Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It’s Been a Long Time...(Part 1)

Ok, time to confess. I haven’t written in my blog for several weeks (several weeks? Try several months), and I feel bad about it. The reason I feel bad is because these past several weeks (months) may be some of the most eventful of the year, and even of my life. So many big, important things happened that need to be documented. The only problem is, my memory is not the greatest for things that happened more than a week ago, so I’m sure that some things will get left out. But, I’ll do my best to highlight some of the major events and not make this entry too super lengthy. I do feel, though, to make up for my extended absence, that I should make this blog entry super special. So, here is my attempt to do that. Here it is- the super special extended multi-week blog extravaganza!

Where to begin? Perhaps I should start at the beginning. Or, I could be unconventional and start at the end and work my way backwards, but I fear that may be too confusing. What sticks out to me first is the trip my mom took to Utah to come and visit me (ok, and maybe the Lemleys as well). She came to Utah at the end of August and spent a few days here. It was convenient for me because I had a gap of time between the time I had to move out of one apartment and before I was allowed to move in to my new apartment. So, I was able to spend some of that time in a neighboring hotel room from my mom. I still worked while she was here, so it was a little torturous waiting out the eight hours of work until I could clock out and spend time with my mom. On the first night she was here, we went to dinner at Bajio and invited Erin to come along. We all had a lot of fun talking and eating good food, and my mom invited Erin to my family’s house for Thanksgiving. This was significant because it sparked the idea for a Disneyland trip in November, which will be happening about five days from when I’m writing this (uh...this actually happened almost a month ago). Besides that, I just spent the next couple of days hanging out with my mom, we watched Inkheart, ate good food, and generally had a great time. Then, we travelled back home in California so that I could go to the big Progressive Nation concert with my dad.

Progressive Nation 2009 was AWESOME! Four bands performed and they were all unique and great in their own way. The first band was the instrumental prog metal band, Scale the Summit. They were a fantastic opener and all were great at their instruments and brought the energy level up right at the outset. Bigelf came on next. They were probably my least favorite of the four bands, but they still played a great set of music that sounds like the hard rock of the seventies mixed with some prog metal. One of the coolest moments was Mike Portnoy coming out to play a song with them, it was all really fun. The next band to play was Zappa Plays Zappa, which is actually a tribute band of sorts to the late Frank Zappa fronted by his son Dwezzil Zappa. They were fantastic and blew me away! They played a very intricate progressive rock that was extremely difficult and complex. But, they pulled it all off amazingly. Mike Portnoy came on stage again to play a song with them as well. It was obvious that Mike is a huge fan of Zappa’s music, and after hearing them play, I am too. Then, the main band came out, Dream Theater! Dream Theater is one of my all-time favorite bands and it was a pleasure to see them live and see several songs from their latest album “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” which I absolutely love. The only downside of the concert was that a couple of guys sitting behind us sang every single song really loud and off-key so I couldn’t hear James LaBrie singing. My dad had enough by about the third song, and told the guys behind us to stop singing. It was all a little awkward for me, but I was glad to be able to hear the music more clearly from that point on. One of the most exciting parts of the concert was a big drum battle between all four of the progressive drummers at the concert, and of course Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater came out the victor. Then, the guitarists had a battle, and Steve Vai, a famous guitarist, came out to play with them! The crowd went crazy! The evening was so much fun, despite the large amounts of alcohol and marijuana being consumed (not by me of course, by others in the crowd).

After that, I had to fly on a plane back to Utah to start classes for fall semester. I got settled in my new apartment, which I’m very happy with. It is the same apartment I stayed in for Spring Semester, and I decided to stay here because I knew one of the roommates I would have and I knew I would get along with him. I was tired of having bad roommates that were hard to deal with. Luckily, this semester, I have 3 absolutely wonderful roommates who make things so much easier. I’m very happy with the living arrangement. The only downfall to the whole thing is that my ward is largely a freshman ward, so I feel like the old man of the ward. I’m pretty sure I am the oldest member of the ward (that isn’t in the Bishopric). Luckily, though, two of my roommates are returned missionaries, so I feel that they are more on the same age level as me. But, the ward is really good, so I have no reason to complain.

My classes are also all really good. I decided to only take 4 classes this semester, and it has proven to be a good balance for me. It’s funny though, two of my classes are similar, and the other two classes are similar, so it feels like I learn everything twice. Also, the two different types of classes are complete opposites in Psychology, so it has been an interesting semester. On one side I have Cognition and Behavioral Neurobiology, which are the more biological, brain based side of psychology that feels that everything can be understood by brain functioning. The other side is Critical Issues in Psychology and LDS Perspectives and Psychology, which has taught me the assumptions that most mainstream psychologists hold and how there are serious shortcomings within the field of Psychology. To be honest it has been a little discouraging, and made me waiver in my confidence with my decision to major in Psychology. But, I have made my choice, and regardless will graduate with a degree in Psychology, so we’ll see how that plays out in the future. It should be interesting.

Besides that, a very important part of my life right now is Erin and the time I’ve spent with her. After starting classes for fall semester, I started dating Erin, and have been having a great time with her. We have seen several movies together (Up, Fame, Toy Story 1 & 2, This Is It) and have had dinner a couple times, and have gone to a concert (Star Wars: In Concert). Another memorable time with her was her taking me to my mission reunion. My car had problems the week of my mission reunion, so I wasn’t going to be able to drive to my mission president’s house. Erin was really sweet and kind and offered to give me a ride to the mission reunion. I really appreciated that, it meant a lot to me. I felt bad because during the reunion, I was pretty awkward, since I never really do well at social gatherings with a lot of people. So, I said hi to a few people I knew and left early and got Wendy’s with Erin. I think it was a good choice because it took me out of the uncomfortable situation and allowed for me to spend more time with Erin.

That is really the main problem I have with myself, my crippling fear in social situations. I wish I was able to be more natural and normal and truly express those things I am feeling, but I find myself unable to. Hopefully over time I will improve. Ooh, I got sidetracked a bit with that personal note. Anyways…yes things are going great with Erin and I’m really happy to be dating her. I feel extremely privileged and blessed by the whole opportunity.

Other big excitement over the past few weeks was my trip with Kevin to California to go to CalProg. The week before we were about to leave, my car started acting weird, so I took it to Jiffy Lube to get an oil change. Well, as always it seems, it ended up that I had a bigger problem than just low oil- I had a leak in the oil sending unit, and it ended up costing my family a lot of money to get it fixed by a mechanic. But, it was fixed, and Kevin and I were able to go to California as planned, and we had a great time! My dad got tickets for Kevin and I as a birthday present for me, and we really had a blast. The first band to perform was Touchstone and they did a decent job. They have a female lead singer, which is pretty rare in progressive rock, and she proved to be a really good front woman. The bass player was also a lot of fun, and the guitarist seemed funny, but mainly because he kept having to deal with sound issues throughout their whole set. After their set, Kevin and I went to McDonalds (since I failed to get up early enough for us to be able to get Breakfast before Touchstone started) and discussed how awesome they were. We also pulled out some money at an ATM so that we could buy souvenirs.

The next two bands to play were Agents of Mercy and Karmakanic, and this was what I was most excited about. These two bands have the exact same line-up of musicians, which included some heroes of mine, namely Roine Stolt and Jonas Reingold of The Flower Kings and Nick D’Virgilio of Spock’s Beard. Agents of Mercy was led by Roine Stolt since it is mainly his project, and they played a good portion of songs from their one album that came out earlier this year. They really made the songs come to life! On the album the music is very laid back and pastoral, but they really brought out the beauty and fun of the music, I was really impressed. More impressive, though, was their set as Karmakanic led by Jonas Reingold. They blew me away! Along with Zappa Plays Zappa from prog nation, it was one of the most mind-blowing live experiences I’ve ever had. Their keyboard player, Lalle Larsson, was absolutely amazing and mesmerized me with an incredible solo. Nick D’Virgilio, with little rehearsal time, played magnificently, and had an incredible solo himself that was absolutely amazing. I loved this bands’ performance. After them, It Bites performed, and they were great too! They aren’t quite as full blown progressive as Karmakanic, but their songs were really catchy and fun and all the musicians were playing at the top of their game. The only disappointment was the lack of songs from The Tall Ships, which is the only album I have from them. One of the greatest moments while they were on stage was when John Mitchell, their frontman, started playing Supper’s Ready, and then stopped and said, “That doesn’t sound right.” It was funny.

To Be Continued...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sorry, I Can't Say No


Hmmm…what is there to talk about this week? It was not the most eventful week I've ever had. I went to Erin's house a couple of times, one time I caught her and Kevin in the middle of "Cats". Erin's mom answered the door and said, "I have to warn you, they are watching 'Cats' up there." I told her that I would be brave, and I went upstairs to meet my friends, and they thankfully turned the movie off and we watched good entertainment- The Office (I have never seen 'Cats' so I have no place to judge it, so don't hate me if you happen to love 'Cats'). I also went to Erin's house earlier in the week to pick up season two of House and I stayed at her house for a while and played Guitar Hero and watched the first episode of season two of House. That was probably the most fun I had in the week.

