs on my left, was in a a word, inspiring. I had several hills to conquer, and one lady to keep behind me. Yes, that sense of competition yet again. My team was there every mile to cheer me on, offer water, and push me forward. I finished up my 2nd leg and sent Miranda on hers around 2:30am. Phew - time for a little shut eye...in the cramped mini-van...with Dan and Mike hollering the whole way...sigh...okay maybe not. Go Team!

The team finished our second round strong, and prepared for the 3rd and final legs of our 184 mile race with some R&R at a middle school in Midway. Miranda and I went on a search for a REAL toilet (I seriously hate out-houses - and avoid them at ALL costs...well, almost all costs) and ended up paying $2 each for a shower. Mmmm. That's right! We rinsed our bodies off for $2 in the girls locker room. Now let me tell you - a bunch of women running a seriously awesome but grueling race - all rinsing themselves off in a girls locker room - equals NO shame for some of these womens. Seriously. I mean - there should be SOME sense of propriety no matter how tired you are or how nice of a bod you have. I feel a quick transition from nakedness to clothed should be a priority in such a situation - however "quick" was lost and "rummaging and arranging things inside bags while naked" was the outcome. Miranda and I were in and out quick. But with a rinse off, Luna Bar and trail mix in my tummy, a hour laid out on my sleeping bag on the school's lawn, under my belt I was ready for my last leg. I took a quick shot of "Goo" and started my last 4.1 mile stretch at about 10:30am. I was feeling rested and ambitious for some reason. I started out at a regular pace - and about 1.5 miles in heard a runner approaching me from behind. I had a deep and burning desire to keep this tall, long legged, running woman from passing me. So, I sped up. I pushed it. I focused through the pain and fatigue. She was on the cusp of passing me at one point - about a foot behind me - and I just couldn't let that happen. So I pushed harder. At the one mile marker I sped up even more. My lungs burned but I liked the consistent 4 foot distance between me and the grasshopper behind me. Seeing my finish line at the end - seeing my team there cheering me on - I broke into an all out sprint the last 100 yards of my run. I seriously considered vomiting right then - but instead slapped the bracelet on Miranda for her final leg and nearly collapsed in a heap. The runner who had been behind me the whole time put her arm around me and said "That was awesome! Thanks for pacing me!" to which I said "Thanks for pushing me!" Ah yes, a runners moment.

The rest of the race was grueling for my team mates. Mike and Dan had the task of "Running the Ragnar" which is an 8 mile stretch of high elevation, strait up death. These fella's are strong runners and pushed up this massive mountain, climbing in elevation almost 2,000 feet, at 3:00 in the merciless heat, eating car dust and exhaust the entire way. Kudos men! "Yer Doin It!" Our final team mate - Sommer - brought us all in at the finish line. We drove to the end and waited for her to turn the corner and head towards the finish line. We all ran together the last 50 yards and came in screaming and yelling! We did it! WAAAAAAAHOOOOOO!!! We booked, we cruised, we cheered and yelled and screamed. Clearly - we were the most enthusiastic all-be-it obnoxious team there! "Yer Doin It!!!" was are most over-used phrase of the entire race. Having your team scream and cheer you on as they stop every mile of your leg is a real inspiration. It pushes you harder and makes you want to do better. I had a feeling of accomplishment, comradery, and appreciation for my team mates and what we'd just accomplished: 184 miles in 27hrs 28min 52sec placing 166th of 545 teams total and 40th (40th!) out of 210 teams in the mixed division (as in fellas and chickas). Phew! We each got a medal and a t-shirt - but more importantly and cheesy-rific - we gained a fantastic memory and great friends. My legs are still weak and my mind is not quite as sharp as I'd like - but I'd do it all again in a heart beat! Yer Doin it! We pert near DID IT!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

One Complete Moronic Fool I Will Stab to Death Later for Robbing me of Sleep

I can't sleep. I don't know why. I mean - if it were Christmas Eve and the promise of giving and receiving were on the other end of an 8 hour night - that's one thing. If it were the night before my wedding, or perhaps a big trip, maybe a stressful final or big day at work - okay, I can see being restless. Likewise, perhaps if I had taken a 3 hour nap that day, lazed around not exerting much energy, or perhaps having had something stressful or demoralizing happen that kept me tossing and turning all night - again, that's one thing. But to just NOT sleep?

