Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009

It's that time of year again when I really start thinking about what's happened in the last 12 months. How have I changed? What has made this year different? Was this year my best yet, as it always should be?

2009 was a hard year for me. Probably my hardest actually. Probably my most exciting too. Definitely my most life-changing. I can't believe how much I've been able to experience in such a short time. Some of it was really good. Some of it, not so good. But all of it is responsible for making me a different person than I was last December; all of it is responsible for making me a person that I like much more than I liked the person in my shoes last December.


In 2009 I left my bank job that I loved so much. I fell in love with school. I tried ten new flavors of vafly. I got a parasite. I made new life-long friends. I lost some friends that I thought were going to be life-long. I felt how hard it was to see people leave. I felt how great it was to see them unexpectedly come back. I went to a Russian banya. I learned about religious freedom. I competed in several gruelling legal competitions. I saw our nation's capital. I got swine flu. I broke my hand. Had some surgery too. I lost 18 pounds in six weeks. I finished a year and a half of law school. I applied to a thousand firms. I accepted zero jobs. I lost a great grandma. I learned how to party. I grew my hair. I started wearing ties more often. I learned how to parallel park. I visited 10,000 Russian Orthodox Church services. I bought an icon. I fainted twice. I saw my Ukrainian friends that I've missed for five years. I cried my eyes out at the train station when I had to say goodbye. I helped teach a contracts class. I started taking sleeping pills. I sort of started sleeping. I finally learned about the federal income tax system. I fell in love with Moscow. I got a tan and retained it for four whole weeks. I moved twice. I learned more about how strong my family is. I only ran two road races, but did better than expected in both. I was gifted a build-a-bear by a crazy person. I went through four phones. I learned a few new songs on the guitar. I forgot most of them. I bought a Wally Lamb book at an airport and didn't get past the third chapter. I got to know the US embassy in Moscow. I ate about forty gallons of borshch. I saw the Hermitage. I saw Lenin. I bought art from a guy underground in the middle of the night. I learned how to make cookie-fruit-salad. I lived at the law building. I got Adeno virus. I fell in love with Promethazine. I fell out of love with Lortab. I stopped caring about things that don't matter. I started the walk-America campaign and held to it for two straight months. I switched from only hating one political party to hating two political parties. I got only slightly closer to finishing Crime and Punishment. I visited an orphanage. I decorated for Halloween. I fought a couple of battles. I won them at a cost. I didn't regret it. I had dinner overlooking an ocean. I lost a flip-flop in the snow. I accidentally ran 13 miles with a friend. I emailed strangers thousands of miles away to beg them to let me come live with them. I slept on a communal train with my bag tied around my body. I drank out of a river. I got rescued by a Tajikistanian in a beat up Lada. I learned how to schedule three meetings at once, several times a day, without missing anything. I ate broccoli soup in the middle of the night in a new cafe. I gave a couch away. I had a sleepover with my six year old niece. We ate broccoli and ice cream. Vintage. I played spoons in a pool. I played what time is it Mr. Fox with some cute kids in their backyard. I ran in the mountains. I started eating chocolate a little bit. I took a wagon ride on Halloween. I was grossed out by a water park. I accidentally carried pepper spray onto a tiny plane. I became obsessed with a tv show about high school football. I almost ate a stuffed green pepper that looked like puke. I bought four dollar sunglasses and lost them in the ocean 24 hours later. I bought replacement sunglasses for five dollars that don't seem quite as good. I lost my voice because of pollution. I watched the movie "Taken" on the floor of an abandoned corner in a German airport. I learned how to Salsa dance. I edited a treatise. I took naps on the grass. I enjoyed life.

I'm not really sure what's going to happen in 2010. We never really know; and that unsurity for some reason seems to be much more obvious during this time of year, forging a tighter bond yet highlighting the difference between our future hopes and growing nostalgia for the past. I always find myself trying to balance my thoughts between that nostalgia and a focus on the future. It won't do much good to continue to obsess over things that came and went. But it would seem like a total waste to just ignore all the laughs and drama simply because their fifteen minutes are up. I guess as long as we figure out how to take the lessons from the past and use those as a part of the process of molding our future hopes, the nostalgia is justified and should even be encouraged. In any event, blogging world, I hope the lessons of 2009 help 2010 just get stranger for you all~

Sunday, December 13, 2009

One Final Done: Tax Shmax

I can't believe how quickly it sprung up on me. Finals started on Monday and I finished my first on Thursday afternoon. I was supposed to take it on Wednesday with the rest of my class but thanks to November throwing a few extra surprises at me, particularly at my right hand, accommodations were made. I was scheduled to take the final on Thursday instead, all by myself with some extra time to make up for my recent handicap as well as having spent the last four weeks completely wasted on a concoction of medications that I'm quite positive I wasn't supposed to take together (I met a lot of people that probably don't really exist during the month of November). These additional accommodations were very appreciated although they did not come without drama unfortunately; another topic for another day.

The first final was Federal Income Tax Law (several of you just fell asleep). I was crammed into a conference room all by myself for six straight hours with nothing but my laptop, a bag of granola bars, an apple, vitamin water, and every piece of paper I could find that had any information about tax law on it. I spread out and went at it . . . and at it . . . and at it, until it started to feel like I was going into a different day. The most depressing point was when I started worrying about time and I looked up at the clock and saw that I still had a good four hours to finish. The good news is that my hand seemed to hold up pretty well; minimal pain and decent accuracy--one day I will be whole again.

I started physical therapy this week, or as I like to call it "therapy." I was really excited to go in and talk about my problems with someone while they massaged my hand. I would be lying if I said I didn't picture physical therapy to take place in a white robe, cucumbers in my eyes, laying back while someone asked me "and how does that make you feel" as I complained about all my trials. Sort of a mixture between a spa, psychologist, and church I guess. Unfortunately physical therapy was painful and not very social. Plus it was earlier in the morning than I cared for. Not to mention, it was bizarrely cold in there. Quite the disappointment. Not at all the moral boost I was hoping to send me into my tax final.

And now here we are. My study group and I spent the last couple of days crammed into a small study room frantically attempting to learn an entire semester's worth of Evidence for our final tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

This was the room I took my tax final in. You'll notice I had my stuff spread all down the table. I stood for most of the test, walking around so I could consult every source known to man before responding to any questions.
Here's a somewhat blurry X-ray of my hand. You can see the four screws going down my bone: the latest additions to my body.
~It Just Gets Stranger

Monday, November 30, 2009

Just Another Surgery

By way of update . . .

