Monday, February 22, 2010

Olympic Splendor

I love the Olympics. Every two years, we get the chance to see men and women give everything they have to achieve a dream. There is drama, heartbreak, triumph, and about a dozen other things wrapped into four minutes on the ice or thirty seconds in the pool. The Olympics takes everything I love about sports and catapults those things onto a world stage where somehow we come together if only for two weeks. Spectators across the world join together, and for a short while we are interested in the same thing. We cheer for people who come from countries whose political ideologies we may not agree with. We mourn with people as they struggle – whether it is the sad death of the young luger from Georgia or the loss of a Canadian skater’s mother just two days before competition.

I hope you have had a chance to see a few of the highlights or read some of the incredible stories. Some of my favorite moments so far have included—

*learning about the Chinese pair skaters Shen and Zhao and watching their love translate into some of the most graceful and seemless skating I have ever seen.

*reading Rick Reilly's editorial about John Napier. I can’t say that I care much about bobsledding, but his story inspires me to be that much more appreciative of the men and women who are competing on completely different stage so that we remain safe here in the United States.

*laughing in disbelief at the snowboarding aerials and ski jumps that are landed - insane and incredible. Those people are so brave and so completely crazy.

*seeing Evan Lyscacek’s tears of joy and relief after his nearly perfect short program. Anyone who knows him has talked about his relentless dedication to his craft – that he practices more than he needs to because he cares that much. Learning that and then seeing his long program and bliss at winning gold were fantastic. Can’t say that I didn’t love the news today that he and Nastia Liukin are, in fact, a couple – not that we hadn’t already surmised that from her presence there with him. So much discipline and talent in one couple—

This is just the beginning of the wonders taking place in beautiful British Columbia. So glad we are only halfway through the games!

ps. Definitely would not have had a chance to watch the games without the magic of Jewels and her DVR. Way too many commercials to sift through if you're watching live and who really wants to watch ice dancing? So much better to just skip through and find Bode Miller tearing up the slopes or Evgeni Plushenko getting angry. So thanks Jewels and Brett for sharing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spills & Armadillo Heels

I have never been "light on my feet" - if there is a bump in the sidewalk or a cord on the floor, my feet will find it. If you've known me long enough, I've probably face planted next to you. That said, my falls have never looked quite as incredible as these lovely ladies. Courtesy of my teammate Corey, here is CNN's "breaking news" about models, heels, and fantastic spills. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Perfect Playlist

In my quest to be a frequent gym attendee, I’ve been working on a perfect gym playlist – the right blend of good beats and songs that won’t get old even when I’m hearing them five plus days a week. My list so far may look a bit like a high schooler’s, but it was it is - I love this type of music. So far my working list is –

“Tik Tok” Ke$ha
“Zero Gravity” David Archuleta
“Low” (feat. T-Pain) Flo Rida
“Let It Rock” Kevin Rudolf & Lil Wayne
“The Way I Are Are (feat. Keri Hilson & D.O.E.) Timbaland
“Show Off That Body You Got” Petey Pablo
“4 Minutes” (feat. Justin Timberlake & Timbaland) Madonna
“Drop” Ying Yang Twins
“S.O.S.” Rihanna
“Lose Control” Missy Elliott
“Walking On Sunshine” (Metro Remix) Jennifer Lopez
“When I Grow Up” The Pussycat Dolls
“Come Baby Come” Elvis Crespo And Gizelle D'Cole
“R.O.W.D.I.E.” The Jock Jams Cheerleaders
“Sexyback” Justin Timberlake
“My Life Would Suck Without You” Kelly Clarkson
“Let's Get Loud” Jennifer Lopez
“Boom Boom Pow” Black Eyed Peas
“I Gotta Feeling” Black Eyed Peas
“Forever” Chris Brown
“Lost Hawks” Andre Nickatina

Like I said, it’s a work in progress, and I’m always looking for new contenders. Any suggestions? They definitely do not have to be limited to the hip-hop world. My classic biking mix is mostly Kelly Clarkson and show tunes. I’d love new songs to add to the mix. Happy dancing/exercising/cleaning/whatever you do with pump up music!

