Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What adventure are we going to have today?

I graduated from college with a degree I have no desire to use. Ever since I realized that, I’ve been afraid to commit to such a large mistake again. I have wanted to be sure of something before I decided it was the path I should take. I was certain this was a recent fear, but my dad has said I was the same way with walking—I wanted to be sure I could run before I tried to walk. It’s been a frustrating path because I’ve never received the confirmation and assurance that I’m looking for. So I’ve tried to change my attitude as of late. I’ve tried to have the attitude that even though something might not lead to a desired end at least I had the experience. For example, my major may not have landed me the job of my dreams but it’s shaped the way I think, probably without me even realizing it. My education has been more than worthwhile and the friends I gained at school have been life-changing.

Likewise, I have often been frustrated here in Salt Lake because I saw this as a temporary stopover until I figured out where I wanted to be. Two years later I’m still here, and it’s not because I’ve found a job that I’m satisfied with. Instead, I have had tedious jobs that suck the life out of me…however, I have learned more in my time here than during few other times in my life.

I think that too often I get wrapped up in trying to figure out if I’m really happy that I don’t allow myself to become fully immersed in the things that will make me really happy. I could be a poster child for missing the mark. President Faust has said, “I have spent a lifetime making my living in an arena where I was not shadowboxing with life’s problems. I have learned from this experience that life is fuller and richer and better for those who are not afraid to make a new beginning.” Similarly, Theodore Roosevelt once stated that, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” It is not possible to achieve victory without risking defeat. It is not possible to achieve anything without risking something.

There are a million books I want to read, a million places I want to go, a million and one things I want to learn, and half a million things I want to become but no one (not even myself) should expect that to happen all at once. In fact, I imagine that if it did, it wouldn’t be enjoyable at all. I may not be doing something with my life—I am neither married nor do I have a fulfilling career—but at least I’m doing something.

Just recently I had a conversation with an older coworker about her grandchildren. She was relating how she tries to give them different experiences. She takes them to the Pacific coast in Oregon every year and tries to have some craft for them to do even when she’s staying in a hotel. She is not working at a job that she enjoys but she hasn’t let that spoil her. She has curried a mildly spontaneous attitude and a love for adventure. Because of that, when she arrives at their house, her grandchildren ask her, “What adventure are we going to have today?”

I suppose this is the question I direct to each of us.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The summer of firsts.

As the summer comes to a close I would like to take a brief inventory.

I started out the summer with a bang by breaking up with my boyfriend of 6 months (first boyfriend, first breakup). Before that happened—though somehow directly related—I took a trip to Moab for some not so serious mountain biking…and of course it was the first time. The trip was a success and despite my inability to pedal up hills I’ve been attempting to become a “mountain biker” all summer.

Memorial Day weekend I went on what has now become the Tour de S’Utah with my cousin and uncle. We went to Bryce, Escalante, Capitol Reef, and Arches; the first time I’ve been to any of those locations besides Escalante (where I actually spent 7 weeks of my life at an archaeological field school). Despite almost dying in Capitol Reef the hikes were amazing and food has never tasted so good.

I finally convinced my friend to take a road trip with me and we drove to Seattle, which, as it turns out is the first time I’ve gone on a trip with ulterior motives. This trip was also a wild success, though probably not for the reasons you might expect. Highlights of the trip included a ferry ride, skipping rocks on the beach, Pike Place fish market, bridge jumping, lunch at Ivar’s, Snoqualmie Falls, and a romantic night in a tree…oh wait, that wasn’t me, nevermind.

My 19 yr. old brother came out to live with my older brother and me for the summer. Over the 4th of July his girlfriend and my little sister both came to visit. We went to Lagoon, played tennis, watched fireworks, and went to Warped Tour. At Warped Tour I tried to blend with the pot-smoking teenagers and the tattooed adults…unsuccessfully…and, forced to choose between death by trampling and engaging in an activity I have always disapproved, I chose the latter. We were in the front of a New Found Glory concert and push literally came to shove so we opted to crowd surf out of there.

