Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tears of Joy

I was so happy to see her. She bounced into the admissions office and said, "I'm in your Ethics class!" I immediately noticed her smile. She was just radiant. Still too skinny, but radiant.

When I finally started class, she was up front and center, eagerly answering questions and participating.

Just one quarter ago, she sat in the back corner of my English class. She spoke, but not often enough. She sat next to her husband. I noticed that she was emaciated, but I never suspected anything was wrong. She confided in her journal that her husband was beating her. Two weeks before class ended, he left her. She was a mess, without hope and confidence. The next week, he came to class with her again--(he was one of the students in the class)--and I pretended that nothing had happened in order to prevent inadvertently causing her pain that night. So long as she was going home with him, I didn't want to do anything to let him know she had betrayed their violent secret. But, one of my other students was not so cowardly. She got up to present her paper. She boldly talked for 5 minutes about the horrors of spousal abuse. It was perfect. There was no way that he would know whether his wife had said anything to anyone--but Dolly could feel our support.

Last night, I was enthralled with her joy. While doing the introductions, she proudly proclaimed to the rest of the class that she was divorcing her husband. She boldly said, "On April 22nd he broke my nose, and so I'm divorcing him." She fairly giggled at the end of that sentence.

I looked at her and said to the rest of the class, "I am trying not to cry here. I wish you could see the difference between then and now." And then we both laughed together. Her joy was infectious.

As I look at the changes, I am still grinning ear to ear--as tears slide down my cheeks. Tears of joy.

Sometimes, I really love my job.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Out of the mouths of babes

The new quarter has begun!

I arrived home safely at 12:30am and immediately began working on classes! I fell into bed at about 3am.

Remind me never to go on vacation, put on a concert, finish up a quarter-full of classes, and start a new quarter-full all in the same weekend.

Now that I can see the end of this little nightmare--I'm a little pumped!

My classes are full. I'm teaching classes I love--and I have Thursdays and Fridays off!

On a very cute note: Peyton said to me, "You are fat because you eat too much!" He was very stern with me. (His mother is 92 pounds all wet. Not to justify myself--but it hardly gave me a complex. And he's right! I did eat too much!) But then, he proceeded to hug me and kiss my belly at odd intervals throughout the day. He is so adorable. Robin told me that they were teaching him about nutrition last week. He wouldn't let her buy him an ice cream cone the other day because his daddy had already given them a sucker in the morning. "That's too much sugar mommy!"

Soooo, I'm going to try and take the hint from the 4 year old and back off on the sugar.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Extreme Cabaret!

Tonight we did the show. I think my dad and Matt were both petrified. I don't know why I wasn't. I guess I was kind of in this "Meh!" mode. I figured, it would either be great--or it wouldn't. But I was going to have fun. Suh there.

The whole place was packed. It was great. We performed in this wonderful little Cafe. We rehearsed for about 6 hours all together. At about 5:30pm, we went over to the Cafe for a sound check. I could see dad and Matt really getting panicky, but they were trying to hide it. So, both of them were pretty quiet--which trust me--is rare.

We ran through some of the numbers, then at about 7:40pm, I went out to the car to touch up make-up and collect myself. At that point, I saw a group of people heading into the building. I went in and mingled with the peeps. It was wonderful to chat with everyone before the show. It made it easier to just ham it up.

We started with Hear my song. It sounded great--but we had decided to do a crying bit in the middle of the song that just did NOT work. Well, I laughed--but no one else thought it was funny. Then Matt and I sang, "If I Had a Million Dollars". This song worked out just great. Then I sang "Die Alone". I love that song. Then Dad sang "Isn't She Lovely" . He had written new words to the song, and it was very sweet. Then, Matt and I sang Tenacious D's "Tribute Song". It was a crack up. We both made fools of ourselves. It was just ridiculous. And awesome.

After that, I sang Fiona Apple's "Extraordinary Machine". Then all 3 of us sang "River in the Rain". It sounded great. Then Dad and Matt sang "Worlds Apart". After that, I sang "I Like It" by the Dixie Chicks. Then Dad and I sang, "Sailing On"--which everybody loved. And then "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", followed by Dad singing, "All is Fair in Love" by Stevie Wonder. We ended the night with "Float On" and "You'll Never Walk Alone".

