Some More Things About Safety

dr. friend:  so i don’t think i’m particularly cool with this whole not being able to chat with you

me:  yeah, no kidding
i’m a jerk
 dr. friend:  you should really work on that
 me:  hell no
it’s your problem
 dr. friend:  lol
 me:  😉
 dr. friend:  i mean, no texting or anything
 me:  i know, right?
 dr. friend:  sheesh
[top secret stuff]
 dr. friend:  ahhhh
so when do you return?
 me:  [shh]
 dr. friend:  okay.
 me:  don’t worry, it’s before your birthday
 dr. friend:  brb…i gotta tell the dept of homeland sec “something”
;-)lol
 me:  haha
i’m going to bring a longform birth certificate from senegal
it was never kenya
 dr. friend:  hahaha
  me:  i bought some dramamine and pepto
 dr. friend:  imodium?
 me:  no
 dr. friend:  buy some
 me:  yeah?
 dr. friend:  if you get the traveler’s diarrhea, imodium plus the azithromycin
 me:  i like doctor friends
 dr. friend:  seriously.
lol
and you know not to brush your teeth with the water too, right?
 me:  yeah. keeping the mineral water by the sink
using that for washing hands before contact lens insertion, too
 dr. friend:  good
and i don’t know that i’d do much wading in streams barefoot
 me:  you can look at all my parasites when i come back
 dr. friend:  hahahahah
[a friend] showed me a pic of a dude’s parasites once.  dude had brought them to the office
 me:  what
 dr. friend:  yeah
people bring weird crap in
like their bedbugs in a jar
 me:  why?
 dr. friend:  so i can see them
mucus too.  it’s an awesome job
 me:  you love it!
 dr. friend:  lol
most of the time
 dr. friend:  hey, good news
the worm i was concerned about, the guinea worm has been eradicated from senegal
 me:  did they put it back in guinea?
 dr. friend:  lol
 me:  i’m glad i don’t have to worry about that
 dr. friend:  yeah
me too
it’s pretty gross
 me:  would you be okay signing for a crate with a monkey in it?
it would be for your birthday
 dr. friend:  oh sure
 me:  what color?
 dr. friend:  it would need to be trained as a butler first
we’ve always wanted a monkey butler, you know
any color, as long as it’s trained.  i’m no racist.
 me:  do you like cufflinks for the monkey tux?
 dr. friend:  it would be nice, not necessary though
i’d be happy to dress the monkey
 me:  okay, that works
 dr. friend:  so do you have to wear a head scarf or anything?
 me:  no, but i do think we have to dress special for when we visit a mosque
 dr. friend:  probably long skirt/covered arms/head
 me:  yes
i should pack those :)
 dr. friend:  lol
 me:  do you like mangoes?
 dr. friend:  omg yeah
you should send me a bunch
 me:  i’m afraid the monkey will be easier
 dr. friend:  lol
you could um, smuggle them in your clothing?  ;-)
 me:  i could risk growing a cup size or four
 dr. friend:  hee
 me:  [la la la]
 dr. friend:  [confirm la la la]
[husband] says you’re going to get lots of marriage proposals
 me:  SWEET
 dr. friend:  in senegal.  they seem to enjoy foreign women
 me:  yeah, i KNOW not here
 dr. friend:  lol, not what i meant
 me:  (i know 🙂 )
 dr. friend:  lol
of course, with the whole muslim thing, you might be looking at quite a different life for yourself
 me:  maybe i can find one who practices animalism
 dr. friend:  there ya go
 me:  or one of the 4% of the catholic population
 dr. friend:  see, now you’re thinking
 me:  haha
 dr. friend:  so you leave [cuckoo!]
 me:  true
 me:  did you turn down your invitation [to the royal wedding]?
 dr. friend:  yeah…decided on iceland instead
 me:  priorities
 dr. friend:  yup
 me:  do you play portal?
 dr. friend:  no
 me:  okay, just wondering
 dr. friend:  what is it?
oh crap, have i gotten old?
 me:  it’s a video/computer game
 dr. friend:  oh
 dr. friend:  so old
 me:  i hear ya
 dr. friend:  woops
 me:  ha. huh?
 dr. friend:  i accidentally got off this page
 me:  ah. okay
i’m so flattered that you’re going to miss me
 dr. friend:  totally
 me:  will you say hi to björk when you go to iceland?
 dr. friend:  lol of course
i’ll send you one of her outfits
 me:  i would LOVE that
i’d wear it every day until the eggs hatch
 dr. friend:  unless you’d prefer that fermented shark’s head thing
lol
 me:  haha. eww
are you going to try to buy iceland?
 dr. friend:  not right now.  we need a fence.
 me:  HAHAHA
priorities
 dr. friend:  yup
i heard a rumor that you designed kate’s dress
 me:  if it’s a cross between modest and yip-yip monster, then yes
 dr. friend:  that’s wild.  so you’re going to senegal to avoid the press, right
 me:  yes. and to find a royal husband of my own
 dr. friend:  okay, i’m lame so i’m off to bed
 me:  good night lamey
 dr. friend:  have a good night!  [dum dee dum dee dum]
me: thanks so much
 dr. friend:  get some imodium
 me:  yes’m
 dr. friend:  gnight!

