Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Halloween reminds me of lots of things; one of them is candy corn and peanuts.

My dad likes everything crunchy.  If a food isn't crunchy, he'll find a way to make it so -- usually by adding pecans, peanuts, or Fritos.  It irritates my mom to no end, and honestly, I think he overdoes it a bit.  But when he added peanuts to candy corn, I think he found brilliance.  It's the perfect combination of soft and crunchy, sweet and salty.  There is, I suppose, opposition in all things; Halloween treats are no exception.  :)

Happy Halloween, everyone!  I hope it's your best day all year!

Thing I'm thankful for: crafting while watching a movie!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I think I've only had one really good dream in my whole life.  To be sure, it was an incredible dream; it even made it to my journal, it was so good.  It was extraordinary, though, and I mean that in the most literal sense.  Most of my dreams, you see, are actually what many people would call nightmares.  For example, last night, I was robbed for the fifth time this year.  Also, someone tried to kill me.

It's not new.  In fact, nightmares are the status quo for me.  They are so common that it seems odd not to call them dreams.  I've been chased by murderers in my home and at church; I've experienced the deaths of several people I love; and I've witnessed other traumatic events that I'll never talk about.  Some of them I can't even remember -- all I know is that I've woken up a couple of times in tears.  Sobs, in fact -- sobs so loud that I was afraid I woke my roommate, too.  And I couldn't stop crying for several minutes afterward.

I wonder if this is something that runs in families because my mom has nightmares, too.  Or maybe it's because I have high anxiety and don't get enough sleep.  Or maybe it's all three.  Whatever the case, I hope it doesn't last my whole life; I'm tired of running away from people with knives.  (It's always knives.)

Thing I'm thankful for: waking up in a safe place

Friday, October 26, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

You didn't think I thought so little of myself not to post something on my birthday, did you???

Here's the thing:  For my birthday, I was going to give myself a nice, long night of sleep, but one thing led to another, and I find myself listening to music.  Really, really good music.  The only thing that would make this late night complete would be to bake something.  I'm not going to do that, though; I might later.  I'm thinking of no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies, or as my family calls them -- Mudballs.  (Clever, no?)

Anyway, here I am on my birthday, and I thought I'd share some things with the world.  Things like this:
  • My sister and I are the same age for two days every year.
  • When you're in your 30's, you feel more confident about yourself and your instincts.  You also feel really dumb when you make mistakes because you feel like you're too old to be making them.  Mistakes are for teenagers and twentysomethings.
  • I really don't like birthday cake.  Unless it's homemade.  Or includes ice cream in the middle.  (But you have to scrape the icing off because icing doesn't go with ice cream.)
  • I like birthday pie.  Or birthday Mudballs.  Or birthday anything-that's-homemade.
  • Big parties used to be more fun.
  • I look like I just turned 21.  Maybe I'll try to get into a bar today, buy an R-rated movie, or purchase spray paint, just to see if I'd get carded.
None of the things on that list are very important, but this one is important:
  • I know a LOT of people, and I have a LOT of friends -- not just sort-of friends, but extremely close friends.  The kind of friends I could call up anytime and talk to just because.  It's a good feeling, and it's the thing I'm most proud of.  I do a lot of really dumb things, but making lasting friendships -- that's something that's not dumb.  I used to be such a wallflower; I barely said hello to anyone outside of my family.  Near the end of high school, though, I worked to overcome that, and over time, I did.  (Now, people are fairly hard-pressed to get me to shut up!)

    It has been the greatest accomplishment of my 31 years because without it, my life would be quiet and dull and lonely.  So to you, dear friends, thank you for letting me get to know you.  It's a happy birthday, indeed, when you have a life filled with people you care about.

And now, a love song.*  It's the best one I've ever heard in my life.

*It's my birthday, after all.  I can post whatever song I want!

Monday, October 22, 2012

What I've Learned in Grad School

I spend a lot of time complaining about school and homework and the feelings of stress associated with both of those things, when really, grad school is such an incredible opportunity for me -- in all sorts of ways.  Plus, I've learned (and am still learning) a lot in grad school, actually, and now I'm going to share some of it with you.
  1. I'm learning what I don't know.  That is, as I get older, I am able to recognize where my knowledge gaps are, and they're even more obvious in school.  At times, this realization is embarrassing, but more often than not, it's a good learning tool.

