Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 30: Whatever Tickles Your Fancy

I hope that this 30 days hasn't been too annoying or boring. My sister already told me that she already knew all of this information about me and so this wasn't very interesting to her. I admit that it has been fun for me to reminisce about all of the things that I like as well as what has happened not only over the past year, but for most of my life. I truly feel so blessed right now. My life did not follow the exact path that I had initially designed for myself, but it has ultimately turned out better than I dreamed. My life tends to follow a "feast or famine" cycle where many things go wrong or many things go right. I'm definitely going to enjoy, savor, and appreciate all of the many wonderful things in my life right now.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 29: Hopes, Dreams, and Plans for the Next 365 Days

There is NO way that I can even think of all that will happen in the upcoming year, as I had no idea about many of the things that happened last year.

I do have several exciting things planned for the next few months and a few things that I want to do in the upcoming year
- this weekend meeting up with Matt and Brekke in VEGAS!!! (Lauren- we will miss you and wish you were with us!)
- going to the Romeo and Juliet Ballet
- giving a midterm next Friday
- teaching, grading, and giving final for my course
- our 3 year wedding anniversary
- see "In the Heights," "Peter Pan," "Young Frankenstein" here in SF
- go to the Impressionists and Post Impressionist exhibits at the De Young Museum
- U2 360 concert AGAIN here in Oakland on June 16th!!!
- Yellowstone for the Kunz Family Reunion
- Disneyland with Kunzes
- submit a journal article for review
- make some more photo books and books of the blog
- travel somewhere internationally
- go to Yosemite (I still haven't been there yet- it is pretty sad)
- visit family in Utah for Christmas
- visit Napa, Point Reyes, Sacramento Railroad Museum
- start to revise and separate my dissertation
- read, read, read
- do more things with friends
- read scriptures every day
- go to the temple once a month
- listen to general conference talks more

stay tuned to see which of these happen and what other adventures I will experience in the next 365 days!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 28: This Year, in Great Detail

So, I already forgot some things that happened this past month but I'm ok since it did happen in the past year :-)

Celebrated the 27th birthday of my sister Cynthia at Claim Jumper. I love how excited she is about her birthday desserts :-)

Isn't she so beautiful- I love my sister :-)

I put together this bear puzzle that William got from his co-workers from Japan. It took me several days- it took William one hour. I did it though :-)

I also forgot these delicious desserts from my friend Inger's baby shower. I LOVED the little animal cupcake toppers!! SO adorable!

And this cake was amazing with raspberry mousse in between the cake layers

It is crazy to think about all that has happened in this past year:
- became a doctor
- walked at graduation from Brandeis with my PhD
- went back to Boston for a visit
- went to Nantucket for our 2nd anniversary
- celebrated my 29th birthday at Disneyland
- went to sociology meetings up in San Francisco
-visited Utah and Idaho for the Kunz Family Reunion over the 4th of July
-had two full Thanksgiving dinners
- went to Las Vegas and saw the U2 concert
- saw Disneyland during Halloween
- saw La Reve and Ovo
- got season tickets to the San Francisco Ballet
- struggled to get any kind of a job
- got a research job
- welcomed a new nephew Stanley
- had two full Christmases
- went to JAPAN
- went to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea
- went hiking at the Pinnacles National Monument
- toured Stanford Campus
- lecturer at Santa Clara University
- primary teacher
- even more in love with my husband
The year was filled with many ups and downs, but I would have to say that overall it was more ups :-)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 27: This Month, in Great Detail

Many of the events I have already blogged about so most of this will just be a summary of the highlights.

- I finished my first month teaching Principles of Sociology at Santa Clara University and I am LOVING it
- Finished a draft of the research project I have been working on since November
- Watched all 5 sessions of General Conference (I particularly loved the talks from the Priesthood session, especially the talk on "Patience"- a virtue I need to develop.
- Eaten several bags of Cadbury Mini-Eggs by myself (I still have a bag and a half left- I went crazy when I found some at my local Safeway when they were on sale after Easter)
- Had Easter dinner at my friend's new home- organized an egg hunt for the two little girls. It was SO FUN because they got so excited every time they would find an egg- squealing, pointing, and running.
- Went to Icing on the Cake and had a Cookie Dough Cupcake (the frosting and cookie dough in it was amazing- but the cake itself was gross) and a Peanut Butter Caramallow
- Visited with Lianne, Adam and kids before they left
- Bought Picture Frames from Michaels
- I have been listening to "On the Road" and "Portrait of Lady"
- Got rid of some of my old clothes and sociology journals that were taking up space.
- Saw "How to Train Your Dragon" in 3D
- Got the 4 course meal for 2 at P.F. Chang's
- Bought a new swimsuit
- Started wearing sandals, and I already have a blister
- Watched several episodes of "Color Splash" with David Bromstead- he is SUCH an artistic design genius. I am so fascinated by everything that he does and I am on the lookout for him now since he is in the Bay Area
- Attended a birthday party at a park
- Had a job interview and got the job as a part time research assistant at Palo Alto Medical Foundation (still being finalized)
- Watched several shows of Masterpiece Theater online including "Diary of Anne Frank"
- Read my scriptures everyday

And the other things I have outlined in my month blogging :-)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 26: Your Week in Great Detail

I'm going to elaborate upon LAST week since I'm still not sure quite all of my schedule yet :-)

Tuesday: Worked ALL DAY on finishing up the research project I have been working on since November- I needed to do some more additions and change the reference structure to endnotes. This is actually quite a process- I generally use in-text citations so it took me about 3 hours to convert 175 citations into endnotes. I had no idea it would take that long. I helped my sister Sarah by editing the last chapter of her thesis (yea!!) and then I went up to the ballet (as earlier reported)

Wednesday: Taught class, had office hours (no one comes- this is always the case). At least at Brandeis I didn't have to officially hold them- it is just easier to have students make appointments when they need to meet with you. Read the chapter and sections for Friday's class. Nap. Went to Google for dinner since William had to work later. We had yummy pasta and wondered about the mass of balloons suspended from the ceiling

Thursday: Went with Inger up to the De Young Museum of Art for "Bouquets to Art." It was SO crowded by many older women- we were probably the youngest ones there (minus a few babies :-) I always love to attend this event- especially with someone who also enjoys it so that we can exchange our views about the pieces (or how we don't get it either :-) Here are a few of my favorites

This was the main display- it was so stunning with all of the purple ribbons and flowers

I loved how several of the arrangements were able to twist the stems into such unique positions without breaking

I also loved the crochet/macrame (?) creations

I thought that these two arrangements perfectly captured the emotions of the artwork behind them

And I thought that this one was so clever- the bread machine as the flower container. Brilliant! I can't imagine what the artist was thinking when they were assigned this piece

We then went to Jeffery's in Menlo Park for a hearty burger and fries- very good. I particularly loved the hanging chains you have to push through to go to the rest rooms. I then finished prepping for my class (it takes me awhile to get things how I want but I always have enough material :-) Had dinner and watched some tv with William :-)

Friday: Taught class, finished reading for next class, napped, prepared class for Monday, watched some tv, surfed Internet, waited for William to come home at 11:30 pm so that we could go to In N Out for dinner and hang out with all of the high school kids :-)

Saturday: Talked with the professor I work for, got ready, drove up to Sacramento. Began listening to "Portrait of a Lady" by Henry James. I am LOVING it so far- I've only made it through 3 cd's and only have 15 more to go (I think it will be awhile before I finish it :-) William and I then went to a session at the Sacramento Temple. It is so beautiful.

What it failed to make clear on the website was that the 1:30 session was in SPANISH. I speak Spanish, but William doesn't. Fortunately, several other people also didn't realize this so they were able to have English captions. It made me realize just how much I miss Spanish (I did a study abroad in Spain and minored in Spanish) but it also made me realize some of the vocabulary that I have forgotten. William even learned some Spanish which made him wish he would have learned it on his mission since it is MUCH easier than Japanese. We really enjoyed it ;-)

We then went to Chick-fil-a since we love it and the nearest one to us is 1 1/2 hrs away. We enjoyed it so much that we got one conservative order but realized that we needed to ensure we were full so we got another order. Yeah, it was kind of embarrassing. But well worth it. Their chicken is SO unbelievably good. We then window shopped for awhile but didn't find anything.

The main reason we went to Sacramento was to see the play that my friend Jacosa had helped arrange and direct the music for. Its called "One Voice" and it was an amazing show. The performance combined high school students from Sacramento with students from Turkey. Jacosa did an INCREDIBLE job of teaching these kids to the next level with their voices- it was so stirring. I was completely blown away by the level of vocal talent there. They also had a band, tap dancers, modern dancers, jazz dancers, and some acting. We really enjoyed the Turkish folk dancing and we even received a little packet of Henna tattoos (they just handed it to us). They also had a live sand art performance on a lighted screen that turned out well (I admit that I was a little frightened). We then stopped off at Wendy's and got a soda and Frosty for the drive back.

Sunday: (Already reported on yesterday)

Monday: Taught class. I actually am LOVING teaching introduction to sociology. There are so many interesting and fascinating topics that have managed to engage the students. I have much more class participation from the first day and they are contributing thoughtful insights and experiences. I have so enjoyed this and hope that the students have learned something (we'll see next week with their midterm!). I had office hours (no one came) and today did the reading and most of the preparation for my class. William and I watched Dancing with the Stars and laughed at Niecy's hilarious tango.

This week has been a little more lively than previous weeks which was mainly filled with working and I think that I need to keep this trend up :-) I am really really happy with my life right now and truly feel so blessed to have a job I love and a husband whom I absolutely adore and is perfect for me :-)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 25: Your Day in Great Detail

Today was a pretty typical Sunday for me. Woke up at 9 am and got ready for church, made it in time for the opening hymn, sacrament meeting, and then my primary class.

I absolutely LOVE my primary class this year. I teach the 10-11 year olds and they really are so great- they are truly eager to learn the gospel and participate and only occasionally are super chatty during sharing time. They all like to read and ask thoughtful questions, and even remember some of the stories I tell them. Several of them are just amazing- they do all of the additional things like take notes during Sacrament meeting, read their scriptures on their own, and one girl even taught her brother how to repent. I truly feel so excited to be able to teach them every week.

I love being able to sing primary songs again. I have even learned a few new ones- even one in sign language (which I keep forgetting the signs). My friend Shayla gives these incredible sharing times with such great object lessons. Today she used plastic cups to explain the differences between the church in Christ's time and why a restoration was necessary. It was the perfect way to illustrate the concept- and all of her sharing times have great object lessons like that. My teaching style is much more lecture based, since that is the main method of university instruction, so these are some skills I need to better develop.

My visiting teachers came over and we had a great visit. One is preparing to close on a house and the other is getting ready to go to Europe. So of course, I had to go on and on about all of the things to see. And I just covered London. I sent her an email afterwards with even MORE items. It made me long to go back to Europe- I've been there 8 times but it has been 4 years since my last visit. Its just a MUCH longer flight now from the west coast and there are SO many other places I want to go visit as well so I'm not sure when I'll be back again.

We then had lunch and I had a long nap :-) We watched the Amazing Race and talked with my parents, as well as William's parents. And then I have been doing miscellaneous things on the computer/Internet ever since.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 24: Whatever Tickles My Fancy

Tuesday night was another great outing at the San Francisco Ballet. It was just Maren, Katie, and I (we missed you Dyan!) and I was very happy with 2 of the 3 sets (it always seems to me that there is just 1 that I don't really bond with).

The first two performances were so incredible. The first one was entitled "Rush" and it was my favorite. The music was so stirring and the dancers used traditional movements and added modern flairs to them. The pax de deux was so amazing, completely full of emotion and captured the essence of the music.

One of the most memorable events occurred during the first performance. The lady in front of us completely fell asleep and both Maren and I were watching her as the percussionist got ready with the cymbals. When he crashed them together, she completely jumped and her head jerked up back into the awake position. Maren and I exchanged glances making sure that the other had seen it and somehow we managed to keep our giggles silent. The timing of it all was just classic, like something out of a movie. This other gentleman who was sitting next to her- not her husband, was giving her a hard time about how she could fall asleep when the ballet was so good.
The second performance, entitled "Classical Symphony" was also good. It was pretty classical and I absolutely loved the tutus. They had two layers and were structured with wire on the ends and so they flowed in a unique pattern.

The third one was called "The Concert (or the Perils of Everybody)" and was choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the same guy who did West Side Story. They had this incredible concert pianist who played Chopin- it really was so stirring and beautiful. From the program notes, I had gathered that it was going to be a funny ballet but I found it way too absurd. As the judge Len from Dancing with the Stars would say, there was too much fru fru and not enough real dancing. It just bothered me that much of the performance were these dancers doing bad ballet. I appreciate great parodies and poking fun at aspects of art. For example, I loved the Producers and the movie Enchanted. It pokes fun at aspects of musicals in a high class and professional way. The quality of dancing and singing is just outstanding. So, I expected that from this performance. Instead, I just found a lot of poor quality dancing from these amazing dancers who had just performed two fabulous numbers. However, I was completely alone in my feelings about the 3rd one- the other girls loved it so I was just the weird one :-)

We have one more ballet and I am so happy that I got season tickets! I'm planning on doing it next year and anyone else is welcome to join in on the fun!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 23: A YouTube Video

William introduced me to this video and I think that it has pretty well captures many elements of our life here in Silicon Valley. And the part about the houses is true!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 22: A Website

I could choose to write about how much I enjoy the Pioneer Woman (I love this post and this post which are some of the funniest things ev-er) but most of you already have heard of or are followers of her so I will introduce you to another HILARIOUS individual that I happen to be friends with. My friend from high school Bryton, is so funny. And he started this blog that is a compilation of some of his best work called "Popsuede." I was reading all of the posts while at my in-laws over the holidays and I could not stop laughing- the kind where I got tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. I am smiling as I think about them even while writing this post. He did the great post about Twilight using lol cats and it actually got 20,000 hits in a day. If you need a good laugh, definitely check out the site in its entirety.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 21: A Recipe

I would definitely say that I am more of a "semi-homemade" kind of dessert maker. I think that many of those recipes taste the best but are of minimal effort when you are in a hurry. Since I have already shared my most requested recipe of homemade oreos (apparently our old 12-13 yr old Sunday School class STILL talks about them to their new teachers) I'll share some other ones that I am going to try in the future. They are from the same website- Get off Your Butt and Bake- and they look/sound amazing- I just need to make them. They are for Pretzel Bites (go semi-homemade!) and this no-bake cheesecake (using ingredients I had never though to use).

I promise that I will make them and give a report on my thoughts!!

I also want to give a huge THANK-YOU to my friend Maren who assembled an AMAZING cookbook of recipes from Mother's Group- I truly appreciate all of your hard work in making this lasting treasure of wonderful memories and food!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day 20: A Hobby of Yours

Stemming off the travel post, I would say that my hobby is having "cultural adventures." This is a broadly defined group of activities from visiting museums, ballets, symphonies, Broadway shows, and sporting events. As evidenced by my talent post, I really do not have any artistic or physical abilities but I do a great job of APPRECIATING all of these events. I have LOVED being here in the Bay Area that has lots of fabulous museums and exhibits, ballets, and shows but I admit that my sporting event attendance has not been as strong as in Boston. I have been to several Red Sox games when they have played the Oakland A's and one Giants game- that's it. I don't know why I just have no real affinity for the teams here as I will forever be a Red Sox and Celtics fan. William doesn't care for sporting events so let me know if you are going and I will tag along! My cultural adventures have been a little weak over the past couple of weeks since I began my additional job teaching class but I hope to remedy that soon :-)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 19: A Talent of Yours

Before I reveal what my talent is, I will preface it with an experience. We were at a party and I was with my parents as they were talking with another couple. My parents subsequently described each of the sisters as follows: Sarah is the youngest and is the dancer/cheerleader of the family, Cynthia is the singer/actress, and Cheryl is the traveler. Yup, that is my talent- TRAVELING. I absolutely LOVE it and am pretty good at it. I so enjoy planning visits to places, researching all of the fun and unique attractions that are not to be missed, and then seeing many of these iconic places in person is just incredible. I had great and amazing guided tours of Boston as I had such a large number of friends and family visit. My friend from Boston suggested that I should offer a guided tour of Boston for our service auction and she would buy it. I was shocked when it sold for $40 after a few people bid on it!! That truly was such a complement and honor :-) I haven't quite perfected yet the guided tour of San Francisco and the Bay Area yet, primarily since we haven't had as many long-term visitors, probably due to our only having a 500 sq ft. studio :-) My longtime friend Dan and I have joked about opening up our own travel agency where I will plan the vacations and he will take care of the logistics (he is incredible at planning plane and train schedules, as well as finding the best deals). I'm thinking that we should give this some serious thought . . .

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 18: Whatever Tickles Your Fancy

Ok, so I am continuing my thoughts and stories about running. We are now at the Big Lake Half Marathon at Lake Winnipesaukee New Hampshire and yes, it is the same lake featured in the movie "What About Bob," on a Saturday in 2006. The night before it was POURING rain and the forecast for the race was even more rain. I was talking on the phone with William the night before and he kept telling me to not do the race. I told him that I had already spent MONTHS training for this run so how could I not finish, and I had already paid the registration fee. William then decided to teach me about "sunk costs"- he kept telling me to "cut my losses" and just not do it. The thing is that I KNEW I could do it and I wanted to get it done. I drove a few friends who were also running the race- including my friend Jane who had flown in all the way from Boston- up to the race and it was just dumping buckets the whole time. The photo shows us BEFORE the race and getting soaked- I refuse to show any of my race photos because I just look so miserable. (Oh- and these were our team shirts. We were team SweetFeet (S') and the motto on the side said "And their SOX smelled round the world" and our back theme was "One if by land, 13.1 if by Lake".)

Sadly, we didn't luck out and it poured the WHOLE time. I started out running the race with my friend Amy and Michael but as it was quite hilly, along with the rain, I decided that my only goal was to finish in under 3 hours and I didn't want to slow them down so they should just go on without me. It was such a HORRIBLE experience- I was COMPLETELY soaked and freezing, despite having to occasionally run uphill. I did walk occasionally up several of the steeper hills so that I could save my energy to finish the race. And I actually ended up finishing with my friend Michael who had a horrible time with blisters as he had forgotten his shoes and had to borrow a pair from other people. I finished at 2 hours and 40 minutes, well under my goal. I was able to change into dry clothes and meet my friend Jane as she crossed the finish line. And of course I ate the ice cream even though it was freezing outside :-)

Overall, I am so happy that I didn't quit but saw it through to the end but that experience made me realize that I have ZERO desire to ever run a marathon, let alone another half marathon. I didn't really enjoy the experience while I was doing it- I liked my training runs MUCH better- but I am proud that I was able to accomplish that goal and in the POURING rain nevertheless.

I still continued to run even after the race, usually for 30 minute runs or 5-6 milers at the most, because I did enjoy running shorter distances. It is a great time to think and get exercise, as well as I LOVED running along the Charles River. So so beautiful. I was so excited when I found out that we were moving to the Bay Area and I would be able to run year round (as this was NOT desirable with the bitter cold in Boston). I kept up my shorter runs- I really enjoyed going around Rengstorff Park. However, in February 2008, I started having pains in my knees. I've had shin splints before and it definitely was not that. It would hurt for days, even when I would not run. It eventually was painful in both knees for weeks even after I had stopped running, so I went to the doctor. My doctor did a couple of manipulations of my legs and told me that I had patella femoral syndrome where basically due to the structure of my hips, my knee cap was grinding against the bone resulting in the pain and inflammation. She said that I would need to give up running since it is such high impact on my knees and would need to exercise using lower impact such as walking, elliptical, or swimming. I was not able to exercise for a few months and I also took ibuprofen several times a day and some strength training exercises.

I initially was so bummed when I heard this news because I was FINALLY in the perfect climate to run and now I couldn't (I might be able to but I really don't want to push the issue since there are other ways for me to exercise) AND I have several friends here who are into running as well so I could run with them, but I am now ok with it. We have an elliptical machine at our apartment complex which is great because it is SUPER close, I can work out in the rain, and I can read while working out. Oh, and the pain has completely gone away for 2 years since I stopped running so that makes me happy :-)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 17: An Art Piece

I love art. I cannot create it but I am great at appreciating it :-) My secret passion is art history so I try and visit museums around the world whenever I can.

My all time favorite artist is Vincent Van Gogh. You have to see his works in person because each brush stroke is so full of emotion that captures the human experience, primarily Van Gogh's inner turmoil. He was never appreciated for his art during his lifetime, but I am so happy that he continued to create despite few recognizing his great talent. I made a pilgrimage to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and it was INCREDIBLE. I know that it is pretty stereotypical but my all time favorite is "Starry Starry Night", the second one. It is just so moving when you see it in person.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 16: A Song that Makes You Cry (or Nearly)

I am a very emotional person. As William likes to point out, he keeps track of movies that I DON'T cry in. Thus, there are equally as many songs that I get emotional with. I already mentioned that my favorite song makes me cry sometimes so I will choose another one from the archive.

My first year living in Boston, I was watching a concert on PBS of Josh Groban. I had not heard of him before viewing this show and it made me a huge fan. I remember him singing the song "To Where You Are" and just bawling. Primarily because it talks about how we can still feel the influence of your "forever love" who has passed on, showing that the bonds of love continue for eternity and that we can feel the others when we left. Josh sings the song with his amazing voice with such emotion-only enhancing the lyrics. I admit I even teared up again while listening to it. I have seen Josh Groban several times in concert and it is even better in person.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 15: Fanfic

Confession: I had NO IDEA what "fanfic" meant. But, being the researcher that I am, I visited a few websites and I *think* I understand what it means. But, I realize that I don't really read or write any fan fiction. So my example is more of a spin off than fan fiction. But I am very happy that the producers decided to take a small segment and make it into its own show.

My favorite spinoff is actually a tv show that spun off of a larger tv show: The Simpsons. The Simpsons was initially just a short clip that appeared on the Tracy Ullman Show back decades ago and people thought that it was so funny that they have made a entire empire out of it. I love the social commentaries and humor of daily life. When the show initially came on, my parents wouldn't let us watch it because they didn't want us to think that this is how families are "supposed" to be. This fortunately changed as we got older and now some of our favorite lines have come from this show- "geriatric profanity disorder," "craptacular," sleep- that's where I'm a viking!," and "I want to graduate from bovine university". If you are a fan of the show, a few of these quotes are from Ralph, my personal favorite for classic lines.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 14: A Non-Fictional Book

Again, I limited myself to the first book that entered my mind- John Adams by David McCullough. I have written about this book before, but it still is just so good. McCullough does an amazing job of truly constructing who John Adams was as well as how he sacrificed the most important thing to him- time with his family- to devote to the founding of a new nation. I would recommend reading the book before watching the HBO film series, which does a fabulous job of capturing the essence of McCullough's autobiography (NOT easy to do). It also made my visit to the John Adams' national park last year so meaningful. A definite must read :-)

FYI- did you know that David McCullough still TYPES all of his writings!!! SO impressive because the John Adams book is over 400 pages long (I learned this in the bonus feature documentary they have on the HBO series)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 13: A Fictional Book

The first fictional book that came to my mind is also one of my all-time favorites- David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. No, this book has NOTHING to do with the magician of the same name, but it chronicles the life of a poor boy named David Copperfield. David's father died when he was a boy and his mother remarried and the stepfather did not like David. His mother and younger brother died, he was sent to work at at a glue factory and then went to live with his aunt where she renamed him "Trotwood Copperfield" whose nickname is "Trot." Dickens does a fabulous job of having David associate with the most memorable characters like Mister Micawber who is continually in debt. I won't tell too much more about the story but I absolutely LOVE it. There is a great film version of it with a young Daniel Radcliffe as David (I think its by the BBC). I read the book for my study abroad class while in London and I was able to go and visit Charles Dickens' house.

In the preface to the book, Dickens wrote "like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield." In researching for a paper about the book, I discovered that many events that occurred in the book resemble or parallel events that occurred in the life of Charles Dickens, making it the most autobiographical of all his novels. The story is told from the perspective of David and when I read it, I truly feel like I am gaining insight into who Charles Dickens was. Like Dickens, this too is "my favourite child" of his writings :-)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 12: Whatever Tickles My Fancy

I started writing this post FOREVER ago and just never got around to posting it so this is the perfect time. And this will be in installments since I tend to expound on multiple tangents. This series is about me and my relationship with running/jogging.

Boston truly is a place for RUNNERS. EVERYONE runs there. It was always so incredible to me because no matter what the weather, people would be out running. It makes sense since the Boston Marathon is such a big deal. The place for everyone to run is along the Charles River. I personally liked to run along the MIT/Cambridge side- I never made it over to the Esplanade area. Since college, I have been a jogger- I say that because I really wasn't a runner. I was only doing it for health, exercise, and cosmetic purposes. I even ran while I lived in Spain and Pepita, the sweet woman I lived with, called me "La Deportista"- the sport girl. However, with so many of my friends in Boston being serious, hard core runners, it was fairly natural that I would begin to call myself a "runner". It was a slow process. When I lived in Watertown, I used to run around Fresh Pond several times, which is like 5 miles once or twice a week. Only my dear dear friend Janae could ever have convinced me to run a 10 mile race with less than a week's notice. Janae has been my friend ever since I moved to Boston, always ready to accompany me on a cultural adventure (in fact, our friendship truly began when we cried together on the Longfellow house tour). Anyways, Janae is an avid runner and has ran several marathons, even qualifying and running the Boston. They had a 10 mile team road race down in Rhode Island and one of their team members dropped out at the last minute and so Janae convinced me that since I could run 5 miles, I could definitely do 10. Only for Janae did I do this. The night before the race, there was a huge snow storm in Boston, but it had only rained down in Rhode Island, but it scared away all of the less intense runners- aka people like ME.

We made the hour drive to Rhode Island and there I was with the rest of my team. Janae, Jamie, and Melissa. And then, we were off. I ran at my own pace- which was noticeably slower than everyone else- and by about mile 6, I was THE LAST person on the course. It was pretty windy and cold- especially along this one part of the course where I felt like I would be blown into the water. It was truly SO EMBARRASSING because I literally was the last person and they had already started to disassemble the course by the time I reached Mile 9. The course looped back the same way that it came and it had weaved throughout the little city and there was no way that I could remember my way back, so I actually just cut out that last mile because I saw the school where the race ended! My friends were shocked to see me because they had figured I had 10 minutes left to finish. I didn't say anything until later in the car ride home that I had just cut out the last part of the race. Needless to say, that really put a bad taste in my mouth about races and so I kind of vowed that I was done with them. I still continued my running for health purposes.

Every year, Janae and Jessica organize TEAM SWEETFEET- primarily a group of LDS runners made up of mainly people from the Longfellow Park singles wards, but also other friends who love to run. Every year, Janae would try to talk me into it and I would remind her that I about how I came in dead last at the road race. She said that I had done 9 and that 13.1 isn't that much more and she would actually help me set up a training schedule. I declined until 2006 when my dear friend Amy was also convincing me to run the race. Training for a race like that is hard, but even harder in Boston because the weather is so rotten for most of your training period of January to May. I wasn't going to do it but the convincing factor actually was my starting to date William. We were in the "awkward" stage of dating where we had been on several dates, yet nothing was really official. Since we had only been out once or twice, I tended to "panic" when things even appeared to go slightly in a negative direction. For example, there was a rare event when I went on a date Tuesday night with William and then I was asked out again by a different guy for Friday night. Since "nothing had happened yet" with William (it was only like date 2), I went on this other date. William had actually asked me on Friday- the night of the date- if I had wanted to go out that night. I said that I was busy but I would want to go out another night. We made plans for Saturday night.

Well, being my dating life where weird things happen to me several times a year, of course the worst (in my mind) would happen. I went with this guy to dinner at Zaftig's delicatessen (and I got my favorite granola pancakes) and we had nice conversation (he was my old hometeacher) but I knew at that point that I was more interested in William. After dinner, my date said that we were going to go do karaoke at Do-Re-Me with another couple from the ward. It turns out that there were some other single people there and that William had been invited to go as well. I was so mortified because here I am on a date with one guy and I have a date the next night with another. It was SUPER awkward for me and I literally had nightmares that night thinking that this had "ruined everything." It made for an amazing long run- about 9 miles- the next day because I was so worried about it. I still went out with William on Saturday night and he never said anything about my being on the date the night before and our conversation was still great. I did several other long runs with my dear friend Amy who also ran the race.

The day of the race deserves a post in and of itself so . . . . TO BE CONTINUED :-)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 11: A Photo of Me Taken Recently

I met up with one of my dear friends from Boston, Jacosa, for lunch last week so this photo is only a few days old. She is SO INCREDIBLE- one of the sweetest people you have ever met with such a stunning voice. We really just had some of the best conversation in our 3 hour lunch at BJ's. I feel so lucky to have such amazing friends who truly inspire me to be better. Thanks Cos! And I will for sure be coming to see your show in a few weeks!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 10: A Photo of You Taken Over Ten Years Ago

My one time as a model (this photo was enlarged and put on display at Kiddie Kandids) and proof that I was once a natural blonde for part of my life and that I was once somewhat tan :-)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Day 9: A Photo I Took

Cherry Blossoms in Japan (and on one of the few sunny days!)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Day 8: A Photo that Makes Me Angry/Sad

Few things worse . . .

than the loss of good ice cream :-(

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The National Museum of Nature and Science

After the Western Art Museum, I went to the National Museum of Nature and Science that was right next door. Outside was a large model of a blue whale.

The museum was divided into two sections- Japan Gallery and the Global Gallery. This museum really did not have very many English translation signs so I cruised through much of it fairly fast, especially in the Japan section as they had a lot of unique plant and rock species. But, the global gallery was much more interesting and had computer terminals where you could read about the exhibits in English. They had a huge room full of taxidermy animals- or "stuffed animals" as the English translation read. See, I did see some pandas in Japan- they just weren't alive.

They also had lots of dinosaur skeletons of both land and sea animals

One of the most amazing things I saw was a complete replica skeleton made out of WOOD. So incredible the amount of detail.

It was fun to go through the museum as it was nearby, it was raining, and I didn't have enough time to go anywhere else before closing time at 5. But, I wouldn't put this on my "must see" list in Tokyo

Day 7: A Photo That Makes You Happy

As William said in a video for a bridal shower, "With Cheryl, Cold Stone makes everything better." Smart man who perfectly understands me- I am so lucky :-)

Despite a brief "tryst" with cupcakes (as William called it), Cold Stone is still the best (especially the cake batter and cookie dough as featured above)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The National Museum of Western Art

After the Tokyo National Museum, I headed over to the National Museum of Western Art. William thought that it was funny that I came all the way to Japan to see western style paintings but they really do have an amazing collection. I told him its like the British Museum or the Louvre that has treasures from all around the world. And I took the time to learn about and view plenty of Japanese art throughout the rest of the trip so I feel fine about my visits.

Outside of the museum, they have a copy of Rodin's Gates of Hell. Inside, they had a great collection of paintings by Delacroix, a Millet, a Turner, several Monets- "The Sea , several Degas- "Woman Combing Her Hair", several Cezannes- "Pot and Soup Tureen," "On the Boat," and the "Eternal Feminine," Gaugains, a Matisse, and a Picasso. What I LOVE about the art museums in Japan is that they make gallery guides that have a list of the all of the works presented, along with the titles of the work and artists. I totally think that all museums should do this- I love being able to look up the pieces afterwards.

Tokyo National Museum

In the same area as the zoo, was the Tokyo National Museum. The Tokyo National Museum is actually a series of museums in separate buildings. I went to 3 of the museums (one was closed for renovations) and saw a wide range of art, history, and archeology of Japan.

This is the exterior of the Honkan gallery which has two floors of treasures including beautiful noh and kabuki kimonos, folding screens, tea utensils, and armor.

The next museum I visited was the Heiseikan and I only did the first floor. The second floor is for special exhibits and I had no idea what it was about. This museum showed the archeology of Japan and I was struck by the similar evolution of the human species- they had the hunting and gathering period, bronze period, agricultural period.

This third museum, the Horyuji, had a room completely full of statuettes of warriors (I think?- or they could have been religious figures) in lighted glass cases on top of pedestals.

These museums (and most of the ones that I encountered in Japan) only had the names of the artifacts in English so I was able to make it through the exhibits much faster than I usually proceed through museums but I would have liked a little more English descriptions so that I could learn about their art and history (which I really do know nothing about).

And I saw some blossoms on my first day! I loved that everyone was so excited to see them that they posed for pictures with them.

I loved the bright fuchsia color of another tree full of blossoms

They really do love their cherry blossoms here- so much so that all of the ground hole covers were imprinted with cherry blossoms.

Day 6: Whatever Tickles My Fancy

I've been putting off this post for awhile but it is time that I make a confession: I am a pack rat. I have known this for awhile but it was taken to new levels when I cleaned out some of the closets at my parents house. My parents have very kindly left my room intact, as well as all of my papers, books, and other items in the basement and our library.

Before I show you just how much I treasure and hold on to things, I'll give a few examples. I have kept nearly every school paper I have ever done from junior high through the present. They are organized by class, date, and year with the files from my dissertation and other studies organized by class or topic. I have three black file boxes FULL of papers in our little apartment and am on the way to filling the 4th. William jokes that my boxes of papers are as high as our tv which is on top of of tv stand. I absolutely LOVE books- that really is my true weakness and I always buy a couple of the places that I travel to. They really are the perfect souvenirs as they generally have great photos and information about the place. I also keep all of the cards that I receive as well as programs/brochures/etc from various activities that I attend. I really can't bear to part with most of these items because I so enjoy going back and reliving all of the fun memories.

This being said, I realized just how out of control my habit had become while cleaning out my childhood closet. I kept and dried EVERY flower and corsage that I ever received from attending a dance or from sweet friends. The pink bouquet has held up the best because it is only about 2 years old from when I was a bridesmaid at a friend's wedding. The yellow rose is one that I received while I was on the tennis team in high school (gold was one of our school colors)

Oh and it gets better- I even LABELED them as to which dance or friend I received them from and what year. It totally makes me laugh because I literally think I was saving them because I was afraid that I would never again receive flowers from anyone and so I had to immortalize these objects forever. But most of the flowers look so gross and terrible- why would I want to look at them anyways. The one below is terrible! I can't believe that I kept this for over 10 years.

The really tragic thing was that I had 15 sets of flowers in my closet. 15! I took photos of all of them to document just how much things had deteriorated. I actually threw all of these away!! And I no longer keep any flowers that I receive- I enjoy them while they are alive and throw them away when they are dead. So I feel that I have made some progress in that aspect. But it really does make for some great laughs to take a trip back down memory lane (although some trips- like the dead corsage above) are better remembered in the mind or by a photo :-)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Day 5: My Favorite Quote

Several years ago, my friend Paris sent me the following quote written originally by Marianne Wilkinson and then made famous by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inauguration speech.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves WHO AM I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be!
Our playing small does not save the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking,
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

You are born to make manifest to the glory of God that is within us;
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other’s permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fears,
our presence automatically liberates others.”

I am tearing up even now as I read this. While I was in college, I connected with the following quote from George Bernard Shaw: "Life is not about finding yourself, but creating yourself." At the time, I thought that it was so true but as my life has gone on, I think that it is only partially true. We can create whoever we want to be, but there truly is a core essence of who we are. And as we go through life, it can become dimmed and obscured by outside voices and pressures to be like someone else and so life is trying to uncover who we are. This Marianne Wilkinson quote replaced the Shaw quote because I feel that it better encompasses what I have learned- and am still learning- along my journey of life.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day 4: My Favorite Book

My favorite book of all time is definitely the Alchemist by Paulo Cohelo. It really is such a powerful book that teaches so many interesting truths about navigating your way through life and how to follow your dreams. I should actually re-read it sometime because it has been years since I last read it and I have forgotten many of the smaller details of the book.

One book that has recently profoundly affected how I view myself and the world is the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This book chronicles how she spent a year evaluating her life and trying to make it happier on all accounts. With what she did with her spare time, including not putting off things to "do tomorrow," taking additional classes, and improving her relationships. I have especially been thinking about how I can put positive spins on the negative or things that don't-go-as-I-planned because I tend to blow some things out of proportion. And what the book illustrated is that how I respond to events determines the responses of others and can set the tone for the rest of your day. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day 3: My Favorite TV Program

Hmmm- this is a tough one for me. Of all time, I would have to say that my favorite show is Murder, She Wrote. I LOVE this show and still try to find it on tv and dvd, although it is super expensive (like $45) for one season and I just think that is way too pricey so I only have Season 1, which cost me $15. My dream came true a few years ago when I went to NYC and saw Angela Lansbury in the play "Deuce" and was then able to get her autograph and tell her just how much I loved her in Murder, She Wrote.

Right now, kind of embarrassingly, there are several tv shows that are my favorites. Psych and NCIS are definitely the top along with Burn Notice, White Collar, and Castle (USA Network really has some excellent shows!) I also like Project Runway, Top Chef, CSIs, HGTV Color Splash, Dancing with the Stars, and So You Think You Can Dance. Yeah, I became a fan of online tv when I in between finishing my dissertation and starting my research job.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Day 2: My Favorite Movie

I would definitely have to say that my favorite movie of all time is Ben Hur. I saw this movie when I was in junior high and it completely changed my life. It is such an amazing movie about a man, Ben Hur, whose life parallels that of Jesus Christ. There is action, adventure (the chariot race), romance, friendship, and the ultimate act of love. I particularly love that you never see the face of Jesus, but you just know it is him- you can feel his presence even without seeing him. The scenes with the exchanging of the cups of water bring tears to my eyes even thinking about it now. It is a long movie (like 3 1/2 hours) but so worth it.

Some of my other favorites growing up was definitely Goonies- I have watched that movie so many times that I have most of it memorized ("You want a tremor, I'll show you a tremor!") I also was obsessed with Newsies- my friend McKel and I saw it in the dollar movie theater like 10 times. And then we became members of the Newsies fan club too- I can still know all of the words to the songs ("Suddenly, I'm the King of New York!") and I even made up a song about how I was "The Queen of Salt Lake." In terms of movies recently that I have loved, I really can't think of any that truly stand out that are favorites. I've seen many that I liked and are ok- but none that are really on the same level as the others.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day 1: My Favorite Song

My favorite song of all time, hands down, no questions asked is "With or Without You." I fell in love with this song years ago, mainly in high school and particularly in college where I became obsessed with it. This song still is so magical to me- Bono just sings this song with so much emotion that there are many times I have been brought to tears by this song. My roommates in college and I would have moments where we would turn off the lights and just sit and be enveloped by this song. If the song would come on in the car, it didn't matter if I was just about to get out, I would sit in the car and listen to the rest of it before getting out. Sometimes, I even required silence during the song- and of course, my sweet friends complied with my request. This song really is just the ultimate for me.