Some Things About Safety

A few weeks ago, I was in my Study Abroad prep class. Someone had come in from the Study Abroad office to give a presentation on international traveling safety. The first topic on her slide show was about virtual kidnapping. She asked the class if anyone knew what that was. After a reasonable pause, she explained that virtual kidnapping is when bad guys get a hold of your personal information, call family or friends, tell them that they are holding you for ransom and threaten not to release you until their requests are met. The bad guys will usually have a recording of someone screaming and/or crying in the background to heighten the effect. So, while family or friends are on the phone with the bad guys, the “victim” mostly likely has no idea someone is threatening her loved ones for money. The victim could be sunbathing at the beach or having monkeys pick nits from her hair or exploring a sacred mosque in the city.

That’s some scary, right?

I haven’t broadcasted my departing and returning dates here or on facebook (which is where a lot of bad guys get their information). If you’ve asked me personally about my itinerary, I have told you.  I’ve limited viewing of personal data on facebook to friends, and I swear, if any of you relate that information to a bad guy, and I hear of someone threatening people I love? My new pet hippo will attack you. Horace will bite your head off then sit on your body to squirt blood from your neck like a tube of toothpaste. Then Horace will brush his giant, flat, plant-pulverizing teeth with your blood.

A few of you should have gotten or will be receiving a packet with my flight information, passport number, health insurance number, and contact information of the hotels where we’ll be staying. A few of you know how to get a hold of my mom in case anything happens.

I won’t have regular internet access or international cell phone service, but I’ll leave updates whenever I can.

Like I mentioned before, our class is going to have its very own bus, so we won’t be riding around with strangers. I won’t carry my passport with me, and hopefully my stint in New York City has trained me to be wary of pickpockets and various hoodlums. And, I’ll always go out with a buddy. Maybe this buddy will end up being the guy I date when we get back to the states and eventually marry. No dating is rule #1  on a BYU Study Abroad. 2. No proselyting. 3. Obey the Honor Code. However, that is a gigantic “maybe,” even bigger than Horace. And Horace is a rare breed of enormohippo. FYI.

This is all precautionary stuff.  I’m looking forward to having an unbelievable and very fun time.

Some Things About Packing

Well, I’m taking these two items with me. The suitcase is 21 inches, and the backpack is just cool. You know how people enter races just for the “free” t-shirt? Well, I can’t say that I would pay as much as I did for the study abroad to get the “free” backpack, but the backpack makes me feel like part of a very privileged club.

I intend to carry on my luggage for as much of the trip as possible. I’m going to try not to overstuff the suitcase.

You can see the suitcase is half-empty. The other half is for some donated clothes that we’re giving to the orphans.

Here is the backpack. I’ll be putting my shoes, my books, and then school supplies for the kids in it. I’m really looking forward to the service aspect of this trip.