Just when you thought things couldn't get any better, a few days after my last post I went to a hand specialist (they actually exist) so he could assess the injury. I had already come to find during the few days since the break had occurred that losing your dominant hand functions creates an entirely new lifestyle. In ways that I never imagined life suddenly became difficult and/or humiliating while attempting various tasks. I was relieved to find that an informal support group had formed in the hand specialist waiting room where patients with wrapped hands talked about the trials they face and the support they need. One guy talked about how he can't play baseball with his son anymore. A lady said how embarrassed she was every time she had to sign a receipt with her left hand at a store. One girl spoke up timidly and told the group that she was hesitant to say anything at all because her break happened on her non-dominant hand, to which an older southern woman loudly replied, "Oh honey! We don't judge here! Infirmities come in all shapes and sizes!" Luckily I was called back before they started singing girls camp songs together.

Unluckily the doctor told me that if we didn't do surgery soon, my ring finger would be permanently stuck pointing to the side, which would be great for my circus job, but bad for everything else.

48 hours later I was going under the knife. They drilled four screws into my bone and wrapped it up tight. Tomorrow they'll remove the cast to look at it. Hopefully by then my hand won't look like the Hulk anymore.

9 days until finals . . . anyone got an extra hand I can borrow? (warning: I have been known to break them).

~It Just Gets Stranger

Monday, November 16, 2009

Friday the 13th

So I got Swine Flu last Wednesday. On Friday, in the middle of the night, I got up while violently shaking, and passed out cold on the floor. This woke up my roommate who woke up our other roommate for help. Roommate number three then passed out (for reasons that are still a mystery to us all). Thankfully Annette came over several hours later to sanitize the apartment, force-feed me, and take me to the doctor for the second time in 24 hours so he could tell me I broke my hand when I fainted. Apart from being freaked out about this news, I was very interested in convincing the doctor that I wasn't a drug seeker while still ensuring the maximum amount of drug prescriptions. Because I was successful in this, I haven't been sober in four days (including now).

Overall a pretty crappy weekend. And yes, I did just type all that with my left hand. Good thing finals aren't coming up. Oh wait . . .

~It Just Gets Stranger

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Catching Up

Miss me?

I apologize for the hiatus. Life has been jetting like a runaway train lately and something had to give. Of course I chose blogging and health. I'll tell you I've been busy despite the declaration from a friend who recently expressed via Facebook (the social network that tears people apart) that, essentially, those who don't have a wife and kids don't have a right to complain about being busy, as though wife and kids were thrust upon him as a curse from the heavens, rendering family the only legitimate use of time. No, I have been busy. And just like all of my married AND non-married friends, I have chosen the things that have kept me busy.

School is going well. I recently competed in two big competitions at the school and made it to finals of both (brag brag brag). The first was a trial advocacy competition similar to the one I did last year. It went five long rounds over a two week period and ended in utter defeat when we went up against a couple of 3Ls. The next week or two (ending just last Friday) I was doing appellate moot court arguments for a thirty page brief we had to write and submit in early October. This was also five grueling rounds that, also, ended in defeat. Nonetheless, I was proud of how I did. Both competitions were draining and dramatic (like most aspects of my life) and a really cool experience. Friday's judges were terrifying and intimidating; each of the three were appellate court judges, one from the Colorado Supreme Court.

So now I'm trying to catch Swine Flu and get caught up in my actual classes. Yes, I said "trying to catch Swine Flu." As you are well aware, there is a great incentivizing phenomenon accompanying the latest H1N1 strain. Recently the school sent out an email informing us all that Swine Flu was in our midst and that if anyone shows any flu-like symptoms, they should stay home in bed for several days. Additionally, the email let us know that the school has our backs and if anyone gets Swine Flu, the administration will do all in their power to take care us (as though they're the mafia) by talking to our professors and making sure we have everything we need.

So, now, we are all faced with two options: Option one: stay healthy and run yourself into mental insanity, or Option Two: catch Swine Flu and stay in bed for several days while the administration "takes care of you."

I understand that we are all interested in preventing the spread of this thing but I'm not exactly sure why. If the school really wanted us to stay away from each other, thus effectively quashing this undesired epidemic, they would start threatening each of us by requiring anyone who gets the virus to take failing grades in all their classes. I guarantee that this kind of tactic would have killed this thing when employers and administrations started incentivizing the flu earlier this summer. If only I were in charge.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Monday, September 28, 2009

Rejected?

The most dreaded part of my day anymore is when it's time to get the mail. This is because every day I have one or two rejection letters from firms I've applied to telling me that they would just die to have me even drive by their office and they are so impressed with my resume and unbelievable credentials, "However . . . blah blah blah . . . high number of applicants . . . blah blah blah . . . lowering the amount of summer associates . . . blah blah blah . . . you aren't nearly as impressive as all five million people that applied before you . . . blah blah blah . . . you should die . . . blah blah blah."

I always look forward to holidays now when mail is not delivered. I'm also usually relieved on the days when I don't get rejected from the firms whose names I've been doodling in my notebook with hearts and whose buildings I do drive-bys at nights just to see who's there. When those rejections come I usually spend the rest of my day having dramatic meltdowns and "my life is over speeches" that any 13 year old girl would be proud of. The comparison to middle school relationships is pretty accurate except instead of giving your giggly friends the "check-yes-or-no" note to pass along, you give it to the firms' recruiters to relay it to attorneys who then return their answer through the US postal service. And the meltdowns and rebounds that follow require just as much attention. Thank heavens for my friend Annette who was willing to bring me cheesecake during my worst episode last week.

But today something unusual happened; a firm that I applied to about a month ago sent a letter to my apartment addressed to "Ms. Eli McCann." I checked with my roommates who assured me that the BYU honor code prevents us from having any females live in the apartment. They also said they didn't know any Ms. Eli McCanns. So, despite the potential for committing a serious federal offense, I opened the letter. Unfortunately it seems that this California firm is not interested in Ms. McCann, "However, [they] are taking the liberty of keeping [her] resume in [their] file."

I feel really badly for this girl. But should I call the firm and see whether they're still interested in me? It's been a month and I haven't heard a single word.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Friday, September 18, 2009

Four Weeks In

Wrapping up my fourth week of school today . . . It's strange to think that I've only been back in school for four weeks. The double-scheduled meetings, the 30-pound case books, the journal editing, the classes, the paper writing, the relentless and often frustrating interviewing, the pressure to somehow retain some form of a social life, the competition, the tutoring . . . it all sort of makes four weeks seem like something much different.

