Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Fire and Heat of Utah

I just recently moved to Utah, preparing early for some sort of graduate program attendance. One thing I was not excited for was the heat. Well, I didn't realize just how hot it would be for my Northwest-bred body. My lips are chapped all the time and the skin on my legs sometimes look subject to a drought. Plus, there is a plethora of spiders hanging around, scaring the essence of life out of me.

But, it's really not all that bad. I got a job as tech support, which is actually much better than I thought it would be. My brother works at the same company, so I applied because he sounded like he was happy working there and I'm all about a job that makes me happy. When I was told I'd be working tech support, I kind of started to fret. Like most kids of my generation, I know computers well enough to easily function on a daily basis. But, tech support? I was not that advanced.

When I got into the actual job, I got even more nervous, since some of my coworkers would spout mumbo jumbo about ip configuration and database preferences. I often asked the poor, unsuspecting people in the office about how to solve issues and I hoped and prayed I would conquer all this confusion on my part.

Good news, I got over it. I learned quite a bit; I got a lot of help; and I was able to handle most issues on my own. I learned what questions to ask, what sort of information to collect and now I'm feeling alright about the job part. But my favorite part isn't necessarily that I'm learning so much, it's the people.

I love my coworkers.

Maybe that seems weird because I've only been working there for maybe a month or so. But we really have a lot of fun while we're working. When you call tech support, you usually hear some professionally dull person on the other end saying, "how can I help you?" What you don't know is that sometimes, while that tech is waiting for something to load up, they will mute the phone so you can't hear them and turn to their coworker and be like, "let's order pizza." I do the best that I can to help each client, but my workplace doesn't stop you from having fun while you're working. We laugh and joke and tease all the time as we search through tickets, submit replacement orders and change preferences in the system. What's even better is when I have some sort of question, I can freely ask my coworkers to get a proper answer. We've been trying to plan a sort of chocolate milk drinking game to spice up the tech support life, but we have yet to actually put it in motion.

One thing about me that people may not know is that I love to share and help. I especially love to share food and feed people. When people say they're hungry, I say, "what can I get you?" I tend to get motherly at times and I'm often prone to making sure people are comfortable and happy. Need someone to pour your soul to? My door is always open. These coworkers of mine let me be the sharing self I am. When I bring food, they always want some of it. It doesn't matter if it's carrots or candy, they want a little bit. Now I can share to my heart's content. I rub their shoulders if they're overwhelmed and I make a food run after my shift for them. I love it. I just love it.

I also got a second job as a writer for a web design company. I write on simple topics, like, "How to Whiten Your Teeth with Baking Soda." I write everything from home and it's a nice, relaxed second job. I enjoy it quite a bit and I learn odd bits of useful information.

Now I'm living in a house my parents bought, acting as a house manager for renters in the house. My parents and I spent a couple weeks sprucing up the place by painting, wallpapering, gluing, repairing and basically having a good time. I do love it here. Of course, I'm still kind of establishing a life in Utah, but so far it's going well. I guess we'll see what happens.

I took a trip home to Washington a couple weeks ago and got to spend a week with my family. All my siblings were able to gather together and just have a bunch of fun like we always do. We fit in some radical Yahtzee, some serious tubing and a trip to my favorite beaches in the world: Northwestern beaches.

Whenever we play Yahtzee, we always seem to up the required Yahtzee reactions. While on our vacation in Hawaii in April, we were required to open the glass door of in the hotel room and scream Yahtzee to poor, unsuspecting people. This last family vacation we had together, we had to jump in my parents' pool when we got a Yahtzee. My mom actually had to jump in with all her clothes on (she was not prepared in that particular moment) and she totally hopped in like the hot mama she is.

We went tubing on the Columbia, which is always my favorite. Of course, I loved everything we did, but tubing is basically my only source of exercise. And if you say it isn't exercise, then go extreme water tubing and tell me how you feel the next day. As usual, I was the first to jump on the tube, since the river isn't exactly warm. Unfortunately, I really had no chance when I was paired up with my dad and my brothers, since I don't have the arm and leg muscles for real battle tubing and I don't have a manly weight to my advantage. I fell of quite a bit and got knocked around on the wakes, but I kept going for awhile. At some point, I fell off the tube and the lip of the tube cover caught on my upper lip, scraping across my gums and lip. When I popped up out of the water, my lip was numb, but I was alright. Well, I thought I was alright. I wasn't dying or anything. The boat came around and my dad took a look at me and yelled in his fatherly voice, "she's bleeding, stop the boat!" My sister snatched up the camera and took a picture and my mom handed me a water bottle to rinse my mouth out. There was no noticeable damage. Just a good picture and a small cut and blister on my gums and inner lip.