It’s required for us to have this tattooed on the back of our left shoulders before leaving. The tattoo contains a special ink used for tracking students by the university. Mine is still a little bit sore, but the image is really clear. My technician had a very steady hand.

This the converter and possible adapters for the electrical outlets. I wish countries could at least agree on electricity, but I understand there are far greater problems for them to deal with. Like mortality. And clean water. To counter the water issues, see a few of the supplies below.

These necessities seem … necessary:
-trusty white running cap, for protecting my head from becoming an Easy-Bake Oven with my dark hair under the sun being so very close to the equator
-new razor, for silky smooth legs for free time at the beach and pool
-tampons, for that very lucky week
-bag of 3-oz bottles, containing: lotion, sunscreen, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, contact lens solution
-a ton of Q-tips, I don’t know why
-sunglasses, for protecting my eyes when monkeys or hippos spit in them
-contact lenses, mostly for looking less nerdy and enabling more physical activity
-doxycycline, for pre-treatment and prevention of malaria; must take daily; must take with a small meal and a full glass of (bottled mineral) water or else I feel very, very woozy; I already know this first-hand
-azithromycin, for traveler’s diarrhea; this does not sound very fun at all
-Tide detergent packs (not pictured), for doing laundry in the hotel room sink
-Kleenex pocket packs (not pictured)

I may add:
-Immodium or Pepto Bismol, for less severe stomach upset
-dramamine, for bus rides; we’ve chartered our own bus for traveling across the country, and if I’m going to get any reading done, I need to keep my stomach calm

You guys, I’m very, very excited.

May’s Super-Duper Song Review: “Friday” by Rebecca Black

It was Friday, March 25, 2011. I was reading at the BYU English Symposium, and a good friend of mine came to hear the presentation. It was already raining that morning, and by the time my panel was over, it was pouring even harder, and threatening to snow. On our walk from the Jesse Knight Building to the Marriott Center, my friend heard a girl singing a song to the friend she was walking with. My friend remarked that that was the second time she overheard someone singing that song. I asked, “What song is this?” Then she started describing it, and I had never heard of it. But, if people on campus had caught the earworm, then I figured I would hear it eventually.

Eventually came very soon. That night I was at a friend’s apartment. We had just returned from a BYU men’s volleyball game, and it was getting late, and we started looking up videos on YouTube. We looked up everything from the Kermit the Frog singing Johnny Cash to Flight of the Conchords. And then somebody had to bring up a song called “Friday” by Rebecca Black. The group of us watched this video a few times, commenting on the musicality and songwriting. I must admit I was taken aback. Why hadn’t I heard of this earlier? How did this phenomenon arise? And, how fortunate was I to have heard this song on a Friday?

Since that fated Friday, I hear the song all the time, everywhere. Here’s the song, for your reference, to accompany my following comments:

The more I listen to the song, the more hypnotizing it becomes. In addition to the catchy autotuned singing, which so skillfully cloaks Ms. Black’s pubescent voice, the lyrics are profound and showcase the marvelous acrobatics of the English language in a neglected circus sideshow. Words, music, video – everything about the song begs further analysis:

(Yeah, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ark) 
Oo-ooh-ooh, hoo yeah, yeah 
Yeah, yeah 
Yeah-ah-ah 
Yeah-ah-ah 
Yeah-ah-ah 
Yeah-ah-ah 
Yeah, yeah, yeah

From the beginning, this song exudes positivity. Where some songs begin with “No-oooo” or even simply, “la la la la,” the “Yeah” inherently invites acceptance. Yeah, of course I will like this song. Yeah, I will keep singing this song all day because, yeah, it makes me so happy. Yeah, even when it’s not Friday. But real-life Fridays make me smile very big. Yeah.

Also, what about the beautiful message of the Ark? The story of Noah’s Ark expresses new beginnings and exclusion of the wicked. What does this have to do with Friday? The righteous party hard on Friday, but not on Sunday. Rainbows come on Sunday.

What do you think of the flipbook animation here? I wish I were as skillful at creating cartoon effects as other people.