And all of the pressure and anxiety lately has only made me think more about how different life was just a few months ago, hanging out on the streets in Moscow, comfortable, and relatively care-free. Every once in a while I get this flash-back of Kimberly, Acia, and I walking down this narrow street through the thick trees and concrete 20 story apartment complexes just outside of our office building. We've just finished work for the day and we have hours and hours of sunlight in a gorgeous, vibrant city. The possibilities are endless. We walk fast to get to metro because we have about 80 things we're trying to cram into our evening and we want to be able to do them all. Kimberly and I are teasing Acia about all the Russian boys we're going to find for her. She blushes and tells us in her cute Slavic accent to leave her alone. Eventually our conversation turns to vafly, which we've already eaten once or twice during the day. We pass the cheese roll stand where I buy my breakfast just after getting out of the metro every morning. And while that scene happened day-in, day-out for weeks, I never got tired of how happy I felt. I was somewhere that I really loved, experiencing something that I really loved.

Now my life looks quite a bit different. It's not really better or worse, just different. Amid all the stress, I get to be with great friends with whom I share the opportunity to get an invaluable education. It comes at a cost of course; all good things do. Most of the time I'm convinced that I love it despite all the aspects that sometimes aren't so lovable. Sometimes I have to convince myself to love those not so lovable aspects in order to stay productive.

There's always this little battle going on. Do I learn to love what I'm doing because I know it's right or do I change what I'm doing, cued in that not loving it is evidence that it's not right? How much of it am I supposed to love to make the sacrifice all worth it?

I'm not about to dramatically change course. Law school has been good for me in a lot of ways. Occasionally, however, I have to stop and ask myself where it is I'm trying to get. I have to ask myself what kind of realistic destinations actually exist for me. Am I working 100 hours a week to get somewhere I'll hate being? Is working 100 hours a week just to keep my head above water keeping me from doing a thousand things that are much more fulfilling? Who knows? For now I'll just keep trucking along, barely keeping up, throwing more mediocre accomplishments onto my resume, believing that eventually everything will work itself out. It always does in our charmed lives.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Losing Friends Fast

This should probably be documented.

Every year the law school has an Olympic-themed event in the large moot court room at BYU where the members of the three different classes participate in three events, evaluated by judges from each of the classes and then awarded with gold, silver and bronze medals (in case you've never heard of the Olympics before). As exciting as this all sounds, I'm quite sure that whatever respect you had for law students would immediately and quickly go right out the window if you witnessed any piece of the glorious event.

Annette hosted it this year, looking totally trashy dressed up as Tonya Harding (Annette is the 2L class pres this year and probably the most popular girl in school!). Because of my connection with law school royalty, I was recruited to somehow involve myself in one of the three events.

My involvement was not in the first event, the javelin throw, done by spitting cotton swabs through straws at the audience (classy).

My involvement was not in the second event either, which was a hoola-hoop contest, completely owned by a 2L in high hills.

No no, my involvement was all about the third and final event. The synchronized swimming. Three girls in my class layed behind the bench in the moot court room with their legs up in the air, running through some ridiculous routine to the song "The Final Countdown" while I sprayed them with water and impromptu danced like an idiot wearing a swimming cap in front of several hundred people. The performance climaxed with me climbing on top of the bench and doing some odd and equally dramatic spins and poses while the girls did Jazz hands and other moves that any interpretive dancer would be proud of. When the final pose took place (I was on one foot, arms in the air, standing high on the judge's bench overlooking a crowd of impressed spectators, the sounds of motivational '80's rock music ringing in my ears, Annette several feet away in shiny gray pants and the world's trashiest blond wig), I looked to the back and spotted my conservative 60 year old Contracts professor (who I now work for), and I thought "Other than the banya, this might be the strangest moment of my life."

Taking one for the team paid back big time; we totally took the gold.

I'm so glad I feel like I have an hour to spend doing stuff like this.

Accepting the award. That's Annette on the very left.
Losing friends fast.

I think this was one of the more inspiring parts of the performance.

Practicing in the hall right before going on.

Seconds before the final pose. I can't figure out what my favorite part about this picture is. Probably the girl on the right.

On a side note, here are the same people one week earlier, looking professional as always.~It Just Gets Stranger

Friday, August 28, 2009

Summer Thoughts

Seven days ago I was sitting at the Mexico-United States border, waiting for about three hot stinky hours to be let back into our country to embark on another great adventure: 2L.

It's strange to think the summer has ended. A few months ago I was emailing dozens of strangers, thousands of miles away, praying that one of them would be willing to let me come and live with them in Moscow. A short time later I was in a gorgeous city, visiting churches, praising street bands, eating vafly, and helping work through legal issues for a world-wide organization in multiple eastern European countries. Then it was off to Ukraine to see some people and places that I have missed for several years. Back in the states I started working on a treatise for practitioners providing information on religious litigation. The job search for next summer began and took me to Washington DC. Shortly afterwards it was off to Mexico to see Uncle Will for a little over a week. And now, 2L has begun.

This really was my greatest summer. I changed a lot and grew during these three or four months. I became more confident and sure than I've ever felt in my life. This summer put a lot of things in perspective for me; I've decided to not worry so much about so many things that aren't really important and start focusing on things that really are. I've decided to be more grateful and have more faith. I started the "charmed life" campaign a few months ago where anytime I start to feel stressed or overwhelmed I stop and say to myself, "you have a charmed life. Everything always works out the way it should." I then remind myself of all the reasons I have to be thankful for both the blessings and the trials. I encourage you all to adopt the campaign; it's worked wonders on my quality of life. While I think I have more now than ever before to feel anxious and worried about, I've never felt more positive in my adult life.

And now here we are; one week into school. One long long long week into school where I'm finding out what it means to overbook myself. And I'm really pretty happy.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Monday, August 10, 2009

Our Nation's Capital

After applying to some jobs in the Washington DC area for next summer I got an interview at a firm that I think would be my dream job. BYU had set up informational meetings with several firms and government offices during Monday and Tuesday last week as well so a group of my law school buddies and I made the trek east.

