Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An Ugly Mess

Graduation went well and I hope to blog a little more about it later when I get some pictures. My camera conveniently stopped working as soon as I got there (batteries I think) so I had a friend take pictures with his camera and I haven't gotten them from him yet. FYI, I didn't do announcements for graduation so I hope nobody feels bad for not getting one. But it's so strange to be a college graduate. I like to start most of my sentences now with "Now that I have my degree . . ." I'm sure that will get old before too long. Speaking of getting old, I am. Yesterday my boss asked me if he could set me up with his daughter's 3rd grade teacher. The following is our conversation as well as I remember it:

Me: Oh, ha ha ha.
Boss: I'm serious
Me: Um. . . isn't she really old?
Boss: Actually she's about a year younger than you.
Me: What!!! I'm not old enough to be a school teacher!!! School teachers have grandchildren and record Matlock to watch after school.
Boss: Yeah . . . so what do you think?
Me: Well, apparently I'm not getting any younger. If you've got any contacts at the local community center or through the town Scrabble club, send them my way as well.

I guess I'm now to the age where people want to set me up with their children's 3rd grade teachers. Before you know it I'll start spending my evenings sitting on the front porch, yelling at children for stepping on my lawn until I turn it at 8:30.

But the real reason I'm writing today has to do with how I've spent my last couple of evenings. As you know, last weekend I moved in with my parents in South Jordan (the shining moment of my life) and with the move came quite the task. My old room at their house hasn't had anyone living in it since I was there six years ago and in addition to all my childhood treasures, it has become somewhat of a storage place for various things that have collected over the years. So we thought it was probably a good time to go in and do a massive de-junking especially now that I'm probably at a point where I can finally let go of some of the pointless junk-crafts from the various scout camps and the pile of meaningless two line notes dropped in my locker in the 7th grade. Krishelle was kind enough to come and help me both nights (after I whined and whined and whined about it).

What we found, and the sheer quantity of what we found, absolutely floored both of us. Pictures, mounds of "Boxcar Children" and "Hardy Boys" books, games from the 80's, souvenirs from various national parks located throughout Utah, family reunion memorabilia in massive quantities from some company that whichever great uncle who hosted the reunion worked for that year, certificates, participation trophies from sports that I'm pretty sure were made up as a ploy to give parents a break from their children back in '89, two of every church book ever written in the 60's and 70's, and clothes that aren't only out of style now but that should not have been worn by anyone ever. You get the idea.

Now, my parents house is not cluttered and I don't want anyone to get that idea. They are actually very organized people (amazing that I came from them); the condition of this old room is probably mostly my fault.

OK, the whole point I'm trying to get to is this: we came across a pile of old pictures (dance pictures from high school mostly) and I was one ugly teenager! I could not believe it. I don't remember looking like that! I know some of you right now are saying "oh, well we were all ugly when we were 14" but this goes beyond the awkward ugliness that comes with adolescence. And I was not making it any better for myself. My hair was perfectly parted down the middle and crusted solidly and tightly down to my head. And throw a bowl cut* into the picture which I really did have until I was about 15 and you've got yourself quite the hairdo. The braces didn't help nor did the fact that I weighed 125 pounds until I was about 16 and then not much more after that. Based on the evolution of the ugliness, it seems that I started to come out of it a little bit just into my senior year of high school and by graduation I had made great strides. But there was no taking back what I had been over the years.

After looking through the pictures and laughing hysterically with Krishelle, asking why on earth someone didn't say something to me and wondering how I ever had any friends at all, I quite seriously asked if she thought I could ever fully overcome something like that. Krishelle said that if you are ugly in high school, you become really attractive later on and vice-versa; that's the way it works in movies anyway. So now I'm hoping that sometime over the next couple of years I'll make the transition from "just overcame extreme ugly" (which is the phase I think I'm in now) to "charming and attractive."