Seven a.m., waking up in the morning 
Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs 
Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal 
Seein’ everything, the time is goin’ 
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’ 
Gotta get down to the bus stop 
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends (My friends)

The first thing I think of when I read this verse isn’t exactly positive: if she’s rushing in the morning, why doesn’t she set her alarm clock to go off earlier? I do appreciate Rebecca’s fastidiousness, though, especially her hygiene and the importance of breakfast.

I LOVE the forced rhyme of bowl and cereal. It further emphasizes the value of breakfast: if you make those words rhyme, then you can make yourself eat breakfast in the morning. Also, by the end of the week, by Friday, one’s energy is all but spent, and if she’s going to party that night, she needs all the energy that she can get.

The dilemma of having to choose between riding the bus and riding in the cool car with friends is so, so real!

Kickin’ in the front seat 
Sittin’ in the back seat 
Gotta make my mind up 
Which seat can I take? 

I LOVE how Rebecca thinks safety first! Which seat can she take? Instead of taking either side in the back, she takes the middle! She wants to be alive for the big party that night!

It’s Friday, Friday 
Gotta get down on Friday 
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend 
Friday, Friday 
Gettin’ down on Friday 
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

I LOVE the English language! I had no idea that forward could be pronounced “forWARD”! I love having the choice of pronouncing words differently than their standard, universally accepted pronunciations! I’m going to pronounce forward in as many ways as I can! I LOVE the free spirit of this song!

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah) 
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah) 
Fun, fun, fun, fun 
Lookin’ forward to the weekend 

7:45, we’re drivin’ on the highway 
Cruisin’ so fast, I want time to fly 
Fun, fun, think about fun 
You know what it is 
I got this, you got this 
My friend is by my right, ay 
I got this, you got this 
Now you know it

I LOVE how Rebecca throws caution to the wind and safety doesn’t matter anymore! She’s not sitting deep in the seat but on the back of seat in that ultra-cool convertible. But she’s with her friends on a Friday night, and that’s what’s important! I LOVE the city skyline and the full moon in the background. I was a little worried teenagers were going to start morphing into vampires and wolves, but THAT DOES NOT HAPPEN! I LOVE THAT!

I LOVE how the friends on both sides of her have braces! What a brilliant plug for dental maintenance and self-conscious imperfections!

Kickin’ in the front seat 
Sittin’ in the back seat 
Gotta make my mind up 
Which seat can I take?

It’s obvious now which seat is her Friday seat. But I LOVE to hear it again anyway.

It’s Friday, Friday 
Gotta get down on Friday 
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend 
Friday, Friday 
Gettin’ down on Friday 
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah) 
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah) 
Fun, fun, fun, fun 
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday 
Today i-is Friday, Friday (Partyin’) 
We-we-we so excited 
We so excited 
We gonna have a ball today 

Did you know that one of my favorite poets, Gerard Manley Hopkins, left out small words in his poetry to purify it and extract its essence? I believe Rebecca caught the pulse of Mr. Hopkins with this part of the song. “We so excited” carries just as much meaning as “We are so excited.” The important words: We = togetherness and bonding. So = describes how excited. Excited = excited!

Tomorrow is Saturday 
And Sunday comes after … wards 
I don’t want this weekend to end 

The sequence of weekend days often confuses me. This is a wonderful reminder. This segment hearkens back to the beginning with the flipbook animation. The continuity (and cost consciousness!) of this video is really impressive.

R-B, Rebecca Black 
So chillin’ in the front seat (In the front seat) 
In the back seat (In the back seat) 
I’m drivin’, cruisin’ (Yeah, yeah) 
Fast lanes, switchin’ lanes 
Wit’ a car up on my side (Woo!) 
(C’mon) Passin’ by is a school bus in front of me 
Makes tick tock, tick tock, wanna scream 
Check my time, it’s Friday, it’s a weekend 
We gonna have fun, c’mon, c’mon, y’all 

Did you know that R.B. are the initials for Rebecca Black?