A few of us stayed with the parents of our friend Amanda (who was among the group going out there). On Saturday a bunch of us went kayaking on the Potomac river. Annette and I were in a two man kayak and were quite impressed with ourselves when we made it about 90 miles down the river with minimal effort in less than ten minutes (don't do the math please). Reality hit when we turned around and realized we had to go up stream the whole way back, which we did, unintentionally zigging and zagging back and forth the whole way. About every five minutes one of us would say in absolute despair, "Did we just lose ground? I swear we already passed that tree." Multiple times I layed down flat on the back of the kayak and waited for the buzzards to come get me. Annette didn't notice though because she was in the front paddling away. Come to think of it, my laying down several times may have been a big reason why it took us an eternity to make it back.

Saturday night we somehow all got roped into a group date, meeting at Amanda's parents house before it started, feeling like we were 16 all over again even though our average age was probably more like 28. We had a picnic and walked about 250 miles around several large monuments until we were all suffocating from the extreme humidity.

Sunday we did the church thing and met up with several friends.

Monday was our first day of meetings. It was our goal to go the whole day without getting drenched in sweat (because some of us had interviews the next day and only one suit). The meetings with the firms and the government offices were really interesting. Monday night we had a giant pool party with every breathing organism within a 100 mile radius.

Tuesday arrived and Annette and I camped out in a food court for a little over an hour before our interviews (we both had interviews at the same firm and they were back to back) drilling each other with intense interview questions. The interviews ended up being nothing like what we prepared for. They were very casual and comfortable and really an enjoyable experience. I absolutely love the firm and hope that it went well. And yes, I made it to the interview without getting sweaty! It's an August miracle.

After the interview Annette got us the hook-ups with a good friend of hers that works on Capital Hill. So we ran in our suits and in the heat from our interview to the Capital building to meet him where he took us on an amazing tour. We were able to go into rooms that are closed to the public. The building was absolutely gorgeous! If I can't get St. Basil's, I may buy the Capital for my summer home. We sat in Senate Chamber for a little while and watched two guys argue about spending 9 million dollars on getting wi-fi out to some farmers in Nebraska. Your government hard at work.

We finished the day with another meeting or two and then some more monuments before heading home and staying up way too late although I had an early flight the next day. I've got to say---I love DC!

The pictures below are from Annette (shocker: I was too lazy to bring my own camera).

Old Whitey (we're on a nick-name basis. Notice the man in black on the roof a little to the right of the center).
James, Annette, Me, Amanda in front of Lincoln (my favorite monument).
Bonnie, James, Amanda, Annette, and me. The Lincoln Memorial is off in the distance.
Me, Annette, Amanda, James, and Bonnie in front of the Washington Monument.
Elsa, Amanda, Me, James, Bonnie, Annette, and Matt in front of one of the DC firms we met with.
Me in front of the Capital Building. Sweaty.
This is Annette and I in front of a statue of Brigham Young in the capital building. Not really sure why Annette is touching his leg. I guess she feels close to him attending his school and all.
Me and Annette in the Capital Building.
In the Capital Building; this is where the Supreme Court used to meet a long long time ago. I know it's nerdy, but I was really excited to see this room.
Old Supreme Court room again; the three chairs closest to us are originals.
Annette and I just before our interviews on top of the old post office. That's Washington in the background.
Bonnie, Me, Annette, and Matt crammed in Annette's brother's car after kayaking. I'm sure we were smelling pretty good here.
Kayaking; Georgetown in the background. I'm not sure whether this was before or after I took a giant gulp of the tar black river. Just trying to feed my Russian parasite that I have named "Lohan."
Annette and I lookin' our best on the Potomac.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Water Park

Now that I'm mostly fully recovered from last weekend's adventure, I think I may be prepared to tell you about it.

Friday night Jason suggested that he, Erin and I go to a local water park early the next morning. Erin and I quickly agreed, bouncing up and down like we were ten years old again (this violent shove back in time often happens when we get together). The next morning Jason decided against going as he already had what appeared to be severe third-degree sunburns on every part of his body, so bad that for a 24 hour period I never saw him not covered in a three inch layer of aloe lotion, saying silent prayers under his breath for the torture to end. Still excited at the prospect of spending the day on water slides (which we were absolutely convinced we would be able to do for hours without getting bored) Erin and I set off for the park alone.

For reasons I still don't understand, Erin had a season pass to this place (one which had not yet been used although summer is more than half over). We quickly ran in, dropped our stuff and looked around with our mouths gaping wide open like kids at Disneyland as we pointed out all the fun water-filled adventures beckoning us from each end of the park. Eight minutes later reality hit as we made our first descent down one of the water-torture chambers, screaming bloody-murder the entire way down because although it was about 135 degrees outside (give or take 40) the water was little more than liquid ice. I think I actually cried a little as I came crashing into the pool at the bottom. At that point we both became determined to try to go the rest of the day without getting wet (oddly difficult to do at a water park).

We decided to give one safe-looking slide a whirl but accidentally got in the wrong line and didn't realize until it was too late that we had to go down this horrible death-trap which aged both of us significantly. If the next time you see me I look 23 (as opposed to 17) you'll know why. We both agreed that we were getting a little too old for water parks, and confirmed this again five minutes later as we were somehow roped into wading all the way around the 40 mile long ultra crowded ice cold "Lazy River" without tubes, trying desperately to keep strangers' nasty feet from touching our faces. During this adventure I heard Erin say no less than thirty times, "Lazy River? This is the most exercise I've had all week!" That little event brought us to laying out for about 45 minutes, after which we decided we had had enough. I had mysterious scratches all down my back by this point anyway and I was quite concerned that 30,000 people walking around barefoot on solid surfaces all day was not going to be conducive to keeping my foot disease away. Besides, Erin and I were both thoroughly convinced that we smelled like urine and were a bit anxious to wash that off in water that didn't have toddlers with swollen diapers floating around in it.

Never again.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Job Hunt

Although it doesn't seem to be anywhere near time to start thinking about it, to the trained mind it's quite obvious that the applicaiton and job search process for next summer's job has arrived. The old Eli would be having violent panic attacks, usually ending in running across a rocky ice glacier barefoot with streamers singing every song from "The Sound of Music" on the backside of some seemingly incaccessible mountain. But the new long-hair-post-Moscow Eli is calm as a summer breeze. Now I know exactly what you're all thinking: "What?! Why would even the old Eli be nervous about something like this? He's so talented and intelligent. On top of that he's really good-looking and everyone is attracted to him. And he's always so successful at everything he ever puts even minimal effort into. And he's so tan and fit. And he looks like a GQ model because he's so stylish. And his ONLY flaw is his foot disease which, I might add, he has successfully contained to the bottom of one foot and maybe even beaten this summer but it's still too early to tell. And he always has dozens of super-models constantly surrounding him" etc. But the truth is, despite all of that stuff you all just thought (and I'm so blushing that you would all think that about me---how embarrassing!) this process can be quite stressful.

