Friday, May 16, 2014

Pictures from the Beach

I'm in Korea now -- yay! ~cough~ but also I miss my mom ~cough~ -- but the first part of the week I was in Los Angeles visiting my lovely friend Julia. Monday afternoon we hied ourselves to the beach (Topanga State Beach, to be precise). The idea sounded relaxing and romantic (in the "idealized view of reality" way, not the other one)...but the execution left a little bit to be desired. Julia informs me it's almost always cold there, but thanks to the heat wave and the relentless Santa Anna winds, it was actually quite comfortably warm. The only problem was that those same winds were blowing so hard they were picking up the sand and hurtling it at us. It hurt! It also made reading very difficult. But we still had fun nonetheless! Here are some pictures from our adventures.

This father and son were so adorable! The little boy looooved chasing the gulls, so the dad picked him up and ran around helping him "fly" with the birds. It was the most beautiful thing we saw all day!

This was not a gust that blew the towel out like that. Basically, it was that windy almost constantly the whole time we were there.

The amazing Julia balanced this small rock on the larger one, and it actually stayed that way for awhile! The wind eventually blew it off, and we couldn't manage to get it to stay again, but at least I got this shot for proof!

Monday, May 12, 2014

San Fran! (and the end of the semester)

This last week I spent traveling to and exploring the Bay Area. It's the first time I've ever been to California, actually (unless you count the approximately 45 minutes I was in LAX before getting on a plane to Korea once). I don't think I would choose to live here, but it's a wonderful place to visit! I came to see a friend graduate from Berkeley Law (which she did, this last Saturday), but I spent a few days exploring and sight-seeing before her graduation.

But first! A quick summary of the end of the Spring 2014 semester, aka the worst two weeks of my entire life (and it was my own fault). The last week in particular was pretty terrible -- maybe even more terrible than the last week of the Fall 2013 semester, and that one ended with a 30+-hour drive home to Tennessee after only about 15 hours of sleep the whole week. I am so relieved the semester is over! My longest paper was due Monday (April 28) afternoon, but was just less than halfway finished by Saturday night. I started working on it at about 12:30am Sunday morning and it was finished about eleven hours later -- or rather, it was done enough to turn in so I could get started on my other responsibilities. Tuesday I wrote my last paper, for my Research Methods class, and Wednesday I turned it in, met with two of my professors to discuss my other papers, and then spent the afternoon frantically packing up all my things so I could move them into a storage unit. Luckily, my cousin came to help me out. It took the two of us about four hours to finish packing up everything and get it into the storage unit. Unfortunately, in the rush I managed to forget the one thing I have to have to go to Korea -- my passport! Thankfully, I remembered (whilst almost having a heart attack), I was able to make a quick pitstop to pick it up at my storage unit on my way out of SLC the following Monday (May 5). That night (April 30), after dropping everything off at the unit, I drove up to Layton and spent the night at my cousin and his wife's new house, and spent most of May 1 with them having a great time! I'm so grateful to be friends with my cousins, because you have to see them anyway, so you might as well enjoy it, right?

The evening of May 1 I drove up to Logan to my grandma's house and stayed there for a few days. While I was there I got to hang out with my friends and I even got to see my little brother graduate from college! I also "got" to help him move his stuff out of his apartment and clean it, but hey, I love him and he paid for the movie we went to afterward (The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - awesome!).

Monday morning, bright and early, Mr. Farmer came and got me and we started driving west. We got on I-80 and basically drove until it dead-ended into the ocean. We stopped in Reno for the night on the way, where the place we were staying was hosting a bunch of bowlers. It turns out that's because the National Bowling Stadium is right across the street (and was visible from my room window). We didn't stay there long, though; we packed up and left by 9am the next morning and made it to the Bay Area by lunchtime. On our way to where we were staying that night (on an old Navy base that's now been taken over by NASA), we drove past Facebook's headquarters. Their sign doesn't have their name all big on it, just the "like" symbol and the address.