Did you know that Gertrude Stein often strung words together in a seemingly nonsensical way, but she used words similarly to how artists use different materials to build and layer and texture their work? Not only does Rebecca add variety to the song by including a rapper, she adds dimension to the song by adding other lyrics that also do not seem to make sense. It’s a diversion, much like Fridays are supposed to be.

In terms of continuity and diversity, the rapper-driver is reckless driving, swerving between lanes, passing a school bus full of children-victims of the public school system. Caution has clearly caught the jetstream. I appreciate the understated environmental message. Pure genius.

It’s Friday, Friday 
Gotta get down on Friday 
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend 
Friday, Friday 
Gettin’ down on Friday 
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend 

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah) 
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah) 
Fun, fun, fun, fun 
Lookin’ forward to the weekend 

It’s Friday, Friday 
Gotta get down on Friday 
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend 
Friday, Friday 
Gettin’ down on Friday 
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

More about the lyrical brilliance of this song. How do you fill a measure of music? Four beats? Not with “la la la la” or even with “yeah yeah yeah yeah” but with “Fun fun fun fun!” I love the challenge of memorizing this song with all the quirky shifts in the words – the words themselves, as well as the pronunciations. So, so deep.

If I were going to sing a song about the weekend to my friends, I would sing it beside a tree. I would also include cuts to me singing autotuned high notes in a studio with colored lights and stage smoke. I would also make the audience clap for me and my groovy moves. The song ends with the same positivity as it begins. But, the song also ends with a word that ends in end: weekend. Who else would have thought of that?

This song deserves higher than a “SUPER DUPER” rating, but I can’t possibly make an exception in the scale I designed, even as powerful as Fridays are.

May’s rating scale:

SUPER DUPER!

More mediocrity!

Medially mediocre

Trying too hard!

DUPED.

Some Things About Senegal

-It’s in Africa.
-It is a republic, with a president.
-Its capital, Dakar, is the westernmost point of the continent.
-There are two main seasons, the dry season and the hivernage.
-According to my professor, their mangoes are amazing, and I’ll never want to eat whatever other kinds are imported to the States ever again.
-French is the official language
Aminata Sow Fall is from Senegal. She deserves a bigger entry in Wikipedia.
-94% of the population is Muslim
-The CIA World Factbook website states that “Senegal has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping and regional mediation.”
-Did you see that the website has a Kids’ Page? I never really correlated CIA and kids, but they seem to go together as well as pairs of anything else.

Some Things About the Trip

-We’ll be traveling across the country, staying at five different places
-There are pickpocketers, but since I don’t know the language well, it will be less safe than New York City
-It will be very hot and humid
-I will be going to the beach
-Aminata Sow Fall is pretty much our hostess for this trip; we’ll be studying her and other francophone authors’ works
-We will be visiting orphanages
-Monkeys and other wildlife might approach me
-It will be awesome

Cussin the Weathah

I apologize for the bad video quality. Just pretend that is snow, too.

So, I missed my bus this morning, and I decided to walk toward campus to one of the bus stops that would take me to work. It’s about a 25 minute walk, and the weather was nice enough, though the sky was a little bit overcast.

The first 22 minutes were uneventful. I was hitting all the walk signals at the intersections, and I was making good time. I knew I wouldn’t miss this next bus.

Then, the last three minutes. I was heading east, and a gust of wind came from behind me and with it, a light flurry of snow flakes. Then, following that, more gusts and a steady, swirling, barrage of white, wet flakes. I raised my hands to the air and asked, “What is this?!?”

Yet, because I’m an old person and check the weather every day before I leave the apartment, I was expecting snow, so I wore my winter coat, and I was able to reach back and bring the hood over my head. I walked the rest of the way to the bus stop. I could have been way less grumpy.

I also had an umbrella in my backpack (old-person, boy-scout syndrome), but someone else had come to the bus stop, not prepared at all for the weather. I didn’t share the umbrella with her (cancels out boy-scout aspect, but retains parts of old person). I’m a horrible person when it snows at the end of April.

Oh, the first of my grades are in! My first Bs of my second-chance college career. Can you guess what subject?

Sycophantism 101

So, I was thinking back to when I got rejected for a Spring/Summer scholarship, way back in February.  The letter I sent to the financial aid office rather firmly asked them to reconsider their decision, that my recent grades should speak more loudly than my grades from prodigal years. They did reply, saying their decision is final, and that they can’t ignore any grades.

It makes sense that they didn’t give me a Spring/Summer scholarship, since those are strictly grades-based. But I also dismissed my chances of receiving a Fall/Winter scholarship; I was ready to apply for federal financial aid and finish off my undergraduate career, business as usual. I’d already resigned to commit to more debt because I was commited to earning a degree. What’s one more year, anyway?

Maybe you can understand my surprise when I received notification about the scholarship. While it’s true that Fall/Winter scholarships are need-based as well as academic, if you fill out the comprehensive application, you also get to submit three essays in some sort of last-ditch effort to prove your eligibility for a happy philanthropist’s money. I guess the financial aid office also considers the FAFSA, but not nearly as heavily as one’s character and intellect.

Those three essays really had to capture my character and intellect. Before I returned to BYU, I applied for a scholarship, and they seemed to regretfully inform me I wasn’t going to receive one. I understood that as well: it had been seven years, and my academic record before the hyperextended hiatus (called New York City)  was pretty shameful. But this time around, while I didn’t quite earn 4.0s, it did look like I was trying to redeem myself. The grades reflected my determination, which spoke for my character; and they also somewhat indicated that I have the smarts.

I couldn’t count on grades being enough, because BYU doesn’t look solely at grades with semester scholarships. Near the beginning of this year, I remembered the application deadline coming quickly, and I didn’t know how I could write three dazzling essays. Nevertheless, I took a deep breath, told myself they were only three three-hundred word essays, and that I had nothing to lose. I typed away.

The three essays are the same topics each time: 1. Tell us about yourself; 2. What do you want to accomplish at BYU; 3. What have you accomplished in the last five years. While I agree to advise people to be honest and sell themselves while writing these essays, I must also have to say it’s sort of a balancing act with saying a few things the scholarship committee wants to hear. It’s part of the business and art of writing in world: of course you have your craft, but if your work doesn’t affect someone, somewhere, then why bother?

The essays follow, behind the cut. I tried treating them as one long essay split into three parts with a few overlapping ideas. Truth be told, they’re not my best work, but I believe they made a difference in the committee’s decision. I’m glad someone decided to share a bit of their fortune with me. That someone reading what I had to say turned something relatively low-risk into a great blessing.

Continue reading

Simultaneity

Apparently, while I was failing a final exam last week, this message from the financial aid office landed in my student account:

Dear May:

Congratulations on your commitment, preparation, and citizenship.  Brigham Young University is pleased to award you the following:

Semester Scholarship Amount Required Hours
Fall  2011 Brigham Young $money.yay! 14
Winter 2012 Brigham Young $money.yay! 14

This scholarship is awarded based on the financial information you provided on your Comprehensive scholarship application.  We encourage you to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to apply for federal financial aid for the 2011-12 academic year, if you have not already done so.  Details on how to apply may be found on the Financial Aid website.

Please note that this is an undergraduate scholarship.  If you will be a graduate student for the semester(s) indicated, you are not eligible to claim this scholarship.  If you wish to defer or decline the award, please visit the Scholarship History page in Route Y. To access this page, log in to Route Y, click on School, AIM, and Financial Aid and Scholarships.

Tithes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and offerings of generous friends of the university fund BYU scholarships. Following established procedures, we award these resources to encourage continued commitment to spiritual and intellectual growth. By claiming your award, you accept certain responsibilities. Specifically, you commit to:

Use this investment wisely to prepare for meaningful service to your family, community, and the world.

Express gratitude by writing a thoughtful letter of appreciation to those who fund your scholarship.

Comply with the policies that govern the use of your award.

Exemplify good citizenship within the university community by abiding the Honor Code, encouraging others to do likewise, and, whenever possible, attending the weekly campus devotionals and forums.