Wha...uh...tah...muh...grrrr.

Not a wink. It wasn't a particularly unique Tuesday. I got up at a normal hour (8am to get to work by 10am). I worked all day - that usually is enough for most folks to feel a little drowsy during the day. I then went and played some volleyball immediately after which I solidified plans and helped organized our team for the Wasatch Back Relay this weekend (stress!! Okay maybe that had something to do with it). I got home around 10:30 - my usual bedtime - did the usual reading of the good word, and lights out by a little after 11:00. Well, the lights might be out - but I didn't "drift" off until 12:30 - and then woke up at 1:15am...2:13am...3:15 ...3:34... 4:03... 4:37...and when my alarm went of at 5:00am - what did I do? Well I went ahead and got up. What else was there to do? I showered and got ready - and was oddly 4 minutes late to work anyway. Doesn't it seem that no matter what time you get up - you always arrive at work (school, church) at the same time? Vicious cycle.

I guess it could've been my fear of the Wasatch Back Relay this weekend that kept me tossing and turning. Although, after some organization and discussion with team members last night, much of my stress was very much relieved to be honest. Hm. Volleyball was mostly fun - until a jerk showed up at the end and kind of ruined it for everyone. For some reason he decided he was going to pick on the little girl on the opposite team - aka ME - and act like a total jackass the entire time we played. Usually - I have a pretty thick skin and am used to having to defend myself against bullies when I'm called upon to do so. I guess it comes from being the "oldest" in the family and defending still younger and not as strong as me brothers from playground bullies. I shoved a girl to the ground once who was trying to push around my ickle brother Seth. Course - he's almost 23 now and has no need for my expertise anymore - but the point is I can usually hold up under circumstances most girls would shirk from or at the very least - start tearing. Well, for some reason - yesterday this guy got under my skin and irritated me to the point of tears. After the game was over I just left in a swoosh. I didn't stay to help put away the net or shoot the breeze with the fun friends that usually play with us. I was done. I'd had it. Gone. I play volleyball each week to relieve stress and have fun interaction with friends. I was particularly upset that this guy had come to ruin that for me - for all of us. I admire I was on a team full of boys who didn't become raving morons themselves and probably spared us greater contention. Although, I guess it would've been very heroic of them to have defended me a little bit. Oh well. A rock and a hard place for the fella's. I mean, besides really acting like a complete moron the entire time, this guy relentless made biting comments to me "OH...what are you gonna do when I SLAM the ball down on you?" To which I scoffed and laughed mockingly - looking at his 5'6 stocky frame and wondering if his Small Man Syndrome enhanced his "ass-ness" or just solidified it. He probably chose me to mock because I was the only one shorter than him. Ew. EW! Ew. I don't think I've ever wanted anyone to fail like I wanted that guy to fail...and fail miserably he did. It still didn't bring me much satisfaction though - and put me in a right state to tears as I walked off. :( Sigh...this is why a girl needs a Daddy...to go after (or at least threaten to go after) jerks that are mean to his little Princess...or maybe a courageous boy that will tell him to shut the heck up and leave me alone.... or at the very least... give me a hug in my clearly upset state. Sniff. Huggy hug. Daddy Dad. Boy...boy...isn't that what they're for? I guess you only notice when they're missing how nice it would be to have them around. Good guys are basically priceless - lets be honest.

Hm, maybe that's why I didn't sleep much. But I could sure sleep right now and this makes me excited for going to bed nice and early tonight - hoping for a solid 8-9 hours of rest. I may run 5 miles just to make sure that I will collapse in a tired heap no matter what. It's not worth taking any chances.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sold!