I would drone on about how my ugliness from my teen years has made me very insecure today but the problem is that I'm pretty sure I didn't know I had a problem at the time. I think I thought I was pretty good looking, which is probably why I wasn't doing anything to fix it. Makes me wonder which perceptions of myself today are also tragically off. Maybe I should rethink my whole life.

Anyway, now that I have my degree, I better cut this off. Love you guys.

*Bowl cuts are ugly. And mine was somehow worse than others. It was like a really low bull cut down to the ears.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


So guess what today is? Yup, college graduation.

Last night I went to a Ben Folds concert and then grabbed a chimichanga at Beto's with some friends after midnight (biggest mistake of the week). Is it just me or does anyone else feel like they're entering a third world country when they go into Beto's? Every time I go I feel like I might need my passport to get back out. Two summers ago my friend and I had a two week training for work in Salt Lake and we ate at the Beto's just across the street every day. We always loved it, and then regretted it later that night, ifyouknowwhatImean. Anyway, so after I woke up this morning and spent the next 30 minutes or so sorting through the Big Beto's Blunder of 2008 from just 8 hours before (nuff said about that!), I panicked and decided to make Borsch, wondering once again why I don't make it more often. I will get a bit braggy here; I make the world's best borsch, and I've decided to share my secrets today in this blog. BTW, today's borsch was my all time best!

This makes way way way too much. But I'm always glad I did.

First get:
-About 5 red potatoes
-Two cans of pinto beans
-3-4 Medium-sized beets
-About 4 medium-sized carrots
-One large red onion
-Pork, chicken, or beef
-3-4 cartons of chicken stock (even if you're not cooking with chicken--just trust me)
-1/2 a head of green or purple cabbage
-1 can of tomato paste

The first thing you want to do is get the meat cooking. Put a little oil and stock in your pot, just enough to almost cover the meat, and let it start cooking on a low heat. I usually put in a couple of garlic cloves and some salt at this point, too. Then peel the potatoes (unless they are red skin) and chop them into small squares. Once the meat is mostly cooked, fill the pot about half-way with the stock and get it boiling. Throw the potatos in (I usually have to do two pots unless I have a really really big one). You want to get the potatoes boiling first because they need to be really soft by the end.

Then peel the carrots and beets and grate them separately with a cheese grater (I usually remember why I don't make this very often when I grate the beets because it is a pain!!!). Then chop up the onion and carmelize it. Once the onion is carmelized, add the carrot shreds to the onion and a little stock for moisture. Stir and let cook for about 5-10 minutes. The carrot shreds should become very limp.

At this point you'll want to chop up about 1/3 to 1/2 a head of cabbage in small skinny strips and throw that in with the potatoes which should be soft enough that they almost fall right off a fork. You can throw the beans in at this point, too.

Now the trick: then throw the beet shreds into a frying pan with a little oil and the tomato paste (sometimes I do this with out the tomato paste). After the beets cook for about 8 minutes, mix it with the carrots. It should be a deep red in the frying pan (and it smells SO good). Let them cook together for about another 5 minutes. I will often throw a couple of garlic cloves into this part as well. I know that sounds weird but I swear it makes a difference and I've been told by a culinary arts major who shall remain nameless that it makes sense. And Kalli knows what she's talking about; she's an amazing cook. Oops.

Now the magical part: Pour the carrots, onion and beet into the pot and stir it around and watch your borsch turn a beautiful deep deep red. If your borsch is more orange, you did not put enough beets in it. Let it simmer for at least 10 minutes while you add garlic, salt, and any other herbs and spices you like.

Borsch is served best with sour cream and bread and butter.

Now, some of you threw up in your mouths every time I typed the word "beets" but I'm here today to tell you that you need to give this a try. I have always HATED beets but it is totally different in borsch. Borsch is the most fabulous thing that has ever crossed my tongue, including cheesecake (don't tell cheesecake that I said that). I could eat it every day and I've yet to make it for someone who has not absolutely loved it. (If anyone has had it, you can please back me up in the comments of this post).

