Monday, November 21, 2011

Life Lessons.

Sometimes, first impressions can be completely and utterly wrong.

The amount of precipitation on any given day is directly proportional to the amount of time you spent on your hair that morning.

If someone suggests that songs be sung when doing a particular activity, and the first song that pops into your head is Tom Lehrer's "Poisoning Pigeons In The Park," you should probably keep that to yourself.

It is very difficult to write decent songs that are relevant to your life if you haven't had your heart broken lately and also aren't head-over-heels in love.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Today, I'm going to pretend this is a cooking blog like all of the cooking blogs I am constantly pinning on Pinterest.

I am not a master chef.  I am merely a nineteen-year-old college student who desperately wishes she were a master chef, but whose ingredient price range is more likely to facilitate "101 Things to Make with Ramen" than blanquette de veau.  However, not to toot my own horn, but the dinner I made tonight was pretty much delicious.

And so I'm going to pretend that every meal I make is a culinary masterpiece, not just once or twice every couple weeks, and that this is a culinary blog, and basically just try to be pretentious for the next few paragraphs.




Red Pepper-Sauteed Chicken and Vegetables with Brown Rice


This isn't the dish from which I ate for dinner; rather, I ate my dinner, decided it was delicious, arranged it artfully on a plate, had my roommate take a picture, and then put the plate's contents in a tupperware for dinner tomorrow


Serves 2, give or take.  This picture shows half of what I made, and that seems a little excessive for one person. 

I'm not going to lie, I don't know the exact amounts of ingredients.  I shall instead write basically what I did.

I used a cup of instant brown rice, and prepared it according to the directions on the box.  However, to the boiling water I added a tablespoon full of pesto and a heaping tablespoonful of this stuff:


This stuff is made out of magic and my saint of a mother sent me some in her last care package.

While the rice was cooking, I minced two cloves of garlic and sauteed them in olive oil. 

When they were close to getting tender, I added about a third of a red onion, chopped into 1 square inch pieces, and a tablespoon each of pesto and red pepper spread. 

When the onions were tender, I added a little over a cup of sliced mushrooms and, once they were browned, added one poached chicken breast, thinly sliced (To poach chicken breasts: cook 3 chicken breasts in a 9x13 pan in chicken broth--I usually use a ramen flavoring packet--at 375 for an hour, or until cooked thoroughly) and tossed the slices with the vegetables until they were warmed and coated with the red pepper sauce mixture, about two minutes. 

Finally, I added a handful of baby spinach and continued to sautee the mixture until the spinach leaves were just tender, still maintaining their bright green color.
 
I then arranged the rice and chicken/vegetables on the plates and garnished with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a couple dashes of balsamic vinegar. 

[Side note on sea salt and freshly ground black pepper: they seriously make anything seem delicious. "Tonight, for dinner, I will be having ramen... with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper." Ooh, fancy.]


This post was terrible. That's why this is not, in fact, a cooking blog.

Bon appetit. Or whatever.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Rant of the Day

"I myself have never been able to find out what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute."    --Rebecca West



It happens every few months.

Somehow, something sets me off.  It may be a book, it may be something I heard someone say, it may be a picture.  I never know when it will strike, but when it does I transform from Calm and Unassuming Student to Angry and Homicidal Feminist.

In this case, it was a video.

http://www.vimeo.com/28066212

Watch this and tell me that, if you are female, this doesn't make you want to go join some sort of crusade against the media and society and men in general (or if you are male, want to go hide somewhere where your wife/girlfriend/sister/friend/mother who has joined said crusade cannot find you).  My roommate sent me this video today when I was at work, and after taking an eight-minute break to watch it I was angry.  I came home from work, stormed into the bedroom where my roommate was, thanked her for sending me the video, and then I ranted.  I yelled.  I screamed.  I swore.  I cried.  I yelled some more.  I pondered getting a buzz cut and never wearing makeup again, just to make a point.  I laughed hysterically at that mental image.  I continued to yell, fairly incoherently.  And then I faded off into angry muttering.

Four and a half hours have since passed, and I can now look back with humor at my evening rant.  But the fact is, it is an issue I am passionate about it.  With the exception of days like today, I generally don't go off on rants about it, but I am thoroughly a feminist and thoroughly frustrated with the treatment of women by the media.

What is feminism?  Well, according to Rush Limbaugh, "Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream of society."  Fortunately, I choose to put my faith in sources untainted by prescription drug addictions, but this quote points out the biggest problem blocking progression of women's rights: Whenever a woman acts in a manner contrary to the demure, weak, subservient feminine "ideal," the first thing that is criticized is her looks.

What?

Why is it that when a woman is strong and intelligent, the first thing that is questioned isn't her ideas, but rather her figure?  Or her hair?  Or her outfit?  Why is it that those who oppose Hilary Clinton don't criticize her views, but rather her outfits, or her laugh, or her thighs?  Why, when unable to articulate a counterargument to a female politician, do those who oppose them resort to sexually humiliating portrayals?  Why is it that women are expected to spend hours on their hair, their outfits, and their makeup?  Why does society construct an image of the ideal woman that is impossible to attain, and then tear down women who cannot meet that standard?  Why are women sexually objectified, abused, and used for marketing?  Why are the male equivalencies of a slut--a player, a womanizer, a pimp-- not considered a bad thing?  Why is it socially acceptable for an old man to date a young woman, a smart man to date a dumb woman, and a rich man to date a poor woman-- but not the other way around?  Why can men still be considered attractive when they are overweight, or old, or not even necessarily particularly good-looking, but for a woman to be considered attractive she must be size zero and twenty-two years old?  Why is an intelligent woman considered unfeminine?

Why do we as a society pander to fragile male egos?

I don't understand what it is about a strong female that is so intimidating to men.  I don't understand why we as a society have to persistently enforce the norm of the strong man and his little wife.  It's something that makes me wonder if marriage is even worth it.  So many women's husbands get home from work, eat the dinner their wife made, and then shuffle off to the living room to watch football while their wife does the dishes.  It's as though women's efforts mean nothing; men are expected to be the ones with jobs, opinions and personalities, while all women are expected to bring to the relationship is a clean house, meals, good looks, and a uterus.

The pressure on women to fuss over their appearance is astounding.  No matter how smart a woman is, how kind, how funny, how strong, it is not enough: for her to matter, she must be beautiful, as defined by male sexual preferences.  Clothing and cosmetic industries play off female insecurities and make a fortune at it by simultaneously making women feel inadequate and offering a glimmer of false hope that with the right products, they can be as attractive as they want to be.

They can't.  No matter how much time and money they spend, women will never be as beautiful as society tells them to be.  And that shouldn't matter.  But it does.

The problem is that while I can acknowledge these issues, I am at the same time affected by these same pressures and as a result am a part of the problem.  Earlier today, I pondered getting a buzz cut and never wearing makeup again to make a statement.  Will I do it?  Of course not.  I agonize over what I look like just as much as everyone else.  But the fact is, while somehow in my mind I hope that my new hairstyle, or new outfit, or makeup tip I read about will make me pretty, it won't.  I know this, but it doesn't stop me from trying.  And the knowledge that I will never measure up to the beautiful feminine ideal doesn't make me feel empowered, it just makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and cry over the fact that I haven't been on a date in a really long time.  I acknowledge that it is ridiculous, but so is the whole situation.  It is absolutely ridiculous that women as they are are not enough.

For the record, I don't hate men, or even blame them entirely for the treatment of women.  As long as women allow society to devalue them, they are equally part of the problem.

And yet my long hair remains.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"How could ye have forgotten your God?"

Following the passing of the Marriage Equality Act in New York, many people I know (and don't know) were both vocally and online expressing the idea that this is a sign of moral decay in the country, and that those who support same-sex marriage have forgotten God.

Today, I read a news article about a twelve-year-old boy who had his foot bitten almost all the way off by a bull shark. Because of his family's clear thinking and the speediness of treatment, he is expected to make a full recovery. He and his family were quoted in the article as saying they were so grateful that "God was with them." The top-rated user comment on the story was, "God was with them? Was he the shark???"

This offends me far more than does the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York. Which is worse, the fact that people who do not belong to a religion that says same-sex is wrong, but who have just as much likelihood of being good, honest people who serve their fellow man as you do can now marry those they love, or the fact that on an individual basis God is mocked every day? Whether it's by taking God's name in vain or mocking him outright, moral decay in this country isn't something that's caused by legislation. It's caused by individuals.

But nevertheless you see countless people who will gladly decry entire groups of people, people they don't even know, for their supposed efforts to destroy the country's morality, while turning a blind eye to those little acts which destroy the country's morality so much faster.

That's really all I have to say.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lesson of the Day

You know how if you eat too much pineapple your stomach will hurt later? Well, if you liquify a pineapple by cubing it and putting it in the blender with ice to make a smoothie with the intent to drink some now and freeze the rest for later... your stomach will still be in what may be described as agony if you drink the whole thing.

It was delicious, though.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. And thank Buddha for that.

After my recent gravy fiasco, I have been determined to redeem myself and prove that I am not, in fact, a terrible cook.  And so today I decided to make stir-fry.  I'd never made stir-fry before, but I decided it couldn't be that difficult.  And it wasn't.  I'd gotten my paycheck last Friday and so I finally had money to buy real ingredients (read: fresh fruits and vegetables) and make real food (read: not cereal or nasty sausage-less gravy).  I bought tofu and mushrooms and water chestnuts and chicken and a green pepper, and made a sauce from things I had in my kitchen.  And seriously, this sauce is probably one of the most delicious things I've ever made.  I was so relieved.  If this cooking attempt had resulted in failure as well, I probably would have given up on cooking permanently and lived on ramen and cereal for the rest of my days, which may wind up happening anyway.

My intention was to take a picture of the final product on my plate, but I forgot and ate it first.  So instead, here is a picture of the final product in a tupperware, which I will eat for lunch tomorrow.
 
Stir-Fry Over Unflavored Ramens, Topped With Chow Mein Noodles
(I find that the best way to survive as a college student is to make Ramens taste good.)

I am now including the recipe for what I would describe as Asian-ish Spicy Peanut Sauce. It is quite delicious, and I am documenting the recipe partly because I like to pretend anyone cares, but mostly because I know if I post it here I won't lose it.

Asian-ish Spicy Peanut Sauce

Ingredients:

Crunchy Peanut Butter (Around 1/2-3/4 c. Creamy peanut butter will probably work as well, but I liked the crunchy bits in the end product. Also, I didn't have any creamy peanut butter.)

4 Garlic Cloves, minced (Some quantity of garlic powder may be substituted if unlike me, one does not have a roommate with more garlic than she knows what to do with.)

Soy Sauce (Honestly, I have no idea how much I used. I pretty much just put some in, mixed the sauce, and then added more until it tasted good.)

Brown Sugar (Probably 2/3 c or so)

Ginger (See note for soy sauce)

Red Pepper (I seriously probably used like a tablespoon and a half of this, because I like things to be spicy. However, as many people like to keep the roofs of their mouths intact, less may be used.)

