I think 2010 is going to be a good year. It has a nice feel to it. I like numbers that feel whole, solid. Because of our numerical system, 10's will always feel that way to me. So I'm pretty stoked for 2010.

My roommate Anna has started this great tradition that we roommates are going to continue this year. She creates a posterboard for the year and draws out everything she wants to do in the year. It can be serious or silly stuff all mixed together, big and small. I love this. It's more than just New Year's resolutions--it's a checklist of awesomeness.

Some of the things I'm going to put on my poster for 2010 are:

  • Get my second degree black belt!! 9 days!!
  • Go to a rock concert. (Nope, never been. Sad, huh?)
  • Submit at least one of my books to agents and/or publishers.
  • Visit a new country. (Probably the hardest of them all simply for $$$)
  • Start learning the guitar.
  • Go to a college football game. (Nope, never been. Grady thinks that's REALLY sad, lol.)
  • And of course, write a book. Gotta do that every year now.

There will be more, as I think of them. But I think it's a pretty good start for this awesome-sauce year of 2010. And tonight, it's downtown SLC for fun and games. =)


Work: Some new developments

You know I love Taekwondo, right? Well, I do. Lots. I've especially come to enjoy teaching Taekwondo, which came as a surprise to me at first. I love spending time with my students.

So when the opportunity was presented to work at the studio part-time, you may understand why I jumped at it.

Here's the story. A while back, I was talking to Whitnee (a co-owner and program director at the studio, and one of my very best friends) about some of the challenges the studio has been facing. Part of the problem was a lack of manpower--but also a lack of funds to pay for additional manpower.

I guess they made an executive decision that the manpower was necessary for further growth, because they approached me and offered me 15 hours a week of work at the studio--7 hours teaching and 8 hours in the office. Needless to say, I accepted. It means pulling my current job from full-time hours to part-time, which means losing my full-time benefits. But the sanity benefits are well worth the sacrifice to me.

I love Taekwondo. I love teaching Taekwondo. I love organizing things, I love maintaining order--which is what I'll be doing in the office. Compared to my job now--dull, mind-numbing monotony day after day--this is bliss.

I'll be starting in the office next week, and then we'll start introducing me to my new classes in the new year. Whitnee doesn't want me to get too overwhelmed before black belt testing--which is three weeks away, yikes!!--so I'll probably be hitting it hard mid-January and into February. I'll be continuing to teach my mixed children's class, in addition to a teens class (which is the most alarming--teens are harder to impress than kids) and possibly an advanced or intermediate childrens class. I'll also start assisting the childrens' sparring program, and I'm really excited about that. Sparring and I are tight. ;)

This, my friends, while crazy and somewhat irresponsible, this...is passion. Living it. And nothing makes me happier. Wish me luck!


The good news:

  • Christmas is in three days! Woot! I'm excited because my roommate Anna is going to spend Christmas with my family, and Anna is the shiz.
  • My Christmas shopping (with one exception) is DONE. Yay me.
  • I colored my hair DARK brown tonight. I was afraid that it would be too dark, but I kind of like it. =)
  • I start at the studio next week! Maybe I'll post about that.
  • My boyfriend is awesome.

The bad news:

  • Black belt test is 2 weeks from Saturday, and I'm starting to freak out. Our self defense demo is not where it needs to be!
  • I spent way too much money on Christmas this year. I love too many people, dang it!
  • I haven't worked on me and Sam's novel in over weeks. Not happy about that.
  • My knee still kind of hurts. Not as bad as this weekend. But I wish it would behave itself. Grr.


Christmas Complaints

Ah, Christmas. I love Christmas, I do. It's the time leading up TO Christmas that is difficult. Chaotic. Madness. Utter insanity.

I think there are too many Christmas parties. It's frustrating to me this year that I can't make it to all the parties I want to go to. For example, next Saturday the 19th, there are THREE parties in the same evening. My family Christmas party, my work party, and my ward party--where I'd been hoping to break boards in the talent show (wouldn't that make for a break, forgive the pun, from the normal monotonous piano and instrumental solos.) But...it's likely I'll only be able to attend one of the three. A similar problem occurs the next evening. TOO MANY PARTIES!!

I'm having problems with Christmas shopping as well. The main problem is simply a lack of time to get out there and battle the hoardes. Weekdays I'm at the studio basically til 9pm every night, and weekends I've pretty much dedicated to another purpose. But I've got to get out there and do it, because Christmas is coming up mighty fast--two weeks! And my loved ones much have gifts from moi.

Some people, though...some people are ridiculously difficult to shop for. Boys, mostly. Male-folk. Either they A) don't really want or need anything or B) the things they really want are way out of my ability to acquire (ie price range). So difficult. My suggestion: people should collect things, so that other people know what to get them. =)

All of this is complicated by having a significant other. I'm just saying. Parties start multiplying. Finding the perfect gift is excessively complicated. Just finding time to see each other becomes harried. Not that it's not compltely worth it, of course!

I'll just be glad when we can get to Christmas and enjoy it. I'm hoping this year will be a particularly wonderful Christmas!



If you don't know what TED is, stop right now and go here. Take some time, explore. Watch this one, it's my favorite. Pure brilliance.

Okay, now that you are familiar with TED, I want to familiarize you with their new brain-child, TEDx. These are independently organized events that are now recognized by TED. Check this out. See yours truly?

Yesterday, my friend Whitnee and I drove down to Cedar City to attend TEDxSUU. This is like our brain-child, growing up. We were in the first class to produce this conference (see the Fall 2007 video on the aforementioned page). And last night, I was invited down as an alumna speaker.

The theme of TED is "Ideas Worth Spreading" and this was an idea shared by TEDxSUU. A handful of students from the class were selected to present a shortened version of the presentation. There were also videos played from TED. Check out this one--so good. The students shared ideas about wildlife preservation, the societal concepts of maturity, and the use of color in our perceptions of language, mathematice, and the world at large. There were artistic performances, which were a new addition that I particularly liked.

But at the end of the student speakers, it was my turn. I only had a few minutes--not nearly long enough to give true scope to what I wanted to say. But the point I wanted to make to these fledgling Honors students was about passion. We live in a society of sheep. There is a flock, and everybody wants to be part of the flock, and the flock wants everybody to be part of it. You might want to be a pretty sheep, or a smart sheep, but you are still a sheep. If you venture too far, the flock says no, don't go there, its dangerous. It's not cool. It's lonely. We are discouraged from venturing out from the norm--set by our arbitrary society. People who live outside those bounds are criticized, stigmatized. But the flock remains caught in nothing greater than mediocrity.

The Honors program was always about passion to me. So many people go to college for the degree. They do just enough to get by, to endure until they get handed that paper that tells them they accomplished something. But there is so much potential for more. And not just in school--I want to have an Honors life. It's not just about skating by, doing just enough. There is a deeper, more fulfilling experience to be had.

Too often we are limited by expectations put upon us. In college, you have expectations set by teachers. To pass this class, you must do these things. And so we do those things. In life, we are set expectations by peers, by family, by religion or politics, by employers. All these expectations that we are set to meet. But those expectations actually limit our capacity. If the bar is set here, then we only try to reach here.

We can reset the expectations. We can set our own expectations, and set them far higher than what anybody else can set for us. It might not be cool. People might not accept it--how many times are we told to lower our expectations, because we can't possibly achieve our dreams? But we CAN! By raising the expectations we have for ourselves, we raise our capacity to achieve them. And we never know what new interests and passions and dreams we will discover along the way.

Let's try not to be sheep. Let's try to leave the flock of others' expectations. Let's venture out into this great big world with our eyes and minds open for new ideas. And we can share our own--ideas worth spreading.


Obligatory Thanksgiving post

Thanksgiving was actually quite lovely this year. We started off with a blip--fought with my mom about pies. She made the pies, and I was made cuz I wanted to make the pies! But we kissed, made up, and I told her under no uncertain circumstances that I am making pies for Christmas. (Love you, Mom!)

We had dinner at my Grandma's house up in Bountiful. We haven't done that in AGES, since I was a little kid. My cousins kept having kids and we outgrew their house, so everybody stopped going to Grandma's and started having Thanksgiving with their own families. Well, now we've got a bunch of empty nesters. So I had a couple aunts and uncles there with their last remaining unmarried adult-children, and my parents and I. It was different, but pleasant. Very low-key.

My grandma got her hands on a bunch of 8mm film and had Costco turn them into DVDs. So we watched some home videos from 1959--my dad was 4 years old. And he was a charmer! (which, if you know my dad at all, is surprising. He's so quiet now!) But it was so fun to watch these videos, to see my aunts and uncles at these young ages. And my grandparents! So young, so cute. And so formal! Part of the video was a visit to the zoo. The men wore suits to the zoo! And the women and girls were all in skirts and dresses. My grandma was so dainty, it was cute. It was really just a different time.