Going to the beach was nice for me. I think the beaches of the Northwest are just gorgeous. Maybe it's because I grew up appreciating them. I've seen Hawaiian beaches, California beaches and the beautiful beaches of Mexico, but Oregon beaches have a beauty all their own. It was a little chilly when we went, but that didn't really matter to me. I loved spending some time with my fabulous family in one of the most beautiful places on earth. It was just nice to be home with my favorite people. Hawaii was good to me and Utah seems like it'll be a great place, but the Northwest will always be my home.

Monday, November 15, 2010

School's Cruel

Hello, world! Laura Miller here, updating on the happenings of her life. So far, life's been good and college has treated me with some goodness!

I got to see a few fabulous movies while I've been here. I had the opportunity to see Megamind and I was cracking up! Funniest tale of a villain ever! It was a pleasant sort of different and brightened my day. I finally saw Despicable Me, which was also an excellent animated film. The minions were the best part; I can kind of see myself blending right in with the clever, little goons. Just recently, I saw Tangled, the new Rapunzel movie. I loved it! It was adorable and dramatic. It was just really intense and wonderful. :)

Although, I had the the saddest and funniest experience on the way to see Megamind, quickly pedaling to the theater on my fabulous, rusty bike. There's a sharp turn onto the sidewalk to get into the Laie Shopping Center and it had been raining all day. Amid my quick twist to get on the sidewalk, my bike hydroplaned sideways, causing me topple over. Immediately, I laughed aloud and set to getting myself off the ground. Several people asked if I was alright and it was a tad embarrassing, except I'm so clumsy already that I hardly get ashamed of my trips and stumbles. I stood up, still chuckling to myself, and examined the scrapes of mud on my shins and my throbbing foot. There weren't really any injuries except for some small pricks from rocks here and there. When I got to the theater, I headed straight to the bathroom and wiped the dirt off my legs. The next day, I noticed a pale bruise on my foot and it steadily got darker and darker as the week wore on. I was so proud of my bruise, I made excuses to show it off to people, always resulting in a "Woah! What happened?" or a suck of air through the teeth and a "that looks really bad." It's all gone now, but a partial bruise feeling still remains. I must've bruised something like a bone, I don't know!

Thanksgiving turned out to be fantastic, despite being away from home. I went to the church lunch, got myself some real food and talked to some fabulous folks. This means that I didn't go without turkey or ham this year! I had lots of food, like mashed potatoes and gravy, salad, turkey, ham, stuffing and some yummy pumpkin cake pie thing. When I went home, I managed to make a green bean casserole and a chocolate mousse pie. Yes, people, I made some homemade pie crust with absolute success! It was flaky and delicious, making the perfect shell to carry chocolate mousse. That pie was gone by noon the next day! I'm so happy about that success. It was definitely a day of gratefulness for me.

I'm looking forward to the holidays like nobody's business. Okay, so it is plenty of people's business, I'm just really excited. Since the cold weather isn't existent in Hawaii, my housemates and I decorated the house a little bit. I found myself counting out the days until I go home while I took a shower. Only thirteen days left...not that anybody's counting. I spoke to my mom about Christmas ideas and plans while I'm home and all the siblings are amassed in the house. Look here, siblings! We are going to make a gingerbread house as a group. Oh, yes, we are going to work together. Of course, it has to be humongous and structurally sound as well as stylish. It will be a bonding moment for all of us, so be excited! I've also convinced my mother to have the fantastic family activity of making sugar cookies. It has been ages since the tradition was practiced and there is no reason to want to skip out. Seriously, it's cookies and frosting and they are just waiting for us to make them and eat them. Another activity I am very excited and determined to carry out is to teach my family members various parts of the Christmas Bells song. Then, when we make Christmas dinner or something, we can video tape ourselves randomly bursting into song! How awesome would that be? Super awesome, that's what! Let's just say that I am persuading my mother to plan family bonding activities and not a soul will escape!

