"I can go the distance," said Herc.

"I can go the distance," said Herc.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Poem: My Home

One of my absolute favorite things to do when I come home to visit my parents in the summer is sit out on the driveway from sunset to dusk. The peace, warmth, and beauty are my version of nirvana. Tonight I had the urge to describe it, and of course it turned into verse:
My Home
The warm pavement
cooling off from the day
beneath my legs.
Lean back, and
at the soft blue sky
streaked with occasional
clouds golden with sunset.
The put, put, put
of the neighbor's sprinkler.
Listen to a nearby
lawn mower and
A bird chirping in a tree
across the street.
Distant laughter of children.
The freshly cut grass.
an airplane fly lazily overhead.
Fat dragonflies
chase each other in the air.
Bark, bark.
The air is warm,
with a nip of cool
breaking through (just barely)
to signify the end of summer.
on the next street over
is busy,
the metallic whack of a truck bed
echoes through suburbia.
This is my home.
This is my childhood.
My bare feet have
pattered across
pitted pavement,
dodging pebbles,
chasing the ice cream truck.
We played house on this green,
sometimes spotted
lawn and
dreamed on our backs
beneath that leafy tree.
I've said goodbyes
by this garbage can,
greeted new friends
at that door.
I glance at the gutter
and see ghosts of the tin boats
we set afloat
on adventures unknown.
The yard has changed a little
-the fence is gone
and the red posts of our rusty mailbox
are peeling and faded.
I now drive a car
instead of a pink bicycle,
But the place is the same.
The main thing
that changed
is me.
--By Lis Stewart

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What Can Poor Mormon College Students Do In Vegas?

So I've completely failed on my summer resolution to write a post every week. And learn a song on the guitar every week. And read a book every week. However, I have been reading. And, I practice my guitar a lot. Sorry, dear blog. You are neglected like always.

Here's some pictures my random trip to Vegas last week!

It started out, as everything should, at WinCo. This is Doug, Tim and Mason's garden gnome. They've got quite the collection of pictures 
of him tagging along to all their adventures. Isn't he cute?
After six hours of driving, a stop in St George, and enduring an annoying Del Sol employee who wouldn't stop hitting on Amber, we made it to Arizona! ...And two more hours to go. Sigh.
First view of Vegas. I've only ever driven by it in the daytime, so this was a very striking view. We crested the hill and suddenly- bam! Out of a barren desert sprang the colorful lights of Sin City. And Sin City it is...
Above is three of the silly folks who made the journey with us. Amber, Tim, and Mason. We stopped at the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden first. The cacti were... cool. Alien-like. The chocolate factory was not as exciting as I'd hoped. I suppose I was picturing more Willie Wonka. Instead of giant vats with open tops revealing gallons of bubbling chocolate, we only got to see the workers pressing dipped granola bars into trays. Still, it was neat, and the gift shop was delectable.
The only slot machine Erika got to play. She is just shy of 21.
Giant pineapple! Okay, it was just a palm tree. But you see the resemblance, right?
The Vegas temple is situated on the farthest end of the city possible, with the Angel Moroni facing east- and away from the city.
After much driving around, we finally found the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. Here we came upon the first of many people who offer "free" services to tourists, and then demand a tip afterwards. It should have been our lesson that nothing comes for free, but we didn't learn it until we were outside the Hard Rock Cafe- where we splurged and had dinner. Of course, we didn't order alcohol. Two of us were under 21 and besides that we are for the most part good Mormon kids. It was rather amusing when the waitress stopped in the middle of asking us what we wanted to drink and just said, "Water, water, water, water, water?" -pointing at each of us. We nodded. "Ok, kids," she said. Everyone there called us "kids" for the rest of the night. It's all cool.
Mason was so excited to see two Autobots from Transformers hanging out on the sidewalk. We also saw Michael Jackson working a street corner, Dora the Explorer, Elmo, the Count, loads of showgirls, and other famous figures I didn't recognize. (But no Elvis. I was very disappointed.) Well, Mason was excited because he was wearing his Transformers T-shirt. So of course he wanted a picture with them. It wasn't until after that they kind of held onto him before he forked over a dollar. They were like, "That's all you got?" -but they finally let him go. I was worried we were going to have to run from Autobots. Never upset Bumblebee. 
Oh, and a piece of advice. Don't look at the ground and don't take any free flyers or newspapers. It's not what you want to see.
(cough, cough) We had fun trying to convince Tim's mom that he and Amber got married in Vegas. They even posted they were married on Facebook the next morning. Sadly, she didn't believe it.
OK, I am posting this because of a tweet I sent out. Doesn't Trump Tower look like a giant legal pad to you?
So Vegas is really opulent. I mean, really. The casinos themselves are works of art. There's the New York skyline jammed together as one building, a smaller version of the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, Caesar's Palace decked out in full Roman complete with a mini Colosseum.... etc. Well, we headed inside Caesar's Palace to look around... and ended up on the 67th floor. You could tell the suites were way nice because there were only half as many doors as our little hotel in Henderson, signifying that these rooms were twice as large. There were all these Classical murals and paintings, too. The picture above is of Erika's reflection in the window looking out at the city. (And the ghost of the Blue Lady still haunts the 67th floor to this day... mwa, ha.) 
I'll confess something here. I have a thing for stealing from hotels. It's like souvenir collecting. There was a maid's cart in the hallway at Caesar's Palace, and I couldn't help casually walking by it... I can't wait try my new soap. It looks like waaaay better quality than the soap at our hotel. Just sayin'.

