Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I may be a little biased...

...but how can you not love these people? (These people being my family)

So, my sister sent me these videos of a recent Monday night activity. It was my dad's idea to have a headstand competition.

My mother blew everyone out of the water. She's (an undisclosed amount of years), for pete's sake!
video
If that's not impressive...it doesn't matter, it's her birthday today...just go with it.

My dad, on the other hand, well...you'll see...
video

Friday, December 12, 2008

A little old-fashioned Christmas spirit.

‘Twas a fortnight from Christmas, and all through the house,
A girl was seen lying around like a louse,
Watching hours and hours of old t.v. shows,
And ignoring the chores that in piles still grow;
Her first months at school were nigh unto done,
She had given up trying, which we know is more fun;
She did what she could to do the best that she can,
And the two finals left were not part of the plan;
You see, four months of school will sure tire you out,
And the thought of more thinking makes one want to shout,
“No papers, no quizzes, no tests, no robots!
Oh Christmas, oh playing, oh laughing a lot!
Oh living and loving and being with friends!”
Just a half a week more and the stress will all end;
Then it’s off to the races for lots of good cheer,
For in no time at all the whole family’ll appear;
They will play and they’ll play ‘til they’re blue in the face,
The effect of those memories no time will erase;
…But school always starts far too soon than we’d like,
And the terrible homework with vengeance will strike;
Though hope is not gone, she thinks with a glee;
‘Cause pretty soon, very soon, she will be free,
From filling her weeknights with hours of work,
Taking phone calls from clients and going berserk;
So in the spirit of Christmas she declares with her might,
Happy finals to all, and to all a good night!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Oh M.E.

Well I did it. I built a robot.

Rather, my team of 4 built 4 robots. We competed yesterday in the campus-wide Egglympics Gymneggstics competition…yeah, I don’t come up with these things. The competition included 4 events: balance beam, uneven bars, vault, and floor exercise. My team met almost every day for the last week and a half, including staying up ‘til 2:30 the night before building and building and reconfiguring and not sleeping. All for almost naught.

Our robots only kind of worked.

As luck would have it, neither did my camera. I was excited to document this momentous occasion with video and pictures and stories galore…and I forgot my memory card. Thankfully I found an Asian with a very large camera to take pictures for me.

Just so you know, each event involves certain objectives—like traveling the length of a beam and completing a flip or going from one corner of a taped-off square to the other and performing a 180 degree rotation—all while not breaking an egg...and all by itself. Perhaps I'd be more sure that this is what I want to do if we had been a little more successful...
Duct tape and hot glue. That's what our robots were made of. This picture made it onto the Daily Utah Chronicle's website.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One for the storybooks.

I walked briskly to class (everything on a cold morning happens briskly), reviewing in my mind all the math that might be required of me for the test. Briefly, I slowed down so the guy crossing the sidewalk in front of me could enter the building to my right. That’s where I thought he was headed anyway. Instead, he greeted me cheerfully and matched my focused steps.

He asked me what class I was headed to and replied with an, “Awesome!” punctuated by a fist pump when I told him, after which he informed me that calculus was probably his favorite class ever. He was nice enough and normal looking enough—you know, neither repulsive nor attractive—and in the next minute and a half I found out that he was also studying mechanical engineering and had postponed his graduation date for a year by missing only one prerequisite. This is the future I have to look forward to, folks.

When we arrived at the math building I told him that I was sure I would see him around to which he said, “I’m not sure I will, I mean, I’d like to…can I have your number?” My mind raced to find an adequate joke about how we just met but apparently I was so surprised that I had no choice but to politely comply. He promised he would call within the next couple of days and…he did.

That very afternoon, in fact, I got a call. He was planning a double date for the next day and was wondering if I was available…because, as it turns out, he had a friend in need of a date. Uh huh. Not to be intimidated by a double blind, I again politely complied.