1/8 c Canola Oil (Or vegetable oil. Or olive oil. Or whatever oil is on hand. Also, I'm not even entirely sure if the oil is even necessary.)

Water


Combine peanut butter, garlic, brown sugar, oil, and an arbitrary quantity of ginger, soy sauce, and chili powder. Taste. Add more soy sauce, ginger, and chili powder as desired. Add water until sauce is the desired consistency. Taste again. Add more soy sauce, ginger, and chili powder as desired. Stir. Add another few shakes of soy sauce for good measure. Brush sauce over meat/tofu and let sit for a few minutes prior to cooking. Use the rest of the sauce in the stir fry once the vegetables are added.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Recent Frustrations & Why They Are Outweighed By Tender Mercies

Sometimes, BYU and Utah in general bug me.  A lot.  Yesterday, for example, during Sunday School, our lesson was on the gifts of the Spirit.  One of the questions the teachers asked was, "How do you know if the thought or feeling you are having is coming from the Spirit and not from yourself?"  They called on this one guy.  A guy whose appearance, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, screamed "holier-than-thou Utah Mormon."  You know the type.  Anyway, his response was, "If you even have to question whether your thought is the Spirit or yours, you should be less worrying about whether it's the Spirit or not and more what you need to repent of.  Clearly, if you aren't sure it's because the Spirit isn't with you as much as it should be."  As I, and the teachers for that matter, were gaping in stunned horror, another guy added, "I completely agree. If you're being truly righteous, every thought you have will come from the Spirit."

Few things annoy me more than this sort of thing, and I was quite literally biting my tongue hard enough to draw blood to keep myself from making a snide remark starting with "Well for those of us who aren't perfect, and that does mean everyone here..."

People in Utah annoy me sometimes.  This was further enforced this afternoon, when as I was purchasing a water bottle from a vending machine, some guy I didn't even know came up to me and said, "So did you hear about the legalization of gay marriage in New York?"  I replied that indeed I had, and a lively but respectful conversation/debate ensued.  Respectful, that is, until the guy said, "My biggest problem is that gay people claim it's just who they are.  That they were born that way.  They're such liars.  Clearly, it's a choice, not a natural inclination.  God doesn't make mistakes."  Once again, I found myself gaping in stunned horror.  When I managed to recollect my thoughts and say that being attracted to one's same gender is not a choice, he looked at me as though I were the spawn of Satan and said, "You're wrong.  It's a choice and a sin to even have those inclinations, and if you disagree you should probably do some soul-searching or you'll wind up in hell like them."

Well.  Needless to say, at this point I had gotten past my shock and was just furious.  After reiterating that same-gender attraction is no more a choice than opposite-gender attraction, that to have homosexual inclinations was not a sin, and that the sin that certain people should be worried about was pride and ignorant narrow-mindedness, I turned around and left.  As I was walking away, he called after me, "What do you know? You're just a filthy Democrat."

I laughed.  Yup.  That's me.  Filthy Democrat and proud of it.

I can respect most political views so long as mine are respected in return.  I understand that the majority of the church's political views are conservative, as are many of my friends' and family's.  At the same time, there are few things I enjoy more than a decent political debate with a respectful and well-informed person with different views than mine.  In Utah, however, I've learned to usually just keep my mouth shut when it comes to politics, because many Utah Republicans are neither respectful nor well-informed.  A girl in one of my classes fall semester comes to mind, who knew nothing about any issues and whose only point was, "If you're liberal, God doesn't love you and you're probably going to hell."

As much as I enjoy BYU, sometimes it's hard to remember that I do not, in fact, hate it here.  Some days, I want nothing more than to pack up my things, leave Provo, and never look back.  Fortunately, Heavenly Father is always there to provide a constant stream of comfort and blessings that remind me that no matter where I am and what is frustrating me, I can get through it.

Lately, I've been sort of tight on money.  And by that, I mean I don't actually have any.  I had what was in my pantry and my fridge to last me through my next paycheck this Friday.  Then yesterday morning, as I was looking for my phone charger, I came across an Easter card my grandma had sent me--with an unused $10 bill tucked inside.  Just enough to buy groceries this morning.  A miracle?  I think so.

This evening, I went back to the grocery store for some batteries.  All I had was the $3.50 remaining from my grocery trip this morning.  Batteries were $3.90.  The guy working there sold them to me for $3.50 anyway.  A miracle?  I think so.

Yesterday evening, I walked to the temple after dinner to watch the sunset and just think for a little bit.  It was beautiful.  But then it got dark and I realized that I had to walk home alone and that the only way I knew how to get back was a really roundabout way that involved walking back along the way toward Helaman Halls and then going to my apartment from there.  Usually I'm okay with walking alone in the dark, but for some reason last night I was terrified.  I'd made it almost to the Marriott Center when I had to stop and say a prayer that I'd make it home safely, and that I would stop being so scared.  Within two minutes, I heard voices singing.  As I tried to place them, I realized that it was the people at tunnel singing.  I promptly started to cry as my fear was replaced by the warm feeling of the Spirit.  A miracle?  I think so.

As I continued walking, I was able to make out what hymn they were singing: "Count Your Blessings."

I can take a hint.

Despite the occasional annoyances living in Utah provides, I am so grateful both for the opportunity to study here and for a Heavenly Father that puts up with me and my ridiculous frustrations and continues to bless me anyway.  I really don't know where I would be without the daily acts of mercy he provides.  There is no way I would be able to provide for myself or even be able to make it through each day.  I am so thankful, and I can never repay the debt for everything I am given.

But I still don't want to live in Utah after graduation.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Quote That Stood Out In Relief Society

"Meaningful service is never convenient."

But that's what makes it meaningful.

That's all.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Biscuits & Gravy Gone Terribly Wrong

All day at work,  I was craving biscuits and gravy.  Thick, creamy, sausage-y gravy on warm, buttery, flaky biscuits.  Such longings made the Spanish rice I'd brought for lunch seem all the more disappointing, and I vowed that as soon as I got home, I would make biscuits and gravy for dinner. I knew I didn't have any sausage, but I thought I'd be able to figure something out.

Oh, foolish me.

I made the biscuits easily enough.  Sure, they were the Bisquick kind, but they would do.  The gravy was a bit more difficult.  I had the basic gravy components: butter, flour, milk, and seasoning.  What I didn't have was suitable meat.  I didn't even have ham lunch meat.  All I had was a hot dog, and a can of tuna. Clearly, those would never do.  But I wanted gravy, and gravy I was going to have.  So rather than (sanely) giving up and just eating the biscuits with butter and boysenberry jam, I decided to use some of the chicken flavor from a pack of Ramen.  And so I did.

Shockingly enough, chicken Ramen flavored gravy is not delicious. And so, employing my usual method of masking the flavor of something that is not delicious, I proceeded to add pepper. A lot of pepper. Enough pepper that the gravy turned gray.  Needless to say, it didn't really help. I put it on a biscuit anyway. And ate it.

This was a mistake.

The moral of the story is: Even if you're craving a certain food, if you don't have certain essential ingredients, don't even try.  Or chances are, you will find yourself lying on your bed in agony two hours later, regretting every decision you have ever made.


(What I made was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the gravy in this picture)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Things I Hated As A Child. And Still Hate.

Filmmakers tend to underestimate the tastes of children. Often, children can easily tell that a movie is, in fact, really dumb. I recall going to see Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium with my family in theaters, and my then five-year-old brother leaning over to my mother and whispering, "This is so wame." He was not wrong. So there are many films I hated as a child, and still hate. This is either because I thought they were stupid, or because they traumatized me in some way. Or, as is often the case in such matters, both. This is not a comprehensive list, but includes some of the best of the worst.

Summer Magic


I'm not entirely sure that I actually watched this in my childhood, but I am including it because it is a children's movie, and because of this song. I need little else to explain my hatred:



I recognize that that was just how the times were, but frankly I don't care.


Pete's Dragon


My original reasons for hating this may have had something to do with the fact that the dragon leaves at the end, but probably the biggest reasons was that this was one of the dumbest movies ever created. I vaguely remember watching this in my early childhood and disliking it, but clearer in my memory is when my family had gotten it for Christmas when I was ten and not even being able to finish it. If you have your doubts, allow me to quote the following lyrics:

"He's both a fish and a mammal
And I hope he'll never change
Cause it's not easy
To find someone who cares."


Fern Gully


This is another of those movies I recognized as being dumb as a child, but I'm pretty sure I was also frustrated by the ending: After having fallen in love with him, Crysta returns Zak to his original size and he rejoins the lumberjacks, and Crysta works on controlling her magic. Even worse than that, though: Their names are Crysta and Zak.


The Brave Little Toaster


I hate this movie. There was an ad for it at the beginning of about 70% of our VHS tapes, which didn't help. My sister and I would always groan and mock these ads whenever they came on. When we eventually actually saw it, it unsurprisingly was a terrible movie. Largely because it is about a toaster.


The Black Cauldron


This movie terrified me like none other. Anyone else remember this guy?


I believe that the first time I watched this, I spent the majority of the film hiding under my aunt's coffee table. Looking back now, I still hate it. Partly because I still resent it for traumatizing me as a child, but mostly because I've actually read the book and this movie is sacrilege.


The Last Unicorn


1. Last unicorn, trying to find what has happened to the rest of her kind, is attacked by the Red Bull, depicted above.
2. Last unicorn is turned into a woman named Amalthea to save her from the Red Bull.
3. Amalthea meets a prince named Lir; they fall in love.
4. The Red Bull appears again and sees through Amalthea's disguise.
5. Amalthea is turned back into the Unicorn.
6. Lir dies trying to save the Unicorn.
7. The Unicorn drives the Red Bull into the ocean, and all the other unicorns appear.
8. The Unicorn brings Lir back to life.
9. The Unicorn is now the only unicorn to know about love and regret, having fallen in love with Lir.
10. She leaves anyway. The end.

I hate that movie.


A Journey Through Fairyland


This one took me a while to track down, because the only real memory I had was of a guy in a greenhouse crying as a fairy dissolved, and my bawling my eyes out because I was four years old and just wanted a happy ending. I managed to find it, however, by searching through Wikipedia's list of animated feature films made in the 1980's. It is in fact called A Journey Through Fairyland and I must have seen a dubbed version because the original is in Japanese. It is the story of a musician named Michel who falls asleep in his greenhouse one night only to find that one of his flowers has hatched a fairy named Florence. She gives him a magic golden baton and the following night takes him to Fairyland, and a knock-off version of Fantasia follows. Eventually Michel and Florence fall in love, but then they're attacked by these bug-like creatures. Michel sacrifices himself, which propels him back to the human world. Then Florence decides to come back to visit him, but she can't survive during the day and can't get back to Fairyland because the baton has gone missing, and she dies. Michel then goes back to his orchestra and every time he conducts it or plays his oboe, he travels back to Fairyland but never sees Florence again because she's DEAD. The end.



All of the above have been in no particular order. There are some I hate more than others, but the extent of my hatred for each can be more or less gathered from the accompanying descriptions. This one had to be set apart. The hatred I feel for this one far exceeds any of the above, and it isn't the movie version that I hate. It wasn't around when I was a child, but the book was.



Bridge to Terabithia.

I don't think I have ever hated a book in my life so much as I hated this one. I read it in second grade, after receiving it for Christmas from some sadistic relative or other. I enjoyed it up until Leslie died. And then I ran into the kitchen, wailing inconsolably. My mom had me call my uncle, who had also hated it, so I could vent. I don't care if it won the Newbery Medal, it's a terrible book. And I dislike plots that center on something was just in the main characters' imaginations almost as much as I dislike plots where everything turns out to be a dream.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Epiphanies

Last night, at about 3 am, I had a life-altering epiphany while talking to my roommate. I wrote as much of it as I could down once I got back to my bedroom, planning on writing about it in depth here later. I was so excited, because everyone else always has the occasional serious, insightful blog post that makes people think, and I wanted a turn.

This is what I wrote:

"On a hill you see all the people and they don't know you. And like, the bible and the torah and the koran and the talmud and the book of mormon? And the other stuff. It's all your geographical location. Like, politics. And morality? I think we shouldn't kill people but other people have other morality. And we don't know each other but we're ALL CONNECTED on some universal scale...
Love
peace
compassion
logic
emotion
apples
eggs
flour
cheddar cheese"

Whut.

What does it mean? And why did it morph into a grocery list? More importantly, what was I on?

The only epiphanies I have that actually make sense are not in any way life-altering. For example, the other day I had the epiphany that when composing the soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean, Hans Zimmer probably drew inspiration from the second movement of Joaquin Rodrigo's Fantasia para un Gentilhombre. I guarantee no one reading this has any idea what I'm even talking about.

Will I ever have a serious, insightful blog post that makes people think?

No, probably not.

I need to get more sleep.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Apartment: Kitchen.

I love my apartment. It's really cute, and very affordable, and my roommates are fantastic. The kitchen in my apartment isn't particularly special, but I love it, because it is a kitchen. It looks something like this:


The main difference is that this picture has the wrong number of cupboards, and the third dimension isn't even trying. I call this style Neo-Cubist Crapism. Regardless, I love my kitchen. It is adorable, as is the rest of my apartment. However, when it arrived, the kitchen was uncluttered, but dirty in the literal sense of the word. As you probably know, if you are reading this, I am really really disorganized when it comes to my own bedroom, because I don't really care, although I should. However, when it comes to the kitchen, I can be a bit neurotic. I've been cleaning it for two days, and it still isn't how I want it to be. Then again, I feel like I've perceived everything as being significantly worse than it actually was.

Take, for example, the microwave. Realistically speaking, it looked something like this:


On the nasty side, but no worse than the one in the vending machine room at Chipman Hall. However, probably because this microwave was in an actual kitchen, my brain processed it as this:


It was terrifying. I was absolutely positive that even putting something in the microwave would cause Ebola upon its consumption. I washed it thoroughly, and proceeded to do the same to everything else in the kitchen.

Admittedly, some of the things in the kitchen were dirty such that reality and my imagination were on the same page. For example, I had to scrape gunk out of the creases of the cupboard doors with a knife, because paper towels wouldn't cut it (literally). It was revolting.

However, soon I was able to clean it to a point where I could cook in it comfortably. The problem is that, having gone through cooking withdrawal while living in the dorms, all I want to do now is cook. Yesterday, for example, I baked bread, and today I baked two batches of cookies. If this keeps up, I give it a month until I look like this:


I'm not far off.

The moral of the story, however, is that I very much love having a kitchen, now that it's clean(er) and I love being able to cook, even if I should try to exercise a little more restraint. If you're in Provo, feel free to drop by. Chances are there will be plenty to eat.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Cause of Maturity

As I enter another of my usually temporary bursts of maturity, I feel a little more confident that this one will last. Because I believe I have finally determined the true cause of lasting maturity. It is not based in soul-searching reflection. Nor is it based in ambition, or determination. No, it is based in having to pay the electricity bill.

Things that Mature Adults do:

  • Take showers that are not half an hour long. Or an hour long.
  • Turn lights off when they leave a room, rather than, say, leave for the day with the lights on in their dorm room as was previously their habit.
  • Rely on natural light when possible, rather than sit in front of a window at noon with every light in the room turned on for no apparent reason.
  • Not turn on every single light in the house at night because they heard a creak and now are completely and utterly convinced that there is an axe-murderer or a clown SOMEWHERE.
  • Cook efficiently, instead of one thing at a time.
  • Wear socks instead of raising the heat unnecessarily.
  • Open windows instead of turning on the air conditioner unnecessarily.
  • Go to bed early instead of staying up till 4 am with the lights on.
  • Get up early instead of wasting hours of daylight.

Things that will reduce my electricity bill:

  • Taking showers that are not half an hour long. Or an hour long.
  • Turning lights off when I leave a room, rather than, say, leaving for the day with the lights on in my dorm room as was previously my habit.
  • Relying on natural light when possible, rather than sitting in front of a window at noon with every light in the room turned on for no apparent reason.
  • Not turning on every single light in the house at night because I heard a creak and now am completely and utterly convinced that there is an axe-murderer or a clown SOMEWHERE.
  • Cooking efficiently, instead of one thing at a time.
  • Wearing socks instead of raising the heat unnecessarily.
  • Opening windows instead of turning on the air conditioner unnecessarily.
  • Going to bed early instead of staying up till 4 am with the lights on.
  • Getting up early instead of wasting hours of daylight.

So now, I'm going to start acting like an ADULT. In one respect, anyway. I think if I were magically to morph fully into an adult in one setting my brain would short-circuit, and I would probably die. Baby steps.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Packing: It is difficult.

It's finals week. But also weighing particularly heavily on my mind is the fact that I must pack my belongings into boxes and be prepared to move to my new apartment by Wednesday. This wouldn't be such a big deal, except this is what my room looks like at the moment:


(Realistic Artistic Reproduction)


This is a problem. Not only is everything scattered in a way that makes it difficult to organize, but it appears that my walls have turned a sickly pale yellow-green, and the third dimension has decided to quit working properly.

I'm doomed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The 10 Most Awesome Disney Villains of All Time

10. Shan Yu

"The little girl will be missing her doll. We should return it to her."

Shan Yu is scary, and ruthless, and has some really good (read: creepy) lines, but his character wasn't as fully developed as a lot of the other villains.
 


9.Yzma

"It's called a cruel irony. Like my dependence on you."

Living proof that dinosaurs once roamed the earth. Yzma is the villain of one of Disney's funniest movies, and as such is one of Disney's funniest villains. She's one of my favorites, but she's number nine because it's difficult to take her seriously. Especially in this form. Squeak Squeak Squeak Squeak, Squeak Squeaker Squeaken.



8. Governor Ratcliffe

"I'd help you to dig, boys, but I've got this crick in me spine."

Governor Ratcliffe, and this song, pretty much sum up the history of human conflict: "They're not like you and me, which means they must be evil."



7. Lady Tremaine

"Oh yes, and one more thing... see that Lucifer gets his bath."

 Sadistic and cruel, but what a voice.



6. Dr. Facilier

"Fun fact about voodoo, Larry: can't conjure a thing for myself."

Okay, personally I think Dr. Facilier is the scariest of all Disney villains, just because what he does is in a way, a lot more... conceivable. The occult freaks me out rather a lot. I feel like if you're trying to talk to Satan, he's not going to complain.



5. Hades

"Memo to me, memo to me: maim you after my meeting."

Satan meets used car salesman.



4. Ursula

"We mustn't lurk in doorways. It's rude. One might question your upbringing."

One of the more manipulative Disney villains, but also one of the more entertaining. "Life's full of tough choices, innit?"



3. Scar

"I'm surrounded by idiots."

The most sarcastic of all the Disney villains, Scar arguably has some of the best lines of any character.



2. Frollo

"Such a clever witch. So typical of your kind to twist the truth; to cloud the mind with unholy thoughts!"

As far as evil goes, Frollo wins. Lust, corruption, and hypocrisy make him arguably the darkest of any Disney character, but they also make this song one of the best Disney songs ever.



1. Maleficent

 "You poor, simple fools. Thinking you could defeat me. Me, the mistress of all evil!"

I think that no one could ever top Maleficent as greatest Disney villain of all time. She's got it all: scary looks, fantastic voice and evil laugh, cruel sense of humor. I would slaughter a polar bear and bring back its head for her voice.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Favorite Poems

By Stephen Crane:

A man said to the universe:
"Sir I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."


In the desert,
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter -- bitter," he answered,
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."


I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
"It is futile," I said,
"You can never -- "
"You lie," he cried,
And ran on.



By William Blake:

A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I watered it in fears
Night & morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,
And into my garden stole,
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.


By Philip Larkin:

Church Going

Once I am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence,

Move forward, run my hand around the font.
From where I stand, the roof looks almost new-
Cleaned or restored? Someone would know: I don't.
Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few
Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce
'Here endeth' much more loudly than I'd meant.
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence,
Reflect that the place was not worth stopping for.

Yet stop I did: in fact I often do,
And always end much at a loss like this,
Wondering what to look for; wondering, too,
When churches fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show,
Their parchment, plate, and pyx in locked cases,
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?

Or, after dark, will dubious women come
To make their children touch a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some
Advised night see walking a dead one?
Power of some sort or other will go on
In games, in riddles, seemingly at random
But superstition, like belief, must die,
And what remains when disbelief has gone?
Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky,

A shape less recognizable each week,
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who
Will be the last, the very last, to seek
This place for what it was; one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique,
Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff
Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?
Or will he be my representative,

Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground
Through superb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation - marriage, and birth,
And death, and thoughts of these - for whom was built
This special shell? For, though I've no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
It pleases me to stand in silence here;

A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.



Above the rest, there is T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Too long to copy here, but my favorite are the last few lines:

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Words do not even begin to describe how much I wish I could write poetry, but I'm not a poet. I'm a college student, foolish and idealistic, copying the words of those far greater than I and scribbling nonsense in the hope that it could ever mean anything.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Children's shows have grown less awesome over the years.

When I was a kid, shows were, in a word, excellent. There were classics, like Sesame Street (before Elmo's world and Cookie Monsters de-cookiefication). And there were the beginnings of long-running shows, like Arthur. There was Rugrats, and Doug ,and Pinky and the Brain, and Ren and Stimpy, and Dexter's Lab, and and various babyified versions of older shows, such as Tom and Jerry Kids and Tiny Toon Adventures.

But most of all, for me anyway, there was The Busy World of Richard Scarry.

Most people haven't heard of this show, and thus most people were deprived. This show was (still is?) my all-time favorite. I'm pretty sure I started watching it at the age of like one. Because it clearly impacted me enough that I named my stuffed hippo that I received at the age of two...


...after this character on the show:


Those characters were all fantastic. Hilda Hippo, and Lowly Worm, and Huckle Cat, and Bannas Gorilla, and Mr. Fixit, and Mr. Frumble... But they weren't just show characters. They were book characters, from books I grew up having read to me. Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever, and Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, and Busy, Busy World (Politically correct? Not even a little bit. Does that matter at all? Nope.). The author died in 1994, but those books are classics, which were reinforced as a central part of my early childhood by the show. It only ran from 1992 to 1996, but those were four really good years.