If anyone needs help or has any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Little House on University Avenue

Today is going to be an interesting day. Just another step in all the dramatic changes that will be taking place for me over the next few weeks. It will probably be my last day in the ward I have been attending for the last 2 and a half years and because of that, I'll be getting released from my calling today. This is a calling that I've been serving in for the last year and I have to say that it feels really strange to get released now. I admit that I've always sort of thought that it would be a major relief when the day came, and it most definitely will bring some relief, but the strangeness of the whole situation is actually overpowering that for me right now. A large part of me will really miss the opportunities I've had to serve and the learning experiences that I've had serving in this ward. A large part of me won't miss the meetings and some of the challenges that left me feeling pretty inadequate at times. But overall my experience in this ward has been really great; I've grown a lot here and learned a lot here. When my friends and I moved into this house on University Avenue in December of 2005, I was 21 years old, pretty fresh off my mission with very little school done at all. We didn't plan on staying in the house for much longer than a semester just for the sake of moving but semester after semester we just couldn't get ourselves to leave. We fell in love with the house, the ward and the friendships we've made. Now looking back at these last couple of years seems so surreal to me. I just can't believe that that much time has gone by. Many friends have come and gone, as is the nature of being college students. Many classes have come and gone. My closest group of friends are all currently going their separate ways to graduate schools, work, internships and so on and life will really never be the same for any of us. But for all of us, we'll look back fondly on our undergrad years at the little house on University Avenue and all the funny experiences we had there (some that didn't really seem so funny at the time).

Change is really good. Sometimes I have a really hard time remembering that but it really is good. And it will be nice in some ways to move on. Moving in with my parents for the next month or two will probably mean the first good night's sleep in several years (I will die young). Also, I'm sure that wherever I end up and whatever I end up doing, I will make good memories out of it and will enjoy it as well.

Well I think I'll cut it off there.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

An Anticlimatic Conclusion

Yesterday at approximately 3:07 I did something that I thought would never happen: I walked out of my last undergraduate class . . . ever. Whoo HOO!!!! I must say, however, that it was quite anticlimactic. I suppose I've always pictured walking out of my last class to be something a bit more dramatic--lights flashing, confetti falling from the tops of buildings, hats thrown into the sky in triumph and one of those 1970s Mary Tyler Moore freeze frames while I'm jumping in the air as "You're Gonna Make It After All!!" loudly plays through all the speakers across campus as a salute of majestic glory. But none of that happened. None of it at all actually. My last class was Financial Management which I could have assumed would probably not be a class to put the inspirational icing on my undergraduate cake. In fact, after the first day or two I probably could have pegged the class as what it would become over the next few months: one of the most miserably boring experiences of my life.

I think a lesson on attitude would have been a great thing for me to garner from said course but ironically, I think my attitude was too bad to gain too many lessons from the whole thing. My attitude was especially bad at the beginning which landed me a solid C- on the first test, and although C's do in fact get degrees, I'd rather not. So I made the effort to get more out of the class which paid off with an A on the second test. I can't say I ever fell in love with financial management but I did eventually come to terms with the situation, realizing that whether I liked it or not, I was going to get through it. I also came to terms with my professor who is one hundred and thirteen years old and is in the exact image and likeness of John McCain. Originally I was not impressed with his long drawn out stories of failed businesses he was involved in back in the 1850s or his experience with the Red Sox in 1948 (ok, the 1850s is an exaggeration but 1948 is the actual date he gave us in class yesterday, followed by this statement: "that was a good year. The last 60 years have not been good to us however" as if the last 60 years was not a very large amount of time). So although Professor John McCain probably could have retired back in the 70s and could be staying home to watch Matlock every day and eat prunes, he still teaches students with bad attitudes every day- and I respect him for that. In fact, I've really grown to like him despite the boring lectures, which I've decided have more to do with the subject matter than him.