  2. I've learned that I know more than I thought I did.  Here's an example:
    In grad school, operationalization is pounded into your head.  You can hardly have a conversation with anyone without talking about attributes and values and quantifiability.  I think I'm pretty good at it, actually.  Just today, I was explaining to my group members in class why a value scale of 1-10 didn't appropriately measure the attribute "Relevance of the reading."  There are all sorts of problems with that attribute/value pair, but I'll just skip that to say I knew something was fishy.  I talked to my professor afterward, and she said I was on the right track.  It made me feel smart.
  3. I've learned that sometimes I just don't want to operationalize things.  Perhaps that's why I didn't apply to Ph.D. programs.

  4. I've learned that there are not many food items better than a really well-made sandwich.

Thing I'm thankful for: Honeycrisp apples

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Frozen Yogurt vs. Ice Cream

I rarely have ice cream anymore because as everyone knows, it's just not healthy.  So I instead opt for frozen yogurt when I want a cold treat.  It's pretty good, too.  Ever since the days of my beloved Yoforia, I have come to truly cherish the tartness of plain frozen yogurt, the decadence of dark chocolate, and the complexity of salted caramel.

Every once in a while, though, I splurge and eat ice cream.  Tonight was one of those nights.  I took a spoonful straight out of the tub and shoved it into my mouth.  "Man," I told my roommate, "Ice cream blows frozen yogurt out of the water!"

And it does.  It just does.  I don't care how refreshing and hip frozen yogurt is -- it'll never be as great as ice cream.

Sorry, frozen yogurt.  I felt like it was time to come clean.

Thing I'm thankful for: a bright and cheery apartment

Saturday, October 20, 2012

How to Hug: Learning from Failure

This week, a very short friend gave me a hug.  In an effort to reach my height, she jumped a little, and what I got was a shoulder punch to the throat.  My larynx hurt for the next two hours.

It made me think about hugs, though -- why we give them, what they mean, and -- on that particular night of hug pain -- how we give them.  I conducted an informal survey of five people, including myself, and decided some things.  That is, these are the rules for hugging people with obvious height differences:
  1. Short people:  Stay put.  Keep your feet on the ground.  You can reach up by extending your neck and raising your chin, but that's pretty much all you can do.  Alternatively, you can turn your head to the side and just admit that you're too short to reach the other person's shoulder.  In this case, you have to do the head-resting-on-chest thing.  (Note:  This is only appropriate if you are a short girl hugging a tall man.)
  2. Tall people:  It is your responsibility to lean down to the short person.  Sometimes it's awkward, but . . . with great power comes great responsibility?
Simply put, short people should stay on the ground; tall people should bend down.  Jumping should never be involved.  Ever.

Thing I'm thankful for: a bright and quiet Saturday afternoon for doing homework

Friday, October 19, 2012

Passion's Slave!

In Hamlet: Act 3, Scene 2, Hamlet lauds Horatio's stoicism.  He says, "Give me that man / That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him / In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart, / As I do thee."

I think Hamlet has a good idea there, but no matter how many times I go over it in my mind, I think he's wrong.  (I don't care if he is the title character in the play!)  To me, passion is essential to a good life.  It's the thing that motivates us to keep working on something even if we are tired or hungry and even when all seems lost.  Passion is the thing that makes life interesting!

Here's what I'm passionate about:
  1. Talking
    The best conversations are the ones that cause you to feel like hardly any time passed at all since you started talking.  I think conversation -- wholesome, meaningful conversation -- is one of the best uses of time.
  2. Writing
    Sometimes I don't get a chance to write until very late at night or extremely early in the morning, but it doesn't matter.  I have to write something every couple of days or I begin to feel intellectually and emotionally stifled.
  3. Baking
    This one's similar to writing.  That is, I may be exhausted after hours of say, dipping Oreo balls into chocolate, and I may desperately need sleep.  But all the time spent laboring to create something that someone will devour in six seconds is worth being exhausted, if it brings him or her happiness and satisfaction.  I mean that.
I suppose one could argue that Hamlet was talking about an extreme in passion . . .  Even then, I disagree with him.  I think it's important to be passionate about good things, and it's also important to not get addicted to the things we feel passionate about.  But there has to be extreme passion somewhere in the world to keep life moving forward.