This was my favorite episode. I'm feeling really nostalgic all of the sudden and therefore rambling in a way that renders this post incomprehensible. Life was a lot simpler when I was younger.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A story from my childhood, but not really.

Technically this actually happened a few months before I came to BYU. But I don't have anything else to write about.

It all started when the air conditioning in my car broke. It's not my car, really. Which is fine by me. As sexy as a severely dented minivan is, it's not exactly a vehicle for which I have any particular desire to claim ownership. However, it is the car that I drove because it is the only automatic my family owns and also the one to which I could cause the least damage. After several weeks of enduring the disgusting heat of a Virginia summer,  my parents finally took the car in to have its air conditioning fixed.

The following morning, I left to go teach piano, as was my usual Saturday morning routine. I both drove to and parked at my student's house in a calm manner. Upon arriving, I checked my texts in a calm manner, and replied to them in a calm manner. Then, in a calm manner, I looked up out the windshield and proceeded to panic. Clouds of white something were billowing out of vent above the hood. I jumped out and opened the hood, but could see nothing wrong (as if I had any idea what I was even looking for). Uncertain of what exactly to do but knowing that I still had to teach a piano lesson, I proceeded to pretend nothing was wrong and taught my student in a state of denial. When I went back outside, the billowing white something had ceased its billowing and I thought that perhaps my denial had worked. Seeing that nothing else seemed to be wrong with the car, I started to drive home. I was at the entrance to my neighborhood when the dashboard started yelling at me. "Hey you! Stop driving! Your car is overheating!" it beeped. "What?" I replied, "No it isn't. I haven't really even driven anywhere. You're wrong." And then I looked at the engine temperature thing and sure enough, the arrow was pointing directly at H. Sensing that this was not the time to argue with my dashboard, I pulled over and called my mom.

Several minutes later, she, my dad, and three of my younger siblings pulled up in our other car. My dad got out and started looking for what was wrong, and my mom asked me if I wouldn't mind going to the church with my three siblings while they had a Primary Activity and waiting there so I could get them ready for a baptism directly afterward. Now, what you must understand here is that earlier that morning before leaving to teach piano I had basically just rolled out of bed, thrown on clothes, and left. I was wearing glasses, no makeup, and my unstraightened hair was pulled back into a frizzy ponytail. I was in no state to be seen in public, much less at a baptism. So when we arrived at the church and my brothers and sister left for their activity, I went into the bathroom and began, once again, to panic.

I glanced in the mirror, and part of me died. Desperately, I searched for something in my purse that might make me resemble a human. I came up with a hairbrush, a brown lipstick, a purple lipstick, and a clear lipgloss. Halfheartedly I put on the brown lipstick and attempted to use the brush to tame my unruly ponytail. No such luck. Water was added, but it quickly dried, leaving me with even frizzier hair than before. Drastic actions were required. In a half-crazed stupor, I looked once again at the clear lipgloss. Now, this lipgloss was a simple lipgloss, but it had served me well, benignly carrying out the task for which it had been created. Most people would be content with this function, but not I. I wanted to stretch the lipgloss to its full potential! I wanted to challenge social conventions and make a statement by using it in an unconventional way! I wanted to push the boundaries of lipgloss in a way they had never before been pushed!

...I put the lipgloss in my hair. Ideally, this would have tamed all frizz, much like a gel. It instead created the highly realistic illusion that I had for some reason decided to put something incredibly sticky in my hair. Was it lipgloss? Was it honey? Just by looking, it was difficult to tell. Now, an ordinary person would have recognized insanity for what it was and stopped while they still could, but not I. I had no eye makeup with me. But if I could put lipgloss in my hair, why not put lipstick on my eyes? "Don't do it!" shrieked the piteous and dying remains of my common sense, which I promptly punched in the face as I pulled out Maybelline Colorsensational Lipstick in Madison Mauve. "Madison Mauve" is a very unassuming name. One might think it was not too flashy, sort of a muted plum. One would be wrong. It is BRIGHT PURPLE. And this I put on my eyelids. Bright purple, twitching, crazy-person eyes. Lovely. Even in my current state I had enough fragments of sanity to recognize that this was not attractive. So rationally (of course), rather than wash it off, I added BROWN lipstick.

And that is how I wound up sitting in the church looking completely ridiculous, clinging to a last desperate hope that my mother would soon arrive so I could escape unseen.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Facebook is not, in fact, the most distracting website out there.

Facebook gets a bad rap. Sure, it's a mindless waste of time, but it isn't the biggest waste of time there is. No, that would have to be Wikipedia. For example, today I bought some Original Taco flavored Doritos. On the bag, it said "It's Back!" I vaguely remembered them being discontinued when I was younger, so I looked them up on Wikipedia. Soon I was reading about tortilla chips (first mass-produced in Los Angeles in the late 1940s), and corn chips (thicker than tortilla chips because the corn used hasn't been subjected to the nixtamalization process. Then I was simultaneously reading about traditional Mexican cuisine (heavily dependent on masa) and potato chips (often flavored with paprika in Europe). About an hour later, I was reading about China's Yunnan Province, which is where a complete skeleton of the obscure dinosaur Jingshanosaurus was found.

Fun Fact: When potatoes were introduced to Africa in the 1500s, they were resisted by farmers, who thought they were poisonous.

Another Fun Fact: In traditional Mendhi, it is desirable to have the henna applied to the palms of the hand and the feet because these areas contain more keratin, which temporarily bonds to lawsone, the main colorant in henna. Thus, the color will last longer.

