Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Inspiration #1

Recently I've really started to notice the impact of others' examples on my life and my choices. I have been blessed to come in contact with many incredibly inspiring individuals, and so I'd like to dedicate this entry to one of those individuals.

Last Saturday, my dad and I ran in the Achievable Dream, an 8k charity/Masters Track and Field Championship race. An 8k is just out of my comfort zone, but I survived, and it was a really fun race! There were at least 1500 runners of all skill levels and ages, which brings me to the inspirational individual I want to mention: Pat. Pat is 84, the oldest member of the Colonial Road Runners, and she ran an 8k. EIGHTY-FOUR. GOOD GRIEF. I want to be fit when I'm 84. I want to live well now so that I can prevent all avoidable mobility or health issues. I was so impressed with Pat; she is certainly a motivation to eat right and exercise! If Pat can do it, I can do it!

I'd also like to be able to play ball like Uncle Drew!

If you ever need some inspiration, just watch this video!

Monday, May 21, 2012

This actually isn't the first time someone has compared me to Lady Gaga

Today while I was babysitting, the darling little girl told me, "I like your hair. It looks like Lady Gaga." 

I hope this isn't what she meant.

"Do you work at Buffalo Wild Wings? Because you look like a horse-rider today. I liked the outfit you wore yesterday a lot better than this one... Your earrings look like erasers."

"I'm five-and-a-half. I've been five-and-a-half for so long now I can't even remember how long. I think I turned five-and-a-half last year, and I still have a long time until I'm not five-and-a-half anymore, and when that happens I don't know what I'll be!"

She's very articulate and observant. She also does a surprisingly accurate impression of an angry kitten.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

So maybe it's a good thing I won't be a mother anytime soon...

Another wonderful thing about Virginia: I get to see babies again! I've missed young children while being away at school.  (Granted, there is an abnormally high infant population on the BYU campus as compared to other college campuses.) Kennedy (the adorable cousin pictured above) made my day at our family reunion when she actually wanted to be held by me! And when she called the little creature in our backyard a "rabbit bunny" instead of a "bunny rabbit," well, I about died.

A family friend left two of their children here for a few days while on vacation, and their conversation was a constant source of entertainment and enlightenment. The older boy told us about his list of future inventions. These inventions included such useful things as a lighter fueled by orange juice ("Because the earth is going to run out of natural gas any time now, but we still have plenty of oranges!"); a car that "sweats" on the inside when it's hot ("To make sure the passengers are always cooled down"); and a gun that shoots out bats ("So that their highly powerful sonar can help them to track down your target"). That lad will do great things someday. 

The best place to acquire babies (on a non-permanent basis) is at church. You can just walk into sacrament meeting and pick out a baby. In this way, church is similar to a formal ball. If you see someone you want to dance with, you just approach in a smooth, confident manner and ask, "Do you mind if I cut in?" Rebecca and I are experts in baby acquisition. Soon after our arrival in Sunday School, we had ourselves a lovely young lass. She is usually a cheerful little ray of sunshine, but last Sunday she was a little under the weather, so we took her to the bathroom to change her diaper. 

Readers of a more squeamish nature may want to stop reading at this point. (Granted, I am probably the Queen of Squeamishness and I'm also writing this, so you'll probably be okay.) Neither Rebecca nor I had changed a diaper for a long time, and this was especially challenging because the poor dear had diaper rash and was sobbing uncontrollably. One of the other ladies in the bathroom took one look at us and figured that she should probably take control of the situation. 

Admittedly, our resentment toward the baby stealer was overshadowed by our relief. That was one messy diaper! Another lady in the bathroom decided that three diaper changers wasn't enough, and jumped right in (figuratively), interrogating us about the child's condition, parents, birthday, diaper bag, social security number, anything she thought could be useful. Never has that bathroom seen a more dire diaper situation, or a team more prepared to solve it. Eventually the sobs had died down to sniffles, and Rebecca and I were left alone with our precious child.