I am also preparing a list of things I require for when I return home. That sounds awfully spoiled sounding...and it probably is. But some of these things are very much necessary for anybody to celebrate the holiday season! I've recently wanted to tell my mom to have cookies prepared for my arrival home. I mean, I want to walk through the door and see...cookies! You see, I am carrying out a challenge of no sugar or white flour until I get home. My mother was the one to think of the idea and I grow tired of watching those Toll House cookie commercials. Also, egg nog must be supplied throughout my stay, especially because I missed that opportunity last year. That is the last time I try and diet through the Christmas season. Alright, so my list is really just good fun...except for the egg nog. That's serious.

I'm learning to cook much better these days. Now I can make cucumber salad; fried rice; beef stroganoff with ground beef; stir fried broccoli; deluxe scrambled eggs; salad with hard boiled eggs and homemade dressing; beef and rice; amateur sushi; amateur onigiri; and various combinations of the same ingredients I use for basically everything. I'm going to start looking up other ideas now that I have some general recipes and cooking experience. I'm so proud of myself! I tried making homemade potato chips, but the first time I made them too thick, and the second time I learned that fake diet butter doesn't work as well. I gave up on it, but I'm not too broken up over it. When I get back home, perhaps I will be continuing my cooking and baking experiments. My mother suggested that I make dinner one night for my entire family, but all I can think of to make is fried rice. Maybe I will have to learn how to make orange chicken or something. Or...we can have prepackaged orange chicken. Of course, my brother and his wife make some mean Mongolian beef!

I'm not a huge fan of Glee, the musical television show, but I do enjoy their choreographed music videos slipped in. Some of the drama attracts my interest, but sometimes I find myself cringing at the situations. Still, I enjoy the music and dancing; I find the talent very mesmerizing. My favorite little performance so far was the mash-up of "Umbrella" and "Singing in the Rain." Very cool choreography and setting and quite lovely to listen to. The teacher is a magnificent singer, I think. I want to dance all cool and stuff...

I'm very happy that all my shows are coming back on television. They are the spark of my week and adore watching them while I eat my little meals. Since nobody facebooks me or emails me anymore, I do a lot of non-social activities. I don't watch TV as often as I used to, but when I am watching my precious shows, it seems like my roommates want to talk to me right then. I end up pausing my show to listen to them because I don't have the ability to listen to two things at once. Sometimes, I miss having excessive moments to myself, because I share a room and live in an apartment where a completely silent, personal space is rare. Don't get me wrong, I like all my roommates and we have lots of fun sometimes. But when I want to belt out a song, I usually don't because I'm afraid of disturbing them. When I want to sit in silence and write or watch videos online, I have to wait until night where I may or may not get an hour to myself in the bedroom. I love people, but I also love personal space. I am finding more things to be thankful for everyday! Still, I need to get out there and socialize! No more of this sitting around!

Amid my no-sugar-no-white-flour-challenge (which I'd like to call NoShoNoFloCha), I have decided to cut back on calories and various unhealthy foods. So far, I've lost about ten pounds and I broke through the 170 mark. I'm in the 160s! I don't have a problem with people knowing my weight. What does it matter? It's more about how chubby I am in image. I'm thrilled about losing some weight, especially because I've struggled with it for awhile. But you can't stop me from loving food! Proportions are a big part of my new diet as well. Even though I'm eating more fresh vegies and fruits, I'm eating less at each meal instead mammoth-sized proportions. I make nearly everything from scratch so I know what's in it and so it's a bit more natural and healthy. Man, I'm so proud of myself!

My semester is finally winding down and I have to scurry around to write a paper and do some studying! But I know I'll make it just fine. I don't worry excessively because it makes me tired and it's harder to concentrate when I do. So, I'm chill. I'll make it, I know I will. I even took the time to go to the beach and unwind. A happy Laura is a successful Laura! Now I'm going to throw in some pidgin because I can: shoots! This haole's almost pau with all dat dakine schoolwork! I'm such a loco now.

Recently, I've set myself on videotaping much of my adventures here in college. I want to make some montages of it all because it's so fun! Of course, then I also have to remember to take photos. I'm also planning to go to more church ward activities in the coming semester so I can meet more people and make new friends. Today, I went to ward prayer meeting, which was actually quite cool and I got to make friends with some legit people!

Alright, back to the world of a student! Mele Kalikimaka from Hawaii!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cookin' It Up Like Domestic Ladies

I don't think it was ever a good idea to give some young college girls loads of chicken. Especially if they have no clue how to cook it, prepare it, or how to handle the fact that it is completely coated with fat and has bones in it. I mean, look at that face of mine! It kind of scared us!