On Friday, I went up to Ogden to spend the weekend with my best friend Melissa. LOVE HER. Can't even tell you. Friday night we dorked around, played this weird game called Quelf (which I won) and Ticket to Ride, my favorite game ever (which I did not win). On Saturday, I watched while Melissa and her dad hung the Christmas lights on their house. Melissa wanted me to go up on the roof, but heights and I are not good friends. So I stayed on the ground and WROTE--and it was awesome, climatical goodness. That afternoon, Liss and I did a little shopping, but got very little. That evening, we went to see New Moon again. We ended up at a later showing, so we went to the Fat Cats arcade for an hour or so, where we played Deal or No Deal. I know its retarded, but its still strangely amusing. I got some more of these mini mechanical pencils that I have come to love, and a plastic dagger that amused me greatly. Then it was back over to the movie, which was enjoyable. I have now gotten my fill of Taylor Lautner's abs and can move on. ;)

I went to church with Melissa and then departed southward. I spent the evening with my birthdad & co. The majority of our time was spent watching the Steelers game. My b-dad is a Steelers fanatic. It's funny. I am slowly growing to appreciate football. Maybe one day I'll actually go to a game! Haha. We'll see.

And throughout the weekend, I was pretty much on my phone nonstop IMing or texting Grady. He's turning me into a Crackberry addict by association! But that's life, I guess. :P All in all, it was a great holiday weekend. I'm looking forward to Christmas!



Five days left in November, and I just hit 50k! Kick-butt-boo-yah!

Now back to writing....


I like to be chill.

There is so much drama in the world, in my life. So little of it has anything to do with me. Drama surrounds me like a haze. I guess I experience drama vicariously through others. Roommates. Friends. Coworkers. My mother. (Love you Mom!) I guess I have my own share of drama. But I imagine myself (my own construct) to be pretty low-key in this regard. I may be crazy-crazy-busy, but despite this, I still have a low modicum of drama. In proportion to the aforementioned people in my life.

I think I like it better this way.

PS: The title of this blog has nothing to do with temperature. I'm finding this winter that I am cold ALL THE TIME and it's driving me crazy. I'm becoming like Whitnee, which is NOT exciting. Grady says I'm a wuss. He's probably right. But regardless, I do NOT like to be cold.


Giving Thanks

It's that season of Thanks Giving. Some of my friends have been making daily posts about things for which they are thankful. I haven't had the time or energy for daily posts, but I thought I'd take some time today to tell you some of the things for which I'm especially grateful this year.

My job. Sometimes I don't give enough credit to my job. First of all, I HAVE a job! I love my coworkers, they're the best. And I love everything else that I get to do at my job!

My family. I absolutely adore my parents. They are the shiz. I really appreciate their love and their support--letting me "shop" in their pantry, my dad coming over to fix the furnace at my apartment, my mom taking me out to lunch. Seriously...the shiz. And all my other family as well! My birthfamily, my cousins, my Jacksons, my grandma...everybody. You. Are. Awesome.

My roommates and my friends. I think sometimes I take for granted how many friends I have. I am so grateful for their love, for their interest in me, for their kind words, for their invitations to activities even when I can't come. I am very blessed in the friend department.

Taekwondo! I am incredibly grateful that I've been able to get back into Taekwondo this year, and that I've been given the opportunity to teach, and work toward my second degree black belt. It's a challenge. And it takes a great deal of my time. But the opportunity is one which I value very much.

My afore-linked volunteer work. I've actually been feeling particularly grateful this week that I've been given this ability and means to help people in such a personal way. It's important to me. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the trust that has been given to me to shepherd people in need.

My Church. I can't make a thankful-list without this one. I am grateful always for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the security in my life that is offered by my faith. This is a huge one I could go on and on about. =)

Let's see--some other things for which I am grateful:

-Heat in my house!
-Tithing settlements.
-Well, just my ward in general.
-Awesome books. I love books.
-Awesome movies. (ie STAR TREK)
-The piano, and my ability to play it.
-Learning how to cook.
-NaNoWriMo making me write.
-The Ensign. It's awesome.
-My cell phone. And having the internet on it.
-My awesome, awesome, awesome car. I LOVE my car.
-The season of Autumn. That smell, that crispness in the air, the colors of the leaves, all of it.
-Hot chocolate.
-Well, chocolate in general.
-Being able to have a fire in the fireplace with the flip of a switch. Sooo nice.
-Fun-filled days.
-Being a girl. Even though I hate it sometimes, I really do like being a girl.
-Bloggers. I love reading blogs. Especially adoption blogs, and my friends' blogs.
-The holiday season.
-Going shopping with my mother.
-Getting to speak at conferences. (TEDx is in 2 weeks! eeek)
-Pea coats.
-Hand sanitizer.
-Music! All kinds of music, from MoTab to Metallica. And listening to it really loud, in my car or at home with my roomies.
-Dating an awesome guy. =)

There is much to be grateful for, all year round. But I'm glad that Thanksgiving gives me the excuse to air some of them out. Oh, and make pie. I'm becoming something of a pie snob, but I honestly think homemade pies (when done right) are better than storebought pies. And I do love to make pie. =)

Happy Holidays!



The long-promised pics of Writing Camp! The roomies and I, writing away.

My novel is coming along quite nicely. I hit 30,000 words yesterday and have pressed onward. Having good times!


NaNoWriMo: Week One

My dear friends, we are coming to the conclusion of NaNoWriMo's first week. I have spent the last seven days writing, and I have to tell you, I'm feeling great.

Anna, my fabulous roommate, has become my writing buddy, and I think writing buddies make all the difference in the world. Our dining room table has become writing camp. We have a lamp (it kind of feels like an interrogation light, not gonna lie), and all sorts of cables. Music and food abound. We share ideas and lines and plots from our novels. We encourage each other. We spend our late-nights together at the table, writing.

It's going pretty well before. I've stayed ahead of the daily quota, though not as high as I'd like to be. Although if I'm being honest with myself, I'm doing REALLY well considering the chaos that is my life right now. Last year I wrote more, but last year I didn't have work AND taekwondo AND dating AND roommates to hang with and whatnot. So I think I'm doing myself proud.

The story is coming along nicely. I'm really happy with most of the characters, and the plot is developing in some interesting ways. So I'm just plugging along and having a good old time.

I'm hoping to post some pictures soon--I want to show you the funsies that is our writing camp. =)



Board Breaking Extravaganza--check out the awesome videos

This weekend at Beyond Sports, we're having a Board Breaking Extravaganza! Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Well, it is! We've invited all our students to come--and to invite all their friends to come too! Everybody comes, and we spend the first part of the event teaching them how to break boards--or in the case of our students, how to perform a new break they've never done before. We practice and get ready. Then we spent the next half BREAKING--everybody who comes gets at least 2 boards, and they perform the breaks they've been taught. We're going to go through half a forest's worth of board, I tell ya.

So, for black belt test, we all have to break 10 boards. That's right, 10. Those testing for their 1st degree plan out in advance which kicks and hand techniques they will use to break their 10 boards. They plan the setup (which is more important than you might guess) so that their breaking makes an interesting performance, without a bunch of shuffling in the middle. At testing, they have 5 minutes to set up their boards with their board holders, practice, and break all 10. If any of their boards don't break, they lose points. If it takes longer than 5 minutes, they lose points. Points are awarded for good technique, power, and the boards breaking.

This weekend is a dry run for testing. All the kids testing for their black belts in January get to do all their breaks, just like they would for testing. It helps us evaluate where they're at with breaking, and if we need to adjust any of their choices.

For me, things are a little different. At black belt testing, I will be sent into another room. My head instructor will set up an arrangement of boards (and bricks!). Then I will come back into the room. I will have 2 minutes to break all the boards (and bricks!) I get judged on having good technique, but I also get judged on how challenging the techniques are that I choose (on the spot!) to break with. I am judged on my performance--how flashy I can make it, on the spot.

This weekend, though, I get to pick my breaks. I am doing 10 boards also (no bricks...my hands aren't conditioned enough quite yet!) Last night I sat down to decide what breaks to use this weekend. My instructor told me to choose things that will challenge me. And so I have!

First will be a blindfolded jump back kick. (This clip made me laugh! Now imagine, no gear--WITH blindfold--through a board.)

Next is a double jump front snap kick. (Couldn't find a good vid, sorry)

The next one is kinda fun. I will toss a board into the air, and as it comes down, I will break it with a ridge hand.

Following that, I will break 3 boards with a palm strike. This is how I will break bricks at my black belt test.

And last I will break 3 boards with a triple spin hook kick. (This one is crazy-sauce, but will be awesome if I can pull it off.)

All I have to say after all that is: board breaking is awesome, and Taekwondo is the shiz!



Halloween is a ridiculous holiday, but it still can be incredibly enjoyable.

It's easily the biggest holiday celebration at my workplace, which is kind of random. On Friday, we had a huge Halloween party. There were contests for desk decorating, best costume, and pumpkin carving, and we had a great barbeque, with trick-or-treating for kids and adults alike. Cindy and I, the Front Office Team, won the pumpkin carving contest with our cannibal pumpkin:

The costumes at work were pretty exciting, I'm not going to lie. I never hoped to win, but it was still fun--especially because I got to be in my PJs all day. =)

On Halloween itself, Grady and I went up to SLC. It was his first time meeting the Peeps, or my college friends. We watched "Little Shop of Horrors" and then we took Trax downtown to Studio 600, a dry dance club that was having a big Halloween party. My friend Justin was a huge hit--he was Optimus Prime for Halloween. This was an AWESOME costume. He was like a Disneyland character, everybody wanted pictures with him. We found out after we got there that there was a costume contest--and Justin won, hands down.