The other fun part of the week was going to Tucanos with Kevin on Saturday. Since it was during my birthday month, my meal was free, which was really nice. I love the food there and it is always fun spending time with Kevin. The bad story of the week, which I hesitate to share because it makes me more upset each time I think about it, is that I got conned by a girl selling magazine subscriptions. Ok, I don't really know if I was conned, but the more I think about the circumstances behind it, the more I'm convinced that I was. This girl came to the door and told me a sad story about how she grew up with abuse and drugs in her home, and that she escaped from it and is now trying to change her life around. And, as if she knew me personally, she said that her goal is to become a child psychologist. She asked if she could come in just to give her a chance, so I thought I would be nice and let her in. What happened from there was her asking me to select three magazines and basically pressuring me into buying one. I thought it would be harmless to buy a subscription because it was cheap and I wanted to help this girl out who seemed genuine at the time. Well, the cost kept building after I'd agreed ("oh, by the way, there is a $13 shipping and handling fee that I forgot to tell you about..."). And, the weirdest part of all was that she told me she would get more "points" for her sale if she went with me to the ATM to get the money.

I should have stopped there and got suspicious, but for some reason at the time it seemed harmless, and I wanted to be done with the whole thing before I agreed to buy another magazine subscription. So, I drove to the ATM with her in the car and pulled in the drive thru ATM to get the money for her. To top everything off, I had to pull out in increments of $20, and she didn't have change for the $20, so I just let her keep the change. After the whole ordeal, I was just glad to be done with the whole transaction and I thought that maybe somehow I had helped her cause and that she would feel more self-esteem for making the sale and would be able to get one step closer to getting out of an abusive situation and towards a career as a child psychologist. But, as I've thought about it, I think maybe she was dishonest about her situation just to garner sympathy so that I would be a sucker and fall for her sales pitch. The only consolation I have is that my neighbor next door fell for the same sales pitch.

So, after that experience, I have made a promise to myself that I won't allow myself to fall victim to solicitors. Kevin and I have a joke that began coincidently with lunch at Tucanos. At Tucanos the waiters continually come to the table to offer various meats, and I always accept and never turn down any kind of meat that I'm offered. We joked about how I can never say no to whatever is offered to me. Well, when Kevin went to the bathroom, he told me to make sure that the waitress didn't take away his plate because he still had some pineapple that he wanted to eat. When I wasn't paying attention, the waitress had taken Kevin's plate away, and when Kevin came back and saw his plate was gone, I told him, "Sorry, I couldn't say no" and we started cracking up. Well, I felt the same way after the soliciting girl left, although it wasn't as funny this time. It taught me that I need to be able to say 'no'. Hopefully I've learned my lesson now.

Wow, I did not plan on spending most of my blog entry on that experience, but I guess it shows that it has been on my mind a lot in the past week. Besides that, I've had to deal with some unpleasantness. Last week, a sharp pain started in my tail bone. This made it very hard for me to sit at work for 8 hours. The pain was almost unbearable, and the only way I could get through it was mass amounts of Aspirin. On top of that, on Saturday night I started feeling sick to my stomach. The combination of the two was almost more than I could bear and I spent much of Sunday lying in my bed in pain. As you may have guessed, it wasn't fun. It resurfaced a bit this week, keeping me from work for a couple of days. Luckily the sickness in my stomach is completely gone and the pain in my tail bone is going away. I am very thankful and it is making me very happy now that I'm not in pain.

Wow, this has been a bit of a depressing blog post. Oh well! Sorry! I'm hoping next week is better because my mom is coming into town! The plan is that my mom will come on Monday next week and we'll leave Utah together Thursday night, stay at a hotel halfway, and then arrive at home Friday afternoon. Then, I'll go to my big summer concert with my dad on Saturday and fly home on a plane Sunday afternoon in time for Fall semester to start the next day! Sounds exciting, huh? I'm really looking forward to it. And that is pretty much it for now! I hope to have interesting things to discuss next week.

P.S. Sorry, I had to comment on the picture that goes with this post. I usually try to find a picture from the show Lost that somehow goes with the topic in my post, but if I can't figure anything out, I just go for a cool picture from the last episode I saw. So, this is a random picture, but kind of in a funny way goes with the title of the blog post anyways. I'm not planning on shooting anyone anytime soon, don't worry, I can say no to committing murder ;)

P.P.S. I'm an idiot! I tell a whole story about a girl conning me and I can't think of any connection with Lost? I fail.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Birthday Surprise


Starting from where I left off last week, I had a wonderful birthday trip in which everything worked out perfectly. Probably the only thing that wasn't perfect was the fact that I got Kevin home later than I promised, but I think he has forgiven me by now. When I finally got to my room after the long drive, I noticed a large birthday card laying on my bed. I was immediately perplexed and thought maybe my roommates or my ward had made me a birthday card. Once I opened the card, I got concerned because I thought it was saying that someone had stolen my stuff and I had to go to a random person's house in order to get it back. When I read the card more carefully, though, I realized it was from Erin and that she was merely wanting me to come over to her house the following day and to bring rock band, so I could have the Lost DVDs I let her borrow back. The card was brilliantly done, by the way, with a beautiful drawing on the front and the inside in a ransom note format with every letter taken from a different magazine. I was very happy that night and texted Erin the next day thanking her for the card and asking what time I should come over with Rock Band.

So, I went over to Erin's house with Rock Band in my car and we brought it upstairs in her house and set it all up. She gave me my DVDs back (and this was when I realized that not only did she have the Lost DVDs I let her borrow, but she had taken another season while she was delivering my card!) and we proceeded to have tons of fun playing rock band. Rock Band is my favorite game of all time, and unfortunately most of the people I know either don't like to play it or are too busy to play it. Erin and I traded off between drums and guitar and we had a blast. After we played rock band, we decided to watch an episode of House and Erin made a pizza. Unfortunately, the pizza was left in the oven too long and ended up being burnt, but she made chicken nuggets instead and those were really good. I stayed at her house pretty late and she suggested that I should leave Rock Band at her house since it was late and I was tired. I agreed to this, and went back home and almost immediately went to bed.

The next day was my actual birthday! Yay! In all honesty, I was a little depressed at work because nobody acknowledged it being my birthday (to their defense, nobody probably even knew it was my birthday) and I had to work, which can be boring. Kevin promised me a "surprise" though once I got off work, so I anxiously waited for 5, which is when I got off work, and I drove home really fast and waited for Kevin to come pick me up. Kevin picked me up and we went to his mystery place for dinner, which ended up being...Brick Oven! I was really excited, that is one of my favorite restaurants! And, for another surprise, Erin met us there and we had dinner with her as well! It was awesome having dinner with my two best friends and we had a great time. We all ordered the market buffet and filled up on salad and pasta. Our waiter was pretty funny and he kept mentioning to me "the embarrassment" that would come at the end of our meal, which of course was the waiters gathering around to sing their version of Happy Birthday. He even made me stand up as they all sang to me so that the whole restaurant could see me. I was a little embarrassed, but it was all fun...I think Kevin is the one to blame for the waiter finding out that it was my birthday.

At dinner I got an incredible present from Erin- the first 3 books in the Percy Jackson series. I have already read the first and am almost done with the second and they are great! After dinner, we went to the next surprise, which ended up being going to Erin's house to play Rock Band! Kevin told me about how he was behind the whole plan of Erin making that birthday card for me and taking my Lost DVDs so that I would bring Rock Band to her house. He was also responsible for having Erin keep me at her house late so that I would leave my Rock Band at her house so we could play it the next day! Kevin and Erin had planned out the whole thing and I had fallen for it! I am so gullible sometimes. So, we all played Rock Band and had a great time. I was impressed to see Kevin actually pick up a guitar instead of drums. He did really well. The final surprise of the night was that we were all going to watch the last performance episode of So You Think You Can Dance together, which I thought I would have to miss. It was a great show and tons of fun to watch it with two great friends. Afterwards we played more Rock Band, and then Kevin and I left. It was a great birthday, one of the more memorable ones I've ever had.

The day after my birthday, I started not feeling so well. I got an incredibly severe headache and I was really tired all day (probably because of staying up late on my birthday). Work was torture that day, but once I got home I took some aspirin and immediately started feeling better. I was able to go to Erin's house that night and watch the So You Think You Can Dance finale. I was very happy with the finale, they danced all my favorite routines over again, and the winner truly deserved it. It was another great evening, and I was impressed that Kevin stayed for the whole show since he had to get up early the next day for work. The next day was an average day at work- luckily I didn't have the tiredness and headache I had the previous day. On Saturday, Kevin and I got together to watch one of my favorite movies, Knowing.

Besides that, I have been watching episodes of House like crazy to try to be caught up by the time the sixth season starts. I also have been reading a lot of Percy Jackson and remembering how much I love Greek mythology. I am very happy with life right now, and I'm grateful to have great friends to hang out with and to help lift my spirits when I need it. I am so happy with the whole surprise that Kevin and Erin planned for me for my birthday, and that, combined with spending the previous weekend with my family and attending an incredible concert, has made this one of the most incredible birthdays I've ever had. Now I have to play the waiting game until the next fun event, which will be attending prog nation with my dad at the end of August. This has been a truly great summer!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Birthday Trip


Ok, now for the more fun and less serious part of my blog post today! I am going to outline my crazy birthday trip from this past weekend, both the good and bad moments. It was an extremely memorable trip for me and I think it will be one of the top highlights of 2009 for me. But, it did have what could only be called a shaky start...

