GRADUATION!! (Grad School)

Monday, December 10

A Normal Mormon....

I have gotten more questions about my faith since coming to Louisiana then any time since Kristen, Beth, and I used to talk religion all those years ago at Managed Objects. Since I am never one to be preachy, I usually focus on the specific questions I am asked. But those questions run the gamut of my faith. From 'do we actually still practice polygamy' (No, not for over a hundred years) to 'can i see your special underwear?' (the answer to that was do I ask to see your underwear?)  Saturday night, while walking through the French Quarter in New Orleans with some friends from school, I joked about what a bad Mormon I was, because all my friends must think I am weird. All they have learned is that, I wear different underwear, I don't plan to be a second wife (or third or fourth :P), angels don't have wings, and there were gold plates that came out of the ground. One of the girls turned to me, and after a moment said, "You know what I have learned? That you are normal." She then went off on what a tongue twister 'Normal Mormon' is. But her comment made me pause.

I learned a long time ago, that the best way for me to educate people around my faith is by my example.  People who hang out with me learn quickly that, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I don't drink, or do things that require others to work on Sunday. That is quickly followed by the understanding that I don't consider the term Mormon to be an insult.  But beyond that I try not to push my faith. But I am willing to answer any question about my faith without taking offense. By openly answering one person's questions, it got around that I was willing to answer anything; even if that answer was I didn't know and would have to look it up.  And the questions have come, including those mentioned above, plus our stance on marriage, our belief in the Savior, and of course the Book of Mormon. As a Mormon, we do have beliefs that differ from other Christian faiths but, when we treat ourselves as oddities, people begin to believe the crazy stuff that is said about us. No we don't sacrifice virgins in our temples in any way. Yes, my mother is a second wife, but only because my step-dad's first wife died and he remarried.

So I think one of the greatest things that we can be as Mormons is normal.  We are normal. We are not extremist, or cultish, or any other crazy. We adhere to a high spiritual, moral and ethical code, but we aren't to judge those who choose to not live according to our stance. For me, what it comes down to is that, as a Mormon, I believe very strongly in free agency. One of the purposes of this life if to give people the chance to choose for themselves how they will act and what they will believe. In that vein, I believe making a well-informed choice requires all the available information. We send missionaries to inform and invite people to learn. Never to force or manipulate people into joining our church. Most people aren't planning to join our faith, but they do have questions. And religion has become such a touchy subject in our society, people fear asking those questions. Instead they are left to believe the second-, third- or even twentieth-hand knowledge.

Therefore, my name is Rae, and I am a normal Mormon.

Monday, October 29

Fall has arrived

In Virginia they are battening down the hatches for Hurricane Sandy. In Utah, my friends are getting snow in the mountains... and in the valley one cold morning. Here in Louisiana, I am enjoying beautiful fall weather. the temperature is in the 60s and 70s. I wear long sleeves and light sweaters and spend time sitting on my little porch enjoying the sunshine. People around here are bundled up in winter coats. I have even seen some wearing scarves and gloves. It is odd to me.

But even more odd is this feeling of laziness. I am used to having a very full schedule and, though I am busy, it is not the same type of busy. I now have time to sit on my porch and read assignments or write papers. These days, I have time to do laundry, and clean house. I can cook, though I get bored easily. I learned to make bread and rice pudding. It is just odd. I am an adult.

Thursday, September 27

Another year...

7 years ago today, I started blogging. That won't mean much to most of the world. For me, it means that I was confident enough to let other people read about the chaos that existed in my head. Though, most of the posts have had very little meaning to anyone other than myself, I am glad that I have had a chance to keep somewhat of a journal for the last little while.

In other news... I am finally settling in at grad school. There have been a 3 home football games, 11 classes, 50+ hours of GA work, 1 hurricane, and a bomb threat. I guess that means I am really a graduate student. As the semester continues life gets busier. Homework seems to be a full time job, though, my current courses aren't reading heavy. Though the large number of required projects definitely offsets that. The GA project has me all excited. I am the editor for a research book. I love working on the citation sources. I know not many people are interested in citations or even editing, but I seem to love it.  It has been a great place to learn that I am not as odd as I originally thought. Lol! There are many people who think history is interesting and love libraries. Lol!

I have also  received a calling to the primary presidency. For those that aren't LDS, this means that I will be working with 2 other women to run the congregation's children's meetings. Part of my church responsibility will be to set up the cub scouts for the ward (congregation). We haven't needed a cub scouts troop until now, and I get to be one to set this up. Since I have never worked with scouts before it will be a new experience for me.  It will be a lot of work. I was worried about not being busy enough, and now it has been assured that I will not be bored. Lol!

I can't explain how grateful I am to be here. I really feel that I am here for a specific reason. I don't know what that reason is, but I guess I have three years to figure it out. I am learning so much here and it has only been a month. My classes fascinate me, but more importantly I am learning about myself. I continue to call my friends and family every day, because I miss them so much. Yet, I am having to rely on myself again, which I haven't had to do for a few years. It is nice.

Sunday, August 19


In a little over an hour I am going to bed with the hope that I will sleep for 8 hours...... And then my first day of Grad school shall begin. The last week has flown by. I have met my new ward.... and been assigned a solo part in the Relief Society portion of next weekend's Ward Variety Show. Yeah, I am sure I will survive. My little cottage is almost completely set up. I have just a few boxes of desk items that need unpacked or stored, but I am not sure where I want them just yet. I am thinking of converting my kitchen table to a study area. It is where I end up most of the time these days any way.  I went to orientation both for the grad school and for the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS). I have prep'ed and done my readings for tomorrow. There were quite a few of them, but they were interesting.  I went biking to acclimate to the area and spoken to quite a few students in the area about biking to school. Unfortunately between the roads here and the drivers who don't pay attention to cyclists, I am not sure how often I will actually bike.

There isn't much more I can do to get ready for tomorrow...except sleep. Sadly, I fear sleeping isn't what my brain wants to do. So here is hoping that the butterflies in my stomach will settle enough for me to get some shut eye before 6 am.

