Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Optimistic Outlook

This has been a fairly uneventful week, unfortunately. I continued in my same routine of school, work, and home life—not that there is anything wrong with that, it just doesn’t leave much to say in this blog. Everything is still going really well and I am still really happy. I have really bonded with all of my roommates and I actually look forward to when they come home at night (unlike a certain roommate from last semester). It is fun joking around about Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and sometimes these topics spark real deep conversation about religion or politics. It always makes things interesting and I’m very grateful for these moments as they always brighten my day.

I had a moment of negativity on Sunday, but I am proud of myself for fighting it off and being more optimistic. I discovered that I have a tendency to be pessimistic, and I need to learn to change that. I sometimes get this attitude that, “why should I have to do more on Sunday than go to church, isn’t that enough?” But, then I drag myself to a fireside, ward prayer, or break the fast and am really enlightened or have a great experience and realize that it isn’t a matter of “what is enough” but “how much can be gained.” Why would I want to limit the amount of good experiences I can have on Sunday? Church and other related meetings should not be viewed as a chore that needs to be completed, but as a blessing that could really help me grow and become a better person, and isn’t that the goal in life? That was the lesson I learned on Sunday, and it has really changed my outlook on things.

A lot of my negativity yesterday dealt with my calling and feeling inferior in it. I was the family home evening group leader both fall and winter semesters, and I have the opportunity to fill that same calling during Spring. It doesn’t seem like a particularly challenging calling, but I often struggle with it because I’m not good at thinking of fun activities (because a lot of the “typical” FHE activities honestly don’t sound fun to me) and I’m not good at being a leader and getting everything organized. I feel bad for the other FHE group leader who has to deal with all my shortcomings and make up for them, causing their calling to be more difficult than it should be. But, I know I must be in this calling for a reason, and that I need to learn to love FHE more and learn to be a better leader, so I am going to embrace it and simply do my best for the few weeks left in the semester. Last night I felt that FHE went really well—we had a lot of fun watching Kung Fu Panda, and I think it really did allow us to bond as a group. So, I am beginning to feel more optimistic about this calling.

As for other things of interest this week, Kris Allen is the winner of American Idol Season 8! I was genuinely happy with the result even though I was rooting for Adam. It is always nice to see the underdog come from behind to shock everybody with his honest talent. He truly grew the most throughout the competition and I’m sure he will have a great career (as well as Adam). Also, I’m excited because I found out which bands are playing at Calprog (a progressive rock concert in Southern California) this year and they happen to be all bands I love! My mission now is to get Kevin interested in the bands that will be playing so that he can come with me to the concert in October. It seems to be working so far, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.

This weekend is my cousin’s wedding which is in Arizona and I’m really excited for it. I love being able to see my family! I’m sure I’ll have many interesting things to say about the trip in my blog next week. I still feel bad about not being able to make it to my grandparent’s 50th anniversary in Las Vegas earlier this year, so this is my way to make it up to the family, so I’m going to make the most of it! Besides that, I don’t think there is really anything else interesting to discuss. Classes are going good. Work is good. Life is fun!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Things To Look Forward To

What an interesting week it has been! This semester is proving to be a really great one- I enjoy both my classes and I really am getting along with my roommates. It is so refreshing to not dread coming home every day in fear of a certain roommate being there (and, no, I’m not talking about Kevin). My schedule is the perfect balance between classes, work, and home life. I am really genuinely happy right now and it feels good.

This past week, the first part of the week was difficult and tiring, but the second part was a lot of fun! What made the first part of the week difficult is that I had my first two big tests of the semester and spent all my time on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday studying for them and taking them. On Tuesday, I took my developmental psychology test, and felt pretty good about it. I ended up getting a pretty solid B on the test, which I am happy with. Now that I know what his tests are like, I think I’ll do a lot better on the ones coming up since I know how to study for them now.

The second test, which I took on Wednesday, was a lot more difficult. It was an essay test—I had to write 5 two page essays all in one sitting. My hand started really hurting after about the third essay, but I pushed through to get them all done and finished in about two hours. I don’t know yet how I did on it. I feel pretty confident about it though, I was able to answer each essay question thoroughly.

Wednesday night, after that difficult test, I decide to relax a bit. First, I watched the American Idol results and was ecstatic that Danny got voted off and that it is Adam and Kris in the finals. I have never really understood Danny’s appeal, but Adam and Kris have been my favorites this whole competition, so I’m looking forward to them facing off this week. I’ll admit it, I’m a huge Adam fan and I think he is the best singer to ever come on American Idol (which is hard for me to say because I loved David Cook last year). So, I can’t wait to see what Adam does and to see if he takes the American Idol crown. As an added bonus I won’t be too upset if he loses because I really like Kris as well and would be happy with him winning.