We had an awesome time. We danced for awhile, but then we went and spent most of the evening in the karaoke room. We had pizza and virgin bloody pina coladas. We played a little foozball, goofed around, and just had fun. We almost missed the last train home, which was a little alarming. Being stuck in downtown Salt Lake City at 1 am without any way to get home would NOT have been fun. Fortunately, we caught the last train and headed home. All in all, a great evening.


I hate airlines, airports, airplanes, et cetera and so forth

Travel log:

7:30am EST. Woke up. Immediately panicked, as my flight left at 7:05am EST.
7:31am EST (5:30am MST) Called Mom. Mom said, stop panicking, pack your stuff and start driving, I'll call the airport. (God bless my ever-patient and loving mother.)
8:00am EST. Started driving. Mom called to say she had put me on a flight at 11:10. Started driving faster. (They charged $59 to put me on that flight--the money panic set in.)
9:45am, I took a wrong turn.
10:00am I realized I had taken a wrong turn. Tried to call my mother, but I had no reception. When I reached the END OF THE ROAD (major panic) I turned around.
10:05am stopped at a gas station for directions. The guy laughed at me.
10:15am got back on the correct highway. Started speeding really bad.
10:30am started looking for gas stations so I could refuel my car. Couldn't find a gas station within 10 miles of the airport.
10:45am Mom told me to suck it up, pay the ridiculous price of refueling by the car rental company, and just get myself to the airport.
10:55am FINALLY the Hertz shuttle took us to the airport.
11:00am The Delta guy at the self-service kiosk would NOT let me see an agent at the desk until I had at least tried the self-service kiosk. This guy was a retard. He kept telling me to take my time, calm down, and he'd 'work the magic' on the self-service kiosk.
11:05am the self service kiosk sure didn't work, so the Delta guy finally let me get in line for an agent.
Now, there was one girl working the desk. Two other guys were just standing there talking. I'm sure it was only five minutes or so, but it felt like five HOURS. I even heard her say, "Gee, am I working here alone today?" They laughed, finally finished talking, and one guy meandered over to the desk. He clicked away at his computer and finally asked if he could help me. (I had totally lost it; I was balling my eyes out.)
11:10am He determined that I couldn't make my flight (no duh, you stupid--). He told me at that point that there wasn't another flight leaving for SLC until 9:00pm. Obviously, the water works were flowing. He was like, "Ma'am, I can't possibly help you when you're crying like this. You need to stop crying." Then he looked around and called out, "Could somebody get me a box of tissues please?" That didn't actually help very much. Anyway, he decided there might be another option (click clack at the computer for another AGE). Then he said there might be a flight, but he couldn't confirm it for another fifteen minutes, so I should go sit down, take deep breaths, and come back.
11:20am Texted Melissa, Anna, and called my mother--who didn't answer--and tried with some success to calm down.
11:30am back up at the counter, the guy got me tickets (yay!) that still wouldn't get me home until about 9 (boo) but at least I wouldn't be leaving AT 9. Furthermore, since I had told him I missed my flight because I had gotten lost (and probably out of fear of the waterworks) he was able to get the fee waived, so they didn't charge me all over again for this new flight (hallelujah!) Then with a condescending smile he said, "Now, don't miss this one!" (Jerk!)
11:45am got through security (blah) and found my gate. Went to the bathroom and washed several hours worth of tears off my face.
1:30pm Boarded my plane.
2:00pm Finally left Philadelphia.
4-something pm, landed in Atlanta. Traversed the airport, got a wrap at the same place the parentals and I had wraps on our NYC trip.
6:00pm boarded my plane. Got stuck between a grumpy dude who took over the armrest and never ever relinquished his claim, and a hippie lady who drank nasty-smelling tea and kept laughing really loud at the movie I wasn't watching.
8:30pm MST, landed in SLC. HALLELUJAH!!!
9:00pm, went to visit my grandmother in Bountiful because she'd been planning on seeing me, when I was supposed to have been coming into town at 10 AM and still wanted to see me. I swear, I was so dead, I'm not really sure what we even talked about.
10:30pm, made it home. Unpacked my contact case and my pajamas, cuz that's about all I could handle right then.

I'm now going to pretend that the whole thing didn't happen. I went to sleep in Pennsylvania on Saturday night, and woke up at home this morning. Sunday didn't exist. =P

Also, if you'd like to hear more about my actual experience while in Pennsylvania rather than the debacle of getting home, check out my other blog.


Hel-looo Pennsylvania!

Travel log:

Woke 6:30am, thought about going running as planned, hit snooze button, slept again.
Woke 6:55am, showered, dressed, finished packing.
Departed house 7:35am, best mom EVER drove me to SLC Int'l Airport. Got thru security w/o a hitch, waited. (plane supposed to leave at 9:41am)
Boarded plane 9:32am
Plane takeoff 9:55am
Slept for the first hour or so
Woke up when the guy next to me tried to apply lotion, but in the plane, it kind of exploded everywhere. Gave him my napkins and helped him clean up. Then talked to him for 10min.
Worked on my keynote address for an hour.
Finished a scene in my novel.
Slept again.
Landed 4:00pm EST/2:00pm MST.
Waited. (really had to pee, too!)
Disembarked--and couldn't find a bathroom! The whole freaking airport's being remodeled. Finally found one by the baggage claim, and it was way nasty.
Took the shuttle to Hertz, 4:25pm
Rented a car for the first time, 4:40pm. It was supposed to be a Hyundai, but it turned out to be a Mazda 6. Pretty pleased with that one.
Tried to get to the Reading Terminal Market, 5:00pm. Incidentally, I would advise against trying to navigate downtown Philadelphia at rush hour. After being muy frustrated, I gave up and headed out. (Have to admit that I have mad driving skills that after getting lost trying to find Vine St, I was still able to get myself back onto I-76 and headed in the right direction.)
Got stuck in traffic behind a wreck 5:30pm
Stopped for food, 7:00pm. I had eaten breakfast at 7:00am MST, drank some Fresca and ate a biscotti cookie on the plane...and that's it. I debated seriously about just waiting til Lebanon, but couldn't stand it anymore, so I stopped. Had a roast beef gyro at Arby's--decent, too.
Arrived at hotel, 8:00pm.
Started playing on the internet, 8:25pm.
And here I sit.

Tomorrow morning I'll be working on/finalizing all my presentations. In the afternoon we're going to Hershey for a taste-testing tour/trick-or-treating, where I get to see Ian for the first time in over a year. Then tomorrow evening is my keynote address. Eeek!


Good News Bad News

Domestic Dork

The good news
  • I leave for Pennsylvania TOMORROW! I'm so so so excited.
  • I had a great write-a-thon weekend with Sam last weekend, we got a lot done.
  • Got to see my birthdad and fam on Sunday!
  • My roommate followed through, woke me up, and got me out of bed to go running (well, this morning it was a brisk walk). We are 2 for 2. I'm determined to keep up the schedule while in PA!

The bad news:

  • I'm still not feeling very prepared for my keynote address on Friday night. I have a few notes, and a plane ride. Hopefully it will come together?
  • I really hurt my knee at Taekwondo last night. It's still killing me. Sometimes I hate my body.
  • Because of the aforementioned pain, I didn't sleep well last night (resulting in me still being in bed when it was time to go running) which means I'm really, really tired this morning. Being really, really tired limits my productivity, both on the keynote address front, and the novel front. *sigh*



I have a deep love for NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month. I've participated for several years now, with great enthusiasm.

This year, I'm cheating. You're supposed to write 50,000 words of a NEW novel, one that you haven't started, and preferably one that you don't care about that much, because you're going to be cranking out 50,000+ words in 30 days, which means that quality is not necessarily a priority.

However, I'm hip-deep into this novel I'm co-writing with Sam, and I've come to the decision that it would be ridiculous for me to start another book at the moment. So I'm cheating. I will be writing 50,000 fresh words, but they'll be a part of this novel that we've already begun.

Last night, I told my roommate Anna about NaNo, and when her interest was perked, I realized that I really really really wanted her to do it with me. There's just something about company during moments of insanity. Having someone to rant to about characters who misbehave; someone to have late night write-a-thons and runs for caffeinated beverages. Strangers on forums are no substitute for a flesh-and-blood companion. So now I'm really hoping that Anna will join the ranks of NaNo-ers who will be madly scribbling away this November.



You know those days? Ladies, you know what I'm talking about. Yes, those days.

All I want today is chocolate. Lots of it. Good chocolate, crappy chocolate, I don't care. But it's all I want. Food? Pass. Water? I guess so, but only if it's washing down some chocolately goodness.