Part of the problem lies in my being largely unsure about what it is I want to end up doing in the legal profession. Often people ask me what kind of job I would like after law school. Usually my answer goes something like this: "Oh you know. I just want to live all over the world and travel all the time and lay out on the beach." That sounds great and all but the problem is I've yet to find any legal jobs that match that description word for word. As I'm quit sure that most people around me are aware of this fact, I usually try to throw in some kind of legal mumbo-jumbo at the end of my explanation of my professional aspirations to make it seem as though I've really thought it all through: "Of course, that beach time will have to be between my international corporate tax finance contract litigation practice." Of course I never know what any of that really means but I find that if I say that with the same look on my face as I have when I recite a Robert Frost poem, nobody really knows the difference.

So wanting to live everywhere but do nothing and everything at the same time makes the job search a bit broad and daunting. Fortunately I've lived most of my life in a tragically clueless state, leaving me to never really focus on and become fantastic at one thing but rather become slightly below mediocre at a multitude of tasks. This is reflected on my resume which is always duly noted in interviews when the interviewer becomes quite intrigued at the mere lack of any kind of theme. I usually respond by tilting my head to the side while nodding, giving a serious yet thoughtful look, and saying some inappropriately long sentence somehow using words like "well-rounded" and "variety" which are positive alternatives to "unfocussed" and "schizophrenic."

I imagine most of us feel this way to some degree. Selling yourself is a refining process. The silver-lining, I believe, is that this whole thing is forcing me to get comfortable with tactufully pointing out my strengths while identifying and eliminating the things that really seem to be holding me back. And all in all I am really excited about where my life is going to go although I don't know exactly where that is yet. Ultimately I know that it's going to go somewhere if I have anything to say about it. So it's great that I do.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Moved . . . for the Thousandth Time

I finally moved today. Life has been a bit hectic since getting back from Moscow. Amid all the stresses of getting back to normal life, starting a new (and utterly confusing) job and moving, I’m also in recovery from some kind of sickness I think is either Swine Flu or Tuberculosis; if not, I’m sure it’s something contagious enough that you all are at risk just reading this.

I’ve been staying in South Jordan. Quickly, it’s perfectly fine to live with your parents even though you are 25 and even though you are cornered by no less than five people at their church on Sunday saying things like, “What’s the matter with you?”, “Aren’t you ever going to get married?” and my personal favorite, “Have you turned in your mission papers yet?” It’s perfectly fine. However, in order to reduce the awkwardness when friends ask you where you are living and you have to admit the truth, I have found that there are some easy ways to make it sound much more reasonable: First, if you make it sound like you are living with their parents to help them, pathetic turns to noble immediately. The older your parents are, the easier it is to pass this one off. My parents are still pretty fit so it’s hard for me to use this but I am prepared to do so when I’m living with them again about fifteen years from now. Second, if possible, you can try to make it sound like your parents are living with you. This is difficult to do however unless you and your parents move into a new place together. The strategy I have to resort to is to replace the word “living” with “staying.” This makes the whole thing sound much less pathetic. Really any words that make the situation sound more temporary is to your benefit. I often find myself saying things like, “oh you want to meet in SLC in the morning? Let’s see . . . that should work well for me because I’m going to sleep at my parents house the night before in South Jordan.” See how much more reasonable that sounds than, “well let me check with my mom and see if that’s ok. I am living with her you know.” The only problem with this strategy is that it doesn’t last forever. Eventually people start to get suspicious—hence the move.

So sometime this afternoon, I took a break from work and piled 70% of everything I own into every small space of my car. I say 70% because I’ve slowly been taking things down to Provo over the last several days. Unfortunately I made absolutely no attempt to box anything up, fold clothes, or at least wrap valuables and for the full 45 minutes of loading I continuously mumbled to myself, “I hate this. I’m a mess. I’m never moving again.” This was much less dramatic than what I was mumbling to myself a few hours later when I was unloading the stuff and hauling it up several flights of stairs. In the end I made my usual resolve that I was going to leave everything I own except for the clothes on my back, flip-flops (plus four backup pairs when my first ones break) and 30 of my favorite alabaster pots and head off to the middle-east to pursue a Bedouin life-style. I would probably also bring some of my books and most of my other clothes because I can check two bags anyway. I might as well have some of my art shipped over too. And I would bring my bedding because I don’t know what they have over there. Of course I would bring my laptop too and a couple of lamps for lighting and some of my favorite electronics. But that’s IT! Everything else is staying.

You’ll all be relieved to know that after several hours, my life is under control and I’m relatively organized. I didn’t even lose anything in this move (as far as I can tell). I somehow didn’t even lose this horrible Wally Lamb book that I accidentally bought at an airport and have now ineffectively tried to get rid of in four different countries. And so it goes.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Russia, Ukraine, and a Long Flight

Made it home. If this was a cheesy church video from the early '90's I would say something here like, "it's funny, I just got home but I sort of feel more like I just left it" as I look out the window into the rain, clearly thinking about all the good times in Russia. But the truth is, it's very sad to be back already. Of course it's great to see the family again but the return feels so premature.

This last week was an adventure for sure. One which I'll be recovering from for a while but one which I would live again in a heartbeat. Uncle Will,
Krishelle, my two cousins Megan and Matthew, and two close friends of ours (through Uncle Will) Andrea and Stacee, all made the mass trek to the other side of the world to meet me in Moscow about nine days ago. We hit three cities in two countries over the next week and had the time of our lives. I'll drop some pictures on the blog later (when I collect them from the others; again--too lazy to take my own) but for now I'll just give the super short update.

Moscow was great; the group was basically functioning on adrenaline the entire time as they were severely jet-lagged but not allowed to sleep since we only had about a day and a half there and three weeks of stuff to see. It was Russia Day which complicated things greatly, leaving Red Square and the Kremlin closed the entire time they were there. Nonetheless, we were able to see a lot of amazing things and walk all around the outside of Red Square and the Kremlin before flying out to
L'viv on Saturday morning from the very small and strange Vnukova airport in Moscow where one woman jumped over about twelve stations to target Andrea and ask her whether she had any eggs or cold-cuts in her bag, which we thought was odd of course.

L'viv Ukraine was fantastic! We were there for about three days and loved every minute of it. I forgot how much I love that city. I could walk up and down the old gorgeous cobble-stone streets all day. The town is completely quaint and friendly and I immediately felt at home there just as much as when I lived there for nine months five years ago. The best part of it all was getting to see and spend some time with some of my long lost friends there who I have missed every single day for the last five years. The reunion was sweet and our little farewell at the train station on our last night where several of the members came to see us off was really hard. Everybody there was pretty emotional including my entire travel group of friends and family who had just met all of these people last week.

After a long night on the train we made it to
Kyiv. Everyone was getting pretty burned out by this time but we were still able to cram quite a bit in to our last couple of days there. Kyiv was gorgeous as always (in its own way) and I was able to see a few friends there as well.

The group left on Friday, a day before me, so I was able to get out and do some exploring and hang out with some friends there as well. Friday night I somehow ended up getting a really strange Thai massage from some Thai lady who only knew two
English phrases that usually came in order after I answered a tearful "yes" to the first one: "You pain?" and "RELAX!!!"

The 24 hours of flying home and layovers yesterday just about did me in. A baby just the row in front of me screamed the entire nine hours of the flight from Germany to Chicago. You can only imagine how excited I was to find out that that same baby would be sitting next to me on my flight from Chicago to Salt Lake as well. But if the baby didn't stop me from catching some shut-eye on the last flight, the crazy retired
extremely talkative cop sitting on the other side of me would have. He, as often happens, immediately told me everything he knows about court as soon as he found out I'm in law school, telling me no less than 30 times that I'm obviously not getting a good education because I didn't have the same list of court-room etiquette checkpoints he was taught in the academy in 1953. On a side note, this sort of thing frequently happens. About twice a month I will run into someone who finds out I'm in law school and that person will immediately remember some tiny very specific list of something law related that they learned in business law 101 freshmen year of college at Shequera Community College and the following conversation will take place:

Annoying: Oh, you're in law school?!

Me:
Yes

Annoying:
Ok, so then you know the five things that a witness should always know.

Me:
. . .

Annoying:
What are they?

Me:
I don't know what you're talking about.

Annoying:
(Lists the five things out in explicit detail; none of them are predicable in any way but all of them are common sense and usually just the same thing repeated five different ways like "first, never lie. Second, don't give too much information. Third, think before you speak so you don't tell too much. Forth, tell the whole story but not more than you need to. Fifth, tell the truth).

Me:
Interesting

Annoying:
I can't believe you've made it this far in law school and they haven't even taught you that yet.

Me:
Well there is a lot to learn.

Annoying:
Yeah but this is pretty basic. I don't know how you could ever be a good lawyer without knowing that.

Me:
(I attempt to explain that that specific list of things in that particular order is not some kind of standard by which all attorneys must measure themselves and the whole list is completely common sense anyway).

Annoying:
It may seem like common sense but you didn't know it.

Me:
Yes, I had no idea that a witness should tell the truth from the stand and try to get their story out. I wish we had spent a whole semester talking about that rather than contracts so I would be so much more prepared to have this ridiculous conversation with you.

Eventually the old cop changed the subject and decided that the middle of the night on a plane when I hadn't slept for over 24 hours (and I made sure he knew this by the way) was as good a time as any to lecture me for two hours about why all homosexuals are going straight to hell and deserve to be put in prison for the rest of their lives. I, quite cranky by this point, didn't think it was the best time for me to explain to him all the ways I disagreed with just about everything he had to say. So I just rolled my eyes and turned to the window to try to catch some sleep. Which didn't work well as he still wanted to tell me all the reasons I'll never be a real man if I don't serve in the army for a while.

I'm pretty jet-lagged now so I think I'll try to jump back into bed. I hope everyone is doing well!

~It Just Gets Stranger

Thursday, June 11, 2009

St. Petersburg

On Monday at lunch the following conversation took place between Kimberly and myself:

Eli: Darn, it's too bad I never made it to St. Petersburg.
Kimberly: Shoot. That is too bad.
Eli: I really want some vafly.
Kimberly: We can't have vafly today because it's not vafly Vednesday yet.
Eli: No!
Kimberly: We should totally go to St. Petersburg tonight.
Eli: Yeah. What? What about our jobs?
Kimberly: ah . . .
Eli: O.k.

Three hours later we were traveling to three very frustrating train stations in a frantic daze to try to buy last minute, reasonably priced tickets. We waited in lines for hours on end only to get yelled at and told that the tickets we just located online didn't actually exist until we finally got to the last of the train stations around 10:00PM and got to the window of a bob with a moustache who we lovingly refer to now as "Olga Voksal" as we never did get her real name. Olga Voksal helped us like a champ and even made sure we understood our itinerary before we left. I would have jumped over the counter and proposed to her on the spot had there not been bullet proof glass between us. The moustache might have been enough as well.

So we did the communal train thing with about 12,000,000 other people and kept ourselves entertained for quite a while trying to figure out how the heck to maneuver ourselves correctly to fit in the top bunks. Eight hours later we arrived in a cold and rainy St. Pete's where we took a bus tour of the city, went to multiple churches, stood in line at the Hermatage for about an hour and half, walked around the Hermitage/Winter Palace for a couple of hours (mostly because it was so huge that we couldn't figure out how the heck to get out; we still think there were entire wings of the palace we didn't even get close to---it was absolutely gorgeous as well), took a cold but beautiful boat cruise down the rivers, and ate at every food place we could find in the whole city. Our train left again that night after 1:00AM. It didn't feel that late however because of White Nights--we never did see it get dark.

The city was absolutely gorgeous and worth a trip all by itself. I will definitely go back (and hopefully when it's warm) and spend days there.

Don't have too much time to write now; I've got to go pick up the travel group at the airport in a bit but I just wanted to get these pictures out.

For those of you who have followed this blog for a while, I just got word that Great Grandma Whittle died yesterday. I got to see her one last time before I came to Moscow for her 102nd birthday and was happy to see that she was doing very well at that time. I'm sorry I will just miss the funeral. I'm going to miss her very much.

