Monday, May 30, 2011

Loving Texas


Only three months ago, I never imagined myself saying something like, "I like Texas." In fact, I nearly hated it. I was lonely and depressed, and I resented people who would brightly smile as they asked, "Don't you just LOVE Austin?!?" What I wanted to say in response was, "No. No, I don't love it, and I want to move as soon as possible."

It was around Spring Break that I finally let myself quit fretting over school and have some fun. I went to SXSW, saw The Strokes play in concert, and made a couple of good friends. Since then, I've kayaked along Lake Travis, watched the Congress Bridge bats, and toured the Texas State Capitol. I'm beginning to see why people like this state so much: There is a ton of fun stuff to see and do! And the more I embrace die-hard Texans, the more I love their idealized perspective of Texas state history. :)

I don't even mind the heat so much anymore. Besides, the windy nights make up for the sweltering days . . .

I guess I'm learning that it takes me about four months to get settled into a new home and about five months to start to like it. The timing couldn't be better, either, because just last week, I had to finally register my car in this state and give up my Georgia tags for Texas ones. It was sort of a sad little moment, but I'm confident I can handle the change better now than I could have when I first moved here. By the end of June, I suspect I will say I love Texas, and it will be a sad day when I have to leave. :/


Thing I'm thankful for: laughing with my parents

Friday, May 27, 2011

Alaska


Okay, so even though I said I'm happily single right now, I still sometimes daydream about a future wedding. I am a girl, after all. I only daydream about three things, though:
  1. My dress
  2. The dessert table
  3. The honeymoon destination
Other than those three things, I have no expectations. :)

For the last few years, I thought Banff would be the best place to go as a newlywed. One of my friends went there with her husband, and when I saw the pictures she posted on Facebook, I made up my mind that it was the place for me.

Lately, though, Alaska has been on my mind. Because you can take a cruise there, you can go to Denali National Park, and you can watch the Northern Lights, which is perfect because I want to get married in the Spring or Fall. :) I want to kayak around glaciers, walk on snow, and hike in cold weather . . .

Maybe I should start weeding guys out that way. I'll just say, "Hey, would you be interested in going to Alaska on your honeymoon?" If the answer is no, I'll know there is no future for us. :)


Thing I'm thankful for: halfway-melted Dove milk chocolate bars

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Free Associations with Van Halen

Today as I was driving home from running some errands, Hot For Teacher came on the radio, and I laughed to myself as I listened to some of the lyrics.* My favorite parts were the things David Lee Roth shouted during Eddie Van Halen's solos:
I brought my pencil!
Give me something to write on, Man!
Whoa!
And then I thought of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and how much I liked that movie . . .

The 80s in general are just so funny to me. Culturally, lots of fun things happened during that decade, but I don't know if anything was very lasting. Fashion was all about extremes: bright, baggy clothing or shiny spandex. Movies were about underdogs and rags-to-riches and aliens. It just seemed like a "fun" decade and not much more. But maybe it's just because I was a kid in the 80's . . . Can you think of any lasting impacts from 80s pop culture?


*Don't get me wrong; I do like some Van Halen. Eddie Van Halen's solos are impressive. Go ahead; click on that link and listen to one.

Thing I'm thankful for: air conditioning!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spicy Food

When did spicy food become the "in" thing?

Today I met up with a friend for lunch at Chuy's, a popular Tex-Mex restaurant in Austin and apparently Texas at large. (It's pronounced "CHEW-ease," in case you're wondering.) I saw that the special of the day, chicken enchiladas, were packed with green chiles. Consequently, I assumed the dish would be spicy, though I didn't know just how spicy. So I asked the waiter about it. He said, "Oh, are you a wimp?" I don't know how I answered, but when he brought some sauce for me to try, I decided to have a go of it. It wasn't too bad. So I ordered the plate. But as I was eating it, though, I couldn't really enjoy the subtler flavors because of all the hot spiciness!

Anyway, it left me wondering about spicy food. Why is it so posh to like spicy food, and when did it become such? Why is it considered wimpy to not like it? It's not just the waiter, either; I have friends who think I'm unadventurous because I don't like extremely spicy food. And it seems that food is either "spicy" or "not spicy." But there are all kinds of spices; I just happen to dislike the hot ones! I don't think that makes anyone better than me. :/


Thing I'm thankful for: water

A Funny Web Comic

This is from XKCD, and it's called "Boyfriend."
Link


Thing I'm thankful for: Lady Bird Lake, which I'll tell you about later.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Duck Beach

Since I've been writing about dating and marriage, I thought it was a fun coincidence that I stumbled upon some information about Duck Beach yesterday. Duck Beach is a place on the North Carolina coast, where hundreds of LDS singles gather every Spring. I've never been, but I've had friends who have gone. They drive to Duck Beach, rent a big house, and hang out with singles from all along the East Coast. It sounds like fun, but it's also not my kinda thing.