They asked us to do an encore, and for some reason, we decided to do "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". I started too low--and then switched up an octave. It was soooo not good. I can't describe how bad it was! But, it was just another very funny moment in the night. And I didn't care. I nailed the other songs. I had nothing to prove to anyone. I was having a good time!

The accompanist Doug and I were laughing at the juxtaposition of Modest Mouse next to "You'll Never Walk Alone". We decided we're going to create a new Reality Show called "Extreme Cabaret!" where we'll give singers Cabaret challenges. Challenge 1: Sing a punk anthem and a Broadway ballad back to back. Make it work!

So that was the show. No one took pictures or recorded anything. It was great! We had a great time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cutie Pies

These are my favorite little boys. I was there at their parent's wedding. I fed little Peyton with the little straw on the pinky because his mama was too sick too nurse. I love these little boys so much! I got to spend the night with them last night. We were all up late laughing and talking. It was a bit of heaven.

Robin and Carl are amazing people in Iowa City. Robin works at the U of I in the psychology labs researching the cause of fear. Her research will eventually lead to treatment of trauma victims. Carl is a German grad student and stay at home dad. They are a wonderful example of two parents who work together to raise happy kids. They both have made choices that show their kids that they are the priority. We talked about how other parents in their ward criticize them because Robin works, but I love that they choose to do what is right for their family.

It's not that I don't think it's right for the mom to be at home with the kids, when that is possible--but I love it when both parents have the opportunity to spend time with the kids because the dad isn't having to work 80 hours a week. Both parents should participate in raising kids--not just one. And that's not possible if one parent is overworked. Also, the boys see how well Carl treats their mother--and they are kind and sweet boys because of the influence of their father.

Such good people!!

And they're smart.

I can't tell you how much I love and respect this family!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Songs for the Concert

Last night, we were sitting around the living room talking about possible songs.

Dad was at the computer looking up lyrics, I was compiling playlists on itunes, and Matt was just trying not to be overwhelmed. He's a little afraid that vocally he can't handle this thing--but he'll be great!

We started singing through the songs, getting a feel for the range, etc. Matt and I reworked the song "If I had a million dollars" into a comedy routine. Then we discussed angry break-up songs that we might do, since Matt just broke up with the girl he was dating. We decided that they might be a little too angry.

We searched for more upbeat numbers and decided to do "I like it" by the Dixie Chicks. And I brought up doing "Float on". We played through it, and it works! But, will they work on the piano?

So, Matt went home to hit the hay because he had class this morning. And Dad and I headed over to Doug's house. Doug is my favorite accompanist. He completely rocks on the piano. His house is a musicians dream, with guitars, computers, keyboards, and a giant full grand. His art is eclectic and fun. He's like a hippy studio musician. And he can do anything.

We worked through "Hear My Song" which has a thousand key changes. Doug arranges by ear. So, that took a long time. I was afraid the rest of the night would last forever. But then we went through "Everybody wants to rule the World" and between Doug's rollicking arrangement and our belting harmonies--it's going to be a good song. And it took all of 5 minutes to get it all together.

I tried out "Limit to Your Love", but scratched it. No one can touch Feist. And I ain't gonna try.

I sang through "I could've gone to Nashville", but then scratched it.

"I like it" worked really well! I didn't realize what an incredible song it is! It's interesting to see what songs stand alone as great songs--and what songs are tied to particular singers.

At about 1am, we all left--sufficiently tuckered.

So here's the list of songs we have decided on so far--and we're cutting left and right. You have to start with a big bag of tricks and then whittle the show down to perfection.

Hear My Song--Jason Robert Brown
Everybody Wants to Rule the World--Tears for Fears
I like It--Dixie Chicks
Sailing On--Saturday's Warrior
Float On--Modest Mouse
Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me--(I'm going to lobby to cut this one)
If I Had a Million Dollars
Vincent (Starry Starry Night)
Die Alone--Ingrid Michaelson
Heart of the Matter--Don Henley
Guv'ment--Big River
Isn't She Lovely--Stevie Wonder
River in the Rain or Worlds Apart--haven't decided
Extraordinary Machine

It's cabaret at it's best! Matt is a hilarious comedian. And it's fun to give new spins to old favorites. We're doing the radio interview this afternoon--so I have to reread the press release and make sure I'm ready to hype this thing.

Friendly Iowa

Perhaps I set myself up for the joy, but just stepping off the plane--I could feel the friendly Iowa warmth surround me.