Take a look at this quote from the English novelist, E.M. Forster:  "One person with passion is better than 40 people merely interested."

I wholeheartedly agree.

In that vein, then, I'll add a 19th item to What I Want in a Husband: Passion.  I want a husband who has a hobby he gets lost in from time to time.  I want him to have favorites and opinions and pet peeves.  I want him to metaphorically set himself on fire and let people see the brightness of passion burn within him without feeling ashamed or embarrassed of his intensity.

Thing I'm thankful for: a late-night walk in the chilly air

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dancing Days

This is a friend's post addressed to me:
To Sara

Even though it's for me, however, I think it's too good not to share.  And just in case you can't figure it out, I'll point out two important pieces of information:
  1. I love Led Zeppelin.
  2. Lauren is one of my very best friends in the whole entire world.

Thing I'm thankful for: music.  I almost always have a song on my mind -- when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night.  Besides the world and all the living things on and in it, music is the best creation.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Alternative Plans

It's late, and I'm tired.  But tonight I feel something indescribable.  I thought maybe it was time for me to post a recap of the music festival I went to last weekend.  No, that's not right.  Maybe a song would convey what's on my mind and in my heart . . .  No to that, too.

Instead I found this:

I want to be a woman like that.  I want to change the world by helping children -- not just my own children that I may have in the future, but children that aren't mine.

I wish I had a husband, and I wish I had kids.  I wish I could lose sleep because I was calming a fussy baby and not because I was doing homework.  I wish I could run around crazy in the mornings trying to get six kids ready for school.  I wish I could gather all my children together at 5 or 6 o'clock and wait by the front door for the mister to come home; we would have a mini-party in the foyer.

I don't have those things, though.  Instead what I have is a different perspective.  Not getting the things we want forces us to come up with alternative plans, and so it was for me four years ago.  I realized that if I never got the chance to have biological kids, I'd adopt the children who don't have parents.  But that's not right, either.  Not now, anyway.  And so, yet another alternative plan has to be made.

That plan is still fuzzy, but it's starting to form.  I can just slightly discern the outline.  It's inspired by Elder Oaks' General Conference talk,* which may well have changed my life.  Elder Oaks has a way of connecting to my soul.  When he speaks, I listen intently.  When he commands, I want to obey.

This video reminded me of his General Conference address, and it reminds me of a tiny spark I feel inside my spirit -- a little ball of light that's waiting to grow and spread to my toes and fingertips, that fills me with the desire to serve more often than not.

*For Elder Oaks' full address, see Protect the Children.

Thing I'm thankful for: cool weather and cool breezes to match

Monday, October 15, 2012

See Others as They May Become

During one of his General Conference addresses, President Monson said, "We should develop the capacity to see men not as they are but as they can become[.]"*  He was specifically talking about people who are not yet members of our church, but I think the principle applies to every single interaction we have with each other on this earth.  That is, when we treat people not as they are, but as they can become, they rise to our expectations, and I'd wager to say they usually exceed them.  More important than that, though, is the way we begin to change.  We no longer see people as losers or idiots or imperfect examples; we see them as people who are doing what they can to survive this often frustrating life.  That small and perhaps seemingly insignificant change in perspective has extremely far-reaching effects.  I'll list some examples I've noticed in my own life:
  • The child whose parents listen to him as though he has something important to say will grow to be thoughtful and well-spoken.
  • The woman who is treated as though she will be an incredible wife and mother while a man is dating her, will actually become an incredible wife and mother when they are married.
  • The employee who is valued will become a valuable employee.
I guess I closely identify with process philosophers, who argue that we live in a world of becoming, not a world of being.  That is, change and development are essential.  Reality is not timeless, and substances are not permanent.*  But now I'm getting into the unfamiliar territory of metaphysics, and perhaps I should save that for another day.