Anyway, a few people in New York are making a documentary about it; they're following four LDS singles and interviewing them about their experiences during their week of Duck Beach fun. It should be fairly entertaining.

Check it out:
Duck Beach documentary


Thing I'm thankful for: sleep!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Me and Marriage

You didn't think I was done at Men and Marriage, did you?

When I'm writing a blog post, I write for an audience. Normally, I don't know who that audience is because they hardly ever comment. So I continue writing and wondering if anyone ever reads this thing . . . This week, I got a pretty good idea of who is reading. I guess I need to write sassy posts more often. :) In truth, I was planning on posting something about me and marriage, anyway; I just didn't know when. This seems to be as good a time as any, I guess.

I'll start by saying that I don't hate men, and I wasn't thinking of any of my past romantic relationships when I wrote that last post. I wouldn't say I'm bitter about being single -- sad, maybe, but not bitter. I'm actually feeling the best I've ever felt about being unmarried. For the first time in a long time, I understand what a blessing it can be to live life alone. Of course I'd rather have someone to talk to at the end of the day -- someone who's just for me and isn't going anywhere. But I'm okay with being single right now.

As an almost 30-year-old, single woman, let me tell you some of the questions I have asked myself in my 20s. "What's wrong with me?" "What am I doing wrong that's keeping me from getting married?" "What am I not doing that's keeping me from getting married?" "Am I pretty enough?" "Am I flirting enough?" "Am I talkative and outgoing enough?" "Am I not assertive enough?" "Am I too independent and assertive?" "Am I focusing too much on myself?" "Am I in the right city?" "Am I open enough to dating lots of different guys?" "Am I too open to dating lots of different guys?"

That's only a small list of questions. Maybe guys ask themselves those kinds of questions, too; I have no idea. But those are the things that most women have wondered. The good thing about those questions, is that if I'm honest with myself, I will find out what I need to work on to become a better member of society, period. The problem, though, was that I thought I needed to be perfect in order to get married. That somehow, it was all my fault that I was still single.

So what's the solution? Blame men. HA! Just kidding. :) (Though I do think that's part of it and I won't get into it again because I already did that this week.)

My point with this post, I guess, is to tell you that I know single women have things to work on. I know I have things to work on. But that's not why I'm not married. And I suppose that's what all the good men would say in response to Men and Marriage. But let me tell you, Flannery O'Connor was right about good men being hard to find.

So this is my current approach to dating: Be interesting, be approachable, and be concerned with other people first. After that, it doesn't really matter what happens. Sister Thompson (who is single) of the General Relief Society Presidency said, "Well, I guess I've learned over the years that you just go on with life. You try to be happy and make yourself useful. Serve!"

I think that's a good way for anyone to live, but I think it's an especially good way for single women to live.

* To listen to the entire interview with Sister Thompson, see Conversations, Episode 29.


Thing I'm thankful for: San Antonio!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Men and Marriage

During the priesthood session of General Conference, President Monson addressed the men of the LDS Church and spoke to them of marriage. Here are just a few excerpts, to give you a taste of what he said:
Now, I have thought a lot lately about you young men who are of an age to marry but who have not yet felt to do so. I see lovely young ladies who desire to be married and to raise families, and yet their opportunities are limited because so many young men are postponing marriage.

Said President Harold B. Lee, “We are not doing our duty as holders of the priesthood when we go beyond the marriageable age and withhold ourselves from an honorable marriage to these lovely women."

President Gordon B. Hinckley said this: “My heart reaches out to … our single sisters, who long for marriage and cannot seem to find it. … I have far less sympathy for the young men, who under the customs of our society, have the prerogative to take the initiative in these matters but in so many cases fail to do so.”

Brethren, there is a point at which it’s time to think seriously about marriage and to seek a companion with whom you want to spend eternity. If you choose wisely and if you are committed to the success of your marriage, there is nothing in this life which will bring you greater happiness.
President Monson was not the only prophet to bring up marriage. Elder Scott mentioned it as well, and there was one more, but I can't remember who. Suffice it to say, marriage was a hot topic of this Spring's General Conference.*

But why, you ask, am I bringing this up?

There are two reasons. One of them has to do with the responses I've heard from guys my age. The Salt Lake Tribune recently solicited feedback from young men on the talk,** and most of the statements were just excuses as to why it's hard to date now, and the reasons why men are delaying marriage. I've heard them all before -- men want to be financially secure, they want to make sure they pick the right girl, they're scared of making a mistake, etc. Something I hear a lot goes a bit like this, "I've tried dating, but I always get rejected. I've been hurt before." This is what I want to say in return, "Yeah, yeah, yeah -- so has everyone else. Everyone has failed relationships until they don't. You are going to feel heartbreak until you don't!"

The second reason I'm bringing this up is a little more in-your-face. So be prepared.

An older woman in my congregation in Austin recently said to the single women, "The prophet was talking to the men at conference, but it goes for you women, too!"