Saturday, August 11

Onto another adventure.....

Tonight begins the start of another journey on my own. As I mentioned in my last post, my time in San Antonio ended on Friday and Steph headed home this morning. So tonight is my first official night on my own here in Baton Rouge. Tomorrow, I'll head to my new ward (LDS congregational Sunday meeting) and Monday I will head to the school to turn in some paperwork and try to acclimate. Wednesday I have to report for new student orientation, and the following Monday classes begin.

My thoughts are all jumbled as I sit and try to plan for my immediate future. I am excited yet terrified, eager yet nervous, and ambitious yet homesick. Everything is new here, the culture, language, food, and even the temperature. It is amazingly beautiful here. The trees are massive, and everything is so green. Even with all of that, I feel out of place. I feel a little adrift, floating in this sea of southern strangeness. But the hardest part is reconciling to the fact that the only way to acclimate is one day at a time. The last three years in Utah flew by, and I know three years from now I will look back and feel the same. Yet, sitting here tonight it feels as if that time is forever away. I worry about meeting new people. What if I become a hermit? I worry about my new program. At UVU, I had an idea of what to expect. Here I am completely clueless. I am terrified that I won't be able to keep up with the work. Everyone keeps telling me how hard it will be, which scares me even more. I am not stupid but that doesn't mean I won't struggle in my program. What if I don't like it? I have been working towards this goal for 4 years. What happens if it isn't what I thought it would be? Or what if I am not a good enough student to keep up with the dual masters program?  Am I being over confident thinking I can work with both an academic and a professional program at the same time? 

Last time I moved like this (all by myself with no connections to the city) I met Boo, Steph, and Gwen within weeks of arriving in the city. 8 months later (7 years ago this weekend), I moved in with a group of girls and met Kate. I got really lucky. I am not sure I can repeat such luck. I am not even sure how it happened the first time. 

Well, whatever happens, the journey starts here. Tonight. One step at a time. One day at a time. My books and clothes are unpacked. My bathroom is organized. I will work on my kitchen and bedroom tomorrow and Monday. For now, I am headed to bed. 

Tuesday, August 7

Another ending...

This week marks my last week in San Antonio. On Friday, Steph and I will caravan to Baton Rouge, where she will leave me. I will then have 10 days to prepare myself before the official start of classes. The day that I have been working towards for the past 4 years will have arrived.

So what am I doing?

  • I visited with my brother and his family over the weekend. They will be a long 12 hours away and visiting won't be easy. 
  • I have started packing things up here. I hadn't realized how much I stuff I have. I know it all fit in my car at one time but good night nurse. Now I have to pack it all up again. 
  • I am still reading. Some fiction to ease the nerves, as well as some of my textbooks. I want to be ready to jump in on my first day. 
  • I have plans for lunch with friends that I have made here.
  • I plan to hit the Riverwalk before leaving the city but it is August and hot... it might not happen.
And that is about it. I am nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers, but there isn't much I can do about it. I have to go about my daily life. I can prepare, but only so much. I don't think I will fail, but it is always a worry with me. Whatever comes, I will handle it. will be alright in the end. If it isn't alright, it isn't the end. 

Monday, July 23

Found while lost

Today I decided to get out of the house and do something touristy. I have been here for weeks and haven't visited any of the important landmarks. So I thought "what the hey, I will get up early so I can be out before the heat gets too intense." I figured my luck was high when I found a parking spot and someone gave me a pass for free parking. But quickly realized that I needed a better map.

After wandering downtown for about half an hour I made it to the Alamo and paid for an self-guided, audio tour. It was only 10 am but the temperature was already high so I learned quickly that I was going to be sweaty and gross. How do people live here? But it was awesome to see all of the artifacts that have been recovered from the various centuries here. The architecture itself is some of the oldest in San Antonio. Inside the shrine and the long barracks there are no pictures allowed so I didn't take any while wandering. But I did take the opportunity to listen to the story of the battle. One of the older volunteers walked visitors through the battle in the courtyard. I would definitely suggest stopping by if you are ever in San Antonio.

But the coolest part was when I got lost for the second time trying to find my way back to my car. I saw a sign for the central library and wanted to see it. I never found it but I did stumble across a cool old building in the middle of downtown.  And directly in front of the building was the veterans memorial plaza.

A large flag pole in the center of the memorial had it's flag at half mast to recognize the loss in Colorado last week. It also had an inscription dedicating the plaza to the soldiers who served in Vietnam.

To the immediate right of the flag pole was a marker honoring the men and women from San Antonio who served during World War II.  Interestingly it was the smallest marker in the plaza. I thought it an interesting difference between the massive WWII monument in DC, which is much greater than the other monuments.

Past the WWII monument to the far right is a statue of two men in a foxhole, it commemorates the soldiers from San Antonio who served in the Korean conflict. The bricks surrounding the memorial include the names of the men and women who served. The massive foxhole is awesome to see. And not an awesome like "cool dude." Awesome as in awe inspiring. Recognizing that awe, someone had taken the time to drape a flag and flowers on one of the soldiers.

Following the path back around to the other side of the plaza takes visitors to the largest memorial. This memorial was to honor those soldiers from San Antonio that had served and had fallen during the Vietnam conflict.
 Dwarfing visitors, this massive monument includes plaques explaining it's purpose and design. A design which includes and airtight compartment in the middle which includes the names of every soldier that was lost or killed during the conflict. Again flowers had been added by someone. I was amazed at the sense of awe that was created in the middle of a busy downtown. In DC the National Mall and all of it's monuments are cushioned from the real world of the bustling DC metro area. It is expected that everyone will feel the significance of the memorials there. Yet, in the center of downtown San Antonio, this memorial plaza creates that experience on a smaller scale. I spent a few minutes just sitting in the shade of a few trees and enjoying the plaza.

I had fun this morning and look forward to more exploring here in Texas.

Thursday, June 14

The End of the first phase

Picking up where I left off yesterday.....

After the Martin Luther King Jr, National Historic Site, I headed out to meet with Lara and the kiddos for lunch. Lara and I met when I lived in Virginia before she and her husband Nick were married. I haven't had a chance to catch up with them in real life since their wedding. Since they now have two children, the oldest of which is three, it was good to be able to sit down to lunch and just chat. Lunch ended just in time for me to head off to World of Coca-Cola Museum in Downtown Atlanta. I know it wasn't a serious historical exhibit but it was a fun chance for me. I did go to see the vault, where they keep the secret recipe, but really I think that exhibit is over-rated. The chance to see the changes that have been made to the logo, the bottle, and even the signage fascinated me. I also got the chance to see a bottling plant in slow motion. It was pretty cool. The coolest part, was the tasting room. There were 64 different flavors on tap for visitors to try. Various brands of the Coke family from around the globe, including things like Nestle and Fanta. Beverly from Italy was just nasty... but the drinks from South Africa, Brazil, and France were pretty good.

After almost an hour and a half at the Coke Museum, I jumped in the car and headed to a local Barnes and Noble for the Laurell K Hamilton author event. Now, Laurell K is not someone I talk about regularly. Her books are very dark, and there are very few friends I recommend her to. I think she is an awesome writer and her heroines are the kind that kick butt and take names. Usually women who have learned to take care of themselves. Yet, there is a lot of violence and quite a bit of sex in the later books in the series. This is the first time I have attended one of her events and it was interesting. Her husband Jonathan was with her and even answered a few questions. They were very open about many topics that most society seems to shy away from. Granted, I was surprised at some of the questions that people asked. But I guess after more than 20 years as an author who writes the scenes she does, shy wouldn't be in her repertoire. Yet, you could tell she wasn't completely comfortable being the center of attention. The first thing she did, after introducing herself and Jonathan, was ask the staff to remove the podium so she could pace. I have some pics on my phone, but haven't had a chance to download them. Yet, the session was an open Q&A, and she answered every question that was asked. She then took pictures with everyone that stood in line. It was pretty cool.

After the signing it was off to the home of another friend of Boo's for a good nights rest (or to read until 2 am and then snag a few hours sleep) before heading on to the next leg of the trip. I had planned to take longer on my drive from Atlanta to Richmond Kentucky, but there wasn't anything that really interested me. So the only places I stopped were at the Welcome Centers. I took a few minutes to stretch my legs and take a picture and each center in Tennessee and Kentucky. There is an awesome outdoor Appalachian Museum just outside of Knoxville. I went to it on my original journey from DC to Utah 3 years ago, so I didn't feel the need to go again. (I put the link in there because anyone who is in the area really should stop in and see it.)

So a quick 6 hours and I was at the cat farm,..... without cell reception. I am feeling a little adrift. How can I live without my phone? So, it has been quiet here, I took a long nap this afternoon and I plan to hit the hay here in just a bit. I am not sure how long I am staying. I have to check in with my recruiter. It will depend on when I need to be to work. But I am here till at least Sunday. :)

Wednesday, June 13

Road Trippin'

Blogging time is not a priority on this trip so I will have to catch as catch can. Today I have a few minutes while I wait to meet up with friends for lunch. It has been a pretty cool trip. Yesterday was quite a whirlwind. I got to tour the LSU campus, and by that I mean get lost over and over again. Lol! The old buildings are so cool. It is everything I imagined. The air was hot and muggy and the world was green. And there were massive trees everywhere. I mean, EVERYWHERE!

I did take a look at the graduate housing, and if the linoleum floors hadn't turned me off, then the roaches probably would have. But in reality, the part that made me most nervous was the fact that the front wall, aka the front door, was a set of sliding glass doors. Kinda like a closet. I know they said it was safe, but I would never have felt it was. So, I will have to find somewhere else.

After the housing tour, I set off for the next stop on the trip: Montgomery, Alabama. There was a lot of driving.... but I stayed close to the coast. It is amazingly green. It almost feels as if the forest was closing in on you. Once in Montgomery I had dinner at Sinclairs, per Boo's suggestion.  I can't remember what I had, but I do know that there were parmesan crusted tomatoes, Shrimp. Scallops, and Crab meat. It was GOOD! I stayed with a Friend of Boo's, Abby, and was up and out early yesterday morning.

The drive to Atlanta was great. While driving I passed a sign for Tuskegee University and decided to take a short detour. I didn't take any pictures and the tours weren't open but I did drive around the town for a bit. The buildings are gorgeous and the history of the area is amazing. Just one more place that I can add to my "I have been there" list.

After Tuskegee, I finished the drive to Atlanta and to my first stop which was the Martin Luther King Jr, National Historic Site. There is a museum and then various buildings that impacted Martin Luther King Jr.'s life. I took the time to go see the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King first preached, as well as the freedom walk that been created to house the tomb and the eternal flame. It was a gorgeous day, and I felt humbled by the work of this great man. As I was leaving I noticed a set of engraved stones in front of the museum. Each stone had the name of a great man who impacted the Civil Rights Movement. I was excited to see the stones for both Ambassador Andrew Young and Julian Bond. As a student at Utah Valley University, I had the privilege to hear these great men speak. I was even able to attend a dinner with Julian Bond. It was an exciting connection for me. I was also reminded that the UVU History department ROCKS!

Monday, June 11

Another road trip....

So today started yet another road trip. 2 weeks ago, I began the trip that would move me south. Last week I decided to take a week and enjoy some travel.

Today I made the 8 hour drive to Baton Rouge. I entered Louisiana for the first time. What do I think?  I think it is sticky here.  And really green. And there is so much water. It was dark by the time I arrived, but there was water everywhere. I assume that is what people refer to as the bayou, though in New Hampshire we called it the swamp. Also, the bugs are really really loud.

Tomorrow I head over to LSU campus. I get to visit the registrar and the French Department and then I am off on a tour of the Graduate housing in the afternoon.

After that I will be heading off to Atlanta which will be followed by Kentucky, Little Rock, and Dallas, before I head back to San Antonio.