Ps. For all my fellow “Biggest Loser” watchers, my playlist is called Jillian. Whatever it takes to not slack off when you’re working out, right?!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nerd Alert

I don’t read the dictionary – at least not often, but I love learning new words. I use the dictionary feature at least once a day along with my reading. I’ve been keeping a running list of some of the words I’ve looked up and actually want to learn….

macabre - adj - disturbing and horrifying because of involvement with or depiction of death and injury : a macabre series of murders.
degust - verb - taste (something) carefully, so as to appreciate it fully
patrician - noun - an aristocrat or nobleman
codices (pl, of codex) - noun - an ancient manuscript text in book form (an official list of medicines, chemicals, etc)
noetic - adj - of or relating to mental activity or the intellect
esoteric - adj - intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest : esoteric philosophical debates
carte blanche - noun- complete freedom to act as one wishes or thinks best : we were given carte blanche
eidetic - adj - relating to or denoting mental images having unusual vividness and detail, as if actually visible
sanguine - adj - cheerfully optimistic : they are not sanguine about the prospect
hubris - noun - excessive pride or self-confidence
zeitgeist - noun - the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time : the story captured the zeitgeist of the late 1960s
ubiquitous - adj - present, appearing, or found everywhere : his ubiquitous influence was felt by all the family

My favorite word off this list definitely has to be zeitgeist. How fun is that to say? The word I most need to keep in my head is esoteric. People use that word constantly. I’ve looked it up at least a dozen times, and finally I think I’ve got it. I told you – I am a nerd and proud of it.

*This post is dedicated to Jenessa and her list of 1000 words she is learning for the ACT.

Parking Gods

Call it what you want – parking gods, parking roulette, whatever – I am playing the game or being played every day. There are far more graduate students than there are grad spaces. So when you come after 8:30 in the morning, there’s nowhere to park. This may or may not mean that a certain gray CR-V with California plates has been in faculty A-lot spaces a couple times this past week. Don’t judge me. Guess who won these particular parking war battles? That’s right—ME. No tickets, nothing. Hallelujah. Amen. PTL. Call it what you want. Either way – I have to admit since I have to play it, I kinda love this parking game.

{Where I spend my days and where my car is parked at least four days a week - the slightly odd, slightly fantastic Tanner Building - picture obviously taken during a different season - way too much sun for February}

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Liz's Brilliant Musings

During my "last" year in Provo I lived with three fabulous friends - Maria (who I had met by chance and ultimately would become one of my dearest friends), Mags (who I am sure is a long lost sister), and Liz (who is very possibly the coolest person I ever lived with. In everything she did/does, Liz is completely her own person. When I grow up, I want to be her.). I have repressed a lot of what happened that year-- the two car accidents, the lost feeling that accompanied my sixth year in Provo, the fear of Ryan being really sick, etc. That said, I have not repressed how great it was to live with these girls. Living with Liz was a completely new experience. I loved getting to know her, and like I said I wanted to be her. Her writing possessed everything I wanted to have - authentic voice, beautifully crafted language, compelling stories - that even when completely fanciful were poignant and and compelling....

Now two plus years later, Liz still writes. Her blog is one of my favorites because it's so real, and it's so honest. Today she posted about cultural ambiguity. I love what she said. My views on culture are so wrapped up in the fact that I feel like I don't have a culture to cling to. I've tried embracing my German heritage - that's the one I talk about most often. I've tried being a bit more Italian - but the blonde hair throws people off, and really - I'm probably more English or Scottish than I am Italian.

There's no way to adequately wrap up what I think about this subject, but if you have a minute, read what Liz said. For lack of a better phrase, it's great food for thought. Enjoy! {Liz and her Sam during a great photo shoot on frozen Utah LAKE~}

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am wary of books that people hand me to read. There’s pressure to love what they love. And despite the risk of sounding picky, there are only a few people whose judgment I trust without question. Megan is one of those people, but still when she handed me “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter of Sweet,” I was nervous. What if I didn’t love it as much as she did? At first glance, it looked like a book that I would like. It had a beautiful cover, a haunting premise (anything World War II captivates me), and well-respected reviewers. That night after my visit with the fantastic Martin clan (still Megan if you’re not following), I started the book. A few days later, despite midterms and papers, I finished the book. What a brilliant and impeccable recommendation.

Jamie Ford’s foray into the controversial world of 1940s Japanese internment is hauntingly beautiful. Ford does not use the book to lay blame on the people who interred thousands of innocent men, women, and children (though he could have). Ford simply used the book to tell a story about a boy and girl who meet, fall in love, and are separated. Ford also calls into question the power of tradition – both culturally and familial. Ford does it all against the backdrop of Seattle’s international district, jazz clubs, a neighborhood private school, and a crumbling hotel that speaks volumes about the people that once frequented its halls.

I finished the week ago and a few things have continued to play on my mind -
*One is how rarely we understand why people are they are – be they our parents, our significant others, or our best friends. There are so many details wrapped in our individual beings and it’s impossible to have someone see and understand all those details. Sometimes you just have to have “been there” – but we can ask and we can learn.
*Another thing that has stuck with me is this love story between Henry and Keiko – I love their shy appreciation of each other and then the lengths they go to make the other happy. I love their love, even if it is only a fictional love, especially because I can hear it in the sounds of children laughing and bluesy jazz and see it charcoal pencils and blank paper. We need more pure love stories like theirs.
*Lastly, I am still sick over the images of Japanese internment. I have learned about it before in school, and met friends’ grandparents who were interned since the Bay Area is one of the main areas that Japanese people were rounded up. The timing though on reading this book was uncanny because I had just been debating our current treatment of Muslims in the United States, and our predispositions to racial profiling despite our best efforts. And then there was this book – I am sad that our country was so afraid and so hateful that we destroyed the lives of so many good people. And yet these people persevered – they continued to fall in love, to work, to believe in the American dream. What I fear still though after finishing is that we are capable of repeating this mistake. I know we are, and I don’t know how to make the situation any better.

Read this book. You won’t be disappointed. It’s one of the most redemptive stories I have read in a long time. We all need more redemption and more hope in our lives.


Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE Sundance. I drive up at least once a week to unwind and to just take in the whole awe-inspiring scene. I love those mountains. I love the trees that line the road up to the resort and Aspen Grove. I love the sound of the river. If I could live up at that resort for the rest of my life, I would gladly live in Utah forever....

Sundance has been especially beautiful this winter. If you ever want to go, I'm there. You do not have to ask twice.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

On My Mind

Today I've thought about...

...which chocolate banana bread recipe would be best to try. I settled on the one with sour cream in it. The bread is in the oven, so we'll find out soon if it was a good choice. much I want the Colts to win the Superbowl. Peyton Manning's precision is incredible.

...Jewels and Brett's constant willingness to let Ryan and I crash their fabulous place. Love them and Mae's personality. Can't get enough of the Munson clan. {Found this picture randomly in my photo library today. Mae has grown up so much! Love the reflection in the mirror--}

...the obsession some of us have with "Friends" - yes, my reference with the encyclopedias in the "Really?!" post was to Joey and the bizarre looking Penn (aka the salesman). I wasn't trying to be purposely vague - just trying to resist the urge to keep mentioning that show.

...the time it will take for "Sherlock Holmes" to hit the dollar theater. It's definitely worth a second viewing. Saw that last night with Emerald-- brilliant one liners, fantastic details, great music to set the tone, and of course, can't help but love the actors. Great too to catch up with Emerald and to run into Ian.

...if I had been a few days later with my "instead of" post that my conversation with Katie Fin that lasted until midnight on Wednesday would have been included. Instead of reading for HR or going to sleep, I had a great catch up session with her.