And here's the thing: It doesn't! It doesn't go for women, too. That talk from President Monson was specifically for single men to hear. He was not addressing single women. If women in general had a role in the problem of delayed marriage, the prophet would've addressed the women. He would've given a similar talk during the General Relief Society Meeting. But he didn't!

I have so many girlfriends who wrack their brains about what they are doing that's keeping them from getting married. They wonder what's wrong with them and what they should be doing differently. They think that perhaps there's something else for them to learn before they get married. It's absolutely ridiculous! And though they mean well, some friends and family members don't help at all. They will often say things like, "You should act like this, or you should wear that." They go on and on about how men are stupid, and women need to practically bend over backward and be the aggressor to get men to see what they need to do. Essentially, they are making excuses for men and telling women to do all the work.

Yes, some women need to improve. Yes, some men are doing what they're supposed to, and I'm sure they didn't even need to hear President Monson's admonition to get married. But in general, men are the ones who are delaying marriage, and women are doing just fine. They don't need to analyze and re-analyze what they're doing wrong because they're not doing anything wrong! It's men who need to be responsible and quit being afraid of making a mistake or getting rejected. Men need to stop hanging out and looking for a perfect girl.

For me, what it comes down to is how well I know myself. I constantly gauge whether I am doing all I can to be a person someone would want to marry. Sometimes I need to improve, but I can honestly say that most of the time, I am just waiting. Waiting for a guy to grow up and follow the prophet.

* For the full talk by President Monson, see Priesthood Power. For videos and transcripts of the entire 2011 General Conference, see April 2011 Sessions.
** For the full article, see Why young LDS men are pushing back marriage.


Thing I'm thankful for: examples of responsible men

Friday, May 13, 2011

Orange, Red, Pink, Yellow


That's the order I like my Starbursts.*

For the longest time, I thought it was red and then pink. I guess I just assumed those would be the best based on my previous candy experience. Plus, my sister liked pink and red the best, so I copied her. When we were young and ate candy by the pound, we'd always eat the reds and pinks first. Oranges were next, and yellow was a last resort. (Who likes yellow the best, anyway?)**

Sometime in middle or high school, I realized that I liked orange the best. I must have gotten to the oranges and realized that I actually liked them. A lot. It's sort of odd, I guess, but that's often how I work. I like things that my family and friends like until one day, I realize I don't.

Let me give you some examples: Peas. Lemonade. Twizzlers. Cookie dough ice cream.

So. I'm trying to get better at knowing what I like early on. What can I say? I'm a follower. I take what people say to heart. I don't think it's a horrible quality. But I do think I need to grow out of it a bit.


* I don't eat much sugary candy, but if I do, I typically go for Skittles.
** Seriously, who likes yellow the best? If you do, leave a comment!

Thing I'm thankful for: listening to music while I clean

One Semester Down, Three to Go!

I'm done, I'm done, I'm done! Yahoo!!!

It feels so good to be done with classes for a while. I don't even know how many times I cried this semester -- out of frustration with some of my professors, to frustration with JavaScript, to frustration with Drupal, and frustration with the ridiculous amount of money I'm paying in out-of-state tuition.

There were several things that made the semester bearable, though, namely:
  • Classmates
  • The showcase at the end, where everything came together.
  • Grad student lunches
  • Free parking at the Institute building
  • Family Home Evening
  • Late-night movies with Holly
  • Afternoon Skype calls with my nieces
  • Reassurances from Lexi that I could get through the Web design class
It's all over. And here's what I have to show for it!
Redesigned iSchool site
I worked on the site architecture, navigational layout, HTML coding, and homepage feature captions. (This is what it currently looks like.)

Volunteer Austin site
I came up with the idea and site architecture. My partner and I implemented the site with Drupal.

I have to give a special thanks to my project partners. They were all incredible. They helped me get going on projects when I didn't want to and made everything look better than I ever could have. They were the best! Thanks, Kirk, Peter, Liyun, Eris, Doug, Valle, and Ann!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

End-of-Semester Schedule, Or I Hope I Don't Die This Week

Okay, okay -- That title is a complete exaggeration. But I might gain about 10 pounds at the very least. Or my immune system will just shut down.

Here's my general late-night schedule of the last two weeks:
10:00 pm - whenever am: Write, code, eat chocolate, write, take a music break, write, try to figure out how to make things work in Drupal, write, eat chocolate, write, format long reports, take a music break while eating chocolate . . .

It's a hard life. ;)


Thing I'm thankful for: mommy's calls

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Red Again!


I dyed my hair red as part of a Halloween costume last year and decided to keep it that way for a while. It faded within a few months, and I let it grow to my natural dirty blonde. I knew I had to spice up the color again, so I thought about getting more highlights.

Something about moving to Texas, though, made me want to be daring again. So I did the red thing again, and honestly, I think I'll stay red for a while.

The photo doesn't really capture the true color; in real life, it looks even more red. I like it a lot. I just wish I had freckles to match. (I love freckles!)


Thing I'm thankful for: random phone calls from old friends