The vacationers from last week came to our door with a gigantic load of some serious chicken--as opposed to the chicken that clowns around--and we graciously accepted it. Any food is loved food in our apartment. Along with this massive...thing of chicken, we were given cheese, ground beef and potatoes. Immediately, I used some of the ground beef because I adore beef and I'm not a money tree; besides that, I really don't appreciate chicken like the rest of the world. But, I had nothing to worry about, since my housemates were quick to use the free American cheese on whatever they could. I found out later that many of them aren't too keen on beef, so it looks like it's all mine! There is quite a bit, so I'm ecstatic to try it in instant ramen to make the meal stick for a little longer.

Anyhow, as a household, we decided to cook much of this chicken Sunday night. We didn't know how, we didn't know when...but we were going to grab--or more like slowly pick up the raw stuff with our finger tips--and we were going to cook it and devour it. Before the event, I was just a little bit against chicken, but I think the process has put me off of chicken for awhile. Spontaneously, we decided we should cook the potatoes too, since there was quite a bit and we should have something with our chicken. Immediately, I volunteered to make mashed potatoes, remembering moments where I had watched my mom make the beloved stuff. I could do it, it didn't seem that hard. Sometimes, I had even done bits of the preparation at home! I can peel, I can chop, I can boil and I can use an electric mixer. I was most certainly prepared to poke the boiled potato chunks to test their softness. Yep, I had volunteered myself for something easily done, nor did any of my other housemates know how to make mashed potatoes. I even had garlic salt if I wanted to transform them into something...garlicky.

As I went about my tater prep, my buddy was stuck tearing the fat off the pieces of chicken. Why, yes, it was very gross-looking. I felt sorry for her, but I also looked at her with a newly discovered awe. Look at her, doing the job that no one else will but seems so necessary amongst those who are anti-animal fat! My hero. On the other side of the table was my other buddy, learning that she liked to squeeze the juice out of limes. I don't know what we were going to use the lime juice for, but we told her to make it if somebody wanted some on their chicken...I guess. I think she really found a great hobby for her. Her future husband will ask what's for dinner and she'll reply, "Lime juice! And lemon juice! And orange juice! And any other citrus fruit juice I can squeeze out of the fruit!"

As we prepared our various areas within our apartment, two very noble, brave housemates were trying to accomplish the task of grilling chicken. If it was a pretty nice grill, then they'd be pretty good at that whole grilling thing. But, alas, why should it be that easy? Nay, it was a grill that required coal and manual lighting. Yes, they had to light it...and keep it lit. The latter was the hardest part of the gig at first, but I know not of their struggles after the initial preparation of the grill.

Back to the kitchen, lime-juice-buddy was wondering about crispy chicken. How would we accomplish this feat? "You can use corn flakes." fat-tearing-buddy explains. Sadly, we didn't have cornflakes. Instead, we find ourselves dipping the chicken in egg and then into crisped rice. Yes, we were most definitely improvising. It's a good thing we didn't have any guys over, or else I think they would find us kind of ridiculous in our cooking techniques. Anyway, we put the rice-chicken in the oven and hoped for the best, telling ourselves that it was free chicken. Still, I don't think that put my heart to rest at what we had thrown away later on.

Now, we shall return to my wonderful endeavor of mashed potatoes. It was like a breath of fresh air, those potatoes. They were the only thing I knew--and not just because my father was instant messaging me on skype to help me out. I've actually seen all the steps of making mashed potatoes and I knew what they were supposed to look like. Besides, I just had to watch them boil and poke them every now then. When they were finally soft enough, I poured out the excess water and mixed them with my magic electric mixer. Of course, I added a little bit of milk and butter to make it creamy and then some salt for flavor. Wallah! Beauty in it's finest form of food. Alright, so they weren't beautiful, but they were a great sight for hungry tummies.

As for the chicken, the rice-chicken turned out, but the blood was still in the meat, sitting in the center. Apparently, we're supposed to soak the bloody stuff in salt water to get the blood out. I lost any small appetite for chicken and I didn't eat any of it. My fat-tearing-buddy did and she said that it was pretty good! I suppose I will never know... I'll stick to my beef.

After all our experimental fun and joking, we were faced with the awful truth: cooking makes messes. I groaned, but I think some of the others ignored it. We rinsed off a few things before we watched a double feature of "Corpse Bride" and "Practical Magic" to bring in that Halloween spirit. What an experience, what an endeavor!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Here Comes the Sun, But Where's the Snow?

Hello, all! It's me, the one and only Laura Elizabeth Miller! Okay, perhaps not the one and only, considering that I don't have any very unusual names. But, it is me, nevertheless, and I have finally gotten around to another post.

In Utah, it's getting cold. In Washington, it's getting cold and rainy. In Hawaii, however, it is hot and sunny; sweat-inducing and blinding; non-Northwest-like and non-winter-like. It's just not what I'm used to, and it certainly does not feel like winter is coming. Perhaps this is why a lot of students don't want to go to class and just want to be on the's still summer here!

Speaking of not going to class, I had the most wonderful experience yesterday. I was feeling extremely reluctant to go to class in the afternoon and was just dreading walking into that classroom. To my happiness and joy, my class was canceled! On one hand, that is wonderful and I spent the time messaging buddies and doing my homework. Yes, I did my homework earlier than usual; yay me! On the other hand, the teacher was sick, and I simply cannot be pleased by such an ill-fated occurrence.

School has been going quite well; classes aren't too agonizing and I seem to be able to take on the load very well. Of course, my mother's wonderful packages from home help me plow on and work those two jobs and classes! Considering that I can never truly look at my apartment as a permanent residence, I don't have very many options for fun things to do. I suppose I could go to the beach, but I like walking the shore better at night without the crazy UV rays and blinding sunshine. Although, now I have something to record my shows, so I am truly blessed to have full advantage of our huge television! Oftentimes, I doodle, or look up rice recipes online. Just yesterday, I drew a picture of a "flying crocodile machine." If you are wondering where in all the planets I got that from, my housemate and I discovered it while watching Pirates of the Caribbean bloopers. In one of his blunders, Johnny Depp described the "Flying Dutchman" as the "Flying Crocodile Machine." Indeed, we chuckled about that many times. Sometimes, we just giggle about it in the class we have together, along with the phrase, "Button, oh button." I have also drawn the true story of the Titanic. Obviously, the tragic fate of the ship was nothing like this, nor was it comical at all, but I find krakens to be fantastic, fictional creatures!

As Halloween comes nearer, I find myself unsure of what will happen on the 31st. I have a costume, should I find myself invited to some party or realize there's an on-campus celebration of the frightful holiday. In some ways, I miss home, because Halloween was a day I would spend with my best friend, or amongst people I know and cherish. Plus, I would much rather walk through a scary maze than the "Haunted Lagoon" at the Polynesian Cultural Center. I hear scary things coming out of the PCC at night sometimes...

Now is sort of the time that students are asking each other, "are you staying for Thanksgiving?" Most reply that they will be, since we really don't have that much vacation time to fly home, eat some turkey and fly back. My housemates and other students explain that it's not a big deal, because Thanksgiving isn't really any more than lots of food. But they also don't eat as much as me. To me, Thanksgiving is kind of a serious family holiday. Perhaps that's mostly because we like to eat! If there's one thing that I will miss, besides the green bean casserole, it will be the nine pies my mom makes with the homemade crust. Where else can I get a peanut butter and chocolate pie? Or a to-die-for-chocolate-mousse-pie? I am not expecting such joys to be in Hawaii. I'm pretty sure there will be something coconut at the Thanksgiving table this year.

As for Christmas, I am bouncing on my heels with excitement for my winter break. I get to fly home and see my entire family: parents, siblings, nieces, nephews...the whole lot! I'm so unbelievably excited, but I'm also quite worried about getting them gifts...I have no idea what to get them. I'm also eager to see my best friend this winter and my sweet, sweet little pooch. Beside all the wonderful living beings, I'm also thrilled to be in Washington weather. Sun is great, and it gives me an excuse to tell my mom that I need new shorts and a plethora of summer shoes (not that I've taken advantage of said excuse), but I grew up in the rain and the clouds. I grew up wearing jeans and jackets and loving every minute of it. I came to love the ocean on a cloudy day; I find Northwest beaches to be so beautiful and so under appreciated. Though, ultimately, I miss the snow. Hopefully there will be some when I fly home this year, but not until after I come so I don't get snowed in.

