Monday, November 30, 2009

Favorite Distraction

David Archuleta has a new Christmas album out. I don't just love it. I LOVE it. I went to his Christmas concert last week in Salt Lake and _________. There aren't really words to describe it....simply awe-inspiring comes close. He sang a few other great songs - "Fields of Gold" - "The Riddle" - "Prayer of the Children" Of course though - "O Holy Night" was the one I held my breath for all night.

Now as I am supposed to be doing homework, I find myself just listening to his songs and daydreaming. Moral of this disjointed post - if you haven't bought a Christmas album in a long time, this is the one. Love it! Love you!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I consider the time from mid-October to Thanksgiving break the most stressful time of fall semester. People pull out all sorts of coping mechanisms to alleviate that stress-- is one of mine. I've actually started laughing out loud during class a couple times while reading over this site. One of my recent favorites seems fitting with the recent "New Moon" hysteria.

"Today, my 6 year-old daughter was asking me questions about Santa Claus at dinner. My 13 year-old daughter was getting annoyed with all the dumb questions and simply told her younger sister that Santa didn't exist. Instead of being aghast and upset, my younger daughter just said, "Yea but neither does Edward Cullen!" My older daughter left the dinner table and I think its easy to say who won tonight. MLIA"

Don't you feel better about life already? Okay, I better get back to studying now!

Happy [almost] Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Promised Pictures - Part 3

Here it is - the last of the promised pictures. Over Halloween weekend, I had the chance to go home. It was a trip planned ages ago so that I could see Jenessa's choir dinner show, visit the high school, and sneak out of Provo when things are busiest. It was a great trip. There are only a few pictures - random ones at that, but it was so nice to be home. I really miss being so close to my teacher friends, Rachel, Tracy, and my fabulous family.
Isn't Jenessa groovy? This is just one of her five costume changes for the choir show.

The choir show audience - yes, we all made it through three and a half hours. Miracles do happen. My cousin, Chris, happened to be flying up the same weekend I was to watch his girlfriend play volleyball (she's on USC's team). Great timing -

I voluntarily dressed up with Jenessa and went to classes with her that Friday. What, you don't know what we are?!

We're walkathoners! The J² Walkathon is recruiting already. Still not making sense? Don't worry about it. At least we got to wear sweats to school. I sat in desks with Jenessa during the day. Totally threw off past students. So fun seeing everyone.

Katie Fin's costume was by far my favorite. This was taken at the Pinks' place so don't worry- there was no wine at school. Even though it was short, I got to go to the non-SRV book club. Loved every second-- they are so funny and so great to be around.

[Pictureless events - seeing Rachel and Tracy, eating at Skips, going to the USC v. Cal volleyball game, singles ward with Ryan]

This picture doesn't do it justice, but I watched the sunset near the San Francisco skyline before my plane took off. So good to be home.

Finally - this is not a shot of California as you can already tell because of the snow on the ground, but this the rapidly growing Mae Alyse up at Sundance. Winter is slowly making its entrance to the Wasatch front--

[ps. Yes, there are three set of pictures. Yes, I posted them all today. Part 1 is Rachel's wedding. Part 2 is my DC trip. And you're currently looking at Part 3. Yes, there are too many, but you, my dear friend, can choose whether to go through all of them. Love you!]

Promised Pictures - Part 2

Going to Washington DC has been one of the highlights of this fall semester. We went to meet with federal agencies and non-profits to see what work opportunities there are in DC and what a day-in-the-life looks like for these different employees. Throw in a couple days of site-seeing, lots of walking, incessant laughing, Potbellys' sandwiches, and you pretty much have our trip--

This is hot, right? A Banana Republic sweater with basketball shorts - a last minute decision to kayak the Potomac at night with Karleen, Amber, and Erin is what led to this fashion ensemble. One of the best parts of our trip-- The pictures of the monuments from the water didn't turn out - churning water and rain aren't the best conditions for still photos, but it was awesome just the same.

The Library of Congress was my favorite building by far. Seeing Thomas Jefferson's books and the intricately laid mosaics was truly awe-inspiring.

Karleen and Thomas bonded. You don't want to know.

This is one of the posters outside the Holocaust Memorial Museum. I have wanted to visit this place since I was a teenager-- it's incredible. There aren't words to adequately describe what you see and what you feel, but you walk out changed - more appreciative, more scared, more... I hope to teach again so that when I teach Holocaust literature, I can now talk about seeing some of these artifacts and pictures in person....

Nicole, Karleen, and I in the National History Museum. These two fabulous girls are on my team set up by the MPA program. More on them later! ps. The architecture in this building and so many others was fantastic - this city is the most European city we have in the United States.

Who doesn't love Julia Child and her pegboard lovingly created by her husband. So fun to see her kitchen!

"There's no place like home, there's no place like home." Judy Garland is one of my favorite Hollywood icons.

We met in the press room where FEMA does its news conferences (yes, including that infamous one where there was actually no press). Nicole's pose behind the podium was my favorite.

Security clearance was a part of almost every agency we visited, but it was definitely the most strict at the FBI. This is the place I would most want to work if I decided to move to DC. [This is the whole group of students that attended - not in correct order - Ariel, Andrew, David, Zach, Isaiah, Tanya, Karleen, Andrea, Nicole, and myself]

We had more fun that you would think possible when we would get to our hotel at night. Here is Nicole "working" diligently on the many assignments we had to complete and send in. Karleen fell off the bed a few minutes after this shot was taken.