I began chatting with the girl next to me on our way to the baggage claim.

At the rental counter, I was talking to the guy about which car to rent--and he gave me a fancy 2010 Hyundai Sonata for the price of an economy car!

I haven't been in Iowa since 2004. It's been almost 5 years.

I found my way to the mall where I met Jyl and her baby girl! That baby is so cute! And Jyl looks positively radiant. She is just at ease with herself and her life. I love her and her wonderful family. We talked about the birth and how much she likes being a mom. Jyl and I did a concert together 5 years ago that was beautiful. We sang a lovely duet of Ave Maria. She blends like an angel.

After visiting with Jyl, Merry and I went to lunch in Iowa City. Merry is my roommate who served in Iraq for over a year. Merry and I had a good heart to heart about life, family, and future ambitions, etc. It's been years, but it feels like no time has past.

I was thinking about friends that just feel right no matter where or when. I feel so blessed to have known so many amazing women.

I got to my dad's place at 3pm and enjoyed a reunion with him and my brother Matt. We've been working on songs for our upcoming concert all evening. I've been travelling since 5am, after a very long night grading exams before I left for this trip. I can't believe I'm still sitting upright!

More Later!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


David Shore is a genius.

Last night's episode of House was incredible.

I love this show.

I was shocked. It was the kind of shock that leaves the viewer entirely satisfied with the twists and turns of the story. Brilliant!! I had to catch my breath.

Genius!! David Shore is my idol.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Talk on Provident Living

I might have exaggerated a little, but it was only because I need to be funny.

Because this is my first talk in my new ward, I took the chance to introduce myself. I don't have a "how we met" story. For those of you who know me and feel like I've left things out--I have two responses based on my mood. The first is, "I'm sorry." The second is, "deal." I wouldn't even post this except Alicia specifically made a request and so, here it is.

I love you Sister Bush. :)

Today I am going to talk about Provident Living. First, I should introduce myself. My name is Eve and I am the last person on this earth who should give a talk on provident living.

When I told my mother that I was talking in church on provident living, she laughed. If you knew me better, you would laugh too.

Truly, this talk is the best Mother’s Day gift I could have given my mother, who is the queen of provident living. She is “Super provident living woman!”

She has the slanted shelves in the basement with the food that she canned herself. She has the big garden in the back yard. She keeps a giant bowl in the sink to catch the dishwater and uses that dirty dishwater to water her plants. She runs the literacy center in northern Utah. And in 4 years, my mother and step-father will be completely debt-free.

I am none of these things. I eat out more often than I eat at home. I have massive school debt and credit card debt. I have no money put away for retirement. Luckily I live here in Virginia, so I water my houseplants by sticking them out on the deck. When faced with a choice about spending money, I often feel the need to rebel against the values my mother taught me and buy, buy, buy!

Knowing this, you can imagine the smile that spread across my mother’s face when I told her the bishop had asked me to speak on provident living. This moment is my mother’s dream come true.

On to the talk--
What is Provident Living?

Elder Robert D. Hales describes it in this way:

All of us are responsible to provide for ourselves and our families in both temporal and spiritual ways. To provide providently, we must practice the principles of provident living: joyfully living within our means, being content with what we have, avoiding excessive debt, and diligently saving and preparing for rainy-day emergencies. When we live providently, we can provide for ourselves and our families and also follow the Savior’s example to serve and bless others.

There are 6 different areas of Provident Living. As I share each of the areas—you might perk up at the areas where you’re doing well, and you might sink lower into your seat at the mention of other areas. We have:

Literacy and education
Career development
Financial and resource management
Home production and storage
Physical health
Social-emotional and spiritual strength

In studying out this topic, two main principles stood out to me:
First, we need to know who we are
And second, we need to exercise gratitude for our blessings

The first object to provident living is to understand who we are.

When we know that each of us will be asked to perform certain services, to help those in need, to raise children, to teach and uplift—we will naturally begin to qualify ourselves in order to fulfill our individual missions. A doctor doesn’t decide they want to be a doctor after they accidentally finish medical school—they decide that they are going to become a doctor and take action to become a doctor.

I graduated from BYU with a degree in acting. I considered being a high school drama teacher for about 2 hours. I distinctly remember those two hours being two of the most stressful hours of my life. I graduated from BYU in 2002—just after 9/11. It was difficult for my friends who majored in computer programming to find a job, so you can imagine my difficulty. I actually did get a job, but I felt inspired to turn it down. I spent the rest of the summer waiting for Heavenly Father to provide an amazing job for obediently turning down a perfectly wonderful touring gig. I waited as I worked minimal hours at a call center, and watched my money dwindle away.

At the end of the summer, I packed my bags and moved to Iowa to stay with my dad and step-mom for a month while I tried to figure out the rest of my life. Within 2 weeks, I had a good job working in internet sales. I learned that Heavenly Father is less concerned with our careers and more interested in guiding us through certain life experiences.

While I was in Iowa, my younger brother died. If I had taken the touring job, I would have been in the middle of a show, unable to be with my family. As it was, my dad’s family was together for a family reunion, and I was able to organize a memorial for my dad’s family and then fly to Utah to be with my mom and step-dad, and my other brothers and sisters.

For two years, I did nothing that had anything to do with acting, except for a few variety shows with friends. I felt like my education had been a waste, but Heavenly Father understands that who we are, and how we make our money are not the same thing. I will say that again, who we are and how we make our money is not the same thing. I worked in internet sales, and as a mail processor. But, while working in these jobs, I had the time to serve in the church, and to develop lifelong friendships.

After two years in Iowa, I began to feel the itch that comes when you know that you need to make a change. After much prayer and consideration, I decided to go to grad school in Virginia and get my Master of Fine Arts. This degree would qualify me to teach at a college level. I remembered my initial reaction to teaching high school—and somehow this decision didn’t evoke the same horror. So I moved to Virginia, took out a billion dollars in student loans and I studied Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in Performance. While in grad school, I worked as an actor with the American Shakespeare Center, I taught swimming lessons to little kids, and I worked as a server. I taught workshops and did lectures wherever possible to prepare for post-graduate school employment.

And then school ended, and I had to decide where I should live in order to be able to afford paying off my massive student loans. My hometown of Tremonton, Utah was out of the question. But just for the fun of it, I bought a greyhound bus ticket for $85 leaving for Utah on July 1st.

I was taught to work as hard as you could—and have faith that Heavenly Father will provide the difference. I tried so hard to be in the right place at the right time and to follow the spirit—hoping that by living right I would be guided. That summer I learned how to trust in the Lord. As I stepped into the dark of my new future, small blessings illuminated my way towards a new life that I could never have anticipated.

I spent July 1st watching the clock tick, realizing that I couldn’t get on that bus. A dear friend provided room for my stuff in her garage. I stayed with friends in Baltimore while I sent out hundreds of resumes. I went to the LDS Employment workshop. A stranger on the colonial listserve offered me the chance to stay on her couch in Rockville. This stranger became one of my best friends and we found a nice house in Springfield. I answered an ad on Craigslist for an English teacher. The dean called me in and explained that he was having a difficult time finding an Ethics professor. He said, “I see that you’re an actor who went to BYU. Can I assume you’re religious?” I said yes. He said, “A religious actor. Well, that takes ethics! You’re hired!”

I started with 1 class at night, and during the day I worked as an admin in Bethesda. The next year I took a job as an actor with Maryland Shakespeare Festival, while I continued to teach one and two classes at the university.

It’s been almost two years now. I am currently teaching a full load of classes, and I act or direct at least 2 shows a year.

I couldn’t have planned this. The summer of 2007 was the most frightening summer of my life. But because of that summer, uncertain times don’t feel so uncertain.

As in my case, figuring out where and how you’re supposed to make a living can be difficult. For me, teaching was the natural answer—but if I hadn’t taken the path that I took, I would never have gained the experience necessary to enjoy my life as much as I do right now.

In searching out who we are, the scriptures tell us:

“ The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God,”
and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” Romans 8:16-17.

As we come to know our Heavenly Father and our relationship to Him—we will discover our confidence in our own capacity to help fulfill His mission. We will discover that we have inherited a love for one another, we have inherited agency, and we learn the power of righteous decisions as we read examples set by our righteous ancestors in scriptures and in our family history.

Provident Living and Self-Reliance are natural bi-products to striving to become like our Heavenly Father. It requires faith, hardwork, self-control, gratitude, obedience, and charity.

The opposite of these attributes is fear, laziness, self-indulgence, greed, sin, and selfishness.