College has given me an excellent opportunity to discover what I have taken for granted and to count all my blessings in great detail. At home, I was thankful, but not to the extent as I am now. Now, I understand the beauty of a dishwasher and the greatness of a home cooked meal. I can now comprehend the convenience of a car and the perfection of having a quiet house without vacationers stomping upstairs. I don't only marvel at the things I don't have, but I also have come to appreciate all the many things that I have at the moment. I am so grateful for food; for clothes; for an incredibly nice apartment; a bike so I don't take forever to get to campus; a computer; roommates with printers; a television; gym shorts; kind housemates; some cooking background; cookie recipes; skype; a phone; and definitely a longer list than that. But, most of all, I have come to love my family and my best friend even more. Not having them here is kind of hard, especially when you're a new student on campus. On the island, I don't really have that many people I can turn to that think the same as me, that share secret jokes with me, that have the same humor as I do. In this tiny place, I don't really have anybody that understands me as much as my family does.

Just this morning, I received a most exquisite package from my mother. When I opened it, I could imagine heavenly light bursting out of the cardboard insides. Literally, I hugged the shirt inside and then I ate a cookie. I took out each object like it was the best thing in the world because, right now, it is the best thing in the world. One of the many gifts inside was a pair of white vans and my fabric markers, preparing me to celebrate Halloween all the way down to my toes...really. I am planning a Halloween pair of shoes to embrace such a fun and exciting holiday! Now, all I need is an edited version of Sleepy Hollow. Maybe I can record it on TV.

I'm pretty sure my roommates think I am quite strange and nerdy at this point. At least, three of them do, I think. I have to admit, I'm not surprised. They often find me watching the unusual, but intense show of Doctor Who and it can take awhile to grow on something. It would be strange to walk into a room and encounter David Tennant yelling random things on the screen; I'd be a little frightened. I'm pretty sure that the anime I watch doesn't suit their tastes either. The weird talk of mushi and odd folks that turn into animals when hugged raises a few eyebrows but also slight chuckles. One of the anime I watch, named Fruits Basket (and I know that a couple of my brothers are aware of this one), has been nicknamed "Fruits" in our apartment. Sometimes, there is a holler of "Fruits!" by either my housemate or myself.

Besides my television strangeness, I also tend to exclaim odd things and appreciate...different things. Such as, I often talk in a series of accents and voice tones. If I am simply saying "I need butter," I may say it in a nasally, high pitched voice or in a very epic British accent. Sometimes there is a moment of silence...then a laugh. Or if we watch a movie where I tend to pick up a line I like, such as "there's shrimp in this!" in a very extreme, dwarf-like voice from Lord of the Rings, I may say it sometimes. Recently, I have begun to replicate the voice of Dumbledore from Harry Potter Puppet Pals. It certainly makes college life interesting for my housemates. Can you imagine living with me? I'm pretty sure they never expected this.

Nowadays, I work two jobs. I've never had an official job before, but I'm doing pretty darn well with securing them and handling them. For one, I am an art teacher's assistant, doing the basic duties of preparing the classroom for their various projects, grading, handling powerpoints and all that great stuff. For the other job, I'm an usher for the auditorium. So far, I've handed out programs and monitored the doors and I find it to be quite relaxing sometimes. Even though it sounds rough that I have two jobs, I hardly reach seventeen hours a week. In other words, it's way easier than it sounds.

Anyway, that is life right now. It's pretty smooth, sometimes dull (which I spice up by using strange voices) and sometimes unusual. But, always sunny. I just miss everything I'm used to!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Here I am at BYU-Hawaii, a land of sun, ocean...and rust. Because of the sun and ocean air, lots of things rust here, so my bike is already getting some flecks of the lovely stuff. I transitioned pretty well into life here, already able to set a routine for myself with classes and work while poking in the spiritual devotional every Thursday.

My classes seem alright. I mean, they aren't the best because it's class. I love to learn, but I don't like to do the work outside of the classroom and that is usually my downfall. So far, I've managed to do most of my work and turn it all in. The only time I failed to finish my work was because I had no clue that I was supposed to finish that section of hirogana in Japanese; therefore, it only came about by my ignorance, not my procrastination or laziness.

Work is basically right up my alley. I help out around the art classroom and run small errands, which is just what I like. I don't get blamed massively for doing something wrong--like if I cooked in the cafeteria--and I don't have to be around bugs and dirt! Nor do I have to do any of that public speaking sort of business...usually. I love it to death.

But, being here helps you discover things. You realize that you really don't know how to cook or that washing clothes is a bit more of a science than you thought. You discover that really you are an outgoing person, you just have to be presented with the right environment. For me, I've discovered that I'm actually pretty fit when it comes to bike riding. I ride like the wind and I have no intention of slowing down; I want to go home, not dilly dally.