...Maria's upcoming birthday, Jewels and Brett's third anniversary, and Karleen and my half birthday - all February 10th, by the way.

...the fact that even though I don't like that football season is ending, March Madness and spring training are tangibly close.

...Sarah McLachlan and how much I still love listening to her albums. This week I had flashbacks to those days of sitting in my closet (yes you read that right) in high school and talking on the phone about the latest drama.

...the back of Uma Thurman's wedding dress in "The Accidental Husband" - so rare to love any aspect of a wedding dress with sleeves. Love Jeffrey Dean Morgan by the way. choice for a "Groundhog Day' - not the weather factor, but in honor of the fact that it was that little rodent's day this week, I've been pondering what day I would relive over and over. I definitely think it goes back to one of the days I spent in Kauai a few years ago - perfect warm, white sand, ice blue water, good books, cold chocolate drinks with pineapple in them, fabulous family, etc, etc.

...the worth of hearing other people's testimonies. Doesn't really matter what aspect of faith they talk about. It just helps reiterate why we believe what we believe. much I love the example of those who have gone before. I watched "Special Witnesses of Christ" today for the first time in ages. Powerful, reaffirming, uplifting, and about a dozen other adjectives. If it's been a while, watch it. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I am more than happy to share. I miss Pres. Hinckley by the way. He was such a great example of faith. classic Ryan's reactions are to the ups and downs the game. I better start paying full attention. Later skaters!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Star Sightings

I fascinated by all people, of course, but there is something surreal about seeing the actors who portray fictional characters on TV. They almost don’t seem like a part of our reality, and yet, in theory, they're just like you and me. I've actually had a few "star sightings" of my own this past month. So random, but here they are...

Matthew McConaughey

Who doesn’t love a good shirtless shot of Matthew McConaughey(hello, “How to Lose a Guy in 10 days”) or a line delivered with traces of his Texas accent (“I would have to say based on the evidence…”)? Maria and I were driving through Malibu in early January. She had showed me Pepperdine (where she is a brilliant 2nd year law student), and we had started winding through neighborhoods to admire the type of houses you only see in magazines. Maria had just finished telling me about her professor that lived in the particular neighborhood we were driving in and how Matthew McConaughey lived in that same neighborhood. She was cracking jokes about how the neighbors complain that he never wears very much (no joke), and there he was driving an insanely nice black Mercedes across the way from us at a four-way stop. I think I could get used to Malibu living.

Bart Johnson

Last Thursday, Jewels and I went on a trek to the Mac store in Salt Lake. While we were finishing up a man walked in that was instantly familiar to me. I knew he was in something, but I couldn’t figure it out. I looked at him much longer than I should have (because he eventually saw me looking at him and I didn’t really smile (as you normally do) because I trying to hard to place where I knew him from). I overheard him talking about his phone, etc, etc and heard his name. Still didn’t ring a bell. I had pieced together that it was a teenager movie of some sort, but that was it. Finally, halfway down the Gateway shopping center – it hit me. High School Musical – he was the dad (the one that looked way too young to be married to Troy’s mom, the one that needed to cut his hair in the third movie, and the one who never would have made enough money to live in the house they did). Bart Johnson aka Coach Bolton is good looking in real life and no, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I know HSM characters well enough to be able to reference them out of context. Go Wildcats!

Kristin Scott Thomas

I went up to Park City last weekend to check out the Sundance Film Festival. I wasn’t there to see any movies. The life of a college student doesn’t really allow for the cost of those festival ticket packages, but it was fun to walk around and see everything in action. They had cool lights strung up all over, and there were so many interesting people walking around. Lots of artsy people, lots of B and C wing looking people (Clayton Valley graduates – you know what I’m talking about), and lots of urban chic people. One of the urban chic people caught my eye because her outfit was so dramatic. Her hair was so black and her outfit with serious black boots and white fur (probably faux fur considering we were in Prius driving Hollywood land) was exceptionally dramatic. I looked at her twice partially because of her outfit, and partially because she looked like someone – Kristin Scott Thomas, to be exact. To be fair, I am not 100% about this one because I haven’t watched many of Thomas’ films, but if wasn’t her, she was certainly “somebody” or thought she was “somebody.”