Wallet still in hand I headed off to San Francisco for the second road trip of the summer. We hit all the necessary sites, biked across the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito, and even spent a day in Santa Cruz where I tried to surf for real for the first time. The weather was accommodating but the waves were not; they weren’t big enough to propel us to stand. Instead, my friend and I became acquainted with a 13 yr. old Jewish boy who thought we were in middle school. Despite our failed attempts to surf, a desire to be a “surfer girl” as well as a “mountain biker” was awakened.

My love for all things watery and mountainous spurred me to go on two ward camping/boating trips. One of which I organized, the other (thankfully) I did not. During one of these I wakeboarded for the first time and even got up my first try—the real first try was, of course, a practice run...

Before I end, I want to include a few honorable mentions:
For the first time in my life I didn’t go home for any length of time over the summer.
I went to my first ever demolition derby and am still recovering from the un-culture shock.
I swam/was driven around/was tossed around/was tenderized in a truck-pool.
As if that wasn’t enough, because I listen to books at work and because of my dedication to the literary world, I read 18 books this summer. Some of them were short stories but I include them for counting purposes: The Peacegiver, The Wind in the Willows, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Jungle Book, The Red Badge of Courage, Kidnapped, The Time Machine, A Christmas Carol, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Wizard of Oz, War of the Worlds, The Phantom of the Opera, Candide, War and Peace, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Mere Christianity.

Friday, August 17, 2007


I've been feeling slightly sentimental lately so I thought I'd put up some favorite pictures of my cute family.

I realize that David's in only one picture but I don't think he likes us as much as we like ourselves. I'll let you figure out who's who on your own. Ok, I'll give you one hint: I'm the really pretty one with dark hair...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

How I came to work for the Church Archives and subsequently lost my testimony.

Yep, that's me: an occultic weirdo pawn. Excuse me for a moment while I file down the horns in my head. It's really embarrassing when people can see them.
For those who are unaware, the Church (and here I mean the great Mormon empire of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) owns a large collection of anti-Mormon material. Why, you might ask? Well, there is a mandate in the scriptures in Doctrine and Covenants 85: 1, 2 that says, “It is the duty of the Lord’s clerk, whom he has appointed, to keep a history, and a general church record of all things that transpire in Zion…and also their manner of life, their faith, and works; and also of the apostates who apostatize after receiving their inheritances.” So if one wanted to look up some anti-Mormon literature, really, the best place to get it is in the Church History Library itself!

Here’s a brief list of typical titles available:

The Darker Side of Virtue: Corruption, Scandal, and the Mormon Empire...you see? Mormon empire. They know what I'm talking about.

Speaking of Mormon empires, how about...Brigham Young and His Mormon Empire

Claims against Mormonism, v. 1 AND 2

Joseph Smith’s Plagiarism of the Bible

What the Mormon Missionaries Don’t Tell You

And my favorite…Mormonism: A Gold-Plated Religion, where the authors (former Mormons themselves) explain the Mormon mindset and give “practical ideas for sensitive aftercare for those who have left the organization.”

In case that’s above your reading level (though I can't imagine these books being anything but troglodytic), we’ve also got A Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Mormonism and Mormonism for Dummies.
It's almost difficult to know where to start isn't it?

Friday, August 10, 2007

It’s about war. Peace…anti-war…peace.

I don’t often make goals, and I keep them .00176% of the time, but last night I finished a goal that I had made: to read War and Peace. This book is included in the collection of “Great Books of the Western World” and is named as one of the “100 Most Influential Books Ever Written” and “1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.” Not to mention the lists, “22 Books That Alternate as a Weapon” and “Books to Use When a Ladder Won’t Do.”