While we were staying on Moffett Field, we saw the skeleton of an old airship hanger that must have been at least twenty stories high, if not thirty, and the door were massive! They moved on what were essentially railroad tracks, they were so big. (I have pictures of most of these things I'm talking about on my Instagram.) We spent that evening and the next morning exploring Palo Alto, which is about twenty miles south of San Fran and were a lot of rich people live, it seems. That afternoon we picked up Mr. Farmer's nephew, Jim, at the San Fran airport and checked into our hotel in downtown San Fran. The view was great! It's just as hilly as all the movies make it out to be, too. And windy! I think the weather's been amazing, but there are a lot of people walking around with coats and scarves on still, which confuses me, but apparently they think it's cold.

The next day, Thursday, we got up early and went to explore the pier area, specifically Pier 39 (which is basically a massive tourist attraction). We saw the seals that live on the docks, ate some yummy bread from Boudin (they even make bread in the shape of animals!), and took a lot of pictures. Then around noon we hopped onto a ferry boat and headed out to Alcatraz in the middle of the bay! It was the only thing Jim insisted on doing, and I was skeptical, but it was really interesting. It was also very, very sobering. Not that I've ever wanted to commit a crime, but now I really, really don't want to. Alcatraz the island was actually not that bad -- windy, but gardens have been carefully planted and tended (as they were during the time it was a prison island), and you can't beat the view from the island. And the prison wasn't exactly dank and dark like dungeons in old movies -- but it would be damp with all the fog SF gets and I'm sure it would have been cold with all the wind whistling around and the entire structure being made out of concrete and steel. They have a really great audio tour of the cell-house that has some commentary by actual former prisoners and guards and they talk about what it was like and some of their experiences. It was definitely much more compelling because of that; otherwise it would have been a slightly chilly concrete room with a lot of empty cells. Hearing the men talk about it made it much easier to imagine what living in those cells would have been like. So all you kids, stay in school and don't do drugs and obey your parents! Trust me, you don't want to end up in prison.

Thursday evening we stopped to see the Golden Gate bridge on our way to meet up with Mr. Farmer's daughter and her boyfriend (who was also graduating from Berkeley Law). We had dinner at Chevy's and had some yummy ice cream for dessert. By the time we got back to the hotel we were exhausted, but it was a fun day. Friday we met her in Berkeley (we took the BART (that's the name of the subway! Bay Area Rapid Transit, BART for short) and she showed us around the law school and the Berkeley campus and some of the area around the school and the downtown. We ate lunch at a pizza place downtown called Jupiter, which was wonderful! Then we came back to San Fran and I left Mr. F and Jim and went shoe shopping (they wouldn't have enjoyed it) and spent some time in my room until we ventured out into Chinatown for dinner. We ate at a great Chinese restaurant, House of Nanking, which unfortunately was not a dive but actually pretty clean and well-kept (dives are my favorite, and usually have the best food, but this place was still really good, if not as atmospheric).

Saturday was Chris's graduation! It started at 9am, so we left our hotel at 6:30am to make sure we weren't late (we were more than an hour early). As far as graduations go this one wasn't too bad, but there were so many people! After the reception, we all went our separate ways and I tried to find a Korean restaurant in the area Daddy told me about. I wasn't able to find it, but I did find another Korean place that looked almost exactly like it had been transported intact straight from Korea to Berkeley. I had some yummy bibimbap there and did a little more exploring before I headed back into San Fran, where I did a little shopping (but I couldn't really buy anything because I only have my carryon) before going back to spend a little time in my room. Then I had a fun adventure! Someone must have tripped the fire alarm (accidentally or not), because I was happily updating my Instagram with pictures of my adventures when it went off about 9pm~ish. At first I thought it was an accident or a joke, but all of us pounded down the stairways to the pavement outside nonetheless. Two honest-to-goodness fire trucks came racing up the street, sirens blazing and lights twirling, and some real, live firemen went into our building and checked everything out. Thankfully, there was no fire, but it did make last night the most interesting and exciting Saturday night I've had in a long, long time!

Which brings me to yesterday. Ever since the semester ended, I haven't been able to sleep past 7:30am, and coming out to an earlier time zone has made it worse! I wake up rarin' to go between 6 and 6:30 and can't get back to sleep, and this morning was no exception. So I got up and packed up all my stuff, then walked about 1.5 miles to the nearest church building for church. It was a lovely service and the people made me feel so welcome!