I sold my beloved Saturn. It's true. Not one month ago my little white trusty Saturn gave up. Completely. It just stopped in one day. There was no build up, no preparation, no coming to terms with the inevitable, it just stopped...in the middle of the left hand turn lane on one of the busiest intersections of Provo.

So that said - I put the Saturn up for sale not two days ago. As I was constructing a meaningful and aesthetically pleasing ad to place on ksl.com (amazing!), I began to reminisce, to think back on the good times I'd had with the Saturn. The commutes to the U. How carefully and thoughtfully it would take me home to Emery County in rain or shine. It's tendency to slip ever so slightly in the snow even if I did nothing to provoke it. It's yellow stained left side from the time I turned a little too ambitiously into the Brigham Apartment parking garage and caressed the yellow "pole" (I say "pole" because it was rather short and stocky vs tall and thin"). It's bran new drivers side mirror where I had, once again, caressed a construction barrel driving in a sickly and groggy state to a school out in west-who-the-heck-knows-where school for my teaching practicum.

Of course - this reminiscence led me to think about all the cars I'd driven in my day and the adventures that I had in them. None of them were "luxury" in fact they were even far from practical and mainly fell into the realm of "at least it runs...sometimes.." Come with me on a journey through Andrea's Auto-ventures...starting at age 16 with...

This little gem! A '84 Plymouth Horizon! No air conditioning of course but one hell of a great heater. And yes - pun intended. I don't think Hell could've produced more heat than this little beater. I had to climb in the passenger side because the drivers side handle had snapped off during a particularly nasty frost that first winter. No radio. And when I started it, it made a high pitched SQUEEEEEEEeeeeeeeEEEEEEeeeee to make sure I maintained a humble and grateful outlook on life. My friend Ashlee and her sister dubbed it "The Whore." Terrible yes...but fitting somehow.

Next - I graduated to a 87 Geo Prism. I was a Senior and "The Whore" just wasn't making it. What did I expect for $800? So my brother and I "shared" this cruiser for about one school year. Oh the fights...oh the contentions...oh the anger. Siblings shouldn't share cars. Especially when ones a boy and ones a girl. Luckily I graduated High School before it came to fist-a-cuffs and took my little car to Ephraim - where it was only driven to Wal-Mart and home (over Fairview Canyon in the snow). That little car, and the Lord, carried me white knuckled but safely through a terrible white out of a blizzard at the top of Huntington Canyon on my way home for Christmas from Snow College. I still can't believe I didn't end up in an embankment with the other 10-20 cars I passed along the way. This car also took me to SLC and the UofU for several years. However, as 87 Geo Prism's do - he started to slow down, cough up things, and begged for retirement in a small quaint home town only to be driven to the store and church on sunny days. Sigh. It was a reasonable request.

Lastly, we are brought back to the '97 Saturn SL2. As mentioned, this little beauty took me through my Bachelors degree - and brought me down to Provo. It has a working CD player, never gave me any "big" problems - merely a hiccup here or there - and has been a great little car for the last 3 years. We've really enjoyed our time together - and I hope that her new owner will give her the love and care she so needs to continue on the road for another 184,000 miles...

So what am I to do now? Currently I drive my brothers Ford Ranger and I ruddy hate it (he's on a mission in Madagascar so he doesn't mind...or know rather). Sure I appreciate that it runs - but again, after experiencing the luxury of air conditioning and "not so sensitive to every bump and dip in the road" CD player, I'm slightly spoiled. I GUESS! Not to mention the gas - oh my heavens the GAS!!! - is ridiculous. Although - I guess it is pretty cool being a chick driving a stick shift baby truck. Adds a little somethin somethin don't you think?