On Thursday morning, I got up at 9 to get ready so that Kevin and I could leave at 10 to go to California. After a quick shower and some last minute packing, I brought all my things out to the car and started checking the car to make sure I have enough oil and other fluids in the car so that no accidents would occur on the trip (since I have had that happen to disastrous results in the past). Well, I think I obsessed over it a little too much on Thursday morning. I checked the oil and it seemed a little low to me. Then, I saw that the coolant was pretty low, so I decided I should fill it with more coolant. Well, I made the mistake of having my car turned on as I was checking all of these things, so when I poured the coolant into the correct container, I spilled some and it spilled onto the power steering belt and the belt stopped and seemed to be broken. I have had this problem happen before, and I knew that the belt being broken meant that my steering wheel wouldn't turn correctly and would almost be locked up. So, I drove the car through the parking lot and my worst fear was realized. After a frantic call to my mom as Kevin came walking up, I decided that I had to take my car into the shop to get the belt fixed. After much deliberation, I decided that I would just try to "brave it out" and just drive the car to the shop even though it would be extremely difficult to turn due to the broken belt since I didn't want to have to wait for a tow truck.

Well, I got to the shop just fine, and I left it there for the mechanic to fix. He said he would get to it in about 45 minutes, so Kevin and I left in his car to go get some breakfast/lunch. We came back about an hour later and they hadn't looked at my car yet. So, we waited in the waiting room for some time until the mechanic finally called my name and told me the bad news. He said that this is a common problem for these types of cars, so the car company has developed a special $300 kit in order to fix the problem. With $150 of labor on top of that, the whole thing ended up costing quite a bit, and I felt really bad because my dad ended up having to pay for it. The other bad news was that it would take until 4:00 for it to be fixed, meaning that we would be leaving 6 hours behind schedule.

I was pretty depressed, but luckily I have a great friend who was there to help me through it all. Kevin suggested we go see a movie, so we went to the dollar theater and decided on seeing Night at the Museum 2. It was far from being a masterpiece, but there were some funny moments that helped keep my mind off of the bad things that had happened that morning. After the movie, we had lunch at Del Taco, and talked for quite a bit before returning to the car shop to pick my car back up. We decided since we were leaving so late that we couldn't make it all the way to my house, so we decided to stay at a hotel in Mesquite.

On the way to the hotel, as further manifestation of my bad luck that day, I got pulled over by a cop. I was shocked when it happened because I was going exactly the speed limit, but, lo and behold, the red and blue flashing lights were going off behind me, so I pulled over. Apparently, a cop had been behind me with its lights on for quite some time and I didn't see him, which had delayed him in getting to an accident where a motorcycle had hit a deer. So, I was getting pulled over for not pulling over for a cop. I am shocked that I didn't notice a cop behind me because just the glimpse of a cop without its lights on strikes fear in my heart, but apparently thats what happened. Luckily the police officer was nice and only gave me a warning instead of a ticket. From now on, I will be glancing in the rear view mirror a lot more often when I drive so I can get out of the way of emergency vehicles.

We finally arrived at our hotel, which ended up being pretty nice. That night I reflected on the bad events of the day and decided that they were actually blessings in disguise. Perhaps, if we hadn't had that car problem in the morning, I would have had a problem in the middle of the trip in the middle of Nevada where it would have been a lot more difficult to get help. Also, I got off with only a warning from the cop and learned a lesson about being more attentive as I drive that helped me later on in the drive to my house. Friday morning we left relatively early and the most notable thing that happened was that when we were minutes away from my house, a cop car got on the freeway right in front of me and started swerving through all the freeway lanes! I was very confused and didn't know what to do, so, because of the cop that pulled me over, I decided to just pull over on the side of the road. I guess the cop was clearing traffic for something up ahead, but as we drove past later there didn't seem to be any accident, so I'm not quite sure what it was all about. All I know is that it was scary in that moment.

Well, I finally arrived at my house and the fun officially started. We had a celebration of sorts for my birthday which involved watching that weeks episodes of So You Think You Can Dance, eating my favorite dinner (fried chicken and mashed potatoes), blowing out the candles on the birthday cake, and opening up presents. I was touched by the kindness of my family, and it was a great night and a highlight of my trip. On Saturday night, Kevin and I went to the big concert which was Nick D'Virgilio and 12 other musicians performing one of my favorite albums of all time: Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway". The concert was spectacular and the band did the album justice. Nick was especially entertaining as the front man and sang flawlessly. I really enjoyed the drumming of Jimmy Keegan, who is also the touring drummer for Spock's Beard. It was all a blast to watch and reminded me all over again why that album is so special to me.

After they performed the Lamb, Alan Morse and Dave Meros from Spock's Beard joined Nick on stage for a special set of Spock's Beard songs. They performed four of my favorite Spock's Beard songs: On a Perfect Day, The Bottom Line, Gibberish and June. For "On a Perfect Day" the horns joined the band and it sounded great! On "Gibberish" Nick D'Virgilio got on the drums and gave an outstanding performance as the band nailed the multi-part vocal counterpoint. It was a special night, and Kevin and I couldn't stop talking about it. It is one of the more memorable concerts I've been to and it gave me new respect for Nick D'Virgilio who was the main man in the spotlight.

Sunday was a pretty relaxed day. After church, I watched some TV with my family and that night we watched the movie "Pee-Wee's Great Adventure" and all had some laughs over it. The next day we had lunch with my family before we took off to come back to Provo. I was sad to leave my family, but luckily I'll be seeing them again at the end of the month, which should be a lot of fun. I felt bad because I got Kevin home later than I promised, but I'm hoping that he has forgiven me by now. And that was about it for the trip! It was a great time and I believe it is one of my greatest birthdays ever. Of course, my birthday isn't over yet, but even if nothing happened at all today, it would still be one of my most memorable. There have been other experiences this week, such as Erin taking my Lost DVDs for ransom, but I will leave that story for next week so there is something interesting in next weeks blog entry and that this one isn't any longer than it already is. So, in summary, my trip was awesome and I thank my family and Kevin for making it so awesome.

24 Years of Life: A Reflection

First and foremost I want to express gratitude on this, the 24th Anniversary of my birth, for the wonderful 24 years of life that I've had. There have been many memorable moments, both good and bad, but overall these experiences have been beneficial and have shaped me into who I am today. I wanted to identify what I consider to be the five most crucial moments in my development. I'll try to keep it relatively brief because I don't want to seem pretentious or self-involved, but I thought my birthday would be an appropriate time for some honest self-reflection. These moments are in chronological order and calling them moments is misleading because many of them cover many years.

1. The beginning of my most meaningful friendship

When I was ten, during the summer of 1995, I took swimming lessons at the Troncales, a family that was really close friends with my family. Taking swimming lessons in the same group as me was a boy my same age named Kevin. Through a series of events that honestly isn't completely clear to me now (bad long-term memory) we became close friends and would often play together with legos and my collection of action figures. This friendship has stayed very strong even up until now, surviving a devastating moment where Kevin moved to Utah only after about a year of being friends. We kept in contact through various methods, saw each other practically every summer, and ended up both going to BYU and even being roommates at a point. Kevin has been a huge influence on me through practically every important part of my life. Which leads to moment #2...

2. My baptism

Kevin was really my first introduction to the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints, even though my mom had been a member since she was little. His enthusiasm along with other events occurring in my family, led to my family getting more involved in the church, and this culminated in me getting baptized at the age of ten. I honestly don't remember much about the events leading up to the baptism, such as the missionary discussions I had, but I know that the decision to be baptized has led me down a certain path, and I don't know where I'd be if I hadn't made that decision. I'm so grateful for the support of my family and in Kevin's encouragement as I made that big decision. Also notable to me, is that my dad was baptized shortly after I was, and I feel in some way that my baptism was a step in bringing my whole family together and closer to our Heavenly Father. This was especially made clear when I had the privelege of being sealed to my family in the San Diego Temple.

3. My Dad introducing me to music

This moment may not seem to fit with the rest, but it is significant to me because music is a huge part of my life that has helped to inspire and comfort me during crucial moments in my life. My love of music began when my dad first really showed me the music of The Beatles. He went out and bought the red and blue albums containing the Beatles biggest hits and I listened to them nonstop. Later on, my dad bravely showed me a more experimental type of music called Progressive Rock beginning with his favorite band, Gentle Giant. I was blown away at first listen, and this began my addiction to progressive rock, and my constant search to find new music that touches me as deeply as Gentle Giant did that first day my dad showed it to me. I listen to music almost constantly and it helps me through some of the darker times and has helped me to find inspiration when I've needed it. One particular artist that has been significant to me is Neal Morse, whose music has touched me in a more profound way than any other artist.

4. Getting Accepted to BYU

During my development through childhood and adolescence, I always placed a high importance on school. This was especially true in High School, where I took as many honors and AP classes as I could and graduated with over a 4.0 GPA and a lot of college credit. The decision of which college to go to was a big one, and I had several in mind when I first was deciding where to apply to. But, I ended up feeling prompted to just apply to BYU, so I dropped all other applications and applied to the three BYUs, hoping that I would get accepted. Fortunately, I was accepted at BYU Provo, and I truly feel in retrospect that the spirit prompted me to go to BYU. I have learned many valuable things here, both spiritual and secular. I have had wards that have lifted me up and made me stronger spiritually, and I have had classes that have changed the way I previously thought about the world. I have changed majors in the middle of my BYU experience, but I feel that every single class I have taken has been useful to me and I feel it has truly prepared me for my future.