While in the singles branch sacrament meeting (which I usually attend instead of my home ward relief society), I sat and pondered on this peculiar experience. Well first off, the thought came into my head, "Why in the world does English had the idiom, Clean as a baby's bottom?" I thought and thought and could not figure it out... Eventually it occurred to me that the idiom is either Soft as a baby's bottom or Clean as a whistle but certainly not Clean as a baby's bottom. Clearly my college education is paying off.

After pondering this idiom for much more time than I should have, I said a silent prayer of thanks for those selfless women in the ladies bathroom. What they did was an extraordinarily ordinary example of Christlike charity, a dramatically dull act of love that most of the world will never hear of. Diaper changers everywhere, I salute you. Better you than me.

E=MCHammer and His Friends

My father, the age-defying marathoner, is a member of the Langley Runner's Club, and on Tuesday evening he invited me to run in their 5K. The last 5K I ran was in the Run for Romania race that Aislynn organized to raise money for the orphans she helps in Romania. I forgot gloves (it was freezing!) and I was running on about 3 hours of sleep. All excuses aside, I managed a miserable 27 minutes (or something around there). But the Langley 5K was my best yet—23:30! It sure was humid (and about 85 degrees), but at least I was able to breathe! Another beautiful thing about Virginia: when you walk outside, the air is so thick and full that you feel like you're drinking oxygen. 

After the race, Dad wanted to run another 5K just for fun (yes, you read that correctly), so I sat with some of the other runners and watched two of the teams in the Langley Softball League battle it out. The runners I was sitting with—two pleasant, slightly inebriated laser engineers—kept up a running commentary which definitely enhanced the experience. They started giving players nicknames, including Thumbelina and Old Man. My personal favorite was their nickname for the old, stoic, slightly oblivious umpire: E=MCHammer. Yes. I was surrounded by nerds. And that was what made this game so funny! One team was obviously better than the other—four innings in, the score was 11 to 1. According to the heckling scientists I sat with, this team had won the Langley Softball Championship every year since 2003, and everyone was desperate to take them down (sounds like the set up for a Will Ferrell movie, or maybe Jack Black or Owen Wilson). 

The losing team seemed to be filled with all your normal misfits: Awkwardly Tall Fellow, Mother Of Six, Man Wearing Safety Glasses, Man With The Squeaky Voice, Silent One, Guy Sitting In Left Field Picking Daisies While Doing Complex Multilinear Algebra In His Head, and so on. One of my favorites was I Know I Can't Trash-Talk But That Won't Stop Me From Trying. The pitcher on the winning team made some snide remark like, "Hey Paul, watch out, this pitch is going to be tricky!" And Paul tried to say something to the effect of, "Famous last words!" However, it came out more like, "Those will be your last famous words before something bad happens to you or something..." I winced as he stuttered to a halt and then proceeded to hit the ball right into the glove of the third-baseman. But something about this losing team was so wonderfully endearing, and by the end of the game, I became their most dedicated fan. (Granted, that's not saying much...) 

I was slightly in awe of the winning team at first, but then something occurred to me.  Really, despite all their celebration and butt-slaps and cheers and "Yeah, man, you rock!" and "Let's grab some beers and then go hit things with our bats!" let's face it. This is the Langley Softball League. You work for NASA. So even if you win, you're still a nerd. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The World Spins Madly On

Ever since I got my mission call, time has been moving so strangely. A day will seem to last forever, and then all of a sudden it's next week and I have no idea how it happened! The transition from my jam-packed college world to my slow-paced life in Virginia was tough; you'd think having no educational, social, or occupational obligations would be nice, right? But don't worry, I'm not about to complain! I freely, thankfully acknowledge how awesome my life is right now. Here are just a few examples of the beauty that is Life In Virginia:

First off, I have Rebecca with me again! We were separated for far too long, but once we were reunited, it felt like we had never been apart... Although her Jerusalem trip has changed her in more ways than one. Firstly, she has stylish new clothes, like scarves, earrings, and genie pants (more about those in a moment). Secondly, she knows more random trivia about the Bible than any of my seminary teachers, and probably more than Ken Jennings! Thirdly, she has had several moments where, just for a second, she forgets that she isn't in Jerusalem anymore. My favorite of these moments: We're downstairs in the kitchen when we hear some sort of vaguely operatic wailing. After a couple of seconds, I realize that it's Rowan singing in the shower, but Rebecca, looking more than a little alarmed, says, "Is that the call to prayer?!"
The first weekend after I got home, Rachel was charge of organizing the stake dance. The theme was Your Favorite Book, so everyone came dressed as a book character. Rebecca and I volunteered to be chaperones because we are such great big sisters (and because we were more than a little desperate for any social interaction). Rebecca brought home two pairs of genie pants from Jerusalem, so naturally we had to wear them. We never quite nailed down what book characters we were: pirates from Treasure Island, gypsies from Hunchback of Notre Dame, Arabian princesses... clearly we had options.

I discovered a sad, unfortunate truth at this dance. Today's youth don't know how to dance! I thank my lucky stars that Mom enrolled me in that hip hop class in eighth grade. Not because it taught me how to dance. I am at peace with the fact that I will never be able to pop, lock, or drop it like it's hot. Neither can I move like Jagger. My hips may lie every now and then, and I'm pretty sure the club can handle me. I rarely have the magic in me, and even when I do, I can't turn tracks into gold. No, I didn't learn how to dance in my hip hop class, but I did learn how to not care about how I looked while dancing! You would too if you were a pale, awkwardly tall, gangly teenage girl dancing in front of floor-to-ceiling mirrors for an hour each week! I think Rebecca, Rachel, and I danced more than all the other kids combined. Now that I think about it, our weirdness might have made some of them a little uncomfortable... Oh well! When a DJ plays Waka Waka, I can't be held responsible for my actions (or the action of my hips!).

However, evidence indicates that not everyone was made too uncomfortable by our moves. I was asked to slow dance not once, but twice! Both lads were 15, short, and beautifully awkward. I don't know if they realized (until after I informed them) that I was actually a chaperone. But if they were surprised, they played it off well.
It was only after this dance ended that I could really appreciate how great our dance parties back at school were. As soon as the Christmas lights were turned on, the dance floor (our sitting room) turned into a no-judgment zone, and we just went where the music took us! At one point in our final dance party of the year, we had "dance like you're from a different country" time--I riverdanced to my heart's content, Brooke became a Bollywood star, and we may or may not have witnessed some African tribal dancing as well. I can say with confidence that one of the greatest challenges I will face on my mission will be the lack of dance parties.

Granny's visit during the first week after my return also made Virginia just that much better! Granny Kate is probably the coolest member of our family, all things considered. Not only does she travel the most, but she also knows the most interesting things and says them in the best ways. I think she could make a fortune as a radio show host, but she'd probably prefer being a narrator for an audio book or a BBC documentary! A couple of our favorite Grannyisms:

(Describing her experience in the car as Rowan was putting on his rather rank shinguards before his soccer game) "Well you see, the smell has only just begun to assail my nostrils."
"I love sheep. They seem to take themselves so seriously, and it makes me want to to take the mickey out of them."
(While discussing the effect of society's overuse of curse words) "People might as well be saying 'Rhubarb, rhubarb' the way they use them now!"
And some of her favorite words: "Dreich" (used to describe rainy, miserable weather). "Clever." "Daft." "Bother." And my personal favorite: "Botheration" (used when you are more than normally bothered.)

There are many other simple pleasures that nowhere else could provide. The smell of honeysuckle from my backyard, the sound of jets taking off at Langley, the sight of the handy dandy Toyota Camry in the driveway (I like to call him Ol' Reliable on account of him being so reliable)... I have my own room with my own bookshelf with all my own books. I've had enough time to listen to all of the new music I got from my roommates this semester. And I've been able to spend time with my family, which is really what it's all about. I've even had time to learn a new word!

Bowdlerize /'bodlǝ riz/ verb: To remove or edit passages (in a play, novel, etc.) prudishly considered immodest or salacious. (This practice got its name from Thomas Bowdler (d. 1825), who is known for producing a "cleaned up" edition of Shakespeare's plays.]

Example: Utah radio stations are infamous for their tendency to enthusiastically bowdlerize every song they play.