I was in the market for a new car - I've been considering Honda's, Hyundai's, Toyota's...but that's as far as its gotten. I'm waiting for a few things to pan out before I add another car to the list of Andrea's Auto-Ventures. I know I want it to be candy apple red though - oh yes - that's a must. Maybe a sun roof and a spoiler...mmmm...yeeeeeah...

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Review You've All Been Waiting For: Hillary Clinton, A Woman in Charge

There are some judgements we pass too quickly - some stereotypes we too readily accept - and the view "guilty be association" tends to harshly label some because of other's imprudence's. We have to be careful where we're getting our information, what conclusions we are drawing and why. If we are to make informed decisions - well, logically wouldn't it stand to reason we should be informed?

The 2008 Race for the Presidency, or in this case the nomination to race for the Presidency, has created in America something of a political conundrum. One is hated because of his race, the other because of her gender and husband, another because of his, dare I say, "crotchety" attitude and "too close to Bush" personae, yet another because of his religion, and that is just a very generic, all be it plausible, explanation of America's choices for the next President of the United States. Most friends I consult about the political choices respond "I'm not voting - I hate them all" or "picking the lesser of 3 evils" and even "Sigh...I'm moving to Canada." Well my friends, I understand. I do. I've been both intrigued and frustrated with the constant political commentary that has been on every local and national newscast, on the cover of every major news magazine and newspaper, the crux of late night TV jokes, and the topic of debate on every day show since November. Watching this race unfold has been both exciting and discouraging, at times full of hope and other times, riddled with fear. Fear for the Future. Hope for Change. Political Divides and societal unrest. Need I really mention "a sign of the times?" Perhaps a topic for another day.

All of that said, I undertook the task of researching my political candidates. I wanted to be informed. I wanted to make an informed decision. Rather than relying solely on CNN or FOX...okay just CNN (really folks, FOX?)...to show me who these candidates are, what they believe, and where they will take this good country, I dug a little deeper. I checked out websites, I read newspapers, and yes, I did still watch Anderson Cooper 360 (who wouldn't? He's dreamy...er..smart). However, I didn't feel I was getting the whole picture - the real picture. And living in Utah meant it has hardly likely I would see my political party supported by the candidates I was most considering. Through all my following of the political race, and although I had decided to support one Barack Obama initially, I began to be more and more intrigued (even surprised and occasionally impressed) by one candidate - one candidate that if you told me last year I would consider being the best choice for President - I would've mocked you relentlessly and denied it until I was blue in the face. That candidate is Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I became interested in Mrs. Clinton after watching her, along with all the other candidates, campaigning in various states, hoping for the Democratic Nomination to go up against McCain in November. I was further intrigued when I watched a sound byte of her at a conference in some state nearly succumbing to tears as she spoke of the future of this nation and her desire to push it forward. What? Hillary Clinton has emotion? Posh! It's a ploy! A scam! But...perhaps...hm. I found I wasn't as interested in Hillary Clinton the presidential nominee, but Hillary Clinton the woman. What is this woman like? What is driving her? Is she really the heartless demon spawn I always believed her to be - pushing her political agenda forward and grappling for power? What IS her story? I wanted to know. And I pondered it for quite sometime. Instead of watching her on CNN with disdain, I began to have actual interest in what she was saying, what she wanted to do, and why in the world she was running for President. As most women have thought about Mrs. Clinton at one time or another - how can she still be with that man (Bill Clinton - to the slow person)? This question was one of my most pressing. She, clearly being an assertive, independent, down right frightening woman of political means and success, stays married to someone who not only took advantage of the trust of a nation, but of a wife and a daughter. Was it just for political gain? Because that doesn't make much sense considering he wasn't the most "popular" President of his time. Or, maybe, does she really love him? Really? Could she have the same insecurities and vulnerabilities all women fall victim too when with a philandering spouse? "He hits me - but I know he loves me...He cheats on me, but I know he loves me." Come on Hil!

Carl Bernstein's "A Woman in Charge" was my choice for ascertaining who Hillary Rodham Clinton was, who she is, and her future potential as President and as an influential figure for all women. It's one of the most well-written, insightful, shockingly objective, factual yet personal and intriguing books I've ever read. Academic, thorough, and even suspenseful at times, it was a heavy read, but a good read, and one that changed my opinion and perspective of Mrs. Clinton. In fact, it clenched my desire for her nomination (which point is moot now - but that's not the issue here - the issue is change), and my desire for her to be involved in the leadership of this country. As I read I found myself sympathizing with Hillary Rodham. There were times when I cheered her on, times where I admired her determination and focus, and other times where I was disappointed in her pride and quickness to anger. The most surprising emotion impressed upon me was empathy. I started to identify with Hillary. I "felt" where she was coming from. Through her college years at Wellesley and later Yale, to her career as a lawyer, her unwavering commitment to her marriage and her daughter, her foundation of faith (she's a devote Methodist), her consistency in prayer and devotion, her intellectual hunger, her political journey, even her love for her husband, was both staggering and refreshing. Mostly it was real - it was something any woman could find a common cause in - a common journey we all travel. Career vs Family. Feminism vs Tradition. Hillary Clinton is a woman split. What most people don't know about her is she's very traditional and moderate. Because she's a woman, and clearly a Democrat, she's painted in the media and elsewhere as extremely liberal, to the point of "crazy man eater wack job" when in all reality - she's much more moderate than "they" say - Barack Obama (okay really - WHO resigns from a church? I don't care if your minister is nuts - who resigns from their church?!?!?)?

I mentioned that I found myself identifying with Hillary as I read about her life and this was the most astonishing (not to mention unexpected) realization of the entire 564 page experience. She's an advocate for women, children, and families - first and always. When I was considering law for my future educational pursuits - I wanted to be a public defendant specializing in the rights of women and children - those even in our "modern" society who don't have the rights and privileges of the law that they should. Hillary's work and study at Yale and beyond was focused on this. She worked with and is part of the Children's Defense Fund, she's always lobbying for women's and children's causes - and she believes that those whose voices are silenced by tradition, fear, abuse, social disparity, etc need someone to speak out for them. This is what I found most impressive about her personae. I also admire her commitment to marriage as an institution (yes, even to Bill Clinton) and to her daughter. I know many woman can identify with the struggle of women to find their path - picking motherhood and education and career and wife-hood - and trying to balance it all with a pretty smile, flawless skin, and a tight butt is daunting, neigh impossible to do perfectly. And Hillary had to do it perfectly in the public eye.

The other surprising aspect of this biography was it's "love story-esque" plot that threaded throughout the majority of Hillary Clinton's life. She and Bill met in their law school days at Yale - and Bill was always a philanderer. It's mentioned in the biography many times that he had an affinity for blond, big haired, big busted, women and could "not control" his sexual appetites. Well - be that as it may (and clearly no excuse what so ever) - Hillary stayed by him. She helped him, she supported him, she had her own political desires and societal agenda - but the magic (yes magic) of their relationship is that they shared this deep desire to support the common good and always foster change. Now, I feel when Governor Bill Clinton and his First Lady moved to Washington when he was elected President - much of their "common good" social agenda was shaken, and political corruption and intrigue began to work it's way into the good intentions of, at least, Hillary Clinton's aspirations for her husband's time in the White House. However, I came to find most (not all) of her intentions for political gain were for the betterment of the nation. And this desire coupled with her concrete beliefs in marriage and family, kept her in her marriage...and keeps her in her marriage even now. That, and she loves that guy. No, really. She does. There are handfuls of accounts given in the biography from friends, colleagues, those who worked both in the Governors Mansion and in the White House about this endearing affection she has for him, and he has for her. In many instances Bernstein describes how "Hillary lights up whenever he walks in the room..." and that this reaction continued up until the Lewinksy era. They are compatible, two peas in a pod, two sides of the same coin, and this support, admiration, can I say respect (hmmm - loosely put to some, but real to others), commonality, love for a daughter, and the fact that "one can't live without the other - they need each other - they'd be lost without each other" was one of the most fascinating discoveries, for me, about Hillary Clinton the Woman.

Now as for a Woman In Charge - well, that might have to be saved for "Part 2." Suffice it to say, I judged too harshly. Doing research, keeping an open mind, and not passing quick judgement based on CNN sound bytes and Times opinion polls, is something every American interested in this historical political race should consider: taking a little more time - getting a little more involved - and making a more informed decision. If anything, you might find out something you didn't expect, even something surprisingly refreshing. I did. And that's the beauty of being informed.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It's life's little things isn't it? Isn't IT!??!

I've had some little pleasures these last couple of days I'd like to talk about...mention...ponder and relate. It really is about life's little pleasures isn't it? The few moment of "hooowwwwmmmm" or "mmmmm"...or "ahhhhh that's the stuff" or even "... ... ... ..." that really make the days worth living, the weeks a little more bearable, and can culminate in a "pretty decent year." You can't ask for more than decent - not with what's going on in THIS world....and here we go.

1. Reaching the Rainbow. I ran 5 miles on Monday - an easy going, enthusiastic, rhythmic, 5 miles. I "took 'er easy" and took in the sights - as it were. At the end of my run, I'd say the last 100 yards, it started to sprinkle a little, adding some cooling pleasures. Additionally, I live on a mountainside in Provo, and the mountains are absolutely beautiful here no matter the time of year, but that day - there was a large, fully formed, rainbow stretching its colors across the mountain face just as I topped a large (death) hill and descended into the residential area that is Canyon Meadow Condo's. Ahead of me - a lush picturesque valley lay glowing in the drowsy sunset below. Beyond that, Mt Nebo's snow capped peak (yes, still snow capped) looking grandiose and royal....a "hooooowwwwwmmmm" pleasure mixed with a dash of "... ... ..." enjoyment.

2. Sipping Slurpee's. I really don't need to say more do I? Summer brings a great many pleasures - ONE of these pleasure's being the cold, sugary, colorful beverages that encompass everything summer is. Mm! Warmth and refreshment. I had a Slurpee last night - a little wild cherry pina coloda mixture of sorts and enjoyed every refreshing OUNCE! A "mmmmm" pleasure to be certain.

3. Rainy Days and Mondays...but I'm not down about it! No no. Last night, when I literally collapsed into bed due to undersleep and overplay (mmmm, overplay..play volleyball...mmm volleyball...) I made sure my window bedroom window, residing directly near the head of my bed, was cracked, nay, nearly 100% open (screen fastened securely - I no wanty the creepers crawling in - or looking in - you know the kinds I speak of). Yet another summer pleasure I indulge is sleeping with the window open. I LOVE that my window is right by my head - it allows in those cool (but not excessively so) summer breezes and gives the illusion of camping out every night. I also like that my room smells like a mountain breeze (not the air freshener kind -but a REAL mountain breeze - fresh, crisp, and organic) upon entering it and through the evening. Last night - it rained - so not only did I get the pleasure of "rainy" mountain breeze smell, but also slept to the rhythmic pitter patter of rain splats. I like the smell of "wet", wet grass, wet pavement, but not wet dogs. Shudder. After running around like orphan children and coming into the house - my mom would tell us we smelled like wet dogs. ..ah the memories. At any rate - that was my "ahhhh, now that's the stuff" pleasure.

Well friends, it's only Wednesday MORNING!!! Frakking 7am and I've been here for an HOUR...buuuuuut, the week has already been full of little pleasures - little moments where life hands you a sugar cube, a reminder that life is beautiful, tasty, and worth trying out every single day. Most especially if there's a 7-11 near by. Which there IS!

Monday, June 2, 2008

It's 6am and I can't think of a clever title...I fail.