I am looking forward to the trip, with the full knowledge that I will get lost. A lot. I have already gotten lost twice today, so I figure it won't be anything new. :)

Friday, June 8

Another day, Another Author

So, I just realized that I have 1 book and 2 short stories and I am done with my Brockmann books. Therefore I thought I would send a question out to the universe.....

Who do I read next?

I only brought a small selection of my books with me..... so if you had to choose would it be:

  1. Robert Jordan
  2. J.R. Ward
  3. L.M. Montgomery
  4. Karen Marie Moning
  5. Diana Gabaldon
  6. Maria V Snyder
  7. or J.K. Rowling in French
I just can't decide. 

Monday, June 4

The Good Stuff....

Happy Birthday to me.... and the rest of the song... blah blah blah.

I turned 33 today. And in 8 minutes my birthday will officially be over. I spoke to friends old and new, received many wishes of happiness from my friends via Facebook, and got a couple of text messages and voicemails. So to everyone, thank you. It was a good birthday. My day was filled with a new Thai restaurant for lunch with Steph, laundry, and rearranging of the furniture. Then I topped it off by heading out into San Antonio on my own to go to a movie. In Utah, Monday night is movie night. Theaters are always packed as families head out to catch a flick. Apparently here it is not the same. I chose a movie that had received a decent rating and I went early because, in Utah, 7:40 is a prime movie time and I didn't want to not get a good seat. Interestingly enough, there were only two of us in the theater. I am not sure if it was the movie or this new city, but either way it meant that I got to meet a very interesting lady tonight and we enjoyed a movie together.

So what did we see? The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

 Now, I know if I had been in Utah or Virginia I would have had friends that would be willing to see it with me. But here it was just me and one other lady. I later learned that my movie companion had lost her husband of 40 years last July, which means this movie was especially poignant for her. Yet, as we talked of the movie afterwards we found many things that crossed the age barrier.  Whether we are 20, 33, or 65, we all worry about life in general. New places, new faces, or the loss of friends and family, though the trials may wear different clothes, they seem to all be the same. But, as the movie says time and again, "Everything will be alright in the end. If it is not alright, then it is not the end." Life will continue to cycle, and when we are at the bottom of the wheel we must remember that it is not the end. It is just a stage in the cycle that we call life. This idea is then expanded in a short conversation between two of the women towards the end of the movie.
Mrs. Greenslade: Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected.
Mrs Donnely: Most things don't. But you know sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff.
So here is to a life that has been lived. One that, though alright, is not at an end. If I have learned nothing else in my 33 years, it is that we must battle through the hard stuff, deal with the emotional stuff, and enjoy the tangents that bring us the good stuff.

Sunday, June 3

Changes Abound...

So I guess I should catch everyone up. Though most of you already know the updates.  Since my last post:

  • I graduated 

  • I was given my new friend Rockwell. Since this picture we have added fenders, a back rack and a basket. It is primed for Biking in Baton Rouge.

  • I packed up my whole life. 
 (Granted that is just my clothes... there is now a storage unit in Utah with  a massive amount of boxes full of books, a hope chest, and a trunk full of dishes. )

  • I got to hang out with my siblings and their families... especially my baby sister's newest addition named Zowie.... she's cute.

  • Then I chopped off  all of my hair, so I could travel to a place that was a million degrees with a billion percent humidity. 

  • After that I found out that I was officially accepted to the graduate program at LSU for this fall (I don't have a picture for this one as I didn't think to take one as I was crying with Meg and Papa Thorne in the kitchen.)

Then I began the first stage of moving.

  • I saw Drew and his Grams in Cedar City. 

  • The Giffords in Arizona. 

  • And the Hinksons in Fort Stockton

  • Before arriving in San Antonio to stay with Steph and her husband for the summer. 

And now I have been here for a week, I was sick for a few days and have started going about the business of getting a job for the summer. I love the humidity, but probably because it is a stark contrast to the freezing air conditioning that is everywhere here.

Another moment of GREAT news was the chance to receive a Graduate Assistantship for schooling. I will be working for the Graduate program, in return they will waive my tuition and out of state fees while providing a monthly stipend.

It has been quite a roller coaster, but I have  enjoyed the ride. I can't wait to see what the rest of the summer brings me. :)

Monday, April 16

The question of femininity

Graduation is upon me... If I can pass these classes I will graduate in 2 weeks. I can't believe it is here already. I have 7 papers to write... if I can get them done. But, today I have been plagued with the same question over and over. In my head it sounds more like the topic of the thesis paper for a women's studies student (which I am not) but it won't go away. So I am going to procrastinate my homework by blogging about it instead.

Today, I wore eye makeup again. This might not be a big deal to most people, but for me this is an unusual event. There was no occasion, I just felt the need to add a little eye liner, eyeshadow, and some mascara. As this was so out of character for me, I started thinking about my change in habit. Since my graduation pictures a week and a half ago, this was the 4th time that I have put on makeup. To someone who wears makeup a maximum of  4 times in a year, this is a drastic change. Lol! My questions revolved around the thought, of why I was putting on eye makeup. Which lead me to how I think about myself, not as a person, but as a woman. How do I view my own femininity? Which being the history major I am, lead me to think about how I viewed myself in the past, how has that view changed, and what caused such change.

With all of these thoughts in my head, is it any wonder I am unable to write any of my papers?

The main question I keep coming back to is: Has my status as a single woman in this society caused me to question my own femininity? Which of course opens the doors for a whole slew of other questions. For it is a common thought that women struggle with self-esteem issues. Between current magazines and other entertainment sources, women are constantly struggling with body issues. But my questions aren't about body issues per se. They focus on each woman's personal definition and/or understanding of what it means to be feminine. How do we accentuate that femininity?

I live in a society where the considered norm is to marry at a young age. There are a few girls married at 18 and 19, though most marry between 19 and 21. It is not frowned upon to be single longer than that, but among those older than 21 there is a common feeling of pressure to marry. As you get farther from 21 it is common to begin to doubt yourself. You begin to wonder what is wrong with you. Why haven't you followed the socially accepted path? Granted, this is often blown out of proportion, yet that doesn't diminish the issue. Logically, it is understood that there is nothing wrong with being a single woman over 25 (or *gasp* 30) . Yet, emotionally, it can be difficult to accept. There are moments that negate the logical conclusion Such as at church when you are told your time will come, or at work when you are told that your upcoming college graduation isn't as important as a wedding announcement.

With all of these pressures, I wonder how it affects each woman in regards to our own feminine identity. I hadn't thought about this in depth before today, but I can see aspects of it in my life. Granted fashion and such change, but for a 33-year-old woman that despises the color pink, there is sure a lot of it in my closet. Do I get my toes done every 6 weeks during the summer because it is cute, or because I need to have an outward expression of my own femininity? Do I analyze my wardrobe and even my actions, to make sure I live according to a feminine ideal? In other words, am I truly comfortable in my skin, or am I trying to project a type of femininity that would be acceptable to society. For if I am feminine enough, then society would understand that it isn't my fault I am single.

I truly don't think I am that far gone, but if I can see where I have begun to question myself at 33, where will I be in 10 year. I can see the possible path. I also figure that path would be different for each individual. The question is: Is the root of the issue the same? Do we, as women, begin to question our own femininity due to outside sources. It is accepted that we question what a woman should look like, or we wouldn't have body image issues. But is the problem more than a visual question? Do we question what it means to be feminine?

I have talked to a few other single women, and the answer seems to be a resounding YES! Those that are most comfortable with themselves have been able to define what femininity means on a personal level. I think, I will spend some time trying to define my own version. Not that I am going to throw out all my pink sweaters, or stop wearing makeup. But I definitely need a definition of my own.

Food for thought: This could be taken one step further. It is not only single women who question themselves. Do married women deal with the same issue? Does a mom who has to run around after kids all day, wash the dog, clean the bathrooms, and make the meals question her femininity? I distinctly remember one friend telling me, about a month or so after giving birth, that she didn't feel like a woman any more. She felt like a cow who was milking all the time. What about women in their 50s or 60s? Do we ever stop questioning ourselves entirely?

Wednesday, February 29


Class was cancelled today and so this morning I sat in the library trying to complete my homework. Since I was reading documents about slavery I was completely engrossed and therefore have been oblivious to those around me. Sadly, that is normal for me. But a few minutes ago the student next to me sneezed. I immediately raised my head to say bless you. It is a habit that I refuse to break. But as I raised my head, and saw the person I stumbled over my own thoughts.

It was just one of those thoughts that whips through your head in the blink of an eye. I had heard the sneeze and assumed the student who had sneezed was a girl. I don't know why, but in my head it sounded feminine. So when I raised my head and saw the person my thoughts stalled. You couldn't tell the gender of the person sitting across form me. It threw me for a minute. Not that it changed my actions in anyway, but in my head I was trying to place a label on this stranger.

It took just a few seconds for all of these thoughts to go through my mind but it changed my whole focus this morning. As I tried to place this stranger, I stopped and wondered why it was necessary. My actions would not change due to a difference in gender. They should not change, to me that is what affirmative action and the various right's movements were all about. It is not that we are colored or gender blind. It is that these things should not provide a label for an individual. Our actions should be dependent upon the individual we are conversing with, not with the color of their skin, their religion, their sexual preference, or their gender.

Yet, as I stuttered this morning, I realized that we all use these labels to define the world around us. People can define me as a single, white, Mormon. Yet that doesn't tell my whole story. We must learn to see the world as individuals that are making choices according to their circumstances, not according to the labels that society assigns.

I am not saying that the labels are always wrong. Stereotypes are there for a reason. BUT we must step away from the thought that we can define the world by labels. One step away from that takes us a step closer to accepting people for who they are and helping them to become who they want to be.

Yes, I sound naive. This doesn't mean that I am going to trust the scary guy who is lurking in the parking lot at the end of my shift. But it does mean that I wouldn't trust the scary girl either.
What it really means, is that I am going to try to stop trying to fit everyone in a category of society. If I don't fit into a category, why would I expect anyone else to?

Thursday, February 16

Not my usual style...

I don't usually rant about things that irritate me on my blog. But this came to my attention today and it has really gotten under my skin. So the 4 people who actually read my blog are going to have to suffer through my rant.

A picture ended up on Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday that has upset. ( I have added the link for the note and picture from the sites here and here.)
A young woman was studying on campus at BYU (Brigham Young University) and was approached by a young man. Since it was Valentine's Day she assumed the letter he handed her was some sort of love note... (Now everyone thinks "Awww Sweet") Instead what she actually received was this:

For those that can't read the tiny print let me type it out for you:
You may want to consider that what you're wearing has a negative effect on meant (and women) around you. Many people come to this university because they feel safe, morally as well as physically, here. They expect others to abide by the Honor Code that we all agreed on. Please consider your commitment to the Honor Code (which you agreed to) when dressing each day.  

Now you might not know what BYU's honor code is. BYU is an LDS (Latter-Day Saint or Mormon) University. All students that attend, both LDS and non-LDS sign an agreement that they will conduct themselves in a certain manner both on and off campus. Essentially they agree to live the standards of the LDS faith.

According to the BYU website the honor code states:

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men. . . . If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things (Thirteenth Article of Faith).
As a matter of personal commitment, faculty, administration, staff, and students of Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University—Hawaii, Brigham Young University—Idaho, and LDS Business College seek to demonstrate in daily living on and off campus those moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and will
  • Be honest 
  • Live a chaste and virtuous life 
  • Obey the law and all campus policies 
  • Use clean language 
  • Respect others 
  • Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse 
  • Participate regularly in church services 
  • Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards 
  • Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code
Specific policies embodied in the Honor Code include (1) the Academic Honesty Policy, (2) the Dress and Grooming Standards, (3) the Residential Living Standards, and (4) the Continuing Student Ecclesiastical Endorsement. (Refer to institutional policies for more detailed information.