5. The Mission

There is a lot I can say about my mission, but I will attempt to be brief (which hasn't really been working so far). A mission was about the scariest thing I could imagine as I was growing up. As a chronically shy person, spending two years constantly talking to strangers about something they were most likely going to reject sounded terrifying. But, I decided to go anyways. I had a lot of opportunity to bail out, I had health issues that would have been an easy excuse to not serve a mission, but I persisted and the mission ended up being a huge growth experience. There are two people that were very instrumental in me choosing to go on a mission. My best friend, Kevin, because he had such an excitement about serving a mission that was contagious, and my freshman bishop at BYU, Bishop Greenhalgh, who was a prime example of what a spiritual man of God should be and who gave me responsibilities that helped prepare me for the mission. The mission taught me to be more self-less and to truly care for others, regardless of their circumstance. I love so many people that I met from my mission: my mission companions, my investigators and converts, and church members of the areas I served in. It taught me to be more independent and responsible. And, it helped me to face a big fear and to teach me that I'm capable of great things.

Those are the five experiences that stick out to me that have shaped me into who I am today. I hope to have many more of these defining moments throughout my life and hope that I can keep these ones in mind so that I can learn from them and grow from them. I am thankful for all those who have made my life what it is today, and I hope on this, my birthday, that I can truly realize how much I have to be grateful for from my 24 years of life so far.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fairly Average


This past week was a fairly average one. It mainly consisted of my normal routine of work and sleep, which is not something particularly fun to write about (or read for that matter). But, I am committed to writing once a week in this blog, no matter how mundane, so here goes! I think part of what has made this past week seem so uneventful is that it has been a hard adjustment after the fun I had with my family the previous week. I found that I was just getting through the day so that I could get one step closer to the weekend, and more importantly one step closer to the next time I get to see my family, which is this upcoming weekend.

At work I have been struggling with a Japanese course. At my job, I go through independent study courses to make sure they are working correctly, they make sense, that there aren’t typos or errors- mainly I’m making sure that a student wouldn’t have a difficult time getting through the course. Well, the latest course that I’m reviewing is a second year Japanese course, which can be difficult since I don’t know any Japanese. I spent about a day at work reviewing first year Japanese in preparation for this course, but I’m still a little lost in what to comment on in my review. It has made work a little frustrating the past several days. But, I make it more fun by putting the Japanese through a free online translator and seeing what funny translations come out. I think it is important to try to squeeze some fun out of a difficult situation.

I did something I never thought I would last Monday: I saw the Hannah Montana Movie at the dollar theater! Erin invited me, and I thought it might be a fun way to clear my head of all the Japanese, so I went. Erin and her brother joked during the whole movie which made it a lot more fun, and the movie itself wasn’t half bad! I was expecting more of a Hannah Montana concert, but I was happy that it was an actual movie with a plot that had a few funny moments. On Friday I had work off because of Pioneer Day, and I spent part of it watching So You Think You Can Dance at Erin’s house and then talking to her about our Disneyworld trip next summer. I am really getting excited for this trip and I think it’ll be tons of fun and a great way to celebrate graduation from BYU with two great friends of mine.

On Thursday I went to Kevin’s house to help him with some of his latest Disneyland videos. Unfortunately most of what we did won’t work out and he is going to re-film it all, but it was still fun seeing the process of how he makes his Lego Disneyland movies. The best part of the night was making the movie of the Disneyland fireworks show. Kevin made a lego Sleeping Beauty Castle that looked excellent, and looked almost identical to the real thing when it was lit up with glowsticks. My job ended up being holding a light and shining it on the castle at the right moment. Kevin’s dad took care of the fireworks, which he would light behind the castle when Kevin directed him to. It all worked really well, especially the second half of the movie. I was able to shine the light on the castle at just the right moment and several of the fireworks went off at just the right moments to the soundtrack. So, it was a fun night and I’m glad I played a part (even though it was a very small part) in Kevin’s Disneyland movies.

And, really, that is about all I have to say! I spent the weekend catching up on my reading and watching Season 1 of House (which Erin let me borrow). It was nice to just have a calm and relaxing weekend without having to worry about anything. Next week, I’ll try to make up for this relatively boring entry. My plan is to write my next entry on my birthday (Aug. 5th) and to talk about my big weekend trip. I’m going home for the weekend with Kevin and we are going to have a little celebration for my birthday and then go see a concert that I am SUPER excited for! The concert will be 12 musicians playing the entire “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” album, with Nick D’Virgilio of Spock’s Beard. After they play The Lamb, the other members of Spock’s Beard are going to come on stage and they are going to play some Spock’s Beard songs! It should be a lot of fun, and I can’t even express how excited I am for it! I just have to get through three days of work, and then the fun begins! I can’t wait! This is a lot of exclamation points!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Family Fun


This was actually a fairly interesting week! Hooray! What made it interesting was that my family was here for a few days and boy was it nice to see them. It was way too short and I miss them now that they are gone, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted. They came late afternoon on Sunday. It felt like such a long time waiting for them on Sunday. I went to church and came home hoping that my family was close, but they were still over 3 hours away, so I watched the finale of Harper’s Island while I waited. When they finally arrived in Provo, I immediately drove to their hotel and we talked a bit before going to the Lemleys for dinner.

I was a great, fun time at the Lemleys since the Troncales were there as well. We ate chicken salad sandwiches and talked for quite some time. I talked to Kevin for a good portion of the time and I was very impressed with his latest lego Disneyland video he did on The Haunted Mansion. He showed several of the videos he has done to my family and everyone was very impressed. Afterwards we went back home and just talked some more in the hotel room and I got home pretty late. The unfortunate side effect of my family being in town was that I got home late every night and still had to get up early for work, which really got hard, especially after the third day in a row. I was excited on Monday because my Dad and sister came to my work during my lunch break to have lunch with me. I was able to show them my workplace and to show them a little bit of BYU campus, mainly the Wilk where we ate lunch. After I got off work that day, I raced to the hotel and went with my family to a great hamburger place called 5 Guys and then to see Star Trek. Star Trek is one of my favorite movies of the summer, so I was very excited to see it with my family, and they all seemed to love it (except maybe my sister Lauren who said she didn’t really get what was going on most of the time). After we got out of our theater, we ran into Erin who was there seeing Transformers with her family. After a quick hello and goodbye to her, we went back to the hotel room to just hang out and talk some more and once again I got home late and had to wake up for work early.

On Tuesday, I got off work an hour early so that we would be able to get to our concert at a decent time. The American Idol concert was the main event of my family being in Provo. On the way to the E-Center, I showed my dad some of the new Dream Theater album, and unfortunately he didn’t seem too excited by it. Hopefully he’ll still find some enjoyment out of the Dream Theater concert we are attending at the end of the Summer. We parked at the e-center and then left to go have dinner at Costa Vida. The concert itself was tons of fun! I was pleasantly surprised by many of the American Idol contestants, many who didn’t impress me all too much while they were on the show. I especially liked Scott MacIntyre, who had a very pure, strong voice and did a great version of Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles, Anoop Desai, who sang really well on a couple of ballads and then had more fun during the upbeat My Perrogative, and Matt Giraud who played some mean piano and did a great version of Hard To Handle.

But, the highlight of the show was the second half which featured the top four contestants of the season. Of course, as I expected, the standout set was Adam Lambert, who proved that he is already a superstar. He did several songs that were popular during the show (Whole Lotta Love, Mad World, and the duet with Allison- Slow Ride). But, what impressed me the most were the songs I hadn’t seen him perform before, Starlight by Muse and the David Bowie medley. Adam looks like he has been performing all his life, and his voice is perfect, there were no flaws whatsoever with his voice. Kris Allen had the difficult task of following Adam, but he did great as well and proved why he deserved to win, I especially liked his rendition of Bright Lights. The concert was a lot of fun and it was fun to talk to my family about the performances and see what everybody liked the best. What I loved was that before the concert even started, there was a monitor that would show certain idol themed things, and whenever Adam’s face appeared on screen the crowd would go crazy. It is nice to know that my favorite contestant of the season is widely appreciated, even in Utah.

That night, I had to say my sad goodbye to my family. I stayed as long as I could, and impressed my family with my “name that tune” skills. But, the time came and I left. What made it not quite as sad is that I know I’ll be seeing them again in a couple of weeks when I go home around my birthday for the Rewiring Genesis concert. The next morning was very difficult since I had stayed up so late, so I struggled to stay awake while I worked. Needless to say, that night I went to bed early to attempt to catch up on the sleep I had lost during the first part of the week. The other interesting part of my week was on Friday when Kevin and I went to go see Harry Potter. He had already seen it at the midnight showing, but it was a new experience for me. The show we wanted to see at 7:45 was sold out as well as the next showing at 8:40, so we ended up having to see the movie at 9:45. I was happy with this because it gave us time to go to FYE and shop for CDs, a favorite pastime of mine.

The movie was great! One of my favorite of the Harry Potter movies for sure. I loved all the humor they included in the movie and I really thought the actors did a great job, especially the actors who play Draco and Snape. I found the movie very entertaining and was mostly very faithful to the book. It is one of my favorite books in the series and I feel it sets the stage perfectly for the thrilling conclusion that will be split up into two movies.