PS: On a side note, I've been cracking at the novel this morning...haven't made a ton of progress, cuz my coworker is MIA again, but we're looking forward to a very productive weekend, and I'm stoked.



I just finished my grad school application--put it in the mailbox, can't touch it again finished. In light of my current stage of freaking out, I've decided to blog.

The tournament on Saturday was a lot of fun! It's been three years since I've been to a taekwondo tournament, and I'd forgotten just how much I love them. I think that (for me) they're even more fun as a black belt, because I get to be so much more involved. You know me--I'm an organizer. And nothing needs organization more desperately than your average taekwondo tournament.

Our contingent from Beyond Sports arrived just before 9, just in time for an impromptu judging/refereeing training. We HOPE that most black belts know how to judge the normal TKD events, but it's not always the case. Anyway, then it was off to compete in forms. The black belts go first in forms so they then can judge the color belts. For similar reasons, they usually spar last. It also works as an interest grabber/event climax, respectively.

Anyway, my competition in forms went really well. There were three in my division. The first girl was obviously brand new both to her black belt and to Koryo, her form. The second was a guy who performed Keumgang, the second degree form, and he did fairly well, but nothing extraordinary. I also performed Keumgang, which I learned about a month ago and fell in love with. There were several small goofs on my part, but overall I think I performed well. I received the gold medal!

Then it was off to another ring to judge color belt forms. That went by quickly and without much excitement. However, I was then asked to help judge demo teams. I'd never done this before, and it was exciting. Demo teams are an interesting, multi-headed, and variable creature. Three schools competed, and each performance was very different. There are a lot of unison techniques, and the better the unison, the better the score. But I learned that live music definitely adds to the atmosphere! Very fun.

Next came sparring. I started as the center referee in one of the rings. In Olympic TKD, you have three corner judges who are responsible for scoring points. You also have a center referee, who is responsible for ensuring that all the rules are obeyed, and dispensing point deductions when they are not. I've been a corner judge before, but this was my first time as a center ref at a tournament. It was very interesting! Definitely keeps you on your toes.

I had to opportunity to cheer for most of my teammates during their fights. They all did quite well, with few losses, and even those were close calls. Mine was among the very last sparring matches.

My opponent was a girl named Liz from Logan. She is a front-legged kicker, which isn't something you see in Olympic style very often. About thirty seconds into the match, she kicked me across the face with a front leg hook kick. We had to stop the match (kyeshi=medical time-out) so I could recover. But when the ref asked if I wanted to continue I said, "Yes sir, let's go."

Sparring is as much a psychological game as a physical one. When someone hurts you, you have to get right back up and get them back, otherwise they get the upper hand. Coming back in, I attacked--and pretty much chased her out of the ring and onto her butt. This response, I've seen watching other matches, can sometimes be taken for anger--like you're mad that they kicked you. In my case, that's rarely the case. But sometimes a little acting and lots of ferocious kiyaping can win the match.

Anyway, we continued on into our second round. I kept getting called for pushing. We can only punch with one hand; if you get caught punching with both hands, you can receive a half-point deduction for pushing. I really need to train this habit out of myself, because it was costing me points that I didn't have to give. Her style of kicking was frustrating, because I couldn't use my usual compliment of counters against her. We were down to the wire, and from the screams I could tell it was very close. She came in once again with that front leg kick, and I turned to back kick--and kicked her square under the chin.

Time was up, so they called the match in my favor, but I didn't feel triumphant, I felt rather guilty. She was off having an asthma attack. *sigh* I don't like to totally demoralize my opponents--and I've done that more than once--because I like sparring, and I want everybody to like sparring. Anyway, they took her off to the medic, and my coach soon dragged me off that way too to make sure I was okay after the head kick.

From the medic's impromptu station, we watched as the breaking competition got under way, and I had a chance to talk to Liz for a few minutes. Turns out that she was coming back from a 3-year hiatus from TKD--this week. !!! I can't even imagine. I mean, I was gone for almost that long, but I've been back and reconditioning since May. I can't imagine coming back and that same week fighting in a tournament--her FIRST EVER Olympic-style tournament. Foolish, foolish coaches. Anyway, we talked for a few minutes, and I don't know if it made her feel any better, but at least I felt like less of a monster!

Our team reconvened at TGI Friday's for a celebratory meal, and lots of pictures. We were able to discuss things that we did well, things we need to work on, but mostly we just enjoyed eating for pretty much the first time all day, and enjoying each others' company. I loved the camaraderie, and I hope that we can encourage more of our students to come out to tournaments. They're a blast!


I hope most people are more observant than this. Otherwise, the world is in trouble.

Last night, I was going over my sparring gear to make sure that I had everything I needed for the tournament (TOMORROW!!), making sure my name was written on everything of mine, and dumping out all my excessive gear that just makes my bag really, really heavy.

Anna and Crystal were in my room with me, chatting as I processed the aforementioned gear. I happen to keep one of my old belts (blue, to be precise) in my bag, for stretching and slow kicking exercises. They were curious about the exercises, so I demonstrated a supported side kick on the wall, and with the belt, that means I can go pretty darn high. After demonstrating, I went back to my gear.

Crystal looked at me for a moment and said, "Wait, you mean you're really a black belt? Like, a real one?"


PS: Wish me luck at the tournament tomorrow!


An empty house is very, very quiet.

I just got home (10pm), tired but pleased by my work tonight, only to find nobody home. How lame-sauce is that? When I get home at night, I love having roommates here to chat with, to talk about our days, to listen to their daily dramas...you know, girl-chat. Having nobody here is...lonely.

So I checked up on emails, chatted with another friend for a minutes...and now I'm just sitting here. All alone. In my empty house. I'm hungry, I'll probably cook "dinner" here in a minute. Maybe I'll watch a movie.

But sheesh! Where is everybody?


Domestic Dork

The good news...

  • Autumn is wonderful, autumn is beautiful, and autumn is HERE.
  • Sam and I have been making great progress on our novel thus far this week.
  • Grady comes home tomorrow!
  • I'm competing in a tournament this Saturday!

The bad news

  • It is really, really cold in the office. I'm constantly trying to keep my hands warm, and they're already starting to chap.
  • I STILL haven't written my liberal arts statement. Hopefully Mom will help me...
  • Life is still crazy-busy. I feel like I have no time for socializing. Somehow I have to get this sorted out!


General Conference

All I have to say is that Elder Holland is the man. Seriously.

But with regards to circumstances, I also want to say that I love General Conference weekend. It has such a great atmosphere. Saturday morning session I watched with my ward, along with a big breakfast. Very fun. Between sessions I went shopping with my Mama, whom I love dearly, for some new clothes (desperately needed). Then we watched the afternoon session at my parents' house. In the evening, I drove up to Salt Lake to spend the evening with some gal-friends, Ellen, Melissa and Dixy. We went to the Blue Iguana downtown. I don't think it was as fantasmic as Dixy hyped it up to be, but it was good and we made use of some excellent coupons.

After Priesthood session, we rejoined the menfolk, Matt, Justin and Christopher. We eventually made our way to a corn maze in West Jordan, where fun was had. Melissa and I spent the night on a mattress on Ellen's living room floor--oh the fond memories!

Sunday morning, Justin made us egg mcmuffins and we enjoyed the session (although, because of rain, my scrapbooking stuff stayed out in the car. Oh well). During the break, we watched The Singles Ward, which I haven't seen in several years. It was even cheesier than I remembered, but still funny. Melissa left us then, but during the afternoon session, we had a delicious minestrone soup made by Ellen, as well as a peach cobbler. Mm! That session was the aforementioned testimony borne by Elder Holland.

Basically, I just love the excuse to be with good friends, eat good food, have that crisp fall air (and in this case, a rather Seattle-like precipiation) and enjoy the ministration of the gospel. It's the perfect weekend.

PS: Gregory...I missed you. I don't know if you'd have joined us for conference, but I wish you could have been there for some of the other merriment, regardless. Loves!


Addendum to Hair

I do have to admit that with really short hair, it'd be pretty hard to do this:

pics from my friend Dixy's wedding back in May. This was a good hair day for Valerie.


Most days, I hate my hair. It's an ongoing problem.

We had a few guy friends over the other night, and somehow we ended up discussing hair (I think it was one small portion of a LONG discussion on dating and relationships). The young men expressed how they like long hair on girls. They find long hair to be more feminine and more attractive.

So, I've been growing out my hair. The purpose of this is multifaceted. The first reason is simply because I haven't had 'long' hair in a long time, and I wanted to try it out. The second reason is more complicated--my mother, bless her heart, has had the same hairstyle for about 20 years (although she's presently growing out her hair, and I'm very proud of her). Under absolutely no circumstances do I want to fall into that trap. I want to always be young and dynamic in my hair and dress (we'll see how that actually turns out). After wearing my hair the same way for 18 months or so, I decided that it was time to try something different. Since my hair couldn't get much shorter, it was time to grow it out. Beyond those reasons, however, was the simple desire to have 'long' hair (that's a relative term, of course) for my wedding...whenever that happens. However, it takes a long time to grow out hair, so it was worth starting.