And then we scurried back to the elevator. It was then that I decided I do not like riding in small boxes attached to cables to very great heights. The thought of what the drop would be like was disturbing. I almost suggested we find the stairs. I was also feeling a little anxious because of the, um, box now in my back pocket. Was security on its way to catch us? What do they really do to you in Vegas? I've seen the movie 21- I know how ruthless those security guys are.
And then the car stopped on floor 50-something and a young man in a suit got on. He was rather quiet. Tim tried making small talk with him as the car slowly headed down:
Tim: "You here for the weekend?"
Man: "No I've been here two weeks."
Tim: "Oh. How is it?"
Man: "Great, the poker tables have been treating me well."
Tim: "Oh, well, that's good."
Man: "Yeah, but I've got to dress up for tonight, being Friday and all."
And then the elevator stalled on floor 53. We stared at the doors, waiting for them to open. They weren't. The guy cursed (and promptly apologized cause he probably thought we were high schoolers messing around) and said it must be a wheelchair. I don't remember his excuse, just that he was talking big to try and look important. It was obviously a show. He didn't know what he was doing at all.
The doors opened... and no one was there. Creepy.
We finally made it down, and the guy went the wrong way to the tables. A security guard was kind enough to point him in the right direction. 2 weeks, huh? It's a shame you haven't figured out where everything is yet.
The Bellagio fountain is amazing! They play music and a choreographed water and light show every fifteen minutes from 8 p.m. to midnight. There was a spare goblet sitting in the edge of the railing, so I thought it would be
 fun to shoot pictures through it. I love how everything is just a little distorted in the glass. 
We cruised down the strip to Circus Circus in Amber's car, blasting Ke$ha. Somehow the song "Blow" became the theme song of the trip. Everyone was randomly saying "Throw some glitter make it rain" and "Go insane, go insane" at various points.
Overall, a fun trip. No, we did not get wasted, or gamble all our money away (Though I confess to playing the slot machine. Losing money like that completely cured me of any future desire to gamble. What a waste! I want my $2 back.). None of us got married, though we tried to convince people otherwise. We didn't go to any shows because we are poor college students and watching overly make-upped women parade around while taking their clothes off held no allure. 
I do want to go back and see Phantom someday, though I think I will fly. 

What can poor Mormon college students do in Vegas? Sight see. Visit the gorgeous temple. Explore the casinos and see where you can go before they'll kick you out, eat at Hard Rock Cafe, explore M&M world, watch the fountain at the Bellagio, see the acts at Circus Circus, try not upset Autobots when they demand money, and try to convince people that you got married by Elvis. Believe me, it will be a fun trip. Not rewarding in the same way as others who go to Vegas, but still a good, hangover-free time.

Friday, June 29, 2012

My Love Affair With Cookie Dough

Dear Papa Murphy's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:
Oh, how I love you so.
With your buttery goodness
So smooth on my spoon,
Laced with thick chocolate chips
That make my taste buds swoon.
From a sixteen-ounce plastic container you woo,
There are many things for your favor I'd do.

When I need you, dear, you are always there.
Unlike things that are not constant,
I know that you care.
I'll eat my veggies, fruits, and grain
So long as after I can have you again.
Fear not, my little sweet,
You were meant for me.