Provide a minimum of 15 hours of meaningful service, which you define and pursue on your own, for each semester of scholarship awarded.

Replenish the university’s scholarship funds as circumstances in your life allow.

Please refer to the Expectations of BYU Scholarship Recipients below for additional explanation and specific instructions about these commitments.

Please note that scholarships are not automatically renewed. To be considered for future scholarships, you must apply by the published deadlines.   No late applications will be accepted.

Scholarships provide financial assistance, but they also represent a vote of confidence in you. We celebrate the gifts and talents you contribute to our student body.

Sincerely,

Financial Aid Office
Brigham Young University

***
So, I have to write a letter to the scholarship donors, be an all-around grateful student, and basically stop feeling discouraged so easily. The message made my day; it reminded me of what I’m capable of doing.

Potluck Jam Session

People brought food. They brought instruments. We ate. Some people decorated Easter eggs. Then, we  played and sang and had a jolly old time. Here’s a sample of the coveted event:

“Wagon Wheel” – Old Crow Medicine Show

“Mariner’s Revenge” – Decemberists

“Engine Driver” –  Decemberists

“We’re Going to Be Friends” – The White Stripes

“Hotel Yorba” – The White Stripes

“Silver Lining” – Rilo Kiley

“Hallelujah” – Jeff Buckley

Oh, the instruments:

guitars
tambourine
bongo drums
harmonica
ukulele
saw
glorious voices

Right now, I’m full of food and socially content. It’s time for bed.

Hosanna au grand Roi

I was flipping through the French hymnal, trying to figure out the tunes and to see if I could recognize the hymns along with the words, because sometimes the translations are a little bit different.

Given today’s holiday, maybe this hymn seemed especially appropriate. I have been humming it all day.

1. Hosanna au grand Roi! Adorez le Seigneur,
Objet de notre foi, Rendez-lui tous honneur!

2. Il règne à tout jamais Le Dieu de vérité.
Payant pour nos péchés, Sa vie il a donné.

3. Son royaume est parfait, C’est lui qui règne en tout.
Il a reçu les clés, Vainquant la mort pour nous.

Ouvrez vos coeurs, offrez vos voix, laissez éclater votre joie,
Ouvrez vos coeurs, offrez vos voix, laissez éclater votre joie.

Professor/Brother Marsh spoke to us today at a special stake conference. His message instilled hope and joy, he invited the spirit of Easter to the meeting, and it continues to abide.

He recounted the story of Elder Holland observing a family awaiting their son from his mission at an airport. He noticed the anxious and eager faces on the girlfriend and the parents. He saw how their faces lit up when the plane landed, and the father ran onto the tarmac and waited for his son to deplane. When the son stepped onto the ground, he saw his father, and the two of them walked up to each other and gave each other a big hug. It was all they could do; they couldn’t speak for several minutes because they were so happy to see each other.

Elder Holland wondered if the reunion between Christ and the Father was anything like this, when the Son was alone for those agonizing moments, and when He was able to finally ascend up to his Father. Would they have been able to speak, or would they embrace and weep and not feel like letting go?

Brother Marsh told a personal story of his best friend,  from his mission days. His friend would call him up, wanting to pay a visit, and each time the both of them would hike the Y and reminisce about old times. This last time, the friend called. He visited, but he said he didn’t want to climb the Y, but talk with Brother Marsh. In his office, the friend announced that he had cancer, and that the doctors said he only had six months to live. The friend said he didn’t though he was going to make it even that long, but he wanted his best friend to know. For the next two hours they talked and reminisced and enjoyed the closeness of their friendship. When it came time for the friend to leave, they stood up and hugged each other, and the friend told Brother Marsh that he forgave him. Knowing that there was never any contention between them in the course of their friendship, Brother Marsh understood that if there was anything that would hinder their eternal friendship, all would be forgiven.

The friend passed away just a few months later, after his birthday.

The Atonement continues to amaze me in the many ways it works in people’s lives. I’ll never fully understand it, but because it works in my life, I am grateful for it, and maybe that’s all I need.

Happy Easter.