We watched SNL clips every night featuring my favorite character Gilly - you have to watch these. We quoted her everywhere we went and then would laugh way too hard for the somber work environments we were in...oops.

This shot was for my fellow Gilmore Girls watchers - it's the national headquarters of the D.A.R. D.A.R. Darling even though it's in the 40s, raining, and no, I did not have a coat.

Posing on the D.A.R. building patio - imagine a fancy ball gown, Grace Kelly style, with elbow length gloves. That's what I was picturing. Karleen was thinking Scarlett O'Hara style. We probably weren't supposed to be up there.

I loved seeing all the monuments in person. A Parisian couple took this shot.

I was more entranced by the National Galleries than I would have expected. We visited a few times since it was the only place open past five. This was obviously in the modern art section - each set TV images corresponded to the state they were placed in.

A few other highlights - love stories with Andrew, becoming Metro savvy, hailing taxis, passing the White House, Potbellys sandwiches (yes - it's worth two mentions!), talking all night in the Baltimore airport, seeing politics in action, and so many more.

Phew - that was long. You made it! Stay tuned for the next segment of fall pictures....

Promised Pictures - Part 1

I know, I know - Rachel & Nate's wedding was more than two months ago. I promised pictures though and better late than never. For the record, having Rachel get married was one of the most surreal experiences. She is one of my oldest friends-- the one who I giggled with over middle school crushes, who I got in trouble with for hours spent talking on the phone when we were supposed to be doing homework, and who I transitioned with from college student to working adult. The last time Rachel and I had been even close to that dressed up, we had been going to junior prom with Rob Webb and Dave Brafman. Crazy how fast time goes!

Getting our nails done before the big day!

The bridesmaids - Can you tell which one isn't a Hansen sister?

Mr. & Mrs. Nathan Anderson - Sept. 5, 2009

I'm never really sure about these poses. We were supposed to be "smelling our flowers" - this is one of the more normal ones.

I love the back of Rachel's dress. The off-white lace was stunning against Rachel's tan skin.

Jenessa and I got to play all weekend together while the rest of the family was in Idaho getting Cameron set up at BYU-I. We had so much fun.

As she often does, Tracy saved the day. I had never tried on the dress (the joys of being in Utah when the wedding is being planned in California), and it was two sizes too big. The morning of the wedding, Tracy valiantly scoured stores with me looking for the right black camisole and then stitched the dress while it was on me so that it would fit. Thanks to her patience and great taste, you'd never know...

Stay tuned for more promised pictures from the past couple months!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Books Alter Everything

A friend of mine recently suggested that I add my book reviews to my blog. To those of you who already get my reviews from goodreads, sorry for the double feature. To those of you who have not experienced my book ramblings, hopefully you'll run across something eventually that you will want to read and won't mind too much my departure from day-to-day happenings. As always, happy reading.

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When I saw Baker's book being reviewed in a national magazine, I was shocked. Mormon writers and their Mormon subject matter are not usually candidates for mainstream American readers. I went home and ordered the book immediately. The title alone would be worth the cost....
There is a reason Deseret Book (the main Mormon publishing house) did not pick this manuscript up. It is not a morality tale. It is not a polite recitation of singles' ward activities and getting lost on the subway in New York. It is raw, irreverent, and brilliantly real. Baker bravely asserts her doubts, her dreams, and her experiences in a way that I have never seen done by another Mormon writer. The details she captures are hilarious, poignant, and tragic - sometimes all the in the same instant.
That said, I do not know who I would recommend this book to. Most practicing Mormons would be offended by some of Baker's content. Non-Mormon readers who do not understand some of the idiosyncrasies of Mormon culture and the main tenets of Mormon doctrine may miss out on the humor or battle that rages within Baker as she tries to find her path or explain to her atheist boyfriend why it matters that he does not believe in souls.
I am impressed by Baker's voice - never have I read something that so clearly spoke to some of my own beliefs, doubts, and impressions of the world around me. It is rare to say, but she put into words things that I have never been able to express. Being a twenty-something Mormon is adventure to say the least. Being Baker is a more hilarious, more racy adventure, but something I can empathize with just the same. Even the way she wrote her book is a something I have considered doing - minus the details about boob touching of course....

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Confession - I joined a new book club. I felt like I was cheating on my California book club. I promise I was thinking about them while we discussed the duality of man - the carnal and the supernal. This concept is one those universal battles that all people face- though many do not acknowledge the battle between being their best self and indulging in life's pleasures. Dr. Jekyll is a good man with a good idea about separating our dueling selves, but of course, it does not work out the way he planned and his good British society is altered forever.
I finished this book in audio form walking along the tree lined streets of residential Provo. There was a chill in the air and gorgeous fall leaves crunched under my feet. As the letters were read in the story, I felt another chill - another pull that had nothing to do with the cool November air. It was Henry Jekyll admitting defeat - that his carnal self, which took form in Mr. Hyde, was too strong and would ultimately be the end of the more noble Dr. Jekyll. It made me sad. Giving in felt too real. I didn't explain this to my new book club. They wouldn't understand. Books alter everything....