Please, Papa Murphy's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough,

Don't give me salmonella.

By Lis Stewart :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Asthma, You Suck

I hate not being able to breathe, but not being able to sleep because of it is even more annoying.

The first year I came to college, I got sick a lot. Part of that reason is because of the horrible diet, lack of sleep, and a roommate who catches every cold that is going around (thanks, Amber), but the other part I found out when I went to see the doctor for a particularly miserable cold halfway through my first semester. He informed me I have asthma. Asthma can affect a few of things about you. One is that you have trouble breathing, and another is you get sick a lot easier.

Luckily for me, I don't have a particularly strong case of asthma. It is mostly set off by allergies and bad air. Unfortunately, I have year-round allergies and I decided to go to school in Cache Valley, where the inversion every winter makes national television because it is so bad. I used to make fun of the group of people who were cautioned every morning on the weather forecast not to go outside, and now I am one of them.

People think asthma is funny. I am here to tell you that no, it is not funny to those who have it. I have on occasion made a crack about using my inhaler, but I am very grateful for it. When asthma symptoms get worse, your airways constrict and your nasal passages start producing lots of mucus that goes down your throat (yuck!). With this lovely combination in mind, imagine how difficult it would be to breathe. Not fun. Inhalers save lives.

Now for the annoying side of inhalers. The one that is very common is called Albuterol Inhl.The most common side affect is hyperactivity and nervousness. At around 3:30 a.m. today I woke up realizing that I could not breathe very well. I tried everything I could before reaching for my Albuterol. I shut the window because it was cold (trigger) and was letting in allergies (trigger), sat up in my bed, and drank water (WebMD says it is not useful to do that but I still try anyway). No good. Fine. I took one puff and hoped that was good enough. An hour later, I took another puff. Now, I am in this wide awake/exhausted state of mind and I can't sleep because I still have trouble breathing. I refuse to take more inhaler because I'm scared of what it will do to me. All I can do is wait for 8:30 a.m. to roll around so I can call the doctor and get my Singular refilled.

It really bugs me that people don't take asthma seriously. When people think of an asthma attack they think of that kid from Goonies who puffs on his inhaler every five seconds. Adversely, I hate to use it as a crutch. I let my asthma be my excuse for the first year or so. I remember walking around campus one day, and I saw the woman's rugby team running the stairs on Old Main. I exchanged hellos with the coach, and he asked me if I have ever been interested in playing rugby (they're always so willing to recruit). I said, "No thanks, I have asthma." He replied, "Well we've got several girls with asthma on the team, and I keep a whole sack of inhalers in my car."

I never joined the rugby team, but that stuck with me. I doubt he had a whole sack of inhalers, but the fact that people still remain active with asthma made me calm down a bit. We who suffer from asthma are just the same as everyone else- we just carry an inhaler wherever we go.

Now I am running on about two hours of sleep. Oh, joy. Two hours and twenty minutes before I can call the Student Wellness Center. I still can't sleep for fear of dying, and I can't eat the toast I fixed because there isn't a lot of room to swallow. Asthma may be manageable, but it sucks.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

2012 Summer Bucket List

Hm... what should I do this summer? If you've read much of this blog, you know I love lists. Here is mine (so far):

  1. Do an absolutely randomly insane thing, like sky dive or cliff jump.
  2. Visit those silly roommates who are leaving me for Provo this summer.
  3. Rock climb outdoors.
  4. Climb 5.9
  5. Twilight Concert Series. They seriously need to post the schedule soon. I am getting antsy.
  6. Memorize 1 song on the guitar each week.
  7. Read at least one book a week. I need to catch up!!
  8. On that note, finish the John Adams biography (this is allowed an exception because it will take longer than a week).
  9. In order to make me stick with the goal, I will post a review of the weekly book and report on the song on this blog every week.
  10. See the Dark Knight Rises.
  11. Go to Freedom Fire to see Kansas. Yeah, baby!
  12. Longboard every Saturday or Sunday. I consider longboarding OK for Sunday, provided it is not to the store or some other commandment-breaking activity.
  13. Daily picture. -Post that on the blog, too.
  14. Throw a rocking awesome bachelorette party for my best friend, Elise. (Girl, do Amber and I have plans for you!)
  15. Go to an assortment of festivals, including the Llama Festival in Spanish Fork on July 14.
  16. Travel to SW Utah to watch the total eclipse of the sun May 20!
  17. