25 January, 2011

From the archives: Jan 26, 2004

Presented without comment, with names changed to protect some of them from seeing this when they Google themselves.

(Hi Lori! Remember this paper? Miss you.)

NOTE: In case you are bad at math, I wrote this when I was 19.

"On the morning of August 14th, 2003, I logged onto my parents’ computer with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Being the unbelievably patient person I am, I had to restrain myself from grabbing the ancient purple iMac by the neck (if it had a neck, try to picture it) as it sloooooowwwwlllly chugged its way to the BYU homepage, then to the on-campus housing, than to my name, which provided a link to the name of my future roommate and her address.

My first reaction was to laugh out loud. My next was a timorous moan, followed by a surge of fear so powerful I can still recall the way my fists clenched, digging my fingernails into my palms.

“Loralee Barratt. Allen, Texas.”

Loralee. Texas. I don’t cuss, but the closest phrase that I can think to describe my feelings right at that moment is “Oh, s***.”

The next morning I went out for drinks with my best friend, her boyfriend and our World Literature teacher, mentor and former Texan Rich Sandford. He asked about my imminent departure for Utah, and I told him my roommate’s name and origin.

“Allen, eh?” Rich commented. “That’s a small town near Dallas. Near the University of Texas.”

“The University of what now?”

Rich chuckled. “Also known as the home of the George W. Bush Memorial Library. Allen’s a small town, too. She’ll probably be really conservative. Have fun.” Burt, Cori and Rich all laughed and again, a stream of panicked expletives ran through my head.

Coming to BYU was hands-down one of the scariest experiences of my life, and I have been in three car wrecks and woken up in the middle of a generally anesthetized surgery. My fears about BYU can be summed up as follows: I am politically liberal, and thus, Utah scares me. I came to BYU sight unseen, without so much as a campus visit under my belt. The stories my ward members told me did nothing to abate my fear that Utah would be isolated and narrow-minded, that my professors would be misogynistic Reaganites, and most of all, that everyone would hate me. Still, I could not deny that somebody upstairs wanted me at BYU. My other college prospects had refused to pan out for myriad financial and logistical reasons. Despite my love for all things Seattle, I had to leave the state. So Utah it was, to live with a Texan whose name sounded to me like a bastardization of an archaic Greek siren. And a Texan, no less. What would become of my political cartoon collection? My constant barrage of snide remarks about the Bush administration? For the next three weeks I bit my proverbial nails and pondered what sort of ordeal Heavenly Father had in store for me.

Loralee Barratt. Loralee Barratt. It sounded so high-maintenance. I knew that we would not get along. Well, I knew in the sense that I know that a food is disgusting before I try it. I figured our relationship would work in one of two ways: either we would completely despise each other and never speak, or we would tolerate each other’s presence and … never speak. Never did it occur to me that we might actually get along.

I took to, whenever referring to my elusive roommate, saying her name in my worst Southern drawl, My friends picked it up too, and until I left for Utah, our source of entertainment when we ran out of other material was my BYU Texan Republican roommate.

One day I checked my email and noticed a new message from a lonishia@hotmail.com. It was my roommate. Her email, which was short and completely devoid of capitalization, asked, among other things, if I was aware that we were on the Honors Floor in Deseret Towers.

“i just signed up for the honors floor as a joke. im so worried that were gonna be with a bunch of nerds.” She wrote. I am a nerd. My panic, which before had seemed slightly judgmental and unfounded, took full and horrid effect.

The car trip to Provo and long and uneventful, and when we finally arrived at the dorms, I went in unto the elevator, rode up to the seventh floor and located my new residence, 704. The room was empty, no sign of the roommate or any of her stuff. Since New Student Orientation didn’t start for two more days, I wasn’t that concerned. I took over the west side of the room, since it had a slightly bigger desk, unpacked, and slept that night at my friend’s house in American Fork. The next few days were filled with the mundane and middle school-esque goings-on of New Student Orientation, and still no roommate. I talked about her with the members of my Y Group, and we wondered if Loralee Barratt would ever show up at all.

That evening, three green Tupperware cartons, a giant black suitcase, a sewing machine and a gigantic stereo arrived at our abode, accompanied by my tall, blond, and extremely cute roommate. This was a problem heretofore unperceived: that my roommate would be much more attractive than I, that I would feel repulsive in comparison and that boys would be nice to me only in an effort to get an “in” with my hot roommate. Again with the internal monologue of expletives, although since I was now in Utah, these words were more along the lines of “Oh my hecking freak of a shoot gosh darn hot roommate.” Still, I thought a civilized greeting would be the wisest course of action.

“Hello. You must be Loralee,” I smiled my most sincere fake smile, the one I usually reserve for applying for loans or asking favors at the Washington Department of Transportation.

“Oh.” Was her response. “I go by Lori.”

The wave of relief was decidedly physical. At least she had a nickname that wasn’t Loralee. There was still the matter of her hotness, but the fact of the matter was, all my perceptions of her had been based on her name, and now I had learned that it wasn’t even her name. Lori, I figured, would be much easier to deal with than Loralee.

I didn’t see my roommate much for the next few days, since she had friends from back home that took up most of her time, and also went out on dates that lasted until five o’clock in the morning. We proved to have multiple things in common, such as a preference for loud music (although she preferred hers much later than I) and a mutual affection for my belongings. The girl borrowed EVERYTHING, and it would have bothered me except that she was equally generous with her shoes, of which she had many. She even gave me a pair of sandals she didn’t want anymore. I never wear them, but that was nice.

Lori likes to say that our roommate relationship is based on lies and deceit. That is absolutely not true, which is in itself a huge lie, because for the first month or so of our living arrangement, I was scared of Lori. She seemed so cool, and I was intimidated by her, since I am decidedly not cool. Fortunately, I had some things that she didn’t, such a computer, and Dining Plus, and the ability to use the word “good” in proper context, so I was able to be of some use to her. Thus I was able to lull myself into believing that we were on somewhat even grounds, with her social know-how and my inherent knack for owning things.

To make a long story short, Lori and I have reached a Zen-like understanding. She confides in me about boys, and life, and I correct her grammar as she does so. Lori has improved my coolness quotient significantly by helping me in my effort to wear clothes that improve my “game,” as it were. She also plucks my eyebrows and teaches me how to break-dance. It’s strange how our relationship was blossomed into the beautiful entity that it is. We laugh with and at each other, and politics rarely surfaces in our conversations, not that Lori would get upset if it did. In short, my roommate is cool, and I like her, and I’m possibly living with her next year. Who woulda thunk that a Seattle Liberal and a Smokin’ hot Texan would end up getting along so well."

20 January, 2011

Thursday Five.

Note: This came up when I did a google image search for "side of despair." I was so sad, my face fell off! Also, is there really a recording artist our there named "Mister Flu"? Inquiring minds will check it out later.

Here is your Thursday Five.

It ain't alliterative, but it's what I got.

1. When it rains job offers, it pours them like burning melted butter onto the skin of my wrist when I was just trying to make some rice krispys treats.

2. Tukwila is the ugliest, worst city in the world. I hate riding the bus there, and I resent how long it takes to ride the bus back.

3. I had my spine x-rayed last week and it turns out all the vertebrae in my back are grotesquely twisted to the right. My theory is that this is because I am blind in my left eye and thus turn to the right much more often than to the left. I also sleep on my right side.

4. Yesterday my goal was to make and eat an entire pan of rice krispys* treats. I ate one third, with a side of despair. It passed (the despair).

5. There is a new poll. Unlike my last one, this one is possibly interesting to people who are not me. Also, I have lots of new clothes. Do with that information what you will.

*Am I spelling that right?

08 January, 2011

Post-2010 Report

It's common for bloggers to take stock of their lives at the end of the year and write about their goals, hopes, etc for the upcoming. I am not going to do this because 1. 2010 kinda sucked and 2. 2011 is shaping up to be AWESOME but I don't want to jinx it.

However, it is quite important for me to take stock of my reading every year, so here are some graphs. I read 67 books this year, which is pretty good considering none of them were assignments for school, but pales in comparison to rock stars such as Janssen. As you can see, my split between kids/YA/adult books was reasonably even, with all three genres represented, although I showed a strong leaning towards books written for adults. This is because I am an adult.

NOTE: sometimes, it is hard to determine if a book is a children's book or a YA book. Obviously picture books are meant for children, but some chapter books can be kind of nebulous. I used a mathematically proven algorithm known as "thinking about how old the protagonist is and whether the book has adult themes, then guessing."

Clearly, I show a strong preference for fiction over non-fiction.

Shockingly, most of the books that I read, I liked. Spoiler alert--two of the books I did not like were Twilight. Additionally, contrary to popular belief, I do not ONLY read comic books.

This may or may not have been interesting to anyone who is not me.

06 January, 2011

The rest of the 2010 books!!!!

The Big Kahn by Neil Kleid

This graphic novel is about the son of a Jewish Rabbi whose last name is Kahn, who turns out to have a compelling secret: he is a former grifter who was not born into the Jewish faith! A CON artist! Con? Kahn? Get it?

Sorry about that. Aside from this books puntacular title, it was really, really good. I liked how they focused equally on the religious faith and the religious culture and how both of those draw and repel people at different stages of their lives. I think my Mormon readers will find a lot of parallels. Especially with the role of gossip in even the most high-minded religious communities.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The thing I am really proud about is that I read this book without buying it or getting it from the library or borrowing it from a friend. I read the first section at Borders, the second at Third Place Books and the third while I was baby-sitting for a friend after the kids were asleep. Bam!

This means I had heard some spoilers by my hardcore friends who finished the book the first week it came out, but it didn't ruin the experience for me. I was relatively satisfied by the romance, although I wish the ending had been less abrupt. Nevertheless, the whole series is kick-ass. I hope the movie doesn't suck too bad.

Gooney the Fabulous by Lois Lowry

Another Gooney Bird book for the K-2 set. I find these books fun and age-appropriate but sometimes I get a little bored. However, I stand by my statement that Lowry is a genius. It's not her, it's me. One thing that really hits home with these books is how realistic the kids dialogue is. They sound like real kids. It's great.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I have started this book a million bajillion times and finally, FINALLY succeeded in finishing it. I actually liked it a whole lot. I found that the varying levels of compatibility between various partners was realistic, rather than an attempt to snag everyone a husband before the story ends, which is how a lot of the (versions of the) movies sometimes seem. There is a guy in my ward who totally reminds me of Mister Collins. That is all.

Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman

This book is part of my Banned Books Project. I guess it's not a surprise that this book gets some people's hackles up, but honestly, kind of like Daddy's Roommate, to me it seemed pretty tame, even boring. But maybe that's because it's easy for me to think of families with homosexual parents being just like families with heterosexual families BECAUSE THEY ARE. These books do a good job driving home the point that homosexual parents love their kids and do normal household things just like any parent, but at this point I think we're past that. Stories about homosexual families need to start being actual stories, not just focusing on the one difference that doesn't actually make their family that different.

I read a newer edition that had edited out a small section about how Heather was conceived. I'll try to find an original edition one of these days.

The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E. L. Keonigsburg

I really like this author, she has written several Newberry Award books, which is a pretty big deal. I listened to this book on tape and I got REALLY EXCITED because the two main adult characters are Hungarian and they use several Hungarian words in the text!! The book was read aloud by Molly Ringwald (??) and she tried her darndest to pronounce the Hungarian correctly, but sometimes failed.

That aside, this is a really fun story, keeps you guessing the whole time. The main character is a really funny kid with a super entertaining voice. Nice message too, about accepting differences instead of rejecting them.

Maus 1: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman

This is one of the few graphic novels with a non-superhero theme that I was aware of as a child. Never got around to reading it until now, though. I am hooked. It's an incredible story. Moving and honest. Not that I didn't know this before, but holy crap the Holocaust was brutal.

Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner was one of my favorite novelists when I was in high school. Now that I'm older, I can recognize that her writing doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel, but her stories are still really inventive and fun. I think her work is pretty representative of the "beach book" genre, which isn't meant as a criticism at all.

This book was a sequel to Good in Bed, which was her first novel. Like I said, I enjoyed it, except my favorite character dies at the end. That's not a spoiler because you don't know who my favorite character is. Ha!

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

I have heard of this book before, but I read it because I have a Kindle app on my phone and you can download a lot of "classics" for free. I love free. Also, it was a quick read and I was able to finish it in one plane ride while Carlos was sleeping.

I assumed this was a period piece, but it was actually written in 1916 so it was actually just writing about that time period! The story is about a coddled Victorian orphan named Elizabeth Ann who lives with her overprotective aunt and cousin. When her cousin becomes ill and needs to go to the seashore (remember when that's what sick people got to do? I wish I could have been sick back then) Elizabeth goes to live with her other cousins who live on a farm in Vermont. They are not only awesome but teach her that she is capable of much more than she thought--she walks to school alone, takes care of the farm and tutors younger students in her one-room schoolhouse. She also takes the nickname Betsy.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

This is a really good book, but guess what? The movie follows the plot of the book amazingly well and is actually better. I think the book is still worth reading, but it kinda blows my mind that I find the film adaptation more effective. What's next, processed food tasting better than real food? Oh, what a world, what a world ...

The only problem with the movie is that I think a lot of the people missed the fact that the whole thing is satire. The book makes that a lot more clear. It also makes the big reveal (you know what I'm talking about) a lot more obvious than the movie does, which is a bummer.

Also, get a newer copy of the edition with the forward/afterward that talks about fight clubs cropping up at BYU. What the what?

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I finally read this! It is the first Dickens novel that I have actually finished (Sorry Mr. Berkbigler, I didn't finish Oliver Twist--it sucked). It's short enough to be a Christmas tradition if you like that sort of thing. And it's a great read. Here is what I learned from this book:

1. A lot of modern brushes paint Scrooge as selfish, but the weird thing is he doesn't even spend his money on himself. He just hoards it. This is not what most rich Americans do.

2. A Muppet Christmas Carol was shockingly faithful to the original and even used a number of direct quotes from the text.

3. Accordingly, I can ONLY picture Ebenezer Scrooge as played by Michael Caine. This takes nothing away from my reading experience, however. I think it adds to it.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This book moved me so much I not only cried, but I was depressed that it was over. I was also depressed because the book was kind of depressing. I can't explain why because that would give too much away. There are so many books about introverted awkward teenagers. I wish I had known about all of them when I was an awkward, introverted teenager.

Even if you never were, you should read this book.

In Odd We Trust by Dean Koontz

Another graphic novel, this one of the supernatural-crime genre. Apparently Dean Koontz is kind of a big deal in the non-graphic novel world, but I had never heard of him before this. Apparently this series continues in various novel/graphic novel forms, but I may or may not pick it up. This story was entertaining enough--Odd Thomas is a guy who sees dead people who uses his supernatural powers to solve murder mysteries--but I wasn't completely enthralled like I was with masterpieces of the genre like V for Vendetta. There are just a lot of books out there. And I am pretty busy, OK?

Darth Vader Quotes

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Andy Warhol Art of the Day