Provident Living and self-reliance are unrelated to class or income. A few summers ago, I worked selling debt elimination programs. I discovered that a person making 30,000 a year would have the same proportion of debt as a person making 300,000 a year. No matter how much money you make, if you haven’t learned to live within your means, it will never be enough. You cannot avoid debt by gaining a certain type of employment, or by making a certain amount of money. You must develop the virtues of Provident Living.

2 Peter 1:3-8reads
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s look closely at these scriptures:
Verse 3: God has given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.
So often we imagine that we don’t have enough—but God has blessed us with all that we need.

President James E Faust said:

One of the advantages of having lived a long time is that you can often remember when you had it worse. I am grateful to have lived long enough to have known some of the blessings of adversity. My memory goes back to the Great Depression, when we had certain values burned into our souls. One of these values was gratitude for what we had because we had so little. We had to learn provident living in order to survive. Rather than create in us a spirit of envy or anger for what we did not have, it developed in many a spirit of gratitude for the meager, simple things with which we were blessed, like hot homemade bread and oatmeal cereal and many other things.

At the end of verse 3 and in verse 4 we read that our knowledge of Christ is our source of great and precious promises, and that through our knowledge of Christ, we will escape the lusts of the world.

Then Peter tells us that if we add diligence to our faith—we will not only escape the world, but we will thrive in the world.

Aristotle taught that virtues could be gained through habit—and habits are learned through our diligent actions. If I want to develop the Virtue of Courage—I might make a courageous choice. The first time I choose to do something courageous, it will be difficult, but the more often I choose to do something difficult, the easier it will become---until finally, I will possess the virtue of being a courageous person.

The point is—whether or not we’re born with a natural inclination towards the virtues required for Provident living—we can choose to develop habits that will lead us to those virtues through our daily choices.

In looking at the scriptures in 2 Peter—faith leads to virtue—or rather the talent to perform righteousness-- virtue to knowledge. As we perform virtuously, we will learn more about how to live, how to work,--knowledge leads to temperance or self-control, temperance leads to patience, and patience born from self-control leads us to godliness. As we see one another and the world through God’s eyes—we develop brotherly kindness, and as we exercise that kindness, we are filled with charity.

These are the virtues necessary for Provident Living.

It all starts with Faith in Jesus Christ. As we believe in Christ and his teachings, we will have the capacity to understand the virtues locked within ourselves.

Once again, I will list the qualities of Provident Living set forth in 2 Peter:

Faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly love, and charity.

Elder M. Russell Ballard said:

First, every person must know that he or she is a child of God and is loved by Him. People need to realize that regardless of their circumstances, as desperate as those may be, they are entitled to the Light of Christ in their lives. From Moroni we learn, “The Spirit of Christ is given to every man” (Moroni 7:16). The promise is that every son and daughter of God can find, through the Spirit, answers to the challenges in their lives, including how to become more self-reliant. We must, therefore, ever keep in our minds how precious each child of God is and how important our service is to each one of them.

Our purpose in living providently is not to set ourselves apart in a giant house on the hill—but rather it allows us to be in a position to serve one another.

Do most of understand the mechanics of provident living? Yes. We know that it involves saying no when it would be so nice to say yes! It involves paying our tithes and offerings. It involves patiently working towards a goal, and learning the skills to take care of things yourself.

The joy in preparing this talk for me has been discovering the spiritual reasons behind these choices.

If Heavenly Father wanted to, he would give us all big houses on the hill and a giant wallet filled with lots of money—but through Provident Living—we not only have our temporal needs met, but we can enjoy the traits that come with choosing to live a Provident life.

When we understand that acquiring good habits is a difficult, sometimes painful process—we are more apt to embrace the challenge and push through it. No one runs a marathon because the finish line is so much better than the starting line. We run it because of the strength we gain through overcoming that pain. Some of us have different attributes we need to learn. This week, I am striving to not eat out. It is difficult to go into the kitchen and cook, when it would be so much easier to call for take-out Panang Curry. I love it sooo. But after a while, I imagine that cooking food in the house will become a habit. (I hope by sharing this particular weakness, the rest of you feel better about your own weaknesses. “Well at least I’m not THAT bad.”) And you would be right.

Another difficult habit will be putting some money into savings each month. It will be difficult, but I will do it. And as I do it, it will become a habit, and that habit will eventually become a virtue.

Alma said, “And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.” 30: 5.