After that, Kevin picked me up and we went to Erin’s house to watch the Lost season finale. We had Papa John’s pizza and chocolate chip cookies. The finale was amazing! Maybe my favorite Lost episode ever! I can’t stop thinking about it, and I will probably be thinking about it for the next 8 months as I wait for the next season to start. Kevin and I talk about it on a daily basis, coming up with new theories and discussing certain aspects of what happened. Lost is the best show ever made. Period.

On Thursday, I had more fun with Kevin and Erin—we went to Boondocks to play miniature golf and some arcade games. The miniature golf was a lot of fun because we didn’t keep score and decided just to have fun and not worry about competition. We joked around a lot (and again talked more about Lost). We played Deal or No Deal, which was funny because out of the four times we played, three times we got the 1 ticket case. I also played some guitar hero against Erin and lost miserably. Oh well, I can’t be the best all the time! (Although I did beat Kevin at Air Hockey 7-1). After all the fun, we dropped off Erin, grabbed some dinner at Bajio, and watched Survivor which was a lot of fun. It was just a great, fun day!
Besides that I’ve just been having a great time hanging out with my roommates. One of my roommates, David, gave a talk and a priesthood lesson at church on Sunday and he did an amazing job on both. I am really impressed with his spirituality—he is quickly becoming a great example to me. We talked about our missions last night and it really made me realize all over again what a great experience it was for me despite the negative things that happened to me. I believe that it is really important that I learn this lesson that my mission was a great experience because I had the same revelation last semester and it is being re-taught to me this semester.

I’ll also add that it was great talking to my mom on Mother’s day. I have the greatest mom in the world and I really appreciate all she has done for me in my life. Without her, I would be nothing—I honestly can’t imagine my life without her influence and love. I also got somewhat of a surprise call from my sister Lauren after she watched the Lost finale and it made me really happy to talk to her. I really love my sisters—they are so great and I’m so proud of all they are doing. It is really great to have such a special bond with my family, it just makes me sad that I can’t spend more time with them this summer. The good news is that they are coming to Utah in July for the American Idol concert, so I’ll get to visit with them for a few days in July. I am really looking forward to that! I also get to see them in a couple of weeks for my cousin’s wedding and then again for Kevin’s birthday. So, there are many things to look forward to. Man, it is just so nice to be content and satisfied with life, I hope I continue to feel this way.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I'm Still Alive

This has been a crazy, busy week, so I'm going to wait until next week to give you my normal weekly post. Below is a video of one of the best Idol performances ever that happened this past Tuesday night. It is Heartless by Kris Allen. Hopefully you can enjoy this as you wait a few more days for my regular post.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Fresh Start

I have had an interesting week! Mainly it involved getting settled with my new spring semester schedule at BYU. This involves quite a few things, namely figuring out my new classes, arranging a new work schedule at Independent Study and getting to know my roommates and ward. I am overall pleased with how the settling process worked out.
First of all, my roommates are great—the best set of roommates I’ve ever had at BYU. I have three roommates, but one of them is gone a lot, so I haven’t gotten to know him too well. But, the times I have talked to him, he has been really cool. There is also Ogden, who is a recently returned missionary who went to Russia for his mission. He is from Las Vegas and this is his first semester at BYU. He is a really nice guy and I have enjoyed getting to know him. He is extremely spiritual and gave a fantastic Sunday school lesson at church yesterday.

Then there is David, who is actually the R.A. for our building. Finding out that one of my roommates was an R.A. concerned me a little, but he has ended up being really awesome. He is engaged to be married soon and is a psychology major like me, although he is trying to decide if he wants to follow that by going to either Law school or Medical school. He has a great sense of humor and constantly is making me laugh. He is also extremely spiritual and has organized a room devotional each night where us roommates get together and say a prayer and have a spiritual thought before going to bed to end the night on a good note. It has been really cool so far, and I have already felt extremely enlightened by it. I gave the devotional once and it was very last minute, but I feel I was inspired as I talked about the struggle I had as a missionary and how the only way I could get through it was with the Lord’s help. After the devotional, David told me that it was exactly what he needed to hear.