Since my roomie moved out the end of April, my other roomies and I have not had a vacuum. Blawaaabeelawaaaa...ahhhhh...bleeee!!!! That's the only way to adequately describe my life without a vacuum. I'm a clean person...perhaps considered by SOME, a "clean freak" and a clean freak without her vacuum is like a cook without a stove, a gardener without a spade, even a Hillary Clinton without her blind determination and pointless resolve - give up sista! It's time. (Almost done with the book by the way! 64 pages and FINALLY we're in the thick of Lewinsky. Oh Hillary, you really are just a silly woman when it comes to men like the rest of us, aren't you? Major Book Review to come - prepare yourselves! INSIGHTS!). As if not having a vacuum for to control the regular dirt and dust that naturally accumulates week to week wasn't enough, we also acquired a poop happy kitty around the time of our vacuum loss and thus, I always wondered if there were poop particles attached to the fibers of the carpet (specifically the stairs) that Lila could sniff out and make a brain connection "poop here" because any sort of proper cleaning tool (meaning a vacuum) wasn't there to do the job credibly. Sigh. So finally, FINALLY, Saturday I resolved to go and purchase my very own vacuum (odd I'd never done it before - I've always relied on roomies or willing neighbors to have one). TARGET! Where else? I had perused vacuums in Target the weekend before - noting that they are rather expensive...and the not so expensive ones don't look like they work as well. You know what I mean? If it's really cheap - there must be something faulty. I'm a "mid" buyer. I can't afford expensive, but I can't go scrapping the VERY bottom of the barrel either. I figured the goods right in the middle are reasonably priced and may work reasonabley well...for a reasonable amount of time. Seems like reasonable logic, no? When I entered Target, I journyed to the vacuum area and what heavenly light was descending from the ceiling but the "clearanced priced" sky blue, "no-bag-necessary" Dirt Devil "Vibe" - marked down from 69.99 to 34.99. SOLD! I picked up my "only 11 lbs!" baby vacuum and proudly touted it home...contemplating the suction possibilities.

Upon arrival at my house, I assembled my vacuum and began the much needed long awaited process of FINALLY vacuuming our apartment after a MONTH - a MONTH - of daily dirt and kitty poo build up. I even bought a "pet odor" eliminator SPRAY to go over the stairs after I was done thoroughly - THOROUGHLY - vacuuming each and every soiled stair. The joy! The rapture! The cleanliness! I used the attachments to reach those "hard to reach" places! I vacuumed the spaces in the tiles, the railings, the base boards!! I moved furniture and lifted cushions! In my mania I even tried to search for Lila and give her a good "sucking" - but by then, I realized my zeal had turned to mania and put the vacuum away. I do feel, however, my life improved greatly over the weekend just with that small purchase.

Also noteworthy - Lila has NOT pooped on the stairs for a week! I switched her litter and I feel she appreciates it. Appreciates it enough to poop on it. Also - the vacuuming and spray DEFINITELY played a large part in her not pooping. She's getting bigger - almost 9 weeks now - and has started to reign over the apartment. She's extremely frisky and attacks anything that moves; feet, hands, fingers, eye lashes (I've suffered TWO eye pokes - rather painful)...and she turns into a skittering streaking puff ball when stepping anywhere near her. She also enjoys climbing on you while you are lounging about and settling herself in odd places on your body - example, directly under your chin, or perched happily on your shoulder - cat butt directly in your face with cat fuzz tail flopping around your eyes (one watered from a poke) and nose (sneeze!). Last night -she climbed up my roomie, Natalie, and sprawled herself happily on her shoulder.
video
Our new game to play with her includes our glass coffee table coupled with her frisky attacks. Perhaps it's cruel, but the idea is to lift your feet up and down slowly from floor to coffee table in the hopes Lila will follow the up and down motion and jump, while UNDER glass coffee table, and hit her head. What? No it's pretty funny...see for yourself (pay no attention to the HOOK sound effects going on in the background...or do pay attention. That movie really takes me back).

Looks like the table won though....poor kitty kitty.