Right now I'm in the LA area enjoying hanging out with my darling Julia! So I'm going to go do that now. ^_^ Thursday morning, bright and early (7am!) I'll fly off into the sunrise, headed for Korea. My friend Sooyeon will pick me up at the airport Friday night (Korea-time) and I'll stay with her for a bit and also try to visit as many of my Korean friends as possible before my classes start on 3 June.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Saturday night adventures

Look who showed up to my hotel tonight! Someone must have tripped the fire alarm (accidentally or not), because I was happily updating my Instagram with pictures of my adventure today when it went off about 9pm~ish. Two honest-to-goodness fire trucks came racing up the street, sirens blazing and lights twirling, and some real, live firemen went into our building and checked everything out. I can attest that San Francisco's Fire Department is definitely quick-response. They were here in less than five minutes. Not that I hope I'm ever in an actual fire, but if I ever was, I'm glad to know help would come quickly.Thankfully, there was no fire, but it did make tonight the most interesting and exciting Saturday night I've had in a long, long time!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The joys of an internet-enabled phone

It's been ages since I've updated my blog. I was busy with the end of the semester, but that's really more of an excuse. I just haven't been doing much that was interesting. Mostly I've been procrastinating my final papers and freaking out about said procrastinated papers. There was a lot of drama. Some painful lessons were learned. I didn't get much sleep and the last week of the semester was pretty hellacious. Some of my professors indicated their disappointment in me. But I was too busy freaking out about getting ready to go to Korea to worry about it much.

That's right, I'm going to Korea this summer! I packed up all my stuff into a storage unit and after I handed in my last paper I headed out of SLC on my summer adventure. I'll spend the next four months living out of my carryon and a backpack. I spent the first few days of May at my grandma's house in Logan and got to see my little brother's college graduation. I'm currently in the Bay Area to see my friend graduate from Berkeley Law, and Sunday evening I'm flying into LA to visit another friend. Then a week from tomorrow I'm flying to Korea! It's scary and exciting all at the same time. Especially since I have no idea what will happen to me at the end of the summer: I have no home and a very uncertain financial future. Not to mention no idea what to do with my life after grad school...or even what to write for my thesis. I try not to think about it too much.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why I'm Depressed and Not Lazy

Avoidance has long been my method for coping with overwhelming and/or difficult things. Things I didn't want to do. This list is long, but (part of) it looks something like this:

waking up in the morning
doing my homework
doing my chores
cleaning my room
paying my taxes
practicing (anything)
finding a job
making a decision about health insurance
deciding on a topic for my thesis
applying (for anything)
etc, etc, etc

Here's the thing about avoidance: It's not a great coping mechanism. It doesn't get things done, and it's not productive. (Though, to be both honest and fair, some times when I'm avoiding one thing (i.e. a final paper), I get a lot of those other things done, like cleaning my room.) It makes the last minute incredibly stressful. (Take, for example, the time ~cough~lastsemester~cough~ that I was finishing up my last week of classes, taking all my finals, writing all my final papers, and packing and preparing for a marathon cross-country drive home. All in the same week. Yeah, I didn't get much sleep and I was pretty much a wreck. It wasn't a good time.)

I had an epiphany just now, while boiling water to cook up some ramyun for my dinner. Two of my non-shared New Year's resolutions were to be more self-compassionate and to try to deal with hard things promptly instead of avoiding them. My epiphany involved the intersection of those two goals. Right now, I'm really struggling with that second goal. 

My life is exceptionally hectic-feeling right now. I'm trying to juggle making some professional contacts, nailing down a research question for my thesis (thankfully I think I've finally found a topic), dealing with getting the ball rolling so I can do research for my thesis, four classes (each with a not-insignificant number of expectations), homework, a new church calling, beginning research for important papers for each of my classes, new responsibilities in regard to a possible (unexpected) future career, finding something to do and some way to support myself this summer, and all the other mundane stuff like taxes and healthcare insurance and feeding myself. Honestly, I think at this point it might be a tender mercy from the Lord that I'm not in a relationship, because it would just be one more thing to juggle. you know what I did yesterday with my day off from school? Instead of catching up on all the things I'm responsible for, I went to Home Depot and dropped some cash on some materials to make myself a headboard. Yup. That happened.

Here's where my epiphany (finally -- were you getting bored? sorry) comes in:

I'm depressed.