And that is really about it for the week. I really enjoyed having my family here for the week, it definitely will be a highlight of the summer for me, and the only negative consequence of it is that I’m going through a little bit of the blues after having to say goodbye and going through my relatively lonely usual routine throughout the week this week. But, I should have hope because I’ll get to see them again in about a week from when I am writing this (ok, a week and a day…don’t want to get ahead of myself). So, that is all! I will write again next week :D

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Friendship


Well, I think I’m going to keep this week’s entry nice and short and leave all the exciting, juicy details of my family’s visit to Utah for next week. So, what could I pull out that is of interest from the past week? This could be tough…oh wait, I just remembered what I was going to write about this week! On Thursday and Saturday, Kevin and I watched the entire Lord of the Rings Extended Edition. Neither of us had seen the extended version of Return of the King, and I hadn’t seen any of the movies since before my mission about 5 years ago (which is a crime because they are my favorite movies). Although, to be fair, I’m not big on re-watching movies, even when they are my favorites. However, I think every five years is spread out enough that they are still fresh when I see them each time.

Anyways, I was reminded all over again about how brilliant these movies are. I find them to be truly perfect movies that have everything you could possibly want: humor, romance, action, a moral lesson, and spiritual imagery. I think I am going to outline my four favorite scenes of the entire trilogy. Most of them deal with my favorite character of the whole series, but we’ll get to that in a minute. The first favorite scene is towards the end of Fellowship of the Ring when…oh I should also mention that these are big spoilers, so if for some crazy reason you’ve never seen or read Lord of the Rings, skip to the end of my entry. Ok, so, it is at the end of Fellowship of the Ring when the orcs are attacking and Boromir is fighting them off. After much fighting, he gets struck in the chest with an arrow, which stops him for a moment. But, he doesn’t let that stop him, he keeps going and continues attacking orcs. Then he gets hit a second time with an arrow! But, he doesn’t let that stop him either and he continues fighting bravely as he is dying. He gets hit with a third arrow and the orc who is shooting the arrows comes close to Boromir and points his bow and arrow inches away from Boromir for the final blow. Luckily, Aragorn comes to the rescue, cuts off the orcs head, and Boromir gets the heroic death he deserves. I love this scene because it showcases extreme bravery and being able to stand up against adversity. Boromir could have easily given up after getting hit by the first arrow, but he knew he needed to continue fighting as much as he could to allow Frodo a chance to escape.
Ok, I need to keep this short, I’m saying too much. My next favorite scene happens shortly after this scene when Frodo is about to row away in a boat to go to Mordor alone to destroy the ring. Sam comes running up as Frodo is leaving, and runs out into the water, even though he can’t swim, and says that he won’t let Frodo go without him. It is an emotional display of true friendship and, as we’ll come to find out, Sam coming along is essential to the success of the protagonists.

The third scene also involves Sam, and it is at the end of The Two Towers where he gives his speech. I cannot do it justice, so I’ll just quote it:

Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.

The fourth and final scene is when Frodo and Sam are climbing up Mount Doom to throw the ring in the fire. They are both exhausted and are collapsed on the ground with no strength to go on. However, Sam gathers up some final strength within himself and picks up Frodo and carries him up the remainder of the mountain. Sam is one of my favorite characters of all time because he is pure in heart and truly just wants to do what’s best. He is a loyal and true friend no matter what happens and will do anything for Frodo. It is truly touching to me and is a model of how I want to be. Without him, Middle-Earth would not have been saved.

Alright, I think I’ve written enough about Lord of the Rings. Besides that, I can’t think of much else to say. On Wednesday, I was excited to sit down and watch So You Think You Can Dance, but was disappointed that my roommate was already occupying the living room and that I wouldn’t be able to watch the TV. Luckily, Erin texted me and invited me over to her house to watch it, and it was a lot of fun watching it with her. Usually I am bored watching it alone without anyone to talk about it with. So, that was definitely a highlight of my week. I also got to meet my roommate’s fiancĂ©e and she is really nice, she asked me my advice on which picture to use for their wedding invitation. All the pictures looked about the same to me, so I’m afraid I wasn’t so helpful. My other engaged roommate left the apartment for good on Saturday night, so I am down to just two roommates. My other engaged roommate will probably leave in a couple weeks when he is about to get married, so it’ll just be me and one other roommate.

So, I’ll end it there with a promise that next week’s entry will be more interesting (and probably less geeky). Life is good, I’m really enjoying this summer and I think it’ll be one to remember. Good times.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Laughing It Off


This past week has been pretty interesting—it started with some frustrating experiences with my roommates. Now, don’t get me wrong, my roommates are really nice, I just got a little frustrated with them this week. I believe I mentioned last week that I had a meeting with my roommate and Elder’s Quorum President, Alec. During that meeting, Alec asked me if I would meet with the Bishop, and I said I would when I felt ready to, but he kept pressing me harder and harder and by the end of the meeting got me to commit to calling the Bishop that night for an appointment on Tuesday. Well, after Alec left, I didn’t feel comfortable with how he pressured me into calling the Bishop and I thought that it is more of a personal thing to decide if and when to see the bishop and it didn’t seem right to be forced into it, so I decided not to call the Bishop and to set up an appointment later when I felt more comfortable about it.

Well, the next night, I’m going to bed when all of a sudden Alec comes in my room and asks me if I have called the Bishop yet. I tell him I haven’t, and he continues to pressure me and says I should call him right now. I tell him that I am going to bed, and then he makes me promise him that I’ll call the Bishop in the morning before work. Because I’m tired and need sleep, and my roommate isn’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer, I say ‘yes’ so he’ll get out of my room. I was upset that he entered my room without knocking while I had all the lights off and was trying to go to sleep, it seems like an invasion of privacy to me. Also, I really felt uncomfortable with him pressuring me to call the Bishop, so the next morning, out of my disapproval of the whole situation with my roommate, decided not to call the Bishop and that I would set up an appointment with him myself on my own terms. So, I know that my roommate’s desire was good, but the way he went about executing it really seemed wrong to me.

The other thing that makes me uncomfortable about my roommates is that they are good friends, and joke around by calling each other “queer” which seems in bad taste to me. Their frequent gay jokes make me uncomfortable. One example is when my roommate Mitch was leaving and saw that I was watching “So You Think You Can Dance”. He said, “Well, I’m going to see my GIRLFRIEND, have fun watching your gay guys on TV.” It seemed like a pretty insulting thing to say. And then, yesterday, my roommates invited me to ward prayer and said, “Who knows, you might even make out with a girl while you are there” and then they started laughing to each other, which made me think they were making fun of me. So, I just stayed home. So, there are some examples of how my roommates make me uncomfortable. This probably isn’t the right place to be venting about these things, but I felt I needed to get it out, and it was also a big part of my week.

I got the new Phideaux album, called Number Seven, on Tuesday and it is incredible! It is a beautiful album that moves seamlessly from songs that rock hard to beautiful melodies sung by their great female singer. I have really enjoyed falling in love with this album. It is a concept album about the journey of a Dormouse, which makes for a very interesting story. Besides that the rest of the week has just involved working. I went and saw the new Transformers movie and thought it was pretty good. It is far from being a masterpiece, but I enjoyed it.

My fourth of July ended up being more eventful than I initially thought it would be. My friend Erin texted me and invited me to the Stadium of Fire. I hesitated accepting the invitation because I knew that the Jonas Brothers were performing, but I decided to go anyways because it would be a better way to celebrate fourth of July than sitting at home thinking about how my roommates annoy me. I left to meet up with Kevin at the Wyview multi-purpose building, but he got stuck in traffic so I walked to the stadium alone. Erin was waiting outside the gate with my ticket when I got there and we both walked in and found our seats. It was an exciting program! I really enjoyed the fireworks show and the touching words about our country spoken by Glenn Beck. I’ll admit that I’m not the most patriotic American, but I was still touched by his comments about how special a nation America is and how we need to fight for liberty and make this generation a notable one in American history. It made me realize that I need to become more patriotic and learn more about the history of the nation that I’m so privileged to belong to.

The Jonas Brothers were about what I expected. The screams that erupted from the stadium as they took the stage were deafening! One of the loudest screamers was Erin who apparently is a big fan. I just sat there watching quietly while Erin and many of the other people around got up on their feet and danced around while singing all the words to every song. I hadn’t heard any of the songs before (besides a cover they did of Sweet Caroline) so I unfortunately couldn’t sing along (LoL, like I would sing along to the Jonas Brothers!). Erin encouraged me to stand up part way through their set so I reluctantly did. It wasn’t so bad…(but it wasn’t so good either). It made me sad when I realized that this band is beating Dream Theater in the Billboard charts. I’m sorry Jonas Brothers fans, but Dream Theater is a lot more talented than the Jonas Brothers and yet they struggle to even make it on the charts while the Jonas Brothers have massive amounts of screaming fans that fill stadiums wherever they go. It baffles me…oh well! I should end my rant about the Jonas Brothers before I get in trouble.

Sunday was a good day. I was a little late to church, but I was still able to hear all the wonderful testimonies. During the whole testimony meeting I did some self-reflection which really taught me some things that I need to work in the upcoming weeks. I’ve only been in this ward about three weeks, but I don’t really feel like I’m connecting to the ward. A good example is what happened in Sunday School. I was one of the first people to enter the room for Sunday School. I sat in the back row and waited while everybody else came in. Well, people kept taking chairs from my row so that they could sit with their friends in different rows. This continued until my seat was the only chair left in the row, so I ended up sitting alone in my row. I laughed to myself when I thought about how people would rather move the chairs than have to sit next to me. Oh well, at least it’s something I can laugh about later.

My roommate ended up coming up to me at the beginning of Sunday School and told me the Bishop wanted to meet with me at 12:15 (right during Sunday School), so I had to leave halfway through Sunday School for my appointment with the Bishop. Well, I ended up waiting about an hour for the Bishop to be ready for me. Then we talked about my social life and I told him I didn’t have one. He encouraged me to go on more dates. It was all pretty awkward. The best part about it, though, is that I was able to get a temple recommend interview, which I have needed for quite some time. After the interview was done, there was only 15 minutes of church left, so I decided to go home early and reflect on some of the things that I had been thinking about during testimony meeting.