On the other hand, you also discover some sad points too. When you leave for college, you understand what your relationship really was with all those people back home. Perhaps, for some, all their friends continued to be the same as they were when you lived in the same town as them. For others, they realize that their friends only bothered to keep up the relationship when he or she was available all the time; when instead of a five-hour plane ride, they're only a ten-minute drive away.

For some, we feel ignored.

True, I was never very popular. Maybe I could've if I wanted to, but I was fine with a choice number of friends. I treasured every friendship I had; but some people don't feel that way. It seems like some friendships are only formed when there is a need for social interaction and a reassurance that your likes and dislikes are accepted by somebody. But it is the choice of the two involved whether that specific relationship is worth saving and valuing, even after they aren't near each other any more. As I am in Hawaii, I feel like I am starting to be forgotten by some and just plain ignored by others. Maybe I'm annoying them because I still want to be part of my hometown in some way. Or maybe I am no longer useful to them, so I am no longer necessary to their survival and happiness. That's a sad thought, but it may also be true. This is sacrifice. This is the distinction of true friends and those who just aren't right for you.

College makes me think. I am out here on my own now and I have to analyze my situation. But, college hurts too.

Just yesterday, I had my eighteenth birthday. Oh, yes, the big one-eight; now I can buy dry ice! My buddies made me cakes, I had one send me a card and I got a wonderful package from my parents. My best friend managed to get her present to me, despite the fact that she is far, far away from here! My housemates got me a card! All day long, people posted "happy birthday" and various sweet things. Some of these people, I didn't even know! They are just kind people by nature, I think. To tell you the truth, this was twenty times more than I ever expected to get. Therefore, it was one of the best birthdays I've ever had because it went beyond what I would deem a good eighteenth birthday.

Despite my easy transition into school, this was a hard week for me. I can only hope that my time here will only be easier as I understand and comprehend things more and more.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Across Lakes and Over Oceans

Hello and aloha! I am here in Hawaii, preparing myself for an exciting year of school, here at BYU-Hawaii! I haven't written in a bit and I have adventures to tell!

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go to Shasta with family and a couple of friends on a houseboat vacation trip. It was part of my graduation celebration and it was basically my one last shindig before college as well as my best friend's. We drove all day on Friday in three separate cars, boat and jet skis in tow. It was the normal kind of road trip: there were slumbering people, many stops for the bathroom and complaints about needing food at appropriate mealtimes. That night, we slept in a hotel room in Redding, California.

The next morning, we packed up our things and headed to the mega grocery store of Winco's for our week's food supply. There, we happily met with my two remaining siblings for the trip and embarked on one of the most epic grocery trips ever. Well, that is if you don't count all the trips made for Girl's Camp food this last summer. Now, that is an epic collection of food. Anyhow, we snatched at least three carts, or maybe four, and rapidly went through our lengthy list of items and necessities. It was simple enough do we get it safely to the boat? No problem! Just shove some of the fridge items don't know how we did it, but we got that food together and we set off on the next stage of boat preparation.

Up the winding road along the coasts of Shasta lake, we finally drove into the marina, sighing as we took in the heat of the sun and...the long wait to get your vehicle to an area to unload everything to your rented boat. Let's just say that when we got on the boat, we were ecstatic. Of course, my best friend and I claimed the best room! Windows on almost all walls and it was basically our own private place...just wonderful. The only flaw was that the windows weren't sealed from water all the way, so when kids or, ahem, brothers decided to throw a bucket of water at our windows, water splashed in and got some stuff wet! Still, it was a great place!

Our week was an amazing experience. We ate such great food as we cycled through our turns for dinner and we even witnessed some actual pizza dough tossing! I seriously must have gained weight on that trip because it was all so delicious! But, by far the most exciting thing that happened all week was the extreme battle tubing tournament. The director, my brother, was very serious about it and it was kind of hilarious to watch him setting up all the matches and making sure we captured every one of them. During the tournament, we had several moves that we used against our opponents. They are as thus:

*Shake and bake-grabbing the handle of the opposite tube and trying to shake it violently.
*Clam Shell-lifting your own tube and somehow managing to place it over your opponents.
*Vice Grip-pushing down one side of the opponent's tube with both your fist and foot.
*Pogo Stick-push down on one side of your opponent's tube...then watch it flip.
*The Kick-well, it's just kicking.