My hair has been growing steadily, and I'm actually quite proud of the length I've attained. I can almost make a ponytail. I'm so close! I really really really want to be able to make ponytails again. I don't find them all that attractive on myself, but they will make Taekwondo so much less hassle. =)


Almost every day, I think about cutting my hair. I really liked my old style. It was cute, it was spunky, it was very me. I don't know whether it would be considered feminine by these guys, or any of the guys I've gone out with. But I felt very attractive with this particular hairstyle. I am tempted all the time to return to it. But then all these months of hair-growing would be wasted. That's what I remind myself.

I don't want to be one of those women who has long hair, gets married, and then chops it all off. I think that's tacky. But I've had short hair consistently since I graduated from high school, so I don't think having short hair would be all that unusual for me.

My goal is to be strong for awhile yet. I want to be able to make ponytails. =) And maybe if it gets a little longer, I'll like it a little better. At any rate, we'll see what happens.

PS: I think boys are lucky, that they don't have to deal with this madness.


Good News Bad News

Domestic Dork

Over at the Domestic Dork, "Good News Bad News" happens every Sunday, but Holly posts a lot more regularly than I do, so for me it just sort of happens whenever I feel like it. =) Here goes.

The good news...

  • The color belts have Belt Test tomorrow at the studio. It's been about three years since I helped with a belt test, and I'm actually kind of excited. It's fun to see what our students are accomplishing, fun to sit up on the board and participate. It will be a long, but ultimately rewarding, day.
  • Today is our end-of-the-month BBQ at work. I love these! And I think we're also celebrating all of the September birthdays...which includes me.
  • My parents are coming home from Washington this weekend. I've missed them.
  • I am officially going to be competing in at TKD tournament in October, and I'm freaking stoked. I'm sure I'll get my butt handed to me, but I'll have an awesome time doing it.
  • It's Friday!

The bad news...

  • I am so busy I can't even think straight. The only day this week I won't be at the studio is Sunday. (However, perhaps I should have included in the Good news, that I'm still enjoying it...just not enjoying that I never see my friends...or my novel...or really anything else...)
  • I STILL haven't written my Liberal Arts Statement.
  • I am missing the national board meeting of FSA tonight, and I'm frustrated and upset. We were suppposed to meet two weeks ago, but they up and moved the meeting to the day before belt testing, when I absolutely have to be at staff meeting for TKD. A friend on the board will be presenting my materials, but it's just not the same, and I'm grumpy about it.
  • Work is boring. Thus...I'm blogging. I need to be more productive!

Check out the Domestic Dork for more bloggy goodness!


In the event of an emergency...

At my apartment, we apparantly have a short circuit. One corner of our kitchen keeps losing power. We've thrown the circuit breaker a few times, which helps, but it just goes out again. *sigh* the joys of apartment life. At any rate, it started us thinking about fire hazards, and what to do in the event of an emergency.

One of the things we did was to ponder what we would take out of our house if it were on fire. I said to my roommates, "Decide on 5 things you would carry out. You have to be able to carry all 5 at once, cuz you only get one trip."

We decided that purses didn't count, they're attached, but if you have to add anything to the purse, those things count against the 5. We also determined that the 5 things have to be easily accessible--whether before or after we had the conversation they became so.

Here are the 5 things that I would carry out of my house if it were on fire.

1. My laptop.
2. My journals.
3. My scrapbook.
4. My scriptures.
5. My Dan certificate

Here's my thinking. 1. My laptop. All of my everythings are on my laptop. My novels. All my digital pictures that have never been printed. All my school work from college. Everything. Yes, I should back everything up, but I haven't. Besides, there's just a lot! If I lost my laptop, I think my world might come to an end. Just saying. 2. My journals are irreplacable. I have three of them at my apartment, and they cover the last 8 years of my life. They would be a devastating loss--I would feel like I had lost those years, because the record would be gone. 3. My scrapbook is not necessarily irreplacable; as long as I had my laptop, I would have all the pictures. But I've put an awful lot of work into my scrapbook and the memories within. So I'd take it too. 4. I would feel pretty sacrilegious if I didn't take my scriptures out of a burning building. So I would take them. =) and 5. The certificate from the Kukkiwon (international DUDES of taekwondo) that says I'm officially a black belt--and it costs a fortune and many many months to get replaced. So since I couldn't think of anything else I would save, I'd save this.

This is the thing--a fire would be, in any case, a devastating event. The loss of all my earthly belongings is not a pleasant thought. I would be so sad to lose all my books, all my furniture, my books, my piano, all those books, my clothing, my books, all my papers and documents and records, my books... But the point of this exercise was to identify those things that are most irreplacable and precious, so that if we had mere seconds to grab a few things, we would know immediately which things were most important. It saves time and perhaps a fair bit of panic in the moment.

The only downside--a fire is at least as likely to occur when none of us are home, and we're unable to save anything at all. *sigh*

What five things would you save in event of an emergency?


Black Belt Testing

This blog post is dedicated to black belt testing. Not interesting to you? Don't read it. ;)

I need to see if I can find you any photos from my first black belt test. It was pretty sweet. I tested for my first degree black belt (in taekwondo aka as first Dan) in August 2005. That seems like forever. So it's about time that I test for my second degree. =)

I want to tell you about some of the cool things I get to do to test for my second Dan. After all, I spend a majority of my "free" time at the studio these days, which means this is a pretty big part of my life--which means, dear reader, that I want to share it with you. There are about ten different "categories" I will be tested in. I'm not going to tell you about all of them. Just the REALLY cool ones.

1. Forms. "Poomsae", as they're called in Korean, are a set series of movements that represent a variety of attackers. There are a LOT of forms--at our studio, each belt rank moving from white to black learns a new form. They get progressively more advanced and more challenging as you work up the ranks. Which also means they get COOLER. I have to show all the forms I learned as a color belt and first Dan (about 15 or so) plus two new ones for second Dan. I've learned one that I will be tested on. I'm stoked to learn the other one! I'm coming to really love forms, which wasn't true a few years ago!

2. Bo Staff Fighting Form. Do you know what a Bo Staff is? It's basically a stick as tall as you are. Well, as tall as I am, in this case. This is new for me, and I start learning it tomorrow--a form like those mentioned above, but with a bo staff. I think a staff is one of the most practical weapons to learn. Katanas and nunchuku and sais are cool-looking, but when would you ever actually use them? But a lot of things can be used for a staff, even on the street. So I'm excited to start learning.

3. Breaking! This is SO STINKING COOL. If you've never seen a breaking demonstration, you really should. We break things (boards, or sometimes bricks) with our bare hands, feet, elbows, etc. To test for my 2nd Dan, I have to break 10 boards--that's right 10 boards--using techniques as dictated by my instructor. That's actually more challenging than it might sound. Before now, I've gotten to choose in advance which kicks, strikes, etc I will use to break my boards. Gives you a chance to practice. But now I don't know which techniques I will need to use, so I have to practice everything! Most likely I will have to break 3-4 boards at once with a kick (a jump back kick, perhaps?) And my master has warned me of several others, including a triple spin hook kick, which I've accomplished ONCE. EVER. but will continue to work on. I just want to emphasize how totally awesome breaking is. We'll probably go through several trees' worth of boards that day. With killer kicks and hand techniques. SWEET MUFFYCAKES.

4. Self Defense Demo. This has the potential for so much awesomeness. Each of the black belt candidates have been put into a group. Within the group, we have to develop a "demonstration" that shows the practical application of all the self defense we know--and in my case, what we can come up with on our own. For those testing for their first degree, it's a lot more simple. The self defense techniques that they have to show off are dictated to them, and then they get to choose from the established curriculum as to what further techniques they demonstrate. My portion is a bit more challenging, as you might expect. First of all, I get to demonstrate knife and gun defense--which means my fellow student will attack me with a [fake] gun and knife, alternately, and I have to demonstrate how to defend against them. Secondly, I've been instructed to include a lot of throws/take-downs, both those in the curriculum and some of my own. We have to develop scenarios in which we would use all of these different self defense techniques. And there's a certain amount of showmanship to it as well--we have to make it look real, practical, and powerful. When done well, these demos are freaking amazing. I'm so excited!

That's all for now. Those are less than half of the things I get to do for testing, but they're the ones I'm particularly excited about. Incidentally, my black belt test is in January (which will come faster than either you or I can imagine). If you're local and interested, consider yourself invited. It's going to be awesome!



I make a lot of goals with regards to my health, exercise, and dietary needs. I fail to follow through on most of these goals (alas...c'est la vie). However, I AM still trying to eat better (though I have a severe weakness for ice cream...and there is still FAR too much in my house).

Anyway, the last time I went grocery shopping I was looking for new and healthier things to feed myself, and I decided I wanted to buy some fish. After looking at all my options, I decided to purchase some frozen tilapia fillets. (Don't ask...it just seemed good at the time.) Anyhow, I decided to try it out.