*See Others as They May Become.
**Yes, I realize this is somewhat incongruent with the decidedly Latter-day Saint doctrine that we are all children of God -- that at the heart of our natures is something divine.  I think there's a way to reconcile being and becoming, though.  I'll just have to think about it a bit more . . .

Thing I'm thankful for: having fun at work

Friday, October 12, 2012


Tonight I went to a small show in downtown Austin at this great venue called Symphony Square Amphitheater.  Like all good amphitheaters, it is outdoors, but one way to get to the center is by walking through a tunnel.  This tunnel has geometric murals painted on the walls, which I love.

There's a creek that runs through the amphitheater, between the stage and the seating area.  It reminded me of the San Antonio River Walk a bit, actually, with it's stone walls and twists and turns.

A few bands played -- all to support World Sight Day.  I got there late, so I missed Kishi Bashi and The Vacationers, but I did catch Tennis.  The band was good, the accompanying light show was good, and the atmosphere was good.  All in all, it was an invigorating show.  I just love live music.  And I always forget how much.

Anyway, check out Tennis, if you get a chance.  And definitely check out Austin's Symphony Square Amphitheater, if you can.

Here are some specific thank-yous for the night:
  • To Carrie, for being so hip and knowing about all of the cool events in Austin.  Thanks for the invite, Carrie!
  • To Nathan, for having an iPhone, taking good pictures with it, and sending them to me.  Thanks for being tech-savvy and artistic, Nathan!
Oh!  Here's a picture of Michelle and me in our glasses that simulate blindness . . .  Gotta have one of those, right?

Thing  I'm thankful for: creating and maintaining friendships -- best activity in the world.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Goodbye, Chevy Chase!

In the six years I lived in the heart of Atlanta, I moved twice.  In Austin, I've moved five times.  Five times!  In less than two years!

It's a hard thing to do, especially when you have as much stuff as me.  I'm realizing more and more, though, that stuff -- even if it's the best kind of stuff, such as books and kitchenware -- isn't that important.  (I bet my movers wish I had come to that conclusion before moving.)  It's just not.  But why is it so hard to for me to let it go?  I need to learn to live with less . . .

While I work on that, I'm going to share a couple of lists with you, and they are these:

Things I won't miss from Chevy Chase Apartments
  • Hardwood floors everywhere.  I love sweeping, but more than that, I love being able to sit comfortably on the floor.
  • The toilet getting clogged 80% of the time.  (It wasn't even my fault for about 70% of that!)
  • The guys who smoked pot in the next building over.
  • The gloom that seemed to settle there after my roommate and I got robbed.
  • The galley kitchen.
  • The groundsmen who did loud landscape work right outside my window at 8:00 IN THE MORNING.
  • The laundry machines that were constantly out of order.
  • Speed bumps.

Things I will miss from Chevy Chase Apartments
  • Living on a street called Chevy Chase Drive.
  • Living five minutes away from church, 15 minutes away from school, and 20 minutes from downtown.
  • Running over to Nathan's apartment for various things/problems/carpools.
  • Desi Time.
  • Desi Time.
  • Desi Time.

Thankful for: everyone who helped me move.  It's a lot of people over the years, so I'll just name the friends from the most recent one: Brooke, Ed, Adam, Nathan, Melissa, Rachel, Gretchen, Tyler, Chris, Jon, Mary, and Molly.  I think that's everyone.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Come listen to living prophets

Friday, October 05, 2012

Cheerleaders with Bible Verses

Gosh, there are so many good stories in the news today!  Stories such as this:

Cheerleaders with Bible Verses Set Off a Debate

Essentially, a group of high school cheerleaders in an East Texas town have been painting run-through banners with Bible verses for this year's football games.  Their intentions seem fairly innocuous; from the article:
Rather than the typical slogans reading “Scalp the Indians” or “Pluck the Eagles” that they considered too negative, they came up with what they felt were more inspiring phrases. The first one read: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”
Regardless, the Kountze Independent School District and the superintendent ordered the cheerleaders to stop painting Bible verses on the banners, claiming it violated the law on religious expression at public school events.