With such a rap sheet, one would expect to feel a sense of pride after an accomplishment of that magnitude. A sense that, “You wouldn’t understand this book even if you undertook to read it...which you probably won’t.” A sense that I had become culturally refined merely by reading it. Perhaps it’s because I run in circles where I’m struggling just to keep up, or maybe because I didn’t understand the book myself…but I don’t feel relieved, unburdened, or refined. I feel like I should still be reading it. When I finished, I put it down and I felt like I should pick it up again, but there was nothing left! I suppose that’s what happens when you work on something for 5 months and finish it without closure.

Instead, I am left feeling…intrigued. I didn’t like the way the book ended. There was no conclusion, unless you call a 40 page monologue on historical philosophy that in no way enlightens the storyline a conclusion. Despite the ending, despite the 354 characters and the 32 variations on their names, despite the less than ideal love story, despite the fact that I didn’t get anything out of it other than a strong impression of Tolstoy’s contempt for the supposed genius of Napoleon and the error of historians, despite the fact that I didn’t love it, I loved it. I feel like I know I read something amazing but I’m not sure what that means, and I want to read it again and again until I do. And for a 1500 page book, that’s saying a lot.

Unfortunately, unless I live an extra hundred years I won’t be reading War and Peace again. Let’s be realistic, I have 1,000 other books to read before I die.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Paranoia: mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions.

In my mother's old(er) age, she's becoming more and more paranoid. Not the normal paranoias like "my children are going to end up in prison" or "someone's going to eat the 7-lb bag of M&M's I have stashed in the guest room." Don't get me wrong, she's paranoid about those things too, but those aren't the ones I'm referring to. I'm talking about the paranoia that, while white-water rafting, she'll be thrown from the raft and drown; that the rushing water will envelop her and never let her go. I'm sure you're thinking this is an understandable paranoia...and I agree. Raging waters have always been frightening, and I'm not talking about the water park near Salt Lake. However, to truly picture the degree this has reached, allow me to continue (oh wait, you don't have a choice).

One can always tell when my mom is thinking about death by water because she'll jump. I'm not talking both feet off the ground, vertical leap jump. I'm talking about whole body shudder jump. In fact, I imagine she's exhibited a few of those just reading this. But wait, there's more! My family has been thinking about taking a trip to Africa. One of the options on this trip involved rafting in an alligator infested river. We didn't choose the river specifically for that, but it doesn't matter, all of the rivers in Africa are alligator infested...so I imagine. My family was talking about this trip one day and my mom reached up and accidentally knocked her glasses off her head or the table or...any number of things glasses can be knocked from. My mom reached down to pick them up and...jumped. She was imagining reaching into the river when suddenly an imaginary alligator swam up and bit off her arm. So my mother, one-armed and unable to see, refused to participate in anything that involved both the untamable thing called water and man-eating animals.

Just recently I learned that after the bridge collapsed in Minnesota, my mom thinks about it everytime she crosses a bridge. While driving over a bridge, she imagines herself tumbling helplessly into the roiling and frothing maw of the river below until she happily drives onto solid land on the other side.

The great thing about my mom is that none of these paranoias seem to stop her, either from acquiring more children, buying 7-lb bags of M&M's, driving over bridges, or continuing to have adventures and, despite what she says, actually enjoying them. That's not going to stop my brother, John, and I from saving up our money for a new addition to the house, though. It will be located underground; surrounded by lead, cement, and packed dirt; and come equipped with enough supplies to last over a month, a battery-powered radio, and potassium iodide tablets.

Friday, August 03, 2007

What comes of a weekend with no plans...

I never really thought I would find myself here.

Ok, so maybe I had high hopes of having my own website--something exciting and completely above the world of bloggerdom. However, despite my many talents, I have not yet achieved fluency in HTML.

Because my parents and I don't talk to each other and succumbing to the weight of the extremely high number of detail requests about my life (see Appendix A above), I am blogging. Which is kind of like clogging, but with less foot movement.

I can now say with pride that the much anticipated day has come when Laura A. Shearer appears on the web as something other than a retailer of natural beauty products.