I've never eaten tilapia before in my life. So it was kind of an adventure. I basted two fillets in lemon juice and lightly sprinkled them with garlic powder. Then I tried little sections with different spices. I tried about a dozen different spices, one at a time with little chunks of my fillets. I wanted to find out what I liked! It was a little silly, but still amusing.

My personal preferences leaned in high favor of the rubbed sage. Definitely my favorite. I also liked oregano and italian seasoning, in about equal measure. After those it was a bit of a wash. It was fairly good (with just the lemon juice and garlic powder); a bit plain, perhaps, but I think with a side vegetable it would have been all right.

Little life adventures!


Liberal Arts Background Statement

From the MSW application:

Please submit a liberal arts background statement, between two to three double-spaced typewritten pages thatdescribes the liberal arts coursework completed in undergraduate and graduate study and how these coursesprovided the following: 1) An appreciation of how culture is expressed in literature, humanities, writing, languages, history, philosophy, mathematics and science; 2) An understanding of the diversity of individuals andcultures including the bio-psychosocial forces that influence human growth and development; 3) A commitment to enhance human rights and social justice; 4) an understanding of the diversity and interrelatedness of local, state, national,and global social problems; and 5) an understanding and appreciation of the importance of scientific inquiry and critical hinking.

What is it about this that intimidates me so? [this explains what they want you to address in the statement--at length.] Besides deciding on one more reference person, this is the last thing I have to do for my grad school application. I still have time...but I could be telling myself that right up until the deadline. I need to get this taken care of, but I keep putting it off.

In all seriousness, if you have some advice on how to address this, please tell me. I'm really struggling with this one.


Good News Bad News extensive version

Domestic Dork

The good news...

  • My crazy financial situation for Taekwondo has been resolved to everyone's satisfaction. No more stressing about THAT.
  • I'm going to assist in a new tkd class today--advanced childrens. Should be fun!
  • I now have 3/4 reference people for my grad school application.
  • My black belt report is done, turned in, signed sealed delivered.
  • This weekend should be really fun--roller skating date, and lazer tag with my ward, and more. I'm excited.
  • I will be competing in a tournament in October, and I'm stoked. I haven't competed since August 2006. Should be an adventure!
  • My flights for PA are purchased--I'll be flying into Philadelphia, a city of my heart. I can't wait!
  • I've been WRITING for the first time in WEEKS. Writing makes me happy. So do my random characters, who are never what I expect them to be.

The bad news...

  • My shoulder still really hurts. It's been like two and a half weeks now. Grr...
  • I'm going to assist in a new tkd class today...and every Wednesday...and I'm starting to feel the pinch of NO free time AT ALL. Not sure I had that hour to give...
  • I still need to decide on 1 last person to send a reference letter for my grad school application.
  • I STILL need to write my Liberal Arts statement for my grad school application.
  • I'm reaching a point of burn-out that I need to address before I explode...but I can't find the time!
  • My parents are in Washington for at least a week, and I will miss them. *sigh*

Check out the Domestic Dork for more bloggy goodness!


I love my parents

Last night, I went to my parents house for the specific purpose of enlisting my mother to help me reconcile my checkbook. I think that it's a sign of her motherly love for me, because seriously, my checkbook was a disaster.

Then I helped my daddy with his resume. It's so weird to be helping my father in this way--kind of a role reversal. But it was fun, and hopefully the changes I encouraged will be of use as he continues the job hunt. (Incidentally...I HATE job hunting. Haven't we discussed this before?)

Afterward we just sat around talking for awhile. Mostly about all the crap in my life that stresses me out. I'm grateful to have them, that they just listened, oftered their advice without judgment, and then helped me move forward.

Oh, and we have fresh peaches and cream. Mmm.

Seriously folks. I have the best parents on the face of the planet. I'm just sayin'. Although, I hope my mom does okay by herself getting her hair cut. Her first new style in like...20 years. Good luck mama!



When I got to school that morning, the first tower had already been struck.

I didn't know what the World Trade Center was. I wasn't familiar with that silhouette against the Manhattan skyline. When I first saw the smoking building, I did not understand what had happened, or why it was important.

I was in my 10th grade US History class, and I watched live as the second plan flew out of nowhere to hit the second tower. I watched live as the towers fell.

The TV stayed on all day long. No one could think, could function. Some teachers tried to press on with classes. Some just watched the TV right along with us.

We were all messed up that day. Some were in tears. Some just watched with blank stares, uncomprehending. The day seemed unending. The twin towers. The Pentagon. Flight 93. The conspiracy theories, the cries of anger and devasation mingled together with such a grave sense of loss that none of us could fully encompass. We were all together that day, all of us, all Americans and so many others across the globe. There hasn't been anything else like it in our lifetime.

Some call it our Pearl Harbor. Except, our nation didn't watch the Pearl Harbor bombings live in color. I wasn't in NYC that day, but I still lived through it. We all lived through it together.

I hope it doesn't take this kind of disaster for us to unite like we did that day, that year. We still need that togetherness, but in the intervening years it has faded. Hopefully today, on this memorial, we'll be able to recapture the unity we once shared in the face of devastation.


Good News Bad News

Domestic Dork

The Good News?

  • I had an AWESOME birthday, thanks to my many friends, family, roommates and coworkers who made it special. {I LOVE ICE CREAM}
  • I'm almost done with my grad school application! Hoping to submit soon.
  • I finally got to see the Ensign article where I'm quoted. AND I just did a phone interview with The Daily Herald. I'm famous! {The Ensign article was not as exciting as everybody made it out to be. I'm quoted once, and it's way in the back. Not really that cool}
  • Looking forward to going out with a certain young man again this weekend. =)

The Bad News...

  • I am REALLY tired today {a combo of the late night and coming to work early today}, and my shoulder REALLY hurts {thanks to rolls, grabs, throws and breakfast last night in black belt class}.
  • I still haven't written the Liberal Arts Statement for my grad school application. I honestly can't figure out what to say.
  • My black belt report is due in 6 days, and I can't find any good sources. {I'm supposed to write on the purpose and meaning of forms, and what they teach us. Any ideas???}

Check out the Domestic Dork for more bloggy goodness!


The Day of Birth

Yes, today is the day. Today I am one year older. They say I'm supposed to be wiser too, but I think that's up for speculation. =)

I had a GREAT weekend, pre-celebration for my birthday. My bestest best friend Melissa came down from Ogden to spend the weekend with me, which I appreciated muchos, because there were many other fun things she could have been doing instead. On Friday night, we partied with our dear Gregorio in anticipation of HIS departure to grad school next week. We had a great time at his house with swimming, homemade ice cream, and Rock Band!

It is a show of how much my Liss loves me, that on Saturday morning she attended my great-grandmother's funeral with me. My grandma lived with my family for 10 years, right during my teenagehood. She was one of my dearest friends, and certainly one of my earliest artistic inspirations. I played Jon Schmidt's "Funeral Hymn" at the service. I saw some relatives I haven't seen in ages. You know what brings family together--weddings and funerals.

But Saturday evening was the real treat, and my birthday present from my parents. The parentals, Liss and I went to Thanksgiving Point for a Jon Schmidt concert! If you're unfamiliar with Jon Schmidt, check out his website. He's my favorite pianist and composer. And he's a HYSTERICAL entertainer. His concert was so enjoyable! And it was celebrating the release of his new album, "Bonus Tracks", which my dear wonderful parents also bought for me at the concert. So much fun music! I loved it.

On Sunday we relaxed. I relax seldom enough that I appreciate every opportunity. We had church, we had dinner, we watched "The Devil Wears Prada", and then we just chilled and chatted. It was great!

Errands (but fun ones) were Monday's agenda. Grocery shopping, gas, a quick but fun visit to Barnes & Noble for a bday gift from MOI, over to Wally World for a pinata to smash at my party tonight, and over to the Thai Village for some yummy curry! I tried the Pumpkin Curry, and actually I REALLY enjoyed it. Tastilicious!

The only bad part of the whole weekend was saying goodbye to my best friend. I struggle! I wish we lived closer together. Alas!

Tonight, it's TKD and then a party at my house with the aforementioned pinata. I'm so excited! Hopefully it's going to be a GREAT birthday, despite my onset of ancientness. =)


When God keeps poking you, you'd better start listening!

I don't mean that statement to be sacreligious or in any way disrespectful. But I honestly believe that God uses other people to 'poke' you, to give you hints and nudges and a bit of a wake up call. Welcome to my life.

In the space of 12 hours, four people asked me when/if I was going back to school. It had been on my mind anyway, with school starting and a bunch of my friends starting classes. But then in less than a day, I got asked again and again about me going back.

Little pokes. Little nudges.

If you know me at all, you know about my impulsiveness. This is how it works--I start thinking about doing something. I stew about it for a looooooooong time. I might bounce the idea off a few select people, or I might keep it to myself. But when I finally make the decision, I take action immediately. I make it happen. Right. Now.

I started thinking about going to grad school last year. Do any of you remember that? I decided that I wanted to study social work. But as I was looking at the application for the program I was interested in, A) I was too late for this year's deadline, and B) of equal importance to education on the application was volunteer work in the field. At the time, I had none. So though school wasn't an option at the time, I still got interested in volunteer work. I contacted my caseworker down in Cedar City, who recommended me up north, I pursued it, got in touch with some key people at family services...and now I have nine solid months of volunteer work behind me, and my passion for the field has multiplied far beyond what my original interest led me to believe.