Love you all-

Some building
Colorful buildings along the river cruise
River Cruise
River Cruise
River Cruise
Tired, Cold, and Wet but Happy on the River Cruise
Choir Singing for Petro's Birthday
Choir

In the Hermitage/Winter Palace
Hermitage/Winter Palace

Hermitage/Winter Palace
Hermitage/Winter Palace
Hermitage/Winter Palace
Hermitage/Winter Palace
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood (looks like St. Basil's on the outside)
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
Giant Church
Beautiful White Church with and Unhelpful Bob Inside Who would not Help us Buy Something


Clastrophobic on the Top Bunk on the Train
~It Just Gets Stranger

Monday, June 8, 2009

Top 10 Worst Foods I've Had in Moscow

10- Jelly Chocolate Cookie in the Banya: I know, I ate something in the banya. I formally apologize to all of you who I may have offended by my doing so. Normally I would never put something in my mouth that has even flown 50,000 miles over a banya, but I had lost the ability to make good decisions while in there. The cookie tasted exactly like a fat sweaty Russian man covered in chocolate and jelly with maybe a little more sugar.


9- Variety Pizza: I was darn hungry so I stopped by a pizza place that only advertised three things: “Fish pizza,” “Meat filled rolls,” and “Variety Pizza.” Foolishly thinking that variety pizza sounded like the safest bet, I ordered a slice. It was handed out to me on a napkin, which it was stuck to as the crust on the bottom was little more than soggy dough. The top was piled with what looked like chopped up everything found in some drawer in the back. The only topping I identified with 100% accuracy was corn which was cold and looked like leftovers from Egypt’s 7 years of bumper crops during Joseph’s time. And yes, I did just start spontaneously singing every song from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.”


8- Rock Bread: The bread itself wasn’t bad, although it did have enough oil in it that the moment it was walked into the room my face immediately broke out into a severe case of acne, bad enough to send me all the way back to Ms. Rideout’s 7th grade health class on a day when we talked about our changing bodies. Part way through this bread I felt something hard in my mouth. Spitting it out I discovered it was black and about the size of a pebble. I’m going to call it a rock because that freaks me out much less than anything else it may have been.


7- Potato Roll from Crap Cafeteria: A coworker of mine took me to Crap Cafeteria on my first week in Moscow. For reasons I’ll never be able to justify, I returned several times afterwards for lunch. Crap Cafeteria is dark enough that you can’t see the food very well and nothing is labeled so you basically have to take chances and guess every time. On my first visit I experienced the potato roll which was a soggy piece of bread stuffed with what looked like some slosh scooped out of the bottom of a dumpster with a ladle at a fast-food place called “Shakey’s” just off the highway about an hour south of Manti in a town that got its name from the Bible and still builds bomb shelters.


6- Roll Stuffed with Cabbage: A bob at the orphanage made these for us over the weekend as a thank you for our service. At least that’s what she claims. I didn’t know what it was when I bit into it. Then I saw it. What looked like rotten cabbage scooped up by the same ladle found at Shakey’s in number 7 was spewing out of the center of this thing as though the roll was barfing (which was sort of like foreshadowing, I suppose). Then the smell hit me. My eyes started watering so badly that I felt the government would have been in its right to quarantine the entire village until New Years when everyone could drown away the memory with several liters of vodka.


5- Russian-Shvarma: Angry looking men sit in thousand degree telephone booth sized rooms cutting “meat” off of a rotating mass of something that looks red and layered, then stuff the shavings into a tortilla along with an array of sauces and vegetables that I never knew existed. The Shvarma isn’t bad, as long as you don’t think about what could possibly be in it, until you get to the last few bites where all the sauces have run to the bottom and leave what looks like a red swamp wrapped in soggy tortilla. I always leave feeling badly about myself.


4- Dacha Fish: The family I live with (who I absolutely LOVE) is much braver than I am about a lot of things. Besides going to the banya on a regular basis and relishing in all sorts of odd practices you find there, they occasionally bring home food that I think I used to have nightmares about as a child. One such occasion was about 3 weeks ago when they had a dacha fish that a friend had given to them (a dacha is a small farm out in a little village). I still don’t understand exactly how it was prepared but there was some sort of a vague explanation involving a box, string, power, and fire. We started ripping into it with our bare fingers. It tasted like a fire log that had been used to slaughter an entire community of sick deep sea creatures. I can still smell it on me.


3- Fish Egg Roll: Call it what you want, it’s still fish eggs. I didn’t realize what I was eating until I bit into it and felt the slimy little balls roll all over my tongue and burst open. I swear I heard baby screams. I immediately spit with such force that they took a few teeth out with them and landed somewhere near Rostov. I then, although having just exited the metro and not yet performed my traditional bathing in hand-sanitizer, scraped my tongue with my bare fingernails while bouncing up and down in an absolute daze. When I finally came to I was laying across a bob’s lap in a dark alley telling stories about the army while she stroked my hair. I’m so traumatized that this even exists that I somehow remembered the word for it although I hadn’t used or heard it in four years when Kimberly read it aloud several weeks ago immediately making me a little light-headed. “Ikra”; you just got the chills.


2- Orange Juice Liver from Crap Cafeteria: As previously mentioned, I couldn’t tell what it was because it was too dark inside. What I now imagine was liver looked like pregnant worms soaked in a runny orange colored juice that tasted like a tangerine, salt, and all the moisture squeezed out of the Sharma meat from number 5. It was served cold (although not intentionally) over mashed potatoes. I just shuttered.


1-Goloptsy from crap cafeteria: The only food ever placed in front of me that actually caused my life to flash before my eyes. Goloptsy are tender cabbage rolls filled with rice and meat and sometimes cooked with a touch of tomato paste and garlic. They have been one of my favorite Russian/Ukrainian foods. So naturally I ordered two at crap cafeteria the LAST(!!!) time we were there and plopped myself down at the nearest sticky table. It was difficult to cut through it but I made it somehow. I got the cold goloptsy into my mouth and for one brief moment I no longer knew where I was or what I was doing. My heart started racing and I lost control of all four of my limbs as I instinctively went into panic mode. It was as though my brain completely rebooted with no warning. Then the smell hit me. If some Mormon candle making company only made two kinds of scented candles, the first being “Crap Cafeteria Goloptsy” and the second “Airport Bathroom During Mass Layovers Due to Influenza Outbreak” and I had to buy one, I would choose the latter. Kimberly then went to take a bite. About the time the goloptsy got to mouth level, she shrieked a little and dropped the fork. Then we noticed the bright red meat oozing out of the middle. I swear I saw something move inside. We covered it with a thin napkin, speed-walked out shuttering, and didn’t eat again for 24 straight hours. Acia still gets upset when we talk about it.