…the date was fine—we hiked Ensign Peak and talked about family traditions, German culture, being “green”, and how many TV shows I watch that none of them have heard about—it only got weird when, at the end of the date, they both got out of the car to walk me to my door…

Since then I have run into my date and he has asked me if his friend—the one I met originally—had called yet. Apparently he was wanting to do something “in a week and a half or so.” I’m not sure which guy the getting together would be for but maybe that doesn’t matter. You know, I’ve never tried to date two guys at once. It seems like a challenging balancing act…an unfair balancing act. However, if all the dating is happening on the same dates…it really is too bad I’m not interested in either party.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When words fail.

I wrote this a while ago but hesitated in posting it, perhaps because I’m not sure why this has ever been inside of me. The hope is that someday this will actually mean something to someone and the sentiments will be returned—a relationship I’ve never had, a relationship that will require all of me…a relationship that will hopefully end in wedded bliss and lots of babies. In the meantime, I wrote this for anyone I’ve ever felt deeply for. I wrote it for a need; for a desire to do good. I wrote it…and I mean it.

When words fail me I would hold your head in my hands. I would quiet your silence, your wandering thoughts, your blanketed eyes. I would take them into myself. I would swallow you up in the hollow of my idle compassion and light a fire to shield you from the darkness. I would mingle your tears in the urn of my intentions and create a panacea to salve your unseen wounds. I would give you the philosopher’s stone. With the force of my aching love I would liberate your pinioned heart and banish the cumbrous millstone pulling at the edges of your smile. I would drown myself in the depth of your pain to buoy you above the rising moon-tide. Covering you tightly in the warmth of a moment I would direct you to shore. Then at last, I would lay your head in the cradle of our combined strengths and listen to you breathe as you strike a path amidst the clouds.

With a touch, with a look, with all that I can…but I am not the one you need and words are all I have.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Am I depressed?!

This from a New York Times article:

"All of the muscles in the tension triangle are particularly vulnerable to pressure. Corrugator muscles, the ones that knit the brow into a frown, tighten in response to emotional tension. A study done at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston shows that depressed people have chronically tensed corrugators, even when they do not look as if they are frowning. Tension in the corrugators, along with the nearby frontalis muscle, is such a good gauge of muscle tension throughout the body that forehead muscles are used in biofeedback training to monitor overall tension. As the muscles throughout the body relax, tension also drains from the forehead muscles."

Saturday, November 08, 2008

With furrowed brow.

This past month has been one of self-discovery. Through no fault of my own, I’ve been learning things about myself that I never knew before. Which is weird, because I think about myself ALL the time.

Admittedly, I’ve never been all that aware of my facial expressions. Unless, of course, someone’s taking a picture of me, in which case that’s the only thing I’m aware of. Otherwise, however, my thoughts—my intended private thoughts—have been emblazoned all over my intractable face. This fact I’ve known, but what I didn’t know is that I spend most of my life with furrowed brow. Yep, that’s it. That’s the most interesting thing about me. Apparently I wrinkle my forehead a lot. All it took was a couple people telling me I looked angry at times when I knew I wasn’t angry at all—like in church. Then, I would start catching myself at it…a lot…like all the time. I think it gives me headaches. So every time, I make a concerted effort to relax. It would seem, though, that my facial muscles are so thoroughly trained that “concentrated” is now their comfortable position. You would laugh at how many times I go through this cyclical process in the seconds that follow catching myself with a wrinkled forehead. So, until I conquer these indomitable corrugators I thought I’d post a little guide to show the difference between my angry face and my thinking face—because they are different.

Thinking:

Angry (including two gems from high school):

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Last night...

Last night I went to Frightmares for the first time in my life. We went to celebrate the brief return of a friend living in D.C. One eternal ray of sunshine. I lost my hat on the first ride. Then it was all screaming for my life and laughing so hard my sides hurt. Last night it was cold but we watched a friend pretend to be hypnotized and another friend boldly fulfill her wildest dream on the Terroride. We danced outside the front gate for 20 minutes next to a bright pink hearse with hydraulics. Just a bunch of clothing coordinated adults having a good time. Last night I forgot I hate the Wild Mouse ride, but I laughed anyway. Then a friend and I freaked ourselves out on the Rocket and I laughed some more.

Last night I quite literally fell asleep with a smile on my face.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Defining moments.

My mom once told me a story about how, during parent teacher conferences, my teacher pulled out a sheet of paper that deeply concerned her. She thought my psyche might be troubled or wondered if I was typically a violent child. I was 9. Who isn’t troubled in…I guess that’s only 3rd grade…nevermind.

We had been working on spelling sentences…or rather, using spelling words in sentences. I wish I knew which word spawned the shocking statement. My guess is “beautiful” but it could also have been “butterfly” or maybe even “heaven”. Unexpected? My teacher thought so too.

What I wrote was this:

“The beautiful butterfly flew high and it got hit by a chopper and went to heaven.”





Naturally.

Every time I think of this story, I imagine that the sentence actually WAS shocking somehow—gorily descriptive, for example—or that I was quite a bit younger and thus an orthographic genius, albeit a bit disturbed. I was probably just commenting on the terrible and thoughtless destruction humans reap on ecosystems around the world…

As for my mom, she thought it ended very nicely. In fact, she kept that sheet of paper for fond memory’s sake.

I also wrote, "Tasty peppers are what my mom and dad eat. I don't care for tasty peppers." Apparently I must have found a tasty something else...look at how chapped those lips are! Note also the pro-nature print.

(This picture is actually from 2nd grade...the beginning of the descent into madness.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

"50 Things to Do During the Day When You Work Nights."

#24: Borrow friend's expensive, fancy camera and cultivate a promising photography talent.

I apologize that few of these are actually artistically interesting, but this is what I did all week during my fall break so...deal with it. Oh, and some of them should be enlarged to be appreciated.

#3,16,26,51: Lunch with Stef.

...lunch to follow.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Man, things have gotten lame lately!

I’m not quite sure who cast a pall and a shadow over my clumsily constructed card house. I’m not sure how I ended up neck deep in the grave of my confused conscience—you know, the one boiling everything down to shovelfuls of “you’re not good enough.” I don’t know why I’ve found myself so desperately needy and left so desperately wanting…but I am…and I don’t want to be anymore.

In the midst of bereaving the loss of myself, I remembered the oft-reached conclusion that despite my shortcomings and my shortgoings, I deserve happiness. I deserve the fruit from a golden orchard. I deserve a shining platter of sunsets. I deserve the rolling hills of laughter and the harmony riding in the wind. I am not referring to something I’ve earned as a mere creature that breathes. Instead, I speak of an expectation or, more accurately, an opportunity to create a platter from a plate and an orchard from a seed.

I may only be capable of achieving incrementally for now; but as I gain pieces of sublime happiness, squinty-eyed and smiling, I will hold them up to the brilliance of the sun until as a coiling flame they consume my heart and feed on the veil that covers it.

I passed a man on campus awhile ago who, in all the wisdom of his years, was telling his granddaughter never to be ashamed to work for money. I passed him before he could add what I hoped would be a caveat about the mob and strip clubs. Nevertheless, I have since (tried to) take his advice to heart. I am doing something with my life. Perhaps I’m taking a longer, somewhat indirect, and more expensive route than you would have chosen but I am not you. I am the best in you and I will conquer the worst in me.

I am an eagle. I am a queen. I am captain.

I was made in the image of a God. I am power and wisdom. I am beauty and love. I am a daughter and a sister. I am a leader, a follower, a friend. I am a promise and a hope.

So help me, I will be happy too.

Monday, October 06, 2008

"ARUP Client Services this is Laura."

It is 8:31 at night. I am sitting in my 4 x 4 ft. cubicle staring with the emptiness of my mind. Sticky notes adorn my dual computer monitors and lengthy reminders are pinned up on my cloth covered walls. I have no personal photos or paraphernalia—nothing to identify the space as mine except for my nameplate and the training certificate of completion, framed and stuck shamefully in a corner.

It is now 8:41. I’ve been here since 5:30. Fifteen calls taken. Ask me a question. I have to answer. It’s my job. I’ll tell you how much it costs to order a Chlamydia test from the University of Stanford. I’ll tell you what’s included in a pediatric allergens profile. Egg white. Cow milk. Soybean. Wheat. Oat. I’ll tell you what tests our Cytogenetics lab does. I would tell you from the cute little call-center earpiece I wear.

8:51. Seventeen calls. Are you bored yet?

The phone is ringing, I think I’ll just…hold on a sec.

9:01. Nineteen calls. I only need one more to make the required 5 calls an hour. Oh man, the suspense is killing me.

Game over. No, Lyme disease is not included in these tests. Based on our website ARUPConsult.com Borrelia burgdorferi causes Lyme disease. If you want to test for Lyme disease then use these antibody tests. No, you don’t have to order a separate “Lyme disease” test. Thanks for calling.

Just don’t ask me what I’m doing here. Saving lives one phone call at a time.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

What the...?

I waited for weeks. I prepared myself mentally. I practiced in the mirror…raised eyebrow, look of bewilderment, just a hint of a smirk. I picked a day when I would have time. Time to get ready. Time to do my best.

I did my hair. I put on makeup. I specifically wore a blue shirt. Just to spite them in my mind. I left my house early. I laughed inwardly at how great it would be. I thought somehow he was sharing my joke.

This is the result of my efforts. THIS is who I’ll be for the next 4 years:


Congratulations Utah, it seems you’ve won this time.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's time to storm the castle...and toss the bodies in the moat.

As some of you know, I’ve gone back to school. I’ve gone back to school in order to jumpstart my stalled attempts at becoming rich and famous. When I realized that “Woodsman” and not “Archaeologist” was included on the drop-down list of occupations, I knew it was time for a change. So I hitched up my tights, quit my job at the church, and sold my soul to the devil. I am now an official student of the University of Utah.

I was admittedly nervous to start taking classes, tough classes; subjects like…calculus and…chemistry. In the following weeks, however, as quizzes and homework assignments continually broke across the bulwark of my formidable aptitude I began to secretly imagine stunning everyone by my success over all things academic. You see, despite my expanded experiences and matured outlook I find that, for me, grades are still self-defining. So when scores from my mechanical engineering class began to come back as somewhat less than stunning I was somewhat less than happy.

I think this is as good a place as any to describe the ridiculousness of what is required of me by this class—this “gotta prove I’m not just any other 1000 level class.” First, there are Excel assignments due every week. These take on average a minimum of 5 hours. We also have to, in groups of 4, design 4 robots that will execute separate robotic mandates—one has to launch itself off a ramp, one has to drive along the edge of a 2x4 (35 mm) and complete a flip, one has to do a 180 degree rotation in a 3 m square box (all while holding a raw egg), and the last has to launch that egg over two parallel bars and catch it on the other side. Homework assignments related to this design project are due weekly. Then there’s a weekly 3-hour lab with, you guessed it, weekly assignments. Finally, there are in-class pop quizzes on reading we’re supposed to, somewhere in our “free” time, complete on our own.

All of that I can handle. I’ve been busy before. I’ve been so stressed out that I’ve started breaking out before. The difference in my experiences does not lie in the supposed intellectual superiority of the hard sciences over the social sciences. It even has less to do with the fact that I also have to work and keep up with a failing social life. No, I’m being deducted for missing answers that are less than explicit in the directions. For example—from a problem with directions to prepare a table—the phrase “estimate the point where x first crosses the t-axis (i.e., estimate the value of t corresponding to x=0) supposedly means “insert a graph or we’ll dock you 4 points.” Another example involves vague instructions on how to write a technical memo and team working agreement and then 20% off for not meeting their blurred expectations.

My vanity is being robbed. Illegitimately.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

As a song.

Warmed by the breath of one soloist a song of faltering notes and humble eyes filled the space below the vaulted ceiling. Its nervous tempo struggled to keep up with a methodically strong piano as it descended amid a half-aware congregation. Brief moments of quiet artistry were swept away by missteps on a threaded melody and so it threatened to fade into the background of pressing thoughtlessness. The masses did not nod their heads in unanimous appreciation; the crowd did not ignorantly offer a standing ovation. Still, I listened. I listened to a song that was not a magnificent aria. I listened to a song that was a personal echo of a life of fumbling steps and looks of uncertainty, of imperfect efforts and missed opportunities. I listened to a song that was a reminder of the inevitable shortcomings of routine living. I listened to a song that did not deserve pity but an acknowledgment of the beauty in the effort and the honesty. My soul cried out with the strains of a song unabashedly human in its presentation, "Be still...the Lord is on thy side; with patience bear thy cross of grief or pain...Be still...thy God doth undertake to guide the future as he has the past...Be still, my soul."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kristin VanVoorhis

Kristin "Penelope" VanVoorhis passed away Saturday, August 16th around 3:00 P.M. surrounded by family and friends. Kristin was born June 13, 1983 in Canton, Ohio to Marky and Joany VanVoorhis. Endowed with massive amounts of hair and a healthy interest in boys, Kristin was a pleasure to all who knew her. She attended Brigham Young University and graduated with a degree in Recreational Therapy, after which she took a job in Pleasant Grove at a care center. The work out video she created for her residents is still there. Kristin had a bright and lively personality. She enjoyed delighting those around her with her many accents and renditions of songs. She could also shake it like nobody's business. Kristin leaves behind her parents, her eldest sister, Vanessa, close friends, and any hope for a moderate climate. She will be deeply deeply missed...

I present to you Mrs. Anderson:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The many faces of Gustave Courbet.

There's nothing like trying to reproduce art.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Santorini

My good friend and repeated traveling companion, Stef, wrote a more than adequate description of our first day in Santorini. So for those wonderful and all too brief 24 hours I will pass the torch to her...except to post a picture of our sunset lit rooftop dinner.The second day was, unfortunately, not as grand. We were conned into a boat tour of the rest of the islands around the caldera and, leaving later than we should have, we got off to a rough start. We were forced to run down the near 600 stairs made slick by constant wear and donkey droppings to the old port, most of us in flip flops. Some of our group made it down quickly and hopped on the boat to stall it for the rest of us...only to find out that our boat wasn't there yet. A little irked, we waited for our heart rate to slow down and ultimately were off for Nea Kameni--an island formed in the 16th century by volcanic eruptions. We failed to listen to any sort of explanation on the way there so we arrived ignorant of both purpose and direction. As a result, we did what anyone should do in that situation--mindlessly followed everyone around us. What we discovered was a small pit that turned out to be the active crater of the volcano and if you looked closely and used all of your imaginative muscles you could see it emit gases. The best part was sticking our hand in a hole to feel the ground, the temperature of which was hot enough to cook an egg...or maybe just smell like an egg.

Next stop: Palea Kameni, the site of the volcano's hot springs. This turned out to be an inlet off the ocean where we jumped off the boat and swam into water that turned gradually warmer and more and more coppery in color. There was also a sign that said, "Call me to my cell phone to save you." We seriously considered it.

Instead, we sailed for Thirassia, the only town unharmed during the last volcanic eruption. Determined to ride donkeys somewhere on our trip we forfeited our lives to a Greek man who sounded like a woman and went to discover what Greek life looked like 50 years ago. We were completely unprepared for what ended up being a crazy, jostling ride where legs met donkey in discomforting places, we ran down helpless tourists on their way down the stairs, and we were in constant jeopardy of being tossed over the wall ourselves. Good thing it was worth seeing a completely desolate town with no good views and one overpriced restaurant where McCall ate octopus for the first time. Opa!