So there I sat yesterday, waiting for the climax to all the blood, sweat, tears and bloody sweaty tears I've donated to the cause over the years. Forgetting that this was my last class ever, I almost got up and left about 25 minutes early but I stayed, not wanting to miss the hugs, cheers and brief moments of solemn yet dramatic reflection as class let out that day. The leaving early would not have been abnormal for me as I have not made it on time to this class in about 3 months because I somehow decided that the first 20 minutes or so would be part of my social hour out in the hall of the Tanner building with all my long lost friends, and leaving 20 or so minutes early was always justified for some reason or another. No, yesterday I was only 8 minutes late and I stayed until the bitter end.

There were no flashing lights. No music was played. No tears were shed. And there were no silent moments of dramatic reflection. John McCain talked about index funds until about 3:07 and then, throwing us off because class is scheduled until 3:20, he said in his gruff voice as casually as if he was making some comment on the weather for conversation's sake "well I don't really have anything else to say so you can leave." And by the time he got to the "L" sound on the word leave, the majority of the few people that showed up for class yesterday were already stepping over each other, shoving small children into traffic, and knocking the door down to get the heck out of there as some students rushed to the front to complain about their grades no doubt. I gathered my things, was carried by the quick-moving crowd and the next thing I knew, I was outside getting construction dust blown on my sun burnt face from the addition they are putting on the front of the Tanner building. And just like that, BYU fulfilled it's destiny. For years it has chewed me up, and now finally, spit me out.

But nothing can take away my joy. Not even John McCain.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cluttered Life

Please tell me this picture makes you smile.

A lot has happened in the last week and I thought I would update everyone as orderly as possible. No, that's too much to ask.

This weekend was General Conference which is a world-wide meeting my church has every six months where all the church leaders speak to the members about how to live better lives, have faith, overcome obstacles . . . It was great as always but I have to agree with 4-year-old Kaylee who told us as if she was breaking some really bad news, "it was a long hard thing to watch." Although I'm sure she didn't see more than about 4 minutes of the five session ten hour conference, everyone can understand the restless feeling you can get in meetings no matter how uplifting they are. But conference really was fantastic and once again I learned so much. I look forward to reading and listening to the talks again over the next six months.

Now I'm keeping myself pretty busy trying to prepare for graduation and moving out. In order to make the move a bit smoother I spent a couple of hours the other night dejunking and cleaning my room after swearing a mighty oath to myself that I would ruthlessly chuck anything that I did not want to use or wear at that exact moment. Two hours later I had gotten rid of one pair of shorts, about three old t-shirts and a small stack of papers that no one could possibly need ever. Not the most successful. If I can talk Micalyne into it, I'll have her come help me. She has made me throw away a lot of things in the past that I have really dragged my feet with; and shockingly, she has never gotten me to throw anything away that I've later regretted. I'm sure that would be the case with the 30 or so over sized t-shirts that I have in my drawers that I've received from various road races over the years or the DI Barbie puzzle Jason gave me for Christmas a few months ago (I finally did put it together and no, it wasn't missing any pieces). But I just seem to have a hard time parting with things. I got pretty good for a while when my family became obsessed with cutting clutter out of our lives about 8 months ago because my mom showed us part of this special on TV about this lady that was an extreme hoarder and had cluttered her house with enough junk to fill several warehouses (if I remember right, it took a crew of 100 people 2 months to clean it all out). But as with most things, my obsession with dejunking started to wear off after a while. The same thing happened after I saw "Supersize Me" and I didn't eat for about 7 months.

Sometimes I feel like I just need to start a new paragraph if I want to have any hope of ending the rambling. So I am moving in with my parents at the end of this month. It's something that I usually mumble under my breath quickly and then move on to the next topic because everyone knows that moving back in with your parents is generally not a sign that things are going well. But things really are going well and I'm looking forward to getting a little break from Provo for a while to spend more time with my family. I will probably move back to Provo sometime in June, depending on how long it takes me to get sick enough of commuting to Lindon for work every day.

OK so I rambled and didn't really update you on much of anything but I hope it was enjoyable nonetheless.