And, that is pretty much it for my week! Sorry for ranting a bit and complaining about certain things. I think the important lesson I learned this week is that I just need to laugh about these situations I end up in rather than taking offense. I haven’t been depressed at all this week because I have been able to laugh about my roommates and my experiences at church and about the Jonas Brothers. It makes every aspect of life that much more enjoyable. So, that is my take home message of the week: learn to laugh off the negative things that happen.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Moth


As I suspected, this week was not incredibly memorable. So, I will start with a brief description of my roommates and what life is like at Raintree. Alec (Elder’s Quorum President) and Mitch (1st counselor) served in the same mission and were companions that really got along and had great success. They became best friends and are now roommates and both teachers at the MTC. They are both really cool, but they aren’t around a lot. A possible reason is that they are both engaged and getting married in the next month or so. Mitch’s younger brother has been staying at my apartment this past week for BYU football and he is a good guy—it has been fun getting to know him. My other roommate is Alex and he is a really nice guy who has been really friendly and helpful, helping to show me around church and then helping me find my way to ward prayer. All in all they are all really friendly and nice and I’m privileged to have such good roommates.

As for life at Raintree, I’m finding it a lot more…liberal…than Wyview. It doesn’t seem as if the students here care as much about the rules as those at Wyview. My roommates have had people stay over past curfew without my permission, fireworks go off every night, etc. (I should have taken it as a sign when I first entered the apartment and there was a large cardboard cutout of President Obama). I have been learning to deal with these few minor issues. The hardest part of the whole experience is that my roommates don’t seem to like A/C so the apartment is always unbearably hot and my bed is uncomfortable, making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. But, I have been learning to adjust and things are getting better each day. My ward seems like a lot of fun—there aren’t that many people in the ward. I have enjoyed many of the talks and lessons that I have heard both Sundays I have attended, including lessons from both Alec and Mitch in Elder’s quorum.

Kind of a funny story is that I woke up on Sunday morning and Mitch was on his way out the door. He asked me if I knew where the church was and I said I had no idea. So he proceeded to give me rough directions to the church building. I expected that the church building would be close and easy to find, so I didn’t pay as much attention to his directions as I should have. So, as I was driving, I quickly found myself lost. But, I struggled to remember Mitch’s directions and was able to find my way there (surprised to travel past University Mall since I didn’t realize it would be that far). The only problem was that there are two church buildings in that parking lot, so I wasn’t sure which was the right building. So I kept going back and forth between buildings for some clue as to which was the right ward. My first clue was when I saw only couples with young children going into one building—I figured my ward must be in the other building. Luckily, as I was going down the hall of that building, Alec was walking in the other direction and told me where the chapel was where my ward meets.

Besides that, this week has been mainly focused on work. I am learning what it’s like to work full time and it was a little difficult to adjust to. But, I feel that I’m now getting the hang of it and I’m starting to actually enjoy my schedule. This is my schedule: I get up at 6:00am, leave my apartment at 7:30am and walk to work (in order to get some exercise) and then I work until my lunch break at noon where I eat lunch (shocking, I know) and read a couple chapters out of the current book I’m reading. Then I go back to work until 5 and then walk home. It isn’t too terribly exciting, but I’m learning to enjoy parts of it (like listening to a great album during my walk to work and back and being able to read my book).

Speaking of great albums, one came out this week! It is called Black Clouds and Silver Linings and it is by Dream Theater—one of my all time favorite bands. This is one of the best albums they have created, I love every bit of it, and it has been awesome getting into this week. I broke my walking habit on Tuesday, and actually drove my car to work so that I could go and purchase this CD during my break. I was smiling as I drove back to work, playing the CD loud in my car. It was a great moment of the week. I’m so excited because I get to see them live at the end of August, and I’m hoping they will play some songs from this album.

Besides my regular schedule, nothing else terribly interesting happened. I got to watch a great movie with Kevin called Big Fish. I love that movie a lot and I was very pleased that Kevin enjoyed it as well. It is important for me to be able to have these little breaks throughout the week in order to do something fun, so I was grateful for that chance to hang out with Kevin.

I guess I’ll end this post with the most meaningful part of my week, which is what happened yesterday (Sunday). I learned two things in Sacrament meeting that I really needed to learn: Hope and Humility. I believe these are two things I truly need to work on and I’m going to focus on them for the next few weeks. I am often pessimistic and think the worst will happen in every situation. I also tend to get depressed about the flaws that I have and think that there isn’t any possible way I can overcome them. If I have hope, I can conquer these negative feelings and be able to improve and think of things in a more positive light. Regarding humility, I am prideful because I’m constantly concerned about what people think about me and I often don’t do things that I should because I’m afraid I’ll embarrass myself in some way. I need to not be this way, and stop caring so much about what other people think of me, and worry more about how I think about myself and if I am doing what God wants me to do.

I also had a talk with my roommate and Elder’s quorum president and decided as I talked to him that I need to be more consistent regarding scripture study and prayer. So, I am challenging myself to have meaningful scripture study every day (I’ve decided to do this as soon as I get home from work) and to pray every morning and night. I think that this will help me feel the influence of the Spirit more throughout my day and week, which is something I’ve desperately needed. I really want to change, and I know it is going to be a struggle at times when I want to do something else rather than completing my goal, but overcoming the temptations will make me that much stronger.

This brings to mind a quote from an episode of Lost that I watched last night. The episode was called “The Moth” and it is one of my all time favorite episodes. In the episode Charlie is attempting to quit his drug habit with the assistance of a man named John Locke. Locke takes Charlie’s drugs away, but the withdrawal symptoms are too much for Charlie, so he comes to Locke to ask for his drugs back. Locke refuses and says that he’ll give them back only after Charlie asks for them back for a third time. Charlie comes back a second time, his withdrawal symptoms getting worse and Locke takes the opportunity to teach Charlie a valuable lesson by using an example of a moth. Here are the exact words from the episode that Locke says (since they do a better job of explaining it than I ever could):

“That's a moth cocoon. It's ironic, butterflies get all the attention; but moths -- they spin silk, they're stronger, they're faster…You see this little hole? This moth's just about to emerge. It's in there right now, struggling. It's digging its way through the thick hide of the cocoon. Now, I could help it, take my knife, gently widen the opening, and the moth would be free. But it would be too weak to survive. The struggle is nature's way of strengthening it.”

This is exactly how I feel right now about my new goals. It may be a struggle at times, but the struggle will be a way of strengthening me so that I am stronger the next time I am faced with a trial or goal. Charlie is able to take this message to heart and ends up asking for the drugs a third time in order to throw them in the fire. His struggle with drug addiction has been difficult, but being able to overcome it makes him a stronger person. I hope that in a month or so I’ll be able to be a stronger person as well, made strong by struggling to complete a goal and succeeding.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Getting Unsettled and Resettled


This past week mainly involved finals and moving. Nothing too incredibly exciting. On Monday I attended my last class of the Spring semester and it was largely…uninteresting. Afterwards I attended the final FHE of the semester and it went pretty well. We decided to have it outside at a nearby picnic bench and we played clue while shielding ourselves from flying volleyballs (a group of people were playing volleyball right next to us). Since there were so many people in our group, we had to team up to play clue. Me and Rob were Mr. Green, and unfortunately we didn’t win, but we got close. It was that terrible Ms. Scarlet—she’s trouble if you ask me. After that we had brownies where a member of our group decided to eat her brownie by putting her face in the pan and eating it straight out of the pan. A guy walked up after seeing this and ended up doing the same thing (with permission of course). I was just glad to have grabbed my brownie before this craziness started.

Studying for finals went pretty well. I did really well on my finals—the best scores I’ve gotten on any test this semester. For Psych 306 I got a perfect score on the multiple choice section, so it’ll all come down to the essay portion to determine if I get an A in the class. In my other Psychology class I got a solid B on the final (which was good for me since I’ve been averaging high C’s and low B’s on the tests thus far in the course). That leaves me with a B in the class, and I will take it. It was a little disappointing of a test because I felt really good about it as I was taking it and felt like I deserved an A. Oh well, it was not meant to be. Also, I had an embarrassing moment in the testing center right before I started this final. I got into the test-taking room and it was completely packed with students taking finals. So, I waited a bit until someone got up from the seat, and I went to go take his seat. As I am squeezing between rows of seats I hear a small scream of pain and stop to notice that a girl’s hair is stuck in one of my shirt buttons. I tried to gently pull her hair out, but I’m sure it was painful and damaging to her hair. It was not a great start to taking that test; maybe my negative feelings of embarrassment affected my test score.

After that, more craziness ensued as I had to pack my things and clean my apartment before mandatory move out time of Friday morning at 10. To start off our apartment cleaning session, Ogden and I went and got Papa John’s pizza. Then, we cleaned for several hours that night. I felt really bad for my roommate David. He was busy until 10pm checking other people out of their apartments since he is the R.A. and then he still had a final to complete that was due at midnight! So, he didn’t get to cleaning until really late and he ended up having to stay up almost the whole night. I did my cleaning and went to bed around 2:00 only to get up at 6:00 the next day to finish packing my car and my cleaning duties. It was a tiring process, but I was happy with the job I did at the end of it all. I was sad to leave my roommates—along with my best friend Kevin and my first college roommate Steven, these are the best roommates I have ever had. It is a shame that it had to be for the shortest semester I’ve ever had at BYU. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll see them around.