Our final destination was Oia located on the northern tip of Santorini. Exhausted by disappointment and heat stroke we casually shopped and walked around. There was only one thoroughfare so there was no chance of losing each other. Eventually we made our way to the old castle which was purportedly the best place to watch the famous Oia sunset...so famous it was difficult to find a place to sit among the hordes and hordes of people. We alternated between watching the actual sunset and watching the angry Asian couple in front of us take picture after picture of each other. When it was over and the Asian couple was gone we took our time getting to the bus stop...where all the buses were done for the night...and people fought tooth and nail for taxis. After getting ousted a couple times by tourists with no sense of a queue--Europeans--and waiting for the pay phone behind a girl talking with her 20 member family we took matters into our own hands...and razed the place to the ground (which meant we called a taxi company on someone else's cell phone and made sure everyone knew we were next.) Thus ended the day after the best day of our trip.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Delos

Once upon an ancient time there was an island in the center of the Cyclades where Greek gods were born and huge amounts of slaves were sold in their name, where mere mortals were neither allowed to give birth nor to die, and where a rich merchant couple had nothing better to do with their money than erect statues of themselves in their own courtyard. Now it's a place where hairpieces are found lying on columns, where little girls still peek over the walls of the boy's dormitory, where nine stone lions built to protect the city from ruin lie in ruin themselves, and people can't help but ask themselves, "Were the Greek gods real?"

This place is Delos.Going to Delos was the first planned activity of our trip and of course we were excited. So we set our alarms, woke up bright and early, and hurried to the front of our hotel to catch the bus...to find out it wouldn't come for another hour or so. So we hitched up our shorts, tied back our hair, and walked--on a perilously windy street with no shoulder. We arrived in Mykonos Town in one piece--which was weird because we started out as 6 separate entities--just in time to catch the ferry and land on the island already populated by hundreds of other tourists crowding around the front gate in order to buy a relatively overpriced ticket to a barren city overgrown with weeds and a sparse museum. I was overjoyed.Compared to other archaeological sites, Delos is left fairly open to the generally unguided and unrestrained tourists. Of course some people took it upon themselves to see more than was obviously open to them and naturally, being an archaeologist...I was the exact same way. We had just barely made it past the most famous part of Delos, the Naxian lions guarding the Sacred Way (built around 600 B.C.), and were admiring curiously intact pottery jars when the horn from our boat sounded signaling its preparation for the return trip. Seeing as it was only 1:20 and seeing as I didn't hear Becky instruct us on the departure times I thought we had until 2:00 and was, as a result, unhurried. My friends however began to walk quickly...and the horn sounded again. So we ran and we ran and Becky tripped and the dry vegetation took 2,500 years of pent up vengeance out on her leg and still we ran and continued running into the sun with the repeated strains of Becky yelling, "12:00, 1:30, 3:00!!" behind us. We hopped onboard the ferry and snagged the last few spots in the shade completely unaware that our near miss was portentous of things to come. When we arrived back in town we ate at a little shop painted entirely in pink where McCall and I choreographed a dance using only our heads and the very long but very scanty sandwiches we got for lunch.

Up until this ill-fated afternoon we had done a very good job of sticking together despite our varied interests and personal agendas. We wandered for awhile between a jewelry store and a store with natural sponges and then moved on to other stores and other suckers until it became impossible to reunite because a third of our group had magically disappeared. Just prior to this, of course, some of us had determined to return to our hotel and our personal/public beach. Instead we were forced to meet at our predetermined and apparently predestined location--the bus stop--from which there was evidently only one viable option. This was to continue on to Paradise Beach--a beach infamously attractive to tourists from all over the world, a beach wholly European in its personal publicity, a beach where I spent the rest of the afternoon apologizing to God for the very fact that I was there--so I'm sorry I don't have any pictures.