As a teacher, I love this scripture. It totally undoes the old saying: “Talk is cheap.” Talk isn’t cheap. Alma promises that our discussions of provident living will lead us to do that which is just. I encourage you to pray to know the specific actions that you can take this week to live a more provident life.

(then I bore my testimony.)

If you made it all the way to the bottom of the talk, thank you for reading!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Preparation Overload

I have spent the day inside the house. I went out to get the mail, but that was it.

Today I finished the take home final for the World Cultures class. I am relieved that I will never have to do that again. Except that I will because I need to reassess what chapters I really want to cover in next quarters class. Ugggh. that's a whole new beast of work.

I have to speak in church tomorrow on "Provident Living". I know. Many of you are chuckling to yourself. This is possibly the worst topic for me to speak on. The only thing worse would be speaking on Priesthood Responsibilities. Actually, that might be a cool topic.

I wrote a nice 10 minute talk. And I have since scrapped it because it is just too academic.

I am going to rewrite it, but I need a break.

After I finish the talk, I'm going to prepare my relief society lesson on Forgiveness.

I was supposed to go dancing at Adams-Morgan tonight, but after spending the day reading about Provident Living, I felt guilty about spending money to go clubbing. So instead, I'm at home with my books and my computer.

I am hopeful that this talk will come together and that I will be able to share the principles of Provident Living in a way that will inspire everyone in the room to want to improve their lives--but right now, I'm still in the wilderness of preparation.

And as for the lesson on Forgiveness. . . I'm gonna have to get up early tomorrow and pray that the sisters are feeling talkative. This might be a problem since I'm usually the talkative one.

My brain hurts.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Working from Home

The sounds of construction, banging and drilling, and landscaping, buzzing and thwacking--fill the air. I went out onto the deck to see what was going on and caught a look at several workers on the roof of the condo next door.

I'm sitting on the couch in my night shirt watching Bones. The doorbell rings. Sadey comes downstairs in her flannel pants and tee shirt. She too is working from home. She's upstairs watching 30 Rock. Because she is wearing pants, she answers the door.

The roofers explain that they need to redo our roof as well, and that we need to move our cars.

And so I sit in my pjs, watching tv, while hardworking construction workers fix my roof.

I am feeling a little like a spoiled princess right now.

We live a charmed life me and Sadey Sue. A charmed life.

I'm glad I'm not a roofer. Or a landscaper.

And I will get some actual work done--but after I've watched the seasons finales of the shows I missed while I was teaching last night.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It Takes a Woman

My next two weeks consist of creating final exams and grading them, grading final papers for 5 classes, and getting 5 syllabis ready for the new quarter to start on May 26th. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I'm off to Iowa to put on a little concert.

In an effort to keep on top of things, my day began at 10:30am, and it's now 2:20am. I have been going non-stop.

I prepared my syllabus for ENG 320, typed up 3/4 of the Final for American Experience, prepared a lecture on WWII and the Civil Rights Movement, corrected quizzes for two classes, went grocery shopping, fixed the broken wireless connection, and taught a great class tonight. We had a lot of fun discussing the effects of the development of the Atomic bomb on the rest of our century, and the evolution of the Civil Rights Movement. The students were interjecting with questions and comments throughout the 4 hour lecture. We had a wonderful time!

I am bound and determined to stay on top of my tasks this week! I am prepared for long days and longer nights.

On a lighter note, please enjoy this lovely clip from one of my favorite movies of all time. My favorite line is "And so she'll work until infinity, three cheers for femininity!" I hope my efforts over the next two weeks will earn the praise of Mr. Horace Vandergelder.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Music

After listening to Tripping Lily in Melissa Branin's living room last night--(see the video in an earlier post), I had fun finding other happy music. Nickel Creek broke up last year, but they make me smile! Below is another video of Tripping Lily. They were wonderful! Look them up on facebook or myspace. I posted their bluegrass number, but they defy genre.

Happy Mother's Day

Here's my mom, my mom's mom, and me in Dec 2008.

I just want to share a little about the women who shaped me.

My mom was born in Texas because my Grandpa was in the Airforce. While in Germany, my Grandpa Jon died while flying with the West German Airforce in an airshow. My grandma was a widow in a foreign country with 3 little kids at 31. She came back to the United States and raised her 3 kids in California, near her mother--my great-grandma Tommy.