A quick funny story that illustrates our funny relationship as roommates happened one night this past week. We were all in the living room talking, and David was talking about building meeting on Sunday. He said, “There is an announcement on the door”, and he opened the door to show us the flyer he had made and a girl was standing there in front of our door about to knock! She was surprised that we answered before she even knocked and we just stared at each other for a while and she said, “Is Nathan here?” and I said, “I’m Nathan.” And she just shook her head and said that I was not the Nathan she was looking for. There apparently is another Nathan across the hall from us. So we just closed the door and all busted up laughing, it was great!

There isn’t much to say about my classes or work this week really. My classes are going to be a bit of a challenge since it is a semester’s worth of work to be done in about half the time. But, as long as I can keep up in the reading, I don’t think it will be that bad. They are interesting classes, although a little controversial. One is about the Psychology of Gender and the other is Developmental Psychology: Childhood which the teacher said would be taught from an evolution background, so that should be interesting.

Friday was an interesting day for me, after work that day, since I don’t have class on Fridays, I decided it would be a good idea to go to the movies. I went and saw Wolverine and had a great time. I don’t think it is one of the best movies ever made, but it was very entertaining and kept my interest the whole time. There were also a lot of great special effects. I really enjoyed the experience. I think I’m going to make a tradition of going to the movies after work on Fridays if there is something worth seeing. I already purchased my tickets to see Star Trek in the IMAX Theater after work this Friday, and I’m really looking forward to that. The creator of Lost and the actor that plays Sylar—how can that be bad?

Also, on Friday night I went to a really fun activity with my ward. It was really the first chance I had to meet my ward and I was really happy. There are a lot of great people in the ward and even some familiar faces from wards past. We had a great steak and potatoes dinner and then played a game called “Do You Love Your Neighbor?” where everybody is in a circle and one person is in the middle and goes up to somebody and asks if they love their neighbor. If they say “yes” the neighbors have to switch and the person asking the question tries to take one of the neighbor’s seats. If they say “no”, they have to say something like, “but I love everybody wearing red” and then everybody wearing red would have to find a new seat and the one who doesn’t is the person asking the question. I usually don’t like games like this because they make me uncomfortable, but I actually had a lot of fun playing this! The funny thing was that people kept saying “but I love everybody wearing green” and I happened to be wearing a green shirt, so I had to move around a lot.

Sunday was a great and eventful day for me. I was pleased to discover that my ward meets at noon, which gives me plenty of time to sleep in. But, once church started, I was busy consistently the whole day. Church was awesome, with a great testimony meeting, which I feel was a great way to get to know many members of the ward. Both of my roommates bore their testimonies. I also got the opportunity to pass the sacrament, which was great since I haven’t done that in a long time. Then, Ogden gave his great Sunday School lesson on keeping the Sabbath day holy. We had a combined Priesthood/Relief Society where the bishop spoke. He said that he was required to talk about two things, and he wrote a dollar sign and the word “sex” on the board. It was a very interesting lesson, one that I hear at least once a semester while at BYU.

After church, I volunteered to collect fast offerings and was partnered up with a member of the ward whose name is Bear. He was really cool and it was nice to make a friend in the ward so quickly besides my roommates. He hasn’t served a mission yet, so he was asking me a lot of questions about what being a missionary is like. After that, David and I cooked chili for the upcoming “Break the Fast” for the ward. Then, we went to our ward prayer which was at 4:30, and then had our Break the Fast dinner immediately after. It was a baked potato bar and everybody brought different desserts. It was really good and the chocolate chip cookies my apartment brought were eaten up fast, they were gone before I even had the chance to grab one!

After that, we had to hurry up and go to the fireside with Elder Bednar. I got a ride from David, and we went to the Marriot Center. It was a great talk about the importance of our bodies and how we should avoid excessive on-line gaming and social networking. It really taught me a lot about how much more important it is to live in the real world than the virtual world that so many young people are getting caught up in. It reminded me of a movie I watched recently called Caprica that takes place in the future where kids have created a virtual world to escape in that lets them do all kinds of bad things, which eventually leads to the downfall of their society.
When I got back we had a building meeting led by our R.A. and only five people showed up, three of us from our apartment. We played “I Never” and had a competition for the best story of the week. I won with the awkward story that I talked about earlier in this blog of David opening the door to show us a flyer and there was a girl standing there about to knock. My prize was Starburst, and I was very happy.

That is pretty much a summary of my past week. I am very excited for this short semester and think that it is going to be a great one. I just need to make sure that I keep a good balance between things so that I don’t get behind in any one particular aspect. I love the start of each semester because it is a chance to re-dedicate myself and to set new goals. I am in that process of setting goals now that I am comfortable with my schedule. I love getting a fresh start.