The whole thing makes me think about how there are so many sides to a story . . .  And probably no one person can think of every single side.  For my part, I'm with the superintendent; I don't think the cheerleaders should write Bible verses on the banners.  Yes, I'm a Christian, and yes, I support the First Amendment.  But do I think it's appropriate to write religious excerpts on a huge piece of paper for football players to run through?  No, I don't.

And yet.  The cheerleaders don't use school funds to create the banners.  They have a right to free speech just as much as the next person.  If they and their classmates and their town generally support such usage of Bible verses, why shouldn't they create the banners they want?

It's so tricky, and it makes me feel the same way I did when I watched the Presidential Debate that happened on Wednesday.  That is, I'm glad I'm not a judge.  I'm glad other people want to do jobs I don't want to do.

And yet.  That sentiment doesn't feel good enough.  Do I just let the people who care more about things do the acting?  Do I take a stance and passionately do something about it?  Do I just believe what I want and teach my kids to believe what I believe, too?

This obviously goes beyond painting Bible verses on high-school football banners . . .  I just don't know how much to get involved sometimes.  When I die, will God say, "Sara, you lived a good life, but you should've participated more in society"?  And maybe I don't even really care if God asks me that; maybe I care that I'll ask myself that.

What do you think, readers?

Thing I'm thankful for: that any of you ever read to the end of my posts.  Sometimes what starts off as simple thoughts turn into free associations that are paragraphs long!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Presidential Debate No. 1

I'll admit -- This is the first time I've watched an entire presidential debate.  It's shameful, really, and I'm a little embarrassed about it.  At any rate, I watched President Obama and Romney tonight, and as the whole thing came to a close, I thought, "Gosh, I'm glad people want to be president, 'cause I sure would never want to be!"  It's true; I'd never ever* want to be any sort of public figure, least of all a political one!  It might be a close race this year, and although I have an idea who I'm going to cast my vote for, I'm still impressed with either candidate.  I generally have a good feeling about both of them, which is more than I can say for candidates past.  So . . . May the best man win?

That brings me to another thought, which is that I don't understand debates at all.  I wasn't on the debate team in high school, nor do I follow politics on a regular basis, so it's no surprise that I don't get the rules.  I didn't even really know there were rules.  All I know is that immediately after tonight's debate, reporters were talking about how well Romney did and how President Obama was "too professorial" and "didn't look at Romney very much."  Can someone explain this to me?

*Like, ever.

Thing I'm thankful for: Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Being Lame

It bothers me a bit when people say stuff like this:
  • "I was lame and stayed home on Friday."
  • "I did stuff around the house all day; I'm lame."
  • "Oh, I'm lame; I didn't do anything fun."
Assuming people are using the word "lame" in its slang term, it's still a somewhat alarming sentiment.  It reminds me of something my friend said recently.  She was talking about going to the temple, and she said it annoys her when people ask, "Did you have fun at the temple?"  She nearly yelled (as much as she can), "I don't go to the temple to have fun!!!"

Her point was that people are obsessed with having fun.  It seems that people expect everything in life to be "fun" or "exciting" or some other such energetic word.  Or they expect that other people expect it.

Sometimes, though, life is calm.  Sometimes it's easy, and sometimes it's challenging.  Sometimes it's disappointing, and sometimes it's satisfying.  Sometimes it's a million other things.  And sometimes it's fun.

Thing I'm thankful for: Brookie

Monday, October 01, 2012

Open Letter to Doctors, Counselors, and Anyone Else Who Sees Patients

Dear doctors and counselors et al.,

I don't appreciate having to arrive 30 minutes early to my appointment to fill out paperwork that you don't even glance at.  When I am (finally) in your office and you say, "Tell me a little bit about why you are here" or "What are some of your symptoms," I want to roll my eyes and tell you this:
If you had taken about five minutes to read all that paperwork, you would know why I scheduled this appointment.  Also, as you can see from page 6 of the patient information packet I completed, you will note that I am tense, have frequent headaches, and have difficulty sleeping.
Do you think because you read a lot in professional or graduate school that you are exempt from reading now?  More importantly, do you think you are instilling trust and loyalty in your patients by ignoring what they spent the better part of an hour on for you?

Please do me a favor and either stop wasting my time (and paper), or actually read what I wrote.

Most unaffectionately,