When my mom was 21, she married my dad and within the next 5 years, they had 3 kids. After a painful divorce, she met and married my step-dad when I was 12. We moved to Tremonton where she took on the daunting task of combining a family and being a mother to 3 more children. Two years later, Nick was born. When Nick was born, Kelli was 16, I was 14, Kim was 13, Jack was 13, Jayson was 10, and Matt was 10. Life was never easy, it was never smooth. My parents were constantly trying to define and redefine their roles as parents and step-parents in an effort to do what was best for the kids--but all 7 of us had different needs. Frankly, I don't know how any of us made it through it. Divorce leaves scars. The absent parents could spoil, but Brent and Diane were required to discipline, as well as love. We had our share of confusion, selfishness, and rage. And through it all, Brent and Diane remained a constant source of stability and constant faith. We could always rely on them to continually strive for honesty, integrity, and the spirit.

Each child comes to earth with it's own personality and set of trials that they must face--and no amount of parenting can protect a child from the path that they are destined to tread. Some of us just need to learn things the hard way. Whenever I lose hope in myself, I have a picture of my parents plodding away, enduring to the end. They still live in the house we lived in while we were growing up. I can still picture them going to church with the same people I went to church with as a teenager. My mother is still an amazing visiting teacher, and I can rely on her to send me books and article clippings in an effort to continually teach me. Her perserverance despite her trials is her greatest lesson to me. That's not to say she was happy every day--but whether happy or sad--she was always there--which is more than I can say for some parents.

Thanks Mom!

Tripping Lily

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Making a Plan

Perhaps if I publicize my "to do" list, I will get something done.

Today I am going to accomplish the following tasks:

1) Grade online classwork.
2) Vacuum
3) Take shoes out of the basement. (I take off a pair as I walk in the door--and the floor is now covered in my shoes.)
4) Go grocery shopping.
5) Shower.
6) Go see Tripping Lily at Mel's House Show tonight.
7) Eat.
8) Watch a sufficient amount of television.
9) Think about working out, but watch the time slip away and shake my head in shame because I didn't get a workout in. again.
10) Get over my weird self-destruction and go for a walk.
11) Think about how tomorrow I'll be better.
12) Recognize that there is no such thing as tomorrow. Tomorrow is a figment.
13) Recognize that evidence of yesterday is all around. We live with the constant evidence of our yesterdays.
14) Watch Aeon Flux on TNT.

That'll do it for today.

My New Roommate!

This is Angelina! She's a captain in the Army and my newest roommate. We had a ball last weekend visiting the Library of Congress and shopping at Eastern Market.

And since the Library of Congress is across the street from the Capitol Building--I had to snap a picture of that too!

Beautiful Richmond Virginia

These are just some pictures that I took while walking to my car after the Humanities Conference at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Isn't it beautiful?!

I love that Virginia is a Commonwealth!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rain rain rain and more rain

I started painting the deck weeks ago.

Last Tuesday, I mopped half of it with paint, so it would dry and I could paint the other half during the weekend.


It's been 9 days and it has rained everyday. And it doesn't look like it's going to stop anytime soon.

But despite the clouds in the sky, I can see a horizon!!

Two more classes and I will be teaching classes I know and love! Two more weeks and I will be done with this crazy quarter!

The rain is coming down again--but I am off to teach another class. 12 hours of teaching in 28 hours. And tomorrow is my last Theatre Appreciation class!

I made it! Woohoo!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Just watch and try not to smile

Float On

I found one of my favorite songs this weekend. It's called "Float On" by Modest Mouse. I have wonderful memories of dancing to this song at Baja Bean in Staunton. Imagine a smoky bar filled with friends and loved ones. The band is rocking out and the whole crowd is jumping up and down screaming, "All right all ready we'll all float on! All right all ready don't worry even if things end up a bit too heavy! All right, all ready we'll all float on!"

Everyone had their worries. We all had thesises to write. Breakups and hook ups were going on all around. But for those moments as the song played, there was this wonderful collective sigh as we all sang at the top of our lungs with the band.

So, for those of you who feel like life is getting a little heavy and you just need to get through things--look at the playlist on the left, and blast out "Float On" and sing it out as loudly as possible. Or better yet, download it to your ipod and blast it in your car. I promise it's very difficult to listen to and not start jumping up and down. Not that I'm suggesting you jump up and down in the car. . . perhaps the kitchen would be a safer listening space.