Now, all these little tales make me think of that question of “if you could meet one actor, who would it be?” There’s a difference for me between meet and have a conversation with. For example, I have adored Matt Damon since I was 13. I’d love to meet him. More than that though, I would love to have a conversation with someone like Edward Norton. Po-tay-toes, Po-tot-toes, right?


“Really” is probably one of my most overused words. It’s one of the classic emphasis words (i.e., I’m REALLY excited for the Olympics to start this week). It’s also a common response to someone else’s comment (i.e., what Jewels says most often to Mae’s jabbering). More than that, it’s a sarcastic, but more polite way of saying “yeah right” or “no freaking way.” Or without the sarcasm, it’s the sign of incredulity – sometimes because I have no idea what someone is talking about or I can’t fathom what someone is saying. So here is a post dedicated to all different types of Really?!

*More than 70% of all Mallomars are consumed in the Manhattan metropolitan area. It says so on the box. My mom sent me Mallomars recently in honor “Gilmore Girls” – how have I never had these cookies before? Marshmallows and chocolate?! Heaven on a plate, especially since they are the type of cookie that you don’t feel compelled to eat more than one or two at a

*Encyclopedias are all but gone. That’s crazy! I saw a clip from an old sitcom last week where an encyclopedia salesman came to the main character’s door. My mom totally bough reference books from salesmen like that. I LOVED those books (yes, nerd tendencies have been my reality all my life). Don’t get me wrong – Google is magical, but it’s not the same as flipping through the dusty pages of our 1970s set of World Book encyclopedias.

*I love random news headlines on that have nothing to do with important world happenings like for example, “No fairytale. Teen sleeps for 13 days.” Who would do homework when they could read about that? True story by the way – a fifteen-year-old girl in the UK has an exceptionally rare disorder where she goes to sleep and doesn’t wake up for days at a time. {See – don’t you wish you read those newsfeeds?}

*Jenessa, my mom, and I went on a quick shopping trip the morning before I came back to Provo after career week (this is not the “really?!” part). We went to Sunvalley Mall (I know – crazy genes won the battle that morning) and had pizookies at BJ’s (not crazy at all – so delicious!). We visited American Eagle – all three of us bought something – 50, 26, and 16 – I think, ironically, my mom’s purchase was the best one. On our way out of the mall, we passed a small Borders that was going out of business. We loaded up on random books that were all 60-90% off. It was like that last Christmas gift that you find behind the tree – completely unexpected, completely fantastic. I love shopping with my girls (even more when Jewels and Mae can be there too!).

*I am so bad about getting rid of ratty t-shirts, but yesterday I actually threw away my Harvard t-shirt. My mom and Ryan got the shirt for me on Ryan’s choir trip to Boston. I loved that shirt –hence the ratty and the conspicuous holes. It was time that it was retired, and since it’s frayed edges wouldn’t really do much for a t-shirt quilt (not to mention the fact that I never attended Harvard or even really aspired to it like Rory), it is in the dumpster behind my apartment building.

*Speaking of old things, I found the address portion of my planner from freshman year of college. So odd to see names of people I don’t talk to anymore or to see the old numbers and addresses. Hard to believe that those days of David John hall or the early months of Raintree are so long ago!

*Lastly, I am sleeping more this semester – a good seven plus hours a night. It coupled with the fact that I’m going to the gym regularly is divine. I’m much more balanced and calm this semester. It "really" is an MPA miracle....

ps. Carli had her baby! So exciting-- fantastic too because ages ago we started calling her "Carli Marie" because she didn't have a middle name. Guess what baby girl Perry's middle name is?! Welcome Paige Marie to the world. Your Raintree aunts can't wait to met you!