Okay, that's not the huge epiphany. I've been struggling, off and on, in one way or another, with depression for a long time. The epiphany came when I realized, Maybe I'm not lazy. Maybe I can stop berating myself with that label and realize that my procrastination and avoidance are symptoms, not part of who I am.

That being said, there are definitely times when I deliberately make poor choices with my time. ~cough~all-nightkdramawatching~cough~ But right now? Struggling to finish or even start my Korean homework (normally a class I love)? Not answering emails for days and dreading checking my inbox? Starting decorating projects instead of catching up on work? Making ramyun and grilled cheese and eating cereal at almost every meal because I can't work up the motivation to cook? Falling off the wagon on my calorie-tracking and not even wanting to try to get back on? That's depression. Situational depression, yes, thank goodness, which means that at some point it's going to have to end. But what an amazing moment of self-compassion to realize that all that stuff I'm not doing? It's not me, it's my situation. And I can fix that. I can get help to fix it. And it can end.

How grateful I am to know that my Heavenly Father loves me, because lately, that's just about all that's getting me through the day.

(For more on this topic, I suggest reading Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk, "Like a Broken Vessel". It's marvelous, and gives me a lot of hope and strength.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

In Honor of the Day

A few songs that describe my current relationship status in honor of Valentine's Day:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I Can Feel It Coming in the Air

In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins has been a favorite for a long time. There are a lot of reasons -- it's so singable, and the tune is so memorable, and maybe I heard it a lot growing up. 

Have you ever had that experience, when you knew something was going to happen? You're not sure when or what or why or how, but you know something's coming and it's going to change things -- if not everything? Maybe I'm biased because of Phil Collins, but it does feel almost like a change in the air. A strange feeling all along the skin, especially on my back and the back of my upper arms. I've been feeling that feeling, off and on and growing stronger, since November. 

The feeling has been so strong that it's forced me to think about some things. It's made me want to examine why things are the way they are in my life. I feel like things are changing, and I wanted something tangible to reflect that. I do a lot of things because I've always done them; I'm a creature of habit. That being said, looking back over the last year, I can see how I started subtlely changing even before this. I started wearing makeup regularly. I started trying to dress more like a graduate student. I bought new bedding. Last Saturday I went to Joann's, bought some gold craft paint, and painted a whole bunch of things gold. (Ever since I can remember I've been a staunch silver person, but in the last few months my taste began to change. I've finally realized that gold looks better with my skintone than silver does.) This last week I took off a bracelet (really a necklace wrapped around my wrist three times) I've been wearing since my sophomore year of high school. I bought a new CTR ring and tucked away my Korean one from my mission. Most seriously of all, I've actually, seriously considered putting away my comfort blanket for good. (That's still too big of a step, it seems. Maybe in a few more months.)

I'm not sure what is going to happen. Why I feel this way. Why I feel like I need to start making small changes right now (I'm still getting used to them). There are some other changes happening in my life, but I don't think now is the time to share them. I'll share when a few things have settled and I have more to report than vague, strange, and somewhat unsettling feelings. But I think the general consensus among all the various parts of my brain is that, while unsettling, yes, these changes feel good. Right. Like I'm more grounded and less anxious about where I'm going and how I'm going to get there. Let's hope this trend continues.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Winter Sunsets

Living up on the eastern slopes of the mountains, I'm regularly treated to some pretty spectacular sunsets. I wish I could capture them in all their glory, but I always fall short.

The frustrating thing about photography is that it's never as awesome in your lens as it is in person. Also, I'm still shooting on full auto. I'm not sure how to adjust my camera so I get a longer exposure and thus (hopefully) more saturated colors for shots like these.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Grown-up Clothes

"Dress to make yourself feel like who you are."
                                                       - Duncan Quinn (here at The Sartorialist)

I read that quote this morning. It could be taken two ways: 1) You know who you are and you dress like it because you're awesome that way and don't feel the need to hide or change that, or 2) You don't feel like who you are (...or are supposed to be) so you dress yourself so you do feel like who you are. I think I fall into the second category. 