At this point, I'm just going to apply. Applying hurts me nothing, and could gain me a great deal. I have found something that I love to do, something worthwhile, and something I can make a career of. The chances of getting the kind of position that I want increase significantly with a degree--particularly a master's degree--in the field. And what is there to hold me back?


Today I feel ancient...and kind of morose about it.

One week from today, I will turn 23 years of age.

I'm sorry to ye elder readers, but 23 feels old. It's a sign of my culture, but many of the women I know who are my age, are married. With children. That's what you get living in Utah County, I suppose, but it still makes me feel somewhat old-maidish.

On the one hand, it's nice to feel like an adult, regardless of my single state. I'm just a "twenty-something," as dear Gregorio would say. Being 23 and single has limitless possibilities (if I were interested in pursuing them).

On the other hand, I don't much care for adult concerns. Insurance, career choices, responsibilities that I still do not feel prepared to deal with. The pains of old age, my friends.

I'm not sure yet what I'll be doing for my birthday. I have the misfortune to share my birthday with Labor Day weekend most years, so people usually have plans that do not coincide with celebrating with me. And other things have come up--other parties, funerals, work--so I don't know when or if I'll actually be having a party. Yet another symptom of old age--when your birthday just doesn't matter anymore! =)


You want me to kick that target after spinning how many times? Are you freaking kidding me?

Taekwondo was discouraging. I'll explain why.

In some ways, coming back to Taekwondo was like starting afresh. You start at this place of "I suck". (just go with me here) You look around at everybody else and see how amazing they are, and you think to yourself, "boy, I really need to work harder."

So you work harder. You start to improve. You like that, so you work even harder. You continue to improve. Things start feeling good. You start to feel like you're getting it. You're excited, because you feel like you're accomplishing something. You're progressing. You even start to feel like you're good at it.

Your instructors notice. They decide to push you harder.

And you go straight back to "I suck." The instructors ask you to do more, to do harder things, to do things you've NEVER done before. The others around you start looking like giants again--like they can do things that you can never, ever, ever do. Your instructors ask you to perform, and you feel like it is an impossible task. You feel like you suck.

Now, the response to this is...that's right--work harder. But after getting to that point of "man, I feel great, I'm so on top of this shiz," it's pretty hard to go back to feeling like a wreck again. Don't worry--I'm going to get back on the horse and work harder again. But tonight I just want to wallow for a little while.

Tomorrow...I'll get back to trying Nadabon (spinning roundhouse kick)-->360* jump spinning hook kicks.



I read a blog post just now where the writer said, "I don't normally wax nostalgic, but it happened the other day."

There are a set of specific things that, without fail, will lay nostalgic claims upon me. There are times of year that are particularly rife with these nostalgic moments--particularly the late spring and the early fall.

This time of year just gets me. It's the mystical time of Back to School. The nostalgia is so much worse, not being in school. I miss it, I do. Right now, I can't help but think to myself, "Maybe I could back, to study...something..." I have loved school my entire life. I wonder if that craving will ever entirely leave me.

But even more so, I just love the fall. It is without a doubt my favorite season of the year. I love the crispness in the air, the mystery of the evenings, the crunch of dry leaves, the color of those selfsame leaves upon the mountainside, the feeling of the holidays approaching, the feeling of infinite capacity that overcomes me.

I love autumn colors. I think I would love to be married in the fall--early enough so I could still have an outdoor reception, but still with those rich and glorious colors. Rust and scarlet, the beautiful oranges that are just rich enough not to be Halloween-y and garish, the goldenrod-yellows and the deep, glorious browns. Fall colors sing to me.


Japanese night

I love sushi. Can I just tell you? I think sushi is one of the most delectable foods I have ever eaten. There is such a wonderful combination of taste and texture that I just delight to experience.

Last night was a pleasant evening spent with friends. After work, I went to the Mt. Timpanogos temple to do baptisms for the dead, as I do on most Wednesdays. Usually, they whip me in and out of there in under an hour. But last night, I got stuck behind two youth groups...so it took much longer than usual. Alas! So I was late to sushi night, but that's okay.

We gathered at Sushi Ya's, which is on south State Street in Orem right next to the bowling alley. It's our all-around favorite sushi place. My new favorite of the evening was the "hybrid roll". Don't ask me what was in it, I don't remember. But it was delicious!

It's funny, because a couple of my friends kept rushing through the orders, trying to get the next round ordered quickly. I can't quite blame them, they've been practically fasting for three days, so they were hungry! However, it's not really my style. Going out to dinner, especially somewhere more fancy than usual, I just like to relax, eat slowly, and enjoy the company. A good meal, particular something outside the usual, should be savored.

Anyhow, then we retired to Jameson's brother's house to watch Kenshin. Now, I hope that you realize, dear reader, that I have a great deal of innate nerdiness. Sometimes I try to disguise it--sometimes I don't. This is just one of these things that I can't help but enjoy. "Rurouni Kenshin" is a Japanese anime about a wandering samurai in 19th century Japan. The hero, Kenshin, was an assassin during a revolution ten years prior, but has since given up murder and resolved to lead a peaceful life. The very best episodes of the series (in my opinion) are the episodes that show Kenshin on the verge of breaking and reverting to his old self. He hovers on that brink in a couple of key episodes, and they're easily the best fight scenes.

At least I own up to my nerdiness, guys. And as I'm currently writing a martial arts novel, I view it as research and inspiration. ;)


A better lifestyle

My taekwondo master always encourages us to strive to be our best possible selves. Today during meditation, we repeated to ourselves the mantra, 'it's amazing being me.' I am trying to take these lessons to heart, and I am striving to improve my life and my lifestyle. It is a constant work in progress. But as they say, writing down goals helps me achieve them. So here are a few of the changes I am making.

First of all, I'm eating better. I've started adding a lot more fruits and vegetables to my diet, and cutting out the processed foods. This is huge! Real food does take more time to prepare, but I think that time is worth the good health and how much better I feel about myself. Also, and this is VERY hard for me, I'm trying to cut out more sugar. Very hard for me. But I'm trying. Maybe I'll set more specific goals soon.

The next step is my cross-training. Of course, I do taekwondo, which I love, but I'm only there a few hours each week. So I'm cross-training. Right now its cycling, because it's helping me to strengthen my bad knee. My goal right now is 30 minutes three times a week. So far I've only been managing one or two times a week, but I am going to improve.

Thirdly, I'm just trying to be more active. I spend FAR too much time parked in front of the boob tube, and I'm trying to cut back on that. Whether its my cycling, or walking, or practicing TKD in the living room, I'm striving to be more active all the time.

All these things work together to improve the quality of life. I'm far from perfect, and I have a VAST amount of improvement lying before me. But I DO feel better, and better about myself.

I challenge you to make a goal this week that will help you to be better in some way! Let me know how it goes. :)


Updates on The Oddity

The FSA National Conference was fantastic! I had a wonderful time, as an attendee and as something of an event manager. I enjoyed in equal measure the classes for my own sake, as well as ensuring everything happened the way it was supposed to. But that's just me! For the longest summary EVER, please visit my other blog.

So now it's back to life, though with a few changes here and there.

The biggest such change is that I'm going to be teaching Taekwondo this fall. I've been given one class so far, an "all-ranks" childrens class on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I got to visit that class for a few minutes on Tuesday, and it was fun. The kids seem to have a lot of energy, and they were excited to be there. I hope that I'll be a good teacher for them! I've never taught a childrens class before, so it will be an adventure!

In case you didn't know, I'm working toward my second degree black belt, which I am going to test for in January. That may seem far off to YOU, but for ME, it's coming up mighty fast! I'm still very out of shape, and it's going to take a lot of work to get in shape, as well as to learn and prepare everything I will need to test. Adventures!

As far as the works of me and my Muse, things move slowly. My co-authorship with Sam is still plugging along. I find myself frequently distracted, and it's difficult to focus long enough to be honestly productive. I seriously need a getaway, just for writing. But lacking that, I just plug along as best I can. (Still in love with Google Docs, by the way.)

Life is good. I'm busy, which is the best way to be. I'm happy with the things that I'm doing. Onward, ever onward!


Focused on the goal

This weekend, July 31-August 1, is the Families Supporting Adoption national conference.

I have been working on this conference for over four months. I got asked if I wanted to "be involved" and "help out" (such innocent terms), which quickly involved into a full-fledged planning committee, of which I quickly became a co-chair.

Last year was the first time birth parents were invited to attend the conference. There were a total of six classes offered for birth parents, only on the second day of the conference.

Our planning committee (which didn't exist last year either) quickly decided that this wasn't nearly enough. As we brainstormed ideas for sessions and presenters, we quickly expanded to fill both days of the conference. We more than doubled the size of the birth parent portion (which is still barely a fifth the size of the adoptive-couple side).