Friday was an interesting day because I was homeless. My new apartment wasn’t available to be moved in to until Saturday morning at 10AM. Luckily, I have a great friend named Kevin who was willing to let me stay over at his house (with his parent’s approval of course). The only problem was that Kevin worked until 10PM that night, so I had to find things to do until 10PM that night. I worked at my job until about 1:30 and then left to catch a movie called Year One. It was pretty entertaining, but not a movie I would recommend or see again. After this, I decided to visit Wyview again in order to do some laundry. After dropping off my laundry, I went and saw another movie called Land of the Lost. In my opinion, this was even worse than Year One. I think that may be because there was a smaller crowd that did not laugh at all during the jokes. After this, I decided to grab some dinner at Five Guys and then go change my laundry out at the Wyview Laundromat. While I was waiting for my clothes to dry, I ate my dinner and read my book.

After drying, I folded my clothes and then got in my car and drove to FYE. Since I had some time, I went through all the CDs in the store just to see if I’d come across anything interesting. I didn’t—In fact the most interesting thing about it was probably the fact that the music playing in the store constantly skipped the whole time I was there. I also found a good deal I couldn’t pass up—buy one get one free for season 1 and 2 of Arrested Development! Sweet! After that I went to Deseret Book and waited in the car for Kevin to get off work and followed him to his house where I slept that night. It was an interesting day.

Saturday morning I left Kevin’s house and moved in to my new apartment. The odd part about moving in was that I was not completely sure what room was mine. There was one room that was obviously occupied, so I knew that couldn’t be it. Then there was a room that was mostly empty except for several books on the bookshelf. Then, there was a third room with the door closed. I was worried that my roommate might be sleeping in the closed door room, so I just decided to go for the mostly empty room which ended up being the right choice. My roommates are really cool, they happen to be the Elder’s Quorum President, 1st Counselor and Ward Clerk in the ward, so I’m pretty spiritually covered in this new apartment. Saturday was mainly spent moving things in my new apartment and relaxing from the difficult week.

And, I think I’m going to end here because this entry is getting really long and I anticipate that the next week is going to be fairly uneventful, so I’ll leave the events of Sunday for next week’s entry. So, I’m doing well, just getting settled in my new living arrangement. And that is all for this week. Until next time—peace out!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Adventures of the Week


Hmm…what happened this past week? After the excitement of the last two weeks (my cousin’s wedding and Kevin’s birthday) this week was fairly laid back and normal, which I was actually grateful for. Last Monday, I was in charge of Family Home Evening (my FHE “wife” was too busy with school to be there) and I think it went well. My roommate, David, really came through with the lesson—he truly did a great job. After that, I didn’t have an activity planned, so I just left it open for us all to discuss what we would like to do. We decided to play four square, which actually ended up being a lot of fun! I don’t think I’ve played four square since elementary school! The only sad part about the whole experience was that I had to leave early to meet with my partner to prepare a presentation we would be giving the next day.

The presentation was on Purdah and it was for my Psychology of Gender class. It ended up being a really interesting topic to study, and perhaps a little too broad because we had trouble compacting all the material we learned into a 15 minute presentation. I think we even went over a little during our presentation, giving the following group less time for their presentation. I am naturally shy, so it is not easy for me to stand in front of the class and give a presentation, but I think it went rather well. I was able to articulate everything that I had prepared and the teacher even commented afterwards that it was a good presentation. She also said, “I don’t mean to embarrass you, Nathan, but it’s nice to finally hear you talk!” I wasn’t sure if I should take that as a compliment or an insult…

On Thursday in the same class we had a party of sorts where various class members brought treats for the class to share. I discovered something I really like—blueberry bagels! Somebody brought a huge box of bagels and they were fantastic, along with blueberry flavored cream cheese. We also discussed what we enjoyed most about the class and the teacher pointed me out again by saying “You always have such good ideas in your papers I wish you would speak up more in class.” Once again, I wasn’t sure how to take that comment, I guess I should just be glad that she thinks I have good ideas. I finally spoke up by mentioning what I learned from the class. I said that I learned that it is ok for people to not completely conform to the gender roles that are present in society. I have some qualities that could be considered feminine (shyness, sensitive, not a big sports fan), and there is nothing wrong with that as long as I’m comfortable with who I am.

The only other notable thing that comes to mind about this past week is that I went and saw the new Pixar movie, Up, twice—once with Kevin, and then again with both Kevin and Erin. It is one of my new favorite movies, and is now definitely my favorite Pixar movie. It has a perfect blend between comedy and emotion. It is a movie that makes you laugh out loud at one moment and then cry the next. I love a movie (or a show) that can bring such emotions out of me.

SPOILER ALERT!—I’m going to discuss important plot points for the movie, if you haven’t seen it, I advise you to skip to the next paragraph.
I was so touched by the message in “Up”, I feel this entry would be incomplete without at least a paragraph explaining why it touched me. So, please stop reading this paragraph if you haven’t seen “Up”! The main character of the movie is Carl Fredrickson, and his life from a small boy to an old man is shown in the first 15 minutes or so of the movie. He meets a girl, they get married, and they have a shared goal of someday traveling to a place called Paradise Falls in South America. She has an adventure book that shows pictures of this exotic location and a section that is left open for pictures and notes of the adventures they will have. Well, life gets in the way and they end up not being able to go on this trip to South America as planned, and she ends up dying. So, Carl decides to go on the trip anyways in her honor. He attaches thousands of balloons to his house and flies there in an attempt to try to place his house right on the top of Paradise Falls as is shown in the Adventure Book. Well, Carl ends up just short of this location and feels a failure, and ends up looking at the Adventure Book, feeling sad about not fulfilling his promise to his wife about going to Paradise Falls. Well, as he is looking through the book he discovers there are already pictures in the section that was for the adventures they would have. These pictures are of him and his wife and all the things they did in their time together. At the end is a note that says, “Thanks for the adventure, now go have one of your own.” This part touches me because it shows that it is not important what the adventure is, but who you have it with. It is the personal relationships that we form that really matter in life, not going to some exotic location. Life is already an adventure, and what truly matters it who you share it with, not what you do. This was a profound lesson to me and taught me that I can have an exciting and fulfilling life here and now without travelling to exotic locations.

On Saturday night I attended the final activity for my ward, which was food from a place called Costa Vida (I think) and a talent show. The talent show was great and it made me realize that I’ll miss this ward even though I’ve only been in it for about 2 months. The highlights to me were a guy singing a Russian folk song and a great piano piece—Reverie by Debussy. It was a fun night, but I wasn’t able to stay too long because I had to meet up with Kevin and Erin to go see Up. The next day on Sunday, I really enjoyed church and was happy to be able to get all my home teaching done after church. I ended up giving the lesson at these home teaching appointments at the last minute, and I think it went well. I taught about prayer and related a story from my mission that really was a testimony builder of prayer for me. At night we had our final ward prayer, which was a little sad, and then I went to bed.

And that is pretty much it for the week! This week is going to be a little tough because I have to complete my finals and get moved out of my apartment and moved into a new apartment. I’m going to be homeless for a night because I have to move out of one apartment Friday at 10AM and can’t move into the new one until Saturday at 10AM. Luckily I have a great friend, Kevin, who is willing to let me stay over at his house that night so I should be fine. All in all it was a great week, and I look forward to the next one!

P.S. I forgot to mention the incredible performance show on Wednesday night of So You Think You Can Dance! I usually am not a huge dance fan, but I was blown away with many of the dances that night. I’m excited for the season! I also wanted to mention that I’m addicted to a new CD—It is called Frequency by IQ and I highly recommend it! Expect to see it reviewed soon in my other blog, “The Leviathan”. Ok, that is all. Have fun!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kevin's Birthday!


What a great week it has been! It started on sort of a low note, though. Last Monday I had just gotten back from Arizona from the trip for my cousin’s wedding, and I had a big test to study for and take. After getting home from work at 12, I spent about 4 and a half hours studying Psychology of gender. Then, I went to go take the test at the testing center. This test involves writing 5 essays, and I only had 2 hours before the testing center closed at 7, so it was a stressful time getting it all done. I managed to finish all my essays, but I didn’t feel so confident about what I had written—I still have yet to see what I got on the test. When I got back home, I walked in on the middle of FHE and joined my FHE group for a game of Jenga. It was pretty impressive how high we were able to stack the blocks. We played a different version where each row has 5 blocks instead of 3 blocks, and I think it made it more fun. After FHE I just relaxed, satisfied that I had been able to get my test done in time.

After that, the week was pretty easy. I was pretty much just preparing for my trip with Kevin to Disneyland—making sure that all my homework was finished. The trip to Disneyland for Kevin’s birthday was great! It was an awesome opportunity to hang out with my best friend at his favorite place on earth and to be able to see my family. On Friday night we got to my house without any complications on the drive, and had my favorite meal and watched So You Think You Can Dance. I love these moments with my family where we just sit down and watch a show and interact and visit while the show is playing. After that, we went to bed so that we would be well rested for Disneyland the next day.

On Friday, Kevin’s birthday, we went to Disneyland in the morning and we were worried about the weather and that it might rain while we were at Disneyland. It even sprinkled a bit as we drove there. I was also a little worried about running into traffic and getting to Disneyland late. Luckily there wasn’t really any traffic and the weather cleared up and it ended up being a really nice day! The only thing was that the usual parking lot was full, so we were redirected to a different parking lot, which made me worried that it would be extremely crowded at Disneyland. This wasn’t true either, as all the lines we were in were really short. So, all in all, the conditions were perfect for a great Disneyland trip!

One of the funniest parts about the whole experience to me is that Kevin got in free for his birthday so he got a button that said his name and that it was his birthday. Because he had this button on, people constantly said “Happy Birthday, Kevin!” throughout the whole day. And, what was funny to me was that it wasn’t only people working at Disneyland, it was also normal customers saying it to him as well. It made me feel a little less special the whole day, but I’m glad for Kevin that he was able to get all the attention on his birthday. Another funny example of this is when we ate lunch at the Blue Bayou, our waiter would always refer to Kevin by his name and would just call me “you”. I enjoyed it all, I don’t like being the center of attention anyways.

One of the greatest surprises for Kevin was that the ride “Peter Pan’s Flight” was open, even though it was supposed to be closed. I joked around while we were in line that I was responsible for getting the ride open as a special gift for his birthday. I was really happy for him that he got to go on one of his favorite rides. We went on all the rides that we usually go on and they were all a lot of fun as they usually are. We had a really funny tour guide on the Jungle Cruise which made that ride memorable. That ride depends on how funny the tour guide is, so we got lucky on that one. Our lunch at the Blue Bayou was fantastic, I had one of the best steaks I have ever eaten. For dessert, they unfortunately didn’t have the pirate ship birthday cake that Kevin kept talking about, but they did have a cookie shaped like a pirate ship with ice cream—it was super good!

Kevin went on Splash Mountain four times while I waited outside since I’m not a fan of large dips on rides. I was glad that he was able to go on his new favorite ride and that I didn’t hold him back—especially on his birthday. I was a little sad that some of his favorite experiences from the trip were the few times I wasn’t there with him, but I really am glad he had such a great time and honestly I probably needed the rest since I am not as physically fit as Kevin. Even though the park didn’t seem so crowded due to shorter lines, the shops as we were leaving were incredibly crowded! I don’t handle big crowds very well, so I had to wait outside for part of the time while Kevin was in there shopping for souvenirs. I was a little sore walking out of Disneyland, but I really enjoyed the experience and more than anything I’m glad that Kevin was able to have fun on his birthday—that was my main goal going in, so, mission accomplished!

The next day I slept in (probably a little too much) and spent the day mostly with my family, since Kevin left to go see his family. I had a nice long talk with my mom (about my flaws and what I need to do to improve my life) and then I watched Bolt with my mom and sister. I picked up Kevin at the Troncales and we picked up Golden Spoon and had a nice little final talk with my mom that seemed to end up with us talking about the frustration of our former roommate. The next day, we had a nice drive back home, and were even able to stop at In-N-Out in St. George on the way back (man, I need to not talk about food so much!).

So, I think I’ll stop there for now. It was a fun trip and I’m glad that Kevin had a great time! I really enjoyed the trip, and even though it is difficult getting back into work and school, the trip was definitely worth it! We also have another trip planned at the end of July/beginning of August to see Rewiring Genesis and Spock’s Beard for my birthday, so that should be a lot of fun! I am happy and there are many things to look forward to. :D

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My Cousin's Wedding


This has actually been a pretty interesting week for a change! Mainly it involved attending my cousin’s wedding in Flagstaff, Arizona. But, more on that in a bit. First I want to talk about the days leading up to the wedding. The days before I left for the wedding were tough because I was trying hard to get everything done for school. The most difficult day was the day before I left—Thursday. I am to blame for this, though, because I should have done more work in the earlier days of the week so that it all didn’t fall on Thursday. Part of the reason was that I let my roommate borrow the fourth season of Lost since he wasn’t sure if he has seen all the episodes, and I find myself unable to resist watching Lost when it is on in the apartment. This has caused me to get to bed a lot later than I should and made the week more difficult than it should have been. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it) my roommate has finished the fourth season, so it won’t be a temptation anymore.

Thursday, I had my class in the morning, and then work in the early afternoon. After work I went straight to Jiffy Lube to get an oil change so that my engine wouldn't burn up as I drove to Arizona. Then, I went home to study for a test I had to take that night. It was a very intense study session, involving doing nothing but focusing my attention on studying for about 4 hours straight (while doing my laundry at the same time). After studying, I went to go take the test on campus, and didn’t do as well as I was hoping. I think I was just tired and my head was swimming with all the knowledge I tried to cram that it was all jumbled up in my head. I learned from this that cramming for a test is never a good idea. After taking the test, I decided to take it easy for the rest of the night and had dinner at Sonic and hung out with Kevin for a while.

The next day (Friday) I began my journey to Arizona. I printed off the directions from MapQuest and they looked pretty long and complicated, which worried me. What I did to help keep me on track with the directions was to keep track of how many miles I had gone since the last change in direction, and I knew the next change would occur when I was approaching the amount of miles mapquest says that step would take. Well, I was approaching a turn, but I was still several miles off from where I should be when I approached this turn according to mapquest, so I kept going straight, passing the turn. When I went several miles over where I should be, I determined that I missed the turn and went back to where I should turn, and continued on my way. The drive from that point on was pretty tough. It was a one lane highway, so it was frustrating when I would end up behind a slow moving vehicle. The only way to pass is to go into the lane going the opposite way (which is scary) or to wait for a passing lane to appear (which sometimes doesn’t come for a while). So, it made for a pretty crazy drive, the cool part though was that I got to see a lot of beautiful scenery, including driving over a huge canyon that looked beautiful.

My second mistake occurred when I was in Flagstaff. I got really confused by the directions, which said to turn left onto I-40 Blvd. I never found that street, and I just kept going straight as highway 89 turned into Route 66. I was getting desperate when I noticed that the street I was on was Milton. I recognized that name from the directions, and was able to find my way to the hotel by skipping over the directions (about 5-6 steps) until it said to go onto Milton St. I was amazed that I ended up in the right place, even though I completely didn’t follow at least 5 steps on the direction sheet. I guess I’m just lucky! After the whole crazy drive, I met up with my family at a restaurant called Bunhuggers and we had a late lunch (I had an awesome patty melt and we all shared fries, onion rings, and fried zucchini). We then went to Target to pick up a few things, and went to the hotel to chill a little and then get ready for the rehearsal dinner for the wedding.

The rehearsal dinner was a lot of fun! There were tons of people there. I’m not a huge fan of being in the middle of huge crowds, but it was great to see a lot of family members that I don’t get to see too often. The food was really good, and I had some good moments talking with each of my family members (except perhaps my mom since she was so busy getting things set up). After the dinner, we basically went back to the hotel room and went to bed so that my mom, dad, and Alex could get up early to help set up the wedding reception.

In the morning, only Lauren and I stayed behind in the hotel room while the rest of the family left to set up the reception. After getting ready, Lauren and I left to go get a late breakfast, but all the restaurants seemed super crowded, so I just drove through McDonalds to get us lunch, since that is my sister’s favorite fast food place. On the way back to the hotel room, a huge storm started up and it even started hailing! My sister and I ran from the car into the hotel while being pelted by rather large hail. As we ate lunch in the hotel room, the rain and hail seemed to get more and more intense and there soon was also lightning and thunder! It was pretty intense, and we just sat in the room and watched a few episodes of Spongebob waiting for the rest of the family to come back.

Well, the rest of the family came back and they were stressed out (particularly my mom) because the reception was supposed to be outside in the backyard of this huge mansion, but due to the weather, they were going to have to move it inside the church where the ceremony was taking place. So, the work they did basically was all for nothing, and now there was going to be a mad dash to get everything set up in between the ceremony and the reception. So, we got ready, went to the ceremony, and it was great! One of the highlights for me was a slideshow put together by my uncle about Trevor and Jenelle, from childhood to current. It was really touching, and then the ceremony started and the pastor said some great things about the importance of marriage and what each partner needs to do to make a marriage work. It was great to see how in love my cousin and her husband are and to see their commitment to each other.

After the ceremony, we all pitched in to set up the reception. It was a lot of craziness, and I found it best to stay out of the way unless I was needed to grab something from the kitchen or help someone lift something. But, the set-up ended up being really nice with some great snacks set up including fruit, pasta salad, shrimp, and cheese and crackers. It was a small room to fit so many people, so there wasn’t really anywhere to sit inside, which made it a little uncomfortable, but it was great to be amongst family and to see everybody so happy for the joyous occasion. Instead of the traditional wedding cake, there were cupcakes, and they were really good! It was a really great reception. After helping to clean up when it was over, my family went to the hotel room to rest from the busy day. My dad got KFC and we ate while watching episodes of The Office. It was a great time as we all enjoyed each other’s company. I love being with my family!

The next morning, we all went to Coco’s for one last meal together and it was really great. I had an omelette that was really good, and we all had fun talking to each other. It was sad to say goodbye as we drove off in separate directions, but I will see them again this weekend, so it isn’t a very long goodbye. The drive home ended up being really easy, and I pretty much just went straight to bed when I got home so that I would be well rested for the day of studying that was to await me the next day. But, I’ll get to that next week…

So, all in all, it was a great weekend and an awesome opportunity to be able to see my family. I am really proud of my cousin and know that she has made the right choice in getting married. Trevor is a really great guy and him and Jenelle make an excellent couple. I know they will have a long bright future together.