Most of these didn't work, but it was still fun to shout, "Oh, he's using the Clam Shell!" At one point, I flew up in the air about three feet--which is some serious air--and then five feet or so another time. It was cool while you're in the air, having a similar feeling to "Weeee! I'm flying!" Then you come back down and you're saying, "oh snap" in your head and finally, "OUCH" as you hit the water again. You feel a bit like a rag doll flopping back down to the ground. When the tournament finally ended, my oldest brother was in first place and my second oldest brother came in second. My best friend was third and I was in fourth...but I got first for most air!

My brothers and one of their friends also got together to make an action movie. Again, they didn't skimp or go cheap with anything. They went all out. The chosen stars, my second oldest brother and his friend, climbed up the side of the boat as part of this movie; my best friend and I were the bad guys, getting shot and dying in various creative ways; and we even had a shootout scene with water guns. Of course, the rest of the family were supposed to shoot the water guns at the main characters as they swam towards the boat and we were told to miss. Apparently, we are horrible shots because we kept hitting them in the face and such and my brother replies, "wow! These guys are really bad at missing!" As I was shot as a bad guy, I had to fall in such a way that I would slide down the slide. I felt a bit like a Sweeney Todd victim as I slid right into the water! My best friend had to fall backwards into the hot tub and stay there as the characters continued their espionage moves. It was very intense, it'll be interesting to see it all together.

Another highlight of the trip would be the family water fight. The guys were in charge of it and they made a terrible mistake. They chose to have the water and the shore as their domain while the women, children and my father had the boat. Keep in mind that the boat has a hose, a hot tub full of water, a kiddy pool full of water and a large bucket. Both teams had water balloons and some water guns, but that meant nothing. While they swam helplessly in the water, trying to squirt up to the top of the boat, my dad doused them in bucketfuls of water until finally they climbed aboard our ski boat and fled. They tried to come back and get us again, but that didn't really work out and they were forced to surrender. EPIC FAIL!

At night we would play board games and eat various junk foods. We had some seriously funny times, especially with the game Balderdash. The game overall took a long time and it was difficult for people to win, but we had some great laughs and we still chuckle about the phrase, "Wild Women of Wongo." Outburst was by far the favorite, as we played it almost every night, and it was refreshing to play an Outburst game that wasn't made in the 80s! We actually knew some things!

Overall, the houseboat trip was a blast and what a party!

When I returned home, I was met with all sorts of requests for my attention! Everybody wanted to hang out before I left! I seriously sprouted a social life just before I went to college. It was great to see everybody and spend some time with them; I'm going to miss them! One weekend, an old friend of mine that I had known in the third grade told me, "wear something casual, I'm picking you up at five o' clock." So, obediently, I did so and I was met with the wonderful surprise of...seeing other people from grade school! I was part of a program in elementary school called EXCEL and our class was pretty close. We were together for third and fourth grade, then I moved towards the end of fourth grade and I hadn't seen anybody from then for years! To my surprise, one of my closest pals from the good days came to this party and I got to see him again! Promptly, we hung out the next week on his day off, going to a park where you could see the gorgeousness of the city. It was fantastic to catch up and we discovered we were still the same! We meshed just as well as we did in grade school and we were still having the best of times together. So, we hung out the next week!

The following week we went just about anywhere we could. We went along trails and sat out in the rain; we even traveled to a swimming hole in my hometown called the Potholes. We took off our shoes and socks and we walked around in the shallow parts of the river, but I am too clumsy for that to be safe! I slipped and somehow scraped my toes on a rock! Ouchies! Then I was bleeding and I was just sitting there staring at he says to me, he says, "Laura, put your foot in the water." I was like, "Oh! Yeah...right..." I suppose I don't really think about things sometimes. After that, we pranced about Vancouver like it was our playground. Some of the best fun I've ever had!

My summer was wrapped up in some seriously good times and I'm so glad that my last moments at home were happy and full ones. But, I already can't wait for Christmas break to come!

When I left for Hawaii, I didn't feel nervous or anything, but perhaps that's all just delayed. My apartment wasn't quite ready for my arrival, so I had the chance to stay with my parents for a couple of days while they helped through some orientation things and college preparations. I had to get my TB shot and my ID, then I had to go through some more hoops for employment and other school things. I can't wait until everything's done and settled! But, by then I'll be starting school and I just don't know how that'll be... It's weird to have people stop texting me by eight in the evening, as I'm used to texting until eleven or so. Time is just at a different level here I suppose! I'm sure I'll get used to it sure enough. Time to step into a new stage of life. College, here I come!