All of our hard work and time has come down to the wire. The conference starts Friday morning. Of course there will be hiccups, as there have been constantly over the past weeks. But I am so excited.

This conference represents the culmination of my passions. Firstly, I love adoption, I advocate adoption, and I love talking to people about adoption. And this is two whole days of talking about adoption. Secondly, I love organizing things. This conference has let me off the leash, and I have been able to organize and facilitate and detail-out to my heart's content. It's the utmost use of my stage management and administrative abilities.

It's going to be awesome.
It's going to be inspiring. (except maybe for MY presentations!)
It's going to be the adoption event of the year.

And I can't wait for it to be over. :P


Google Docs: A tool for co-writing

I've never really used Google Docs before. I've heard about it, here and there. But I simply have never possessed a need for it. I had Box.net for online storage, where I don't just use my wonderful Gmail account. But then I heard about file sharing.

My friends, this is not just storage. That's what I thought I was dealing with. I have a file, I save it on Google Docs, and then someone else I invite to share can also look at said saved document. And realistically, I could have simply done this through my Box.

But its better. So far beyond better, it's in an entirely different realm. It went from "oh, that's cool" realm straight up to, "THIS IS FREAKING AMAZING" realm.

It's live file sharing. Every time it saves the document, the text gets updated for all the users, simultaneously. And it auto-saves about every five seconds. You can literally be working on the same document simultaneously.

Do you see the potential?

My friend Sam and I are working on a new project, something we've been brainstorming for many weeks now. We have finally started writing. So in an effort to improve our co-authorship, I decided to check out Google Docs.

We can literally co-write. As I write, the text automatically updates itself on Sam's computer, and vice versa. We can make instantaneous corrections and changes. We can compare notes and work from the same set of written brainstorming. THIS IS FREAKING AMAZING.

Ladies and gentlemen, the muse has descended. Please excuse me while I join Google for some much-needed writing time. Ciao!


Harry Potter: A Review

I'll admit it, I like David Yates as a HP director. I know there are a lot of people who don't like the work he's done the last two installments, but I really do. I think that it's artistically appealing, on a visual and auditory level. And he also manages some nice emotional moments.

Even though they are aware that it's a cinematic adaptation, people still forget. They see that HP logo and they want the book that's in their head to be on the screen. It's just not going to happen, folks. Books and movies are entirely different medium, and they have to be treated accordingly for any kind of enjoyment of the latter.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is one of my favorite books of the series, though I have found it's often overlooked by others. The thing I enjoy most about the book is the closeness that Dumbledore finally allows himself with Harry. And that was played true in the movie.

I enjoyed the teen romance. Lavender was just as annoying in the movie as I experienced her in the book. Harry and Ginny never quite connected, for me, but that's just a shrug, whatever for me. And the hospital scene with Ron and Hermione was cute.

I do have to admit that the chase scene at the end was anti-climatic. I recognized the reasons for omitting the battle, and I'm fine with that. But Harry practically laid down and took it from Snape. And I felt like Snape should have lost control more. He could have been cold and menacing still, but I felt none of the barely-suppressed fury that I expected, and I felt let down afterward.

Incidentally, I really enjoyed the humor of this installment. I laughed more than I've ever laughed in a HP movie. The jokes were funny, the implied humor was amusing.

Again, I enjoyed the movie on an artistic level. I feel like the cinematography was some of the best we've seen in the series. And the music! No John Williams here, friend! It had only the barest hints of his original theme, and some of it was just plain haunting. The sweeping shots of Hogwarts, the scene with Harry and Hermione on the stairs with the snow falling behind them, the sunset with Fawkes leaving...beautiful.

Overall, I think it was a good movie. I think it stayed true to the heart of the book, which is more than you can really expect from most adaptations. There's no way all of our favorite moments could have been included, and a movie is structured differently from a book anyway. I believe that it makes a solid movie, and I give David Yates a thumbs-up to finishing the series. Now to wait another 18 months...


Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince comes out this week. I still don't know when I'm seeing it, but hopefully soon! The previews have me excited.

The last movie, Order of the Phoenix, was the first of the movies that I actually enjoyed. I felt that the director and the screenwriter created an excellent adaptation that stayed true to the spirit of the book without trying to quote the book word-for-word. Also...they had an artistic vision. I can't say that for all the HP directors.

Fortunately, David Yates took on HBP. Hopefully, he does as good a job with this one as he did with the last!

Harry Potter is such a strange creature. Deathly Hallows is now two years old, but the franchise is still strong. I grew up with Harry Potter, and I know many who feel the same way. No matter what you say about the style or quality of writing, no matter what you say about originality or lack thereof, you cannot deny that there is something special about Harry Potter. Something that has kept millions of readers and movie viewers engaged for a decade and more.

So yes, I'm very excited for the new movie. I'll give you my thoughts after I've seen it! Stay tuned.


Fourth of July recap

I love the Fourth of July. It definitely ranks among my top favorite holidays. It's the only major mid-summer holiday. It's got the fireworks, the barbeques, the watermelon, the swimming, the red white and blue. The Fourth of July is relaxing.

Especially this year. There were a few instances of fireworks prior to the actual Fourth. Friday night I had dinner with my family, then spent the evening with the Page's, and then with some ward-friends. Saturday morning, I slept in, and then read a book in bed until noon. I got up and cleaned my apartment, which actually was wonderful, because it's been getting ridiculous and I love a clean home. At the last possible moment, I made some rice crispie treats. 10 minutes flat, folks. I love rice crispie treats. They are easy, they are quick, they are cheap, and they are delicious.

Then is was off to my date. That's right. He's from my ward, and I like him a lot. =) We went to the Freedom Festival in downtown Provo, which actually was not as exciting as years past. I now have a good judge on his taste in ties, though. We watched a hypnotist show (it wasn't all that great, but it was nevertheless amusing) and had dinner at the fair. We met up with the Pages, and walked from their house to the stadium.

Now for a funny story. So...I had made these rice crispie treats. At the stadium, they weren't allowing any outside food or drink, and there were a bunch of people at the entrance checking bags and retaining everybody's snacks and whatnot. Well, the guard rather quickly found my rice crispies, and told me that I couldn't take them in. We stepped off to the side. I was in distress! Bret just wanted me to give up the rice crispies so we could rejoin my friends. But I stuffed one bag of rice crispies into the bottom of my purse and buried it with other stuff. Then I went back to the same guard. She was busy poking through somebody's purse. I handed her the second bag of rice crispies, and she just waved us through. Triumph! And so me and my date and my contraband rice crispies proceeded into the stadium.

Then it was time for the Stadium of Fire. I've never been before, and I'm not sure this was the best one for a first experience. But still enjoyable! The best part, to be honest, was the little patriotic dancing girls, who did the wave and other things with their flags. There was SheDaisy, which was tolerable, Glenn Beck and his Music-Man-dancer-singer-peeps, which was odd, and the Jonas Brothers, who went on for far too long. At least we didn't actually want to hear them, though. What with the screaming and the girls behind us who sang every word of every song, they were pretty much drowned out. But seriously...the fireworks were worth the whole thing. They were awesome. They were long, loud and beautiful. Oh, and the military fly over was cool too. =)

After the Stadium of Fire, we waded through the masses on our way back to the Pages, where we sat for an hour waiting for traffic to (somewhat) disperse. We hade cheese and BBQ sauce on Ritz crackers. I'd never tried this combination before, but I'm now completely sold. Mm. Then it was homeward bound after a long and well-spent day.

I love the Fourth of July! I still have a good handful of sparklers that need to be set off. Maybe some post-holiday celebration this evening...

What did you do for the Fourth?


I have the internet on my phone

And it's the shiz. Seriously. I mean, I'm an internet addict anyway. But now I get it on my phone. Last night I was able to check Facebook while in the car with my parents driving 70 mph toward the Oquirrh temple. I can finally grasp the appeal of Twitter--when you can update your status from anywhere, suddenly you want to. It's still ridiculous, but at least it now makes sense. I answered an email in the middle of a croquet game on my lawn later in the evening. I forwarded one last note from my bed before going to sleep.

Welcome to my new addiction.


A sad commentary

This morning, I received a business email from one of our company associates. This would be a professional marketer who works with my company. The email was literally riddled with spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors. It made me cross-eyed just trying to read it. It was barely comprehensible. It was embarrassing! I was embarrassed for him, that this working professional couldn't take the time to use a spell-checker, which is a sad commentary in and of itself.

Why did our society stop caring about this? When did it become socially acceptable for a working businessman to be unable to write properly? Honestly, I see emails like this, and I can't repress a certain amount of scorn. It automatically makes me feel like I'm dealing with someone uneducated, or at least uncaring.

Good writing skills are supposedly important. I wish we could take out the 'supposedly' there. I mean, doesn't the business world (and most of the rest of the world too, right?) function on good communication? Which is being severely hindered by the texting generation, and the utterly blase attitude toward anything remotely resembling educated thought.

Reader, I plead with you. Don't fall prey. Use good writing skills. At the very least, please employ your spell checker. It would do us all a world of good.