...this picture notwithstanding. This was really posed and a tiny snapshot in time. Also, you can't see that underneath I'm wearing my pajamas t-shirt. 
As a newly-minted graduate student and a 27-year-old, I've been paying a lot more attention to "grown-up" clothes and fashion and style in general than I ever have before. I think I've avoided paying much attention to fashion and style because, let's face it, it makes me feel really insecure. If you're not trying, then when you look like a slob you can reassure yourself by saying, "Well, I'm not really trying. If I tried I'd look great. And besides, I'm so comfortable." When you try and you still look bad...well, that just hurts.

Still, being taken seriously as an adult with intelligent ideas is easier when you look the part - whether or not you feel the part. And so I've been making an effort to dress more like a graduate student...whatever that means. To me, ideally, that looks something like this:

All images from What Would a Nerd Wear, which I just discovered and is sadly no longer active.
Yeah, I never go to school dressed like that. I'd like to, though. But let's face it: I'm never going to wear heels to walk around campus. They're too uncomfortable. And I'm only just now warming up to wearing a skirt to church, let alone to school all day. Again, it's about comfort. And I hate shopping. Sadly, my head and my heart are on different fashion pages -- my head's all, "Get up and get ready! Don't you want to look cute and have people take you seriously?" and my heart's all, "Heck, I'm just gonna wear those baggy jeans and my hoodie. Who doesn't love hoodies?" It's a daily battle, one that I'm sad to admit usually ends in a negotiated cease-fire, rather than a victory for my head.

Most days I manage to not wear the baggy jeans and hoodie, which I am pretty proud of. About half the time I even make it out the door with eyeliner and mascara on, which whoa. That's a big deal. For my next stride forward in the fashion world, I think I'm going to need to learn to do something with my hair other than put it in a ponytail or a bun. Or at least learn how to make them cuter.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This is what I did today instead of homework

We got a bunch of snow today - judging from how much I shoveled off our walk, at least half a foot. Then again, I do live up against the mountains, so it's possible those down in the valley got less snow. I was generously gifted a camera last year for Christmas, and one of my New Year's "I'd like to do better" goals was to use it more.

Isn't it gorgeous?

I'll tell you what's not gorgeous: shoveling it. The upside to shoveling, though, is that it keeps you warm. After just a few minutes I took my hat and coat off and was clearing our walk in just a t-shirt and scarf. Have a few artsy shots of my neighbor's retaining wall.

The sun's starting to peak out from behind the clouds...

And I'll finish off with a shot of my boots, because they make me happy and keep my feet warm and dry. Dry, warm feet cannot be overrated, especially in the winter.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A little cone humor for you

A good friend of mine was back in town today, and we stopped at Aggie Ice Cream for some yummies. This gem greeted us at the counter.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

So...somehow, without quite meaning to, it's been several months since I've written an actual post for my blog. I could blame it on being in graduate school, but the truth is I was just lazy. That's true of a lot of things I don't get done, actually.

But here it is, a new year -- 2014! I'm pretty sure I'm still stuck somewhere about 2009, 'cause it blows my mind to think I'll be turning 28 (!!), I'll soon have a one-year-old niece (!!!), and my baby brother will join the ranks of the double-digit age club (!!!!) this year. Not to mention my parents are steadily working their way through their 50s. And who knows? Maybe I'll finally get a sister-in-law this year, too!

This is the traditional time for a few resolutions, made with passion and well-intentioned vows to change. I'm not such a huge fan of resolutions; I always end up loosing steam about two weeks into January, and then I just feel guilty. I'm not immune to the impulse, I'm just too cynical to make a (public) attempt. Instead, this year I made a list of twelve experiences -- one for each month of the year -- I want to have in 2014.

shoot a gun

go to the ballet

visit LA

go camping

attend the symphony

learn to cook some Korean food

organize a service activity

get a massage

rock climb

run a 5k

spend an afternoon at a museum / planetarium

hike to the top of a mountain

I must make sure to take copious pictures and blog about each of them. I also want to make sure to do each of these with someone, and not just do them for the sake of crossing them off my list. I want to do them to make memories and experience something new. Basically, I want to force myself to leave my house at least once a month so I have some semblance of a social life.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Happy October

Wow, I'm terrible about this blogging thing lately, huh? I keep telling myself I need to be more regular about it, but I guess I'm just being lazy. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Happy September!

It's the best month of the year. And not just because I was born in it. ^_~

There must be something about September 1st, because I moved into a new house exactly one year ago on September 1st, too. It's nice not to be homeless anymore.