Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends (and Family)

First of all, I apologize for not writing in my blog last week. A lot of things were going on and I decided it would be best to "take the week off". Hopefully it'll make this post more interesting since it covers twice as much as a normal entry would. The problem is, do I remember what happened two weeks ago? I'll do my best!

Two weeks ago, I was preparing like crazy for finals. It took a lot out of me. It is mostly my fault because I procrastinated a lot throughout the semester, which led to me having to do a lot of papers and studying in just a few days. I started to get overwhelmed by all I had to do, and started to have serious doubts that I would get it all finished in time. My plan was to leave to go home Sunday morning, so that I could go to Disneyland with my family the next day for Lauren's birthday. I found out the day before that the Disneyland trip was off and instead my sister got a dog. So, I could have staying a day or two longer and made my finals work a lot less stressful, but I was just glad to have completed it all. I had to write about 7 major papers and take 2 big final tests. It was exhausting, when I came back to my apartment on Saturday, I just collapsed and couldn't motivate myself to pack to go home the next morning.

There were fun moments during finals, though. I took a break to go to the movies with Kevin to see "Race to Witch Mountain". It was actually a really fun movie and really was effective in taking my mind off of finals for a few hours. Also, on Saturday night when I got home, I took another break and watched "Deja Vu" with Kevin on the Clearplay DVD player. I was pleased that he enjoyed the movie, and we ate Fettucine Alfredo and Asphalt Pie. It was a good close to our time as roommates this semester. After that, I spent a couple hours packing, and then finished packing and moving my stuff the next morning so I could go home.

I just wanted to devote a paragraph to my experience as roommates with Kevin this past school year. I really looked forward to being roommates with Kevin and it was a great experience. It confirmed all of the things I already knew about Kevin, that he is hardworking, extremely kind, and spiritually devoted. He is a huge example for me in my life and I was extremely priveleged to have that example for a roommate. It is funny, this past year I had the worst roommate (who I will call Sanjaya) I have ever had, and the best roommate I've ever had (Kevin, of course). I don't know if I could have handled "Sanjaya" if it wasn't for having someone like Kevin to commiserate with. Also, Kevin helped me a lot those last few days with moving and cleaning and I am extremely grateful for that- there is no way I could have moved out on time without his help. I hope he knows how much I value our friendship.

On Sunday, I drove home to California. The drive was pretty rough because I ran into a lot of traffic from Las Vegas all the way until I was home. But, once I got home, I was really happy and had a really enjoyable week with my family. It was a big contrast to the week of stress that finals had been. The only downside to the whole experience is that my sister's new dog, Lucy, didn't seem to like me very much. She barked at me as soon as I walked in the door and pretty much barked at me at some point every day I was home. Also, I got really bad allergies from the dog, although I was pleased that the allergies didn't really hit me that hard until about halfway through my week home. I did get some kind of cold at the end of my finals week, which I attribute to extreme stress. It was only in my chest and caused me to cough a lot and have a sore throat, so I had to deal with that as well for part of my time home.

But, despite the "sickness", I really loved being home with family. It made me realize how much I miss them when I am away and how hard this summer is going to be for me since I am mostly spending it away from home. My favorite moments were when I was able to just sit and joke around with my family. A lot of my family members (mainly my dad and Alex) are busy with other things all the time, so it is nice when they finally have a break from their schedules to hang out with the rest of the family. I enjoyed watching episodes of The Office with my dad (and sometimes my sister) and being able to show my family the movie "Knowing" which I really love. I don't think any of them loved it as much as I do, but they all enjoyed seeing it and had positive things to say about the movie. I also really enjoyed the home cooked meals, my mom really spoiled me by making one of my favorite dinners the night I was leaving- Fried Chicken and Mashed Potatoes. All in all, it was a truly great time, and felt way too short. Luckily, there are many more opportunities this summer for me to see them, so this isn't the end of my visits with them this year...

And, I guess I'll end my post there for the week. I just got to meet my new roommates for my spring apartment and had my first class, but I'll wait to talk about those things in detail in my next post. I guess I'll just sum it up by saying that I'm extremely grateful for family and friends. They are always there to help me through my most stressful times and are always supportive and helpful. I don't know how I'd get through life without them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

This has been another great week. As always, there were some bad moments, but mostly good moments. It was fairly average with the routine of going to school, going to work, and then coming home to do homework and then relax by reading or watching a show. Last Monday my ward had a culture night/talent show which was a lot of fun. This has been one of my favorite student wards at BYU, second only to my freshman ward. I love the Bishop and it got me really excited to hear him play some Beatles songs on the piano as the activity was getting started. There were several memorable performances from various members of the ward including several great piano numbers, a celtic band, and a performance of a Phantom of the Opera piece. The food was good too, with food from various parts of the world. There was also 'cake' which is always a plus for any activity. All in all, a very good, fun night.