~It Just Gets Stranger

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Orphans

Whenever Krishelle, Uncle Will and I travel anywhere (mostly thanks to Bridgette) we constantly sing the "Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut; McDonalds, McDonalds" song and we get really excited if we can spot all three places at once in whichever freaky third world country we're in. So, naturally, for the last few days from opposite ends of the world, and in preparation for the crew to make their trek east, we've been singing the song non-stop but replacing "McDonalds" with "Mc-banya" among other things. I think our most recent Russified version of the song is "Russian Fried Chicken and a Vodka Hut; Mc-Banya, Mc-Banya." As I type now, I'm laughing about this as though it's the first time I've heard it. I don't know why I just shared that with you. I've had little sleep this week.

Yesterday morning some friends and I got up bright and early and left Moscow for a large orphanage about an hour or so outside of the city. This wasn't the first Eastern European orphanage I've been to but it was by far the largest, having about 140 children of almost all ages and genders. To make it more interesting and sad this was an orphanage for children with special needs, or, as we were told by the friend that brought us there in a strong Russian accent, "psychologically disturbed kids." This seemed be a big range of problems. Some of the kids seemed relatively stable and others were completely out of it and most were somewhere in between. It was difficult to really get a great sense of this however as most of the children seemed heavily sedated and walked around looking like zombies. The building was huge and a couple of hundred years old. DHL was sponsoring a service project (I believe they go out there every few weeks) so my friends and I went to help. We helped put together playground equipment for a while outside where we were bitten by no less than 5 billion mosquitoes; as I type, 2 pints of my blood are hovering somewhere in a forest in western Russia. Hopefully it ends up in a blood bank eventually. After a while we went in and played with the kids who were so cute and sweet. One 5 year old boy kept coming over to give me hugs. I just wanted to take him home with me. All in all it was a really good experience for us to go out there. As always it was so heartbreaking to see so many kids with little chance for a better life. But I'm thankful that there are people out there willing to go to these places and donate time and money to make them a little better and sometimes going as far as adopting children from all over the world who need to be rescued.

I'm having a really hard time right now as this Moscow experience starts to wrap up. In the interest of not giving the wrong impression I must preface the next few thoughts by saying that I really miss my family and friends in the states and I am so excited to see everyone again. I love my life in Provo and I love what I'm doing there now. That said, I really don't want to leave Moscow right now. I have never felt so comfortable before. I feel like I fit in better here than anywhere I've ever been. I've made so many great friends. I love the city and I love the international branch I go to. I love the office I'm working in and the people I get to be with every day there. There's just something about this place that really fits me and I've never felt so content before. The only thing missing is all of you out there reading. That's the hard thing about moving around to different countries around the world; everywhere you go you leave a huge piece of yourself there and it makes it so that everywhere you go, you feel like something is missing. I suppose this is just something I'm going to have to learn to deal with.

Work has been busy and interesting as always. Church exploring has remained exciting and borsht eating has been fantastic as ever. I'm looking forward to seeing my travel group here in just a few days. Hopefully it will warm up by then. The last 2 days have been rainy and really cold, an extreme change from last week when I layed out on the beach for about three days and roasted in the hot hot sun. C'est la vie.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Loving Moscow

I'm going to make this quick because it's later than I thought it was but I wanted to get an update out and post some pictures. I haven't been paying attention to the time lately so when I was walking home tonight (again through the most wonderful forest) I thought it was much earlier because it was still dusk out. Well it turns out it was after midnight. Apparently it stays light at least until midnight now and the sun comes up sometime before 4:30AM because that's when I wake up in a panic every morning thinking it's noon because the sun is planted firmly in the sky already. I love it.

President Uchtdorf and Elder Anderson came to Moscow on Monday and had a fantastic meeting here with the members. I sang in the Russian choir and got to sit up on the stage just right next to them. The members here in Moscow were so excited to have them come and their talks were so interesting and inspirational for the members here. Some neat things happened while they were in town. I would like to write more about one experience now but I don't think I'll do it justice because I'm so tired so I would rather wait. Just know it's a really neat story and feel warm and fuzzy about it.

Other than that this week has been another great week of touring and working. I went to one of the most beautiful services at my favorite Orthodox church the other day. My friend Jaclyn and I also got completely soaked in a terrible rain storm last night while trying to find a monastery. At least it hasn't been cold.

My Russian is all of the sudden getting a lot better this week. Don't get me wrong; I aint foolin' anyone into thinking I'm a native speaker but I'm communicating pretty well lately. It's like I just all of the sudden had this breakthrough. I've noticed that the guys in my office have stopped speaking English to me now which I take as a sign that they think my Russian has improved as they used to only speak English to me except for one who is from Ukraine and speaks only Ukrainian to me. But it's really nice; for the first time I feel fully confident and justified in calling myself tri-lingual without having to say "but" afterwards. I so wish I could stay the rest of the summer and keep working on it.

My friends and I had tickets to go to St. Pete's tomorrow but they could no longer go and I thought about just going alone but decided against it worrying that I would just spend the whole day lost and tired and without someone to laugh about it with. I'm kind of bummed about it but I've recently discovered some new things in Moscow that I would like some extra time for and I plan to return to Russia many many times for the rest of my life so there will be other opportunities. Fortunately we were able to get our money back on the tickets.

Ok I'll cut it off here. I'm safe and happy and having the time of my life. Would love to hear from you all wherever you are!

Singing in the area office for a farewell for two general authorities that are leaving soon.
Church of St. Nicholai of the Weavers. My FAVORITE church!!! Gorgeous inside and out!
Weavers church again.
Weavers Church.
Weavers Church.
Me and Dennis celebrating "Vafly Venesday." A day where I run around the office and make everyone eat a ton of vafly!
Me getting caught eating Vafly even though it's not Vafly Venesday. A BIG no no.
Crappy street band. I'm sitting in there in the middle listening to the street band.
St. Basil's looking amazing at night!!!
St. Basil's again. And the Kremlin to the right.
Lunch and Vafly for the day at the area office.
President Uchtdorf greeting the members.
Onion domes under construction.
Moscow State University: the biggest building I have ever seen. One of Stalin's "7 sisters."
Moscow.
One of Stalin's 7 Sisters.

~It Just Gets Stranger