Sure, I now am knowledgable about a whole lot of things had no reason to know, but I am no closer to finishing my anthropology paper. I got as little done as I would have had I spent the whole time on Facebook. But I didn't. I spent it on Wikipedia, known for helping get homework done. The filthy liar.

Yet Another Fun Fact: Sometimes links in Wikipedia articles don't lead you to a page that's actually relevant.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thoughts on Adult...ness

The sad truth is that legally being classified as an adult has had no effect whatsoever on my responsibility level. Then again, I'm not sure what I was expecting. I guess I had this vision of turning 18 back in July and morphing into someone who:

  • Goes to class regularly.
  • Does homework before the night before the day it's due...
  • ...Or the day it's due.
  • Does laundry before it got to the point where there is only one remaining clean outfit, which outfit may or may not rely heavily on pajama bottoms.
  • Remembers to take their multivitamins, and calcium supplements.
  • Gets up when the alarm goes off, rather then getting up after hitting the snooze button approximately five hundred times.
  • Develops a mature, cultured personality and sense of humor.
  • Actually finishes personal projects, ever.
  • Doesn't spend all her money on frivolous shoes.
  • Washes dishes the moment they are dirtied. Or even the day they are dirtied.
  • Remembers to water her plants.
  • Writes in her journal regularly, rather than starting about six journals a year with the best of intentions, only to give up three entries in.
  • Drinks plenty of water, rather than plenty of ginger ale.
  • Eats enough fiber.
  • Goes to bed at a reasonable hour, rather than staying up till 3 online for no apparent reason. Or rather, a reason that is completely useless, such as collegehumor.
  • Thinks to check whether her temple recommend is in her wallet before she leaves, rather than once she is already at the temple.
I am guilty of not doing all of the above, but weighing on my mind particularly heavily is the last on the above list. I had every intention of going to the temple this morning, once I'd woken up and found out that was in the plans for the day. I got up obscenely early for a Saturday, and I dressed up, and I searched all over my room for my wallet, in which I keep my temple recommend.

Usually.

Long story short, it wasn't there and I found this out when I'd already walked to the temple. Not really all that big a deal, but it only served to reinforce how pathetically infantile I can be in my responsibility level.

So I am now resolved. I am going to act like an adult. I am going to be responsible and actually accomplish things. I am magically going to morph into someone who is motivated. I am going to stop overusing italics now.


The problem, though, is that this is not the first time I've made such an attempt. Far from it. Far better at illustrating the cycle of adulthood than myself, however, is Allie Brosh, writer of Hyperbole and a Half, the funniest blog of all time. If you don't read it, you should. Start here, because this particular post is relevant to what I've been rambling about: "This is Why I'll Never be an Adult."

Also, completely unrelated but extremely important, sort of:

Today, I watched "How to Train Your Dragon," which incidentally is the best movie ever, and discovered, during the closing credits, the most fantastic song. It's called "Sticks and Stones" by Jonsi. You should look it up. Right now. I'm not kidding.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I feel compelled to write, but my life is boring.

And so I leave you with the following inspirational quote:

"Let's think the unthinkable, let's do the undoable, let's prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself and see if we may not eff it after all." --Douglas Adams

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Are you interested in recieving training for Skid Steer Loaders? Me neither.

Tip of the Day: Never read someone else's blog prior to writing in your own.

I read three. One was very spiritual, one very motivational, and one very funny. Reading these was a mistake, because I both felt compelled to write in my own, and felt inadequate as to the material it is possible for me to provide. I didn't have any spiritual insights today, I don't have any inspiring words to offer, and nothing humorous comes to mind. I am thus consigned to the tedious monotony of describing my day. Which, to sum up, consisted of mindless information about such things as CNA Cycle File Inspection Process and proper lifting procedure.

You see, I started work today. Basically, what my job entails is the following: A client (typically an employer) needs an online training course to be created for his or her employees. We meet with the client and the specified "content expert" (for example, if we're making a course on tree planting for grounds crew the content expert could be the person in charge of correctly planting trees), develop and record a script,  create a visual presentation to illustrate and highlight important points, and post the completed training module online.

My online training, however, consisted of watching about 20 previously constructed online training modules, few of which had anything to do with my particular job and many of which were upwards of twenty minutes long. On the plus side, I now know more than I thought I ever would about asbestos, and I am certified to begin on-the-site training for BYU flower bed design, just in case I ever in my life need on-the-site training for BYU flower bed design.

Not likely.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thoughts.

Isn't it amazing how music can dramatically impact your mood? Certain songs can calm you down, make you forget what you were worrying about. Think Enya, or "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley. Or sometimes, you find songs that become a sort of personal anthem, and make you feel like you can do anything.

And sometimes you get a song you hate stuck in your head, which can send you into a fit of borderline-homicidal rage.

Remember "Smile," by Uncle Kracker? Played incessantly on the Top 40 station over the summer? The one that goes, "You make me smile like the sun / Fall out of bed / Sing like a bird / Dizzy in my head?" I hate that song, largely for the same reason that I'm not particularly fond of "Mamma Mia!", or Fruity Pebbles: Overcompensation for lack of talent, plot, and/or flavor by adding too much sugar.

In other news, hey look I made a blog. I'm really just jumping on the bandwagon here, as one of my friends recently deleted her facebook account and replaced it with a blog. Although I have too little self-control to delete my facebook (which should actually be all the more reason to delete it), blogs are fun. And so here I am.

I may or may not write regularly, but that's okay because really, what is a blog but nonsense thrown into cyberspace and ignored?