I have to admit I've been obsessed with something this past week. I've been obsessed with Adam Lambert's performance of "Mad World" on American Idol. It is my favorite Idol performance ever. I was enchanted by it on Tuesday night and thankfully I taped it and I've been watching it over and over again. I also purchased it on Itunes and have been listening to it on my ipod nonstop as well. I've never been this addicted to a particular song before, it is crazy. I am really rooting for Adam on American Idol, but even if he doesn't win, I think he has a strong career in music ahead of him. He is a born performer and has an incredible vocal range. Just awesome.

Besides that, Kevin and I had fun on Easter Weekend. We got some Easter candy and watched Stardust on Saturday. We also went to this great restaurant called 5 Guys which is a hamburger place. It was really good! We dyed Easter eggs and watched Lion King 1 and 1/2. It was a nice way to forget about the fact that I wasn't home for Easter. It brought back memories of my childhood, so that was fun. Then, on Sunday, I went to church and really felt the spirit during sacrament meeting. There were several short talks on various conference talks, and it was cool how the speakers linked all of their talks back to the Savior and the Atonement, since that is what Easter is all about. The Bishop spoke last and really talked about the Atonement and how we need to rely upon the Savior for help in our journey in life. It was really great. Then, after that, I went to Kevin's family's house for Easter dinner and it was awesome with Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Salad, Asparagus, Deviled Eggs, Jello Eggs and Rolls. Then, to top it all off we had Strawberry Pie for dessert, which was really awesome. I was very happy that night.

I also got to talk to my parents on Easter night and it was great to hear their voices. They each gave me a great piece of news. My dad said that for my easter gift, since I've outgrown candy, he is going to buy 2 tickets to Prog Nation this summer for me and 'a friend'. Hopefully my dad can be the friend that I take, but it depends on if he has a gig that night or not. I am so excited for this concert! It is four bands that I really love, including one of my all time favorite bands: Dream Theater. I'm excited! Also, my mom told me that on Monday, April 20th, my family is going to Disneyland to celebrate my sister's birthday and they want me to come with them. I was planning on getting home that evening, but now I'm going to leave the day before so that I can go to Disneyland with them, so that should be tons of fun! I'm excited about that too!

So, there is a lot to look forward to. These last few weeks have been a little tough, but I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I just have to get through this week of finals, and then I get a nice break where I get to spend time with my family. I was starting to feel bogged down with all the papers I have to complete and revise for my finals, but, with the promise of spending time with family, I feel I have the strength to push through and do well on my finals. This is often my approach in life, I like to have things to look forward to as motivators to get past what I'm worried about right now. It is nice to start seeing that light at the end of the tunnel and to be out of the tunnel for a while before I head right back in.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Finding Joy In Life

I really love life! My life is so joyful right now, but I can’t really find an adequate way to describe why. This past week was mainly about me trying to figure out my plans for the spring and summer. What I have decided at this point is to stay in Provo for both spring and summer. During spring, I will take classes, and during summer, I will just work full-time at my job at independent study. I have mixed feelings about this plan. On the one hand, I’m sad that I won’t get to see my family nearly as much as I would like this summer. On the other hand, I think it could be a great experience to be in Provo during the summer and experiencing what it is like to have a full-time job. Also, I’m going to make sure to visit my family as often as possible, and hopefully they can come visit me as well, so it isn’t like I won’t be able to see them at all.

Perhaps one of my biggest victories this past week was showing Kevin one of my favorite movies, Serenity. Now that I have a clearplay DVD player, he is able to watch a lot of movies that he couldn’t watch before. He told me that he really liked Serenity, which really made me happy, it is a wonderful movie. I also was able to keep up in my classes this past week and I had an enjoyable session with my writing group because Joe was not there for the second time in a row to tear my story apart. I am really gaining a love for writing this semester that I’m hoping will continue throughout my life. One of my big goals this summer is to continue writing consistently, and even hopefully write out the rest of my book by the end of the summer. It would be really fulfilling to me to be able to say I have written a complete book. Of course, after that, it’ll have to go through many revisions to actually become pretty good, but just getting that first draft out completely would be a big accomplishment for me.

I enjoyed conference this past weekend, the priesthood session is what really stood out to me. I really loved Elder Uchtdorf’s talk. He told a story at the beginning of his talk about a plane crash that happened a while ago. What had happened was that a light didn’t light up and people on the plane started freaking out and focusing all their attention on the light. This drew attention away from the more important duty of keeping the plane on course. They ended up crashing because they took their attention away from flying the plane and on this small light. Just because a light bulb burnt out, a whole plane crashed killing over 100 people. This experience shows that we shouldn’t focus so much attention on the smaller things that we lose sight of the most important things. These smaller things may be good things, but if they draw attention away from the greater goal of exaltation, then they are a problem, and we need to lessen our focus on them. It really taught me a lot about what I should be most focused on.

That was mainly my week. I have joy in life because I have life, and isn’t that enough? I am able to live in a great country and have a wonderful family and friends and go to an incredible university. I find joy in the simple pleasures in life. In the satisfaction of finishing a difficult homework assignment, in spending time with my friend after a long period of him being so busy he could barely talk to me, in being able to text my sisters and see what is happening with them in their lives. These experiences may seem small and mundane, but to me they are profound and what life is all about. I cherish each minute. It is truly wonderful.