So now I know you are all dying to see what she was wearing right?  What outfit was so trashy that some young man felt the need to approach this woman?

Yes, this young women was wearing a dress, leggings, boots, and a long sleeve sweater. According to the young man that saw her this was immodest.

After seeing this, I again went to the BYU website to see what was specifically stated about dress and Grooming for women. I understand that in the real world, i.e. the workforce, there is often a dress code that one must follow, so I am not arguing that one should be included in the honor code. I was just trying to understand what in this outfit broke that code.

Using the same link as above I scrolled down to dress and grooming and this is what it said:
The dress and grooming of both men and women should always be modest, neat, and clean, consistent with the dignity adherent to representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and any of its institutions of higher education
Reading further you find these specifics for women:
A clean and well-cared-for appearance should be maintained. Clothing is inappropriate when it is sleeveless, strapless, backless, or revealing; has slits above the knee; or is form fitting. Dresses, skirts, and shorts must be knee-length or longer. Hairstyles should be clean and neat, avoiding extremes in styles or colors. Excessive ear piercing (more than one per ear) and all other body piercing are not acceptable. Shoes should be worn in all public campus areas.
With that in mind I went back to her picture. The outfit is neither sleeveless, strapless, backless or revealing. The skirt is short yes, but the leggings are more like pants and, though they are form fitting, she is still covered and therefore not inappropriate in my mind. As a matter of fact, in contrast to what the young man wrote in his note, it is obvious that this young lady put thought and effort into this outfit so she could present a "clean and well-cared for appearance" when she got ready for the day.

Now, I must admit, I looked for rules on leggings specifically. I think that might be the only part of this outfit that might not jive with the dress code. Only because they could be considered form fitting. But there was no specific reference to tight jeans or leggings on the website. According to a Fox News report, jeggings were considered okay for dress code, so why not leggings. Either way, I can't make a firm statement on that.

So now you wonder why I am ranting....  I can't even say whether she is following dress code or not. Why does this bother me? My issue is because some young man decided to take it upon himself to make a young woman feel bad about herself. She obviously put effort into her outfit and this young man felt it necessary to question not only her ability to honor her commitments, but also her modesty and morality. To top it off, he did so in the name of his religion. Regardless of what the woman was wearing, that doesn't fly with me.

I am one of those life long members of the LDS Church. Born and raised, I have even spent quite a few years here in the Happy Valley of Provo, Utah. No where in my religion does it say that I am supposed to guilt others into making right choices. No where does it say that I should approach a stranger and make them feel bad about themselves. I mean really. What part of the teachings of our Savior did this guy read. Everywhere in our gospel it tells us that we should love those around us and treat them kindly.

We are also taught that the trial here on earth is one based on freedom of choice. As a matter of fact, the entire gospel planned is based on that. We chose to follow the Savior because we rejected Lucifer's plan to force us all to obey. Therefore not only are we free to make our own choices but we have to respect the choices of others. Each individual gets to make his or her own choices and either suffer the consequences or enjoy the benefits of that choice.

Therefore, in my eyes this young man broke both of those rules. He decided that it was his responsibility to make this young woman feel bad about herself and her choices by implying that she was rejecting the teachings she had been taught. Then he takes it one step further and questions her honor and ethics. Because he assumed that she was breaking the honor code.

I looked into what is to be done if there is an honor code violation, there is an entire office at the university that takes complaints about such things. If he had an issue, why didn't he send it to them. If there was a problem with her outfit, wouldn't it be the responsibility of a faculty member or an employee of the university to discuss it with this young lady? It is not the responsibility of some guy who doesn't know her from Eve.

Now, taking this one step farther, I have personal experience with this type of young man. I attend a neighboring university here in Provo. Though Utah Valley University is in the same area, as a state school it does not have an honor code. Therefore, there is no dress code (though I think you have to be dressed.) and there are no grooming standards. I have had a green streak in my hair for the past several months. Tonight I change it to purple. This is not a problem at my university.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to the BYU campus to attend a lecture thingy for students who wish to get their Masters in Library Science. Neither BYU nor UVU offers this program, but there were outlining the different ways in which we could find the program. I thought, it wouldn't be a big deal, I was only going to be on BYU campus for a couple of hours.  As I sat in on the lecture, the young man behind me leaned forward to tell me that we are only to have "natural colors" in our hair. I responded that 1) I wasn't a student at BYU and therefore I didn't have to abide by that rule and 2) Why would he think it was his responsibility to reproach me. He was neither my father, nor my ecclesiastical leader. (Okay I really should have said that second part but I didn't think of it till later).

I don't understand why we live in a society in which strangers take it upon themselves to correct others. Why would they think a stranger would value their opinion? Why would they assume that they know what is best for the other person. A person THEY HAVE NEVER MET! It saddens me to see that this exists in our culture. I know it isn't a large part of the Mormon culture, but it can be found and that upsets me.

Whew... that was kinda long.

Wednesday, February 15

Two weeks and nothing....

Two weeks have gone by since my last post but I don't have any thing significant to write. School days come and go.... there are assignments and lectures, films to watch and papers to edit. Life is just rolling along. Other than the slight (or not so slight) anxiety that I am experiencing as deadlines begin to loom.... I think I am okay.

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

Well there might be moments that I am not actually okay, but I get through those in the same way. So here's to meeting deadlines.


Wednesday, February 1

Toot your own horn?

I am not a genius. This is not a shock to anyone who knows me. As much as I adore Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory or Zach Addy from Bones, there is very little possibility that I could match them in the intelligence arena. Not that I want to try... that is not what this post is about. This is also not an attempt to call myself stupid in any manner. For.....
I am not stupid. I might not be a 4.0 student but I get more A’s than B’s and that is good enough for me.... and apparently for the schools which I am applying to. :) I would also term myself as street smart. I might not be able to recite all of the battles in the civil war or all of the vice presidents and their terms, but I am able to understand and discuss the importance of historical events on current society. I can read and analyze a text, be it literature or historical, for the same reasons. In my world I like to study those things that have had an impact on a society, i don’t have to commit them to memory as long as I have the text and my subsequent notes available to review. 
There are many more things that I am not.... but I have veered from the path that this blog was supposed to take. One would think with my talents and experience writing a statement of purpose, or personal statement wouldn’t be difficult. (And yes, those are 2 different things) Yet here I sit, for day 2, trying to come up with something that makes me sound neither pompous nor moronic. I have the same problem typing up a CV or a Resume (again 2 different things). This idea that boasting about yourself or selling yourself is slightly repugnant to me. It is a part of me that I feel would fit more comfortably in the society that surrounded the Founding Fathers of the United States. Back in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century America, a man or woman’s good name should precede them. One wouldn’t have to talk about their good deeds because others would have already passed the information on. It was considered indelicate to campaign for a position or talk about yourself in that way. The humility that is preached in my religion also seems at odds with this need to boast to get a job or into a grad program. 
This is not to say that I never talk about myself....I often get really excited about things and I will call a friend who will think it  is cool or they might not and they suffer through my gushing....or well.... this blog is proof..... I have done plenty of boasting. But most of that is piddly stuff. I got excited when I got asked to help with the candidates that are coming to campus for interviews (I organized the students) or when I was invited to a recruiting dinner to talk to prospective students. But that is not stuff that you put on a resume or in a personal statement. Those are just perks for being so annoyingly persistent in my position as Editor-in-Chief of the History journal. I am now a face that is known around the department.  
So what do I say? 
how do I say it? 
Those are the big questions. 
Well at least the big questions for now.

Wednesday, January 25

Cookies... A Worthy Substitute.

        I added a streak to my hair last fall. For the first time in my life I didn't have a job that said I couldn't and I have always wanted to. So why not? I started with a green streak that looked awesome.  This semester I decided to change it up. Tonight was the night to make that change! But the appointment had to reschedule. Therefore, I am stuck doing homework... Cultural Astronomy. UGH! 

      Since I was stuck here I wanted a dessert. But I was craving something really really good. I wanted Gourmandise.  The greatest European bakery in Salt Lake. Their desserts are to die for! But they are all the way in SLC and that is not an option for tonight. 

      So, what does that leave me? Raw cookie dough, the safe kind (i.e. no eggs). While it isn't Gourmandise, it isn't bad for a small treat on a night at home. I am adding the recipe here so I can find it when I need it again. I have a habit of eating chocolate chip cookie dough with out the chocolate chips. I got the recipe from and it can be found here.

  • 1/4 c. Butter (room temperature)
  • 1/4 c. Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1/8 c. Milk (or just a touch more, depending on the texture you want)
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 c. Flour
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 c. Chocolate chips (though I don't add these)


  1. Cream Butter and Sugars together
  2. Blend in Milk and Vanilla
  3. Add Flour and Salt and mix well
  4. Stir in Chocolate Chips

Tuesday, January 24

Stolen Moments....

Life is full of moments. Happy moments, sad moments, and especially busy moments. Those who jump on the Carpe Diem train tell us that we should always be looking to live every moment to it's fullest potential. Yet, some of my favorite moments are not the ones where I have stepped out into the unknown and started an adventure. My favorite moments are those simple times of joy that you share with those that are important to you.

Last Friday Meg, Sarah and I had our annual Christmas lunch. Sarah and Meg have been friends since Jr. High. Meg and I met junior year of high school. And Sarah and I became friends her sophomore year of college. Add it all up and we have known each other for a very long time. Therefore, while yes we know that it was half way through January, to us it didn't really matter. Between, work, school, children, and our own family holiday stuff, Friday was the first time we could all get together. This year Los Hermanos was a little hard to get to so we settled on the other traditional restaurant. JCW's in Lehi. With Burgers, Charlie fries, and delicious shakes we celebrated yet another year of friendship.... Plus who else would know to get me a bag that says "I like Big Books and I cannot lie."  We had our hour and then the 3 of us went our separate ways; back to work, school, and children. As I drove away I filed the time in my memory as a stolen moment. Nothing but laughter and chatter among friends. Friends who have been around long enough to understand me and my choices.

Today I got to have another one of those stolen moments. Tuesday mornings have become breakfast day. My sister Tallie has to drop her oldest off at preschool, my brother Ian is at work (He is the GM for a fast food restaurant) and I have some time before class starts. The only other addition is Tallie's little one, Ezzie. So we snag breakfast and Ian takes a break and we just chat. About family, about life, about whatever tickles our fancy. Ezzie steals our tater tots and our drinks. Ian runs behind the counter when someone needs a hand. I take a picture or two with my phone. But mostly it is just a chance to talk and laugh and be there for one another.

Life might be a about seizing the opportunity, but I hope to collect as many stolen moments as possible.

Tuesday, January 17

And then I remembered....

One would think that the title of this post would connect to the last post but it only does in the most peripheral way. As I wrote on Saturday, there is so much that I want to see and do. Nothing is impossible for me. The places I want to visit, the things I want to learn... all of that are with in my grasp. Then Sunday comes and I am reminded....

For those that don't know I am LDS (Mormon, Latter-day Saint, how every you want to phrase it.) I teach the Sunbeams in primary. What does this mean in non-LDS vernacular? During the second and third hour of church on Sunday I teach six 3 to 4 year-olds about our beliefs. There is singing, lessons, snacks... it is a lot of fun and kids at that age are really cute, if trying.  I have been in this calling (or post) for about 7 months or so now and we just got our new class so they are all 3 years old. It is sometimes odd for me, a woman who professes to not want babies of her own. The youngest, Sam, just turned 3 in December so he is really such a baby still.

Church begins at 11 and so we have the children from 12:15 to 2 pm: Prime lunch and nap time for our little ones. Yesterday Sam turned to me and told me he wanted his mommy. He was tired and wanted to be in his bed. In an effort to start to train him to stay for all of church, I stood at the back of the room with him while singing time went on. I had forgotten how sweet it was to hold such a precious child and rock them until they fall asleep. That trust is amazing. After about 15 minutes, Sam was awake and we were on our way to class.

So what does this mean? Why am I writing about this? Here we are two days later and it still had an effect on me. I truly don't believe small children are in my future. Not only because having babies is not something I want to do, but also because I believe my talents can be better served in other arenas. If I ever do marry (or just settle myself long enough to have a stable home and a stable job) I want to work in the foster care system an then move into adoption. But as much as I love little children, I want to work with the older kids. Kids that are around 8 -17 (I think they leave the system at 18 right?). So many kids are struggling in our over burdened system and I want to help them.

While my goals are sound and I believe worthy, some days the truth hits like a body blow. There will probably never be a little child of my own that I rock to sleep like I did Sam on Sunday afternoon.  I don't know if the sadness that comes from such thoughts is a natural instinct or something ingrained that I have learned due to my upbringing. Either way, some days it makes me sad.

But not to worry, one of these days I will meet my goals and have the chance to help troubled kids just as  I have wanted to for years.

Sunday, January 15

I had a thought.....

I spent the evening with Amy watching my favorite Disney movie on the big screen: Beauty and the Beast. While driving home late last night I had a thought for a blog post. Sadly, 12 hours later I can't remember what that thought was. So I shall talk about something else.

 Beauty and the Beast was originally released in November of 1991. This was also the time that my world was turned on it's end. Within months my parents were divorced, I had moved twice, my mother had remarried, my father was in a war zone with bombs exploding over his civilian head, and I had 5 new siblings. Is there any wonder that an 11 year old girl would find solace in the stories of Anne and Emily (L.M. Montgomery books) and Belle and her beastly prince?

As time passed my delight in these characters never waned. My entire family knew of my love for my two favorite heroines: Anne and Belle. One an orphan who desperately needed to prove herself to the world in order to make her adopted family proud of her and the other willing to sacrifice everything for her family. Both girls were rewarded for their efforts. More than just getting the guy, these heroines facilitate their own happiness even as they feel out of step with the world around them. It was easy for a shy young girl who loved to read to feel a kinship to Belle. Belle was stuck in what she termed a provincial life. Though provincial in the sense that it was not an urban metropolis, the reality was that Belle didn't fit into the society which surrounded her. A girl with a mind of her own, Belle wanted more.

Even now, when I am neither young nor shy (well as shy as I was) the words of the songs from Beauty and the Beast resonate with me. "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell. And for once it might be grand, to have someone understand. I want so much more than they've got planned."  I have had the opportunity to travel and visit many places in this great country and yet I want more. More than adventure I what the chance to learn and explore. As Katherine Brook in Anne of Avonlea says: "I've always wanted to travel and see that place. To see the Taj Mahal, the pillars of Karnak. I want to know, not just believe, that the world is round." I might not want the pillars of Karnak or the Taj Mahal but there are so many places that I want to see. So many things that I want to learn. And if I have learned nothing else in my 32 years here on this earth it is that, if it can be achieved through hard work and diligence, I can achieve it. After all, I'm graduating this semester aren't I?

Saturday, January 14

Another week done....

Well, I have made it through another week. Cultural Astronomy hasn't killed me, I survived math, I didn't get any readying done (which frustrates not only me but Amy as well...she is still waiting so we can discuss Blood Rose) but the journal is well on it's way to well... to more editing. Lol!

Sadly the Cherry coke I had when I went to see We Bought A Zoo has me awake... with no helpful or insightful thoughts to share. Maybe I will try to sleep. Wish me luck... and a better post next week.

Sunday, January 8

Retreats and the flu....

So there goes my resolution to write more often. Lol! Last week I had a 3 day retreat into the Capitol Reef National Park.
The university has a field station there and our staff was invited to join the staff of the English student journals for their bi-annual editing retreat. Pam, Rachel and I were able to set a schedule for the rest of our publishing. I also had a chance to learn a lot about a program that is new to me but that we will be using for our publishing.
Doesn't Rachel look so happy to be there. Lol!

Even though it was January we got some interesting hiking in. The first day we stopped at some place called the goose neck... I think. Then the second day we got to go out for a couple of hours into the park.  I even got a few cool pictures....

It was nice to be out in nature and I had a lot of fun.... there was even a 6 hour marathon Gin Rummy game.
Jane our station manager also taught us a lot about minimal impact on the surrounding desert and conservation. The station is completely solar powered and it was cool to learn about how we impact our surroundings. Not to say that I am a fan of cold showers...*shiver*.... but I can see why we need to work on ways of preserving not only our history but the world that our history

 was created and preserved in. The petroglyphs that were written on the rocks out in the national park tell us about the societies that have passed through there. Fascinating....
After a great trip to the wild outdoors.... I either came down with a flu or got food poisoning. *sigh*

So now it is Sunday night, and I have been in bed for three days. School starts tomorrow, and I have a job interview (YAY!) and we have to get back on track with our editors. It is my last semester and I am looking forward to being busy.... and maybe a little nervous.

Monday, January 2

I like to write....

So, I like to write. And I don't suck at it, if I do say so myself. During the semester I miss blogging. School writing, while infinitely better than anything that ends up on my blog, takes a lot of work and all of my attention. Yet, I need the verbal diarrhea that comes with blogging. Lol! I think this is why society is fascinated with the current social media. Facebook, twitter, and blogs are the therapy everyone is afraid to admit they need. I am not afraid to admit it, when I don't blog I talk a lot... to anyone... about things no one really cares about. Lol! So I revert to blogging. There the thoughts get out there without me forcing myself on people.

So what do I do.... I start a second blog to go with the first one. Not that I really have time for either but there you have it. The second blog that will probably get more of my attention than this one. It is a commentary on the books that I read. What ever book I finish will get put on the blog with my scattered thoughts about it. This makes me happy.

But for now... I have to go pack for our editing retreat. I leave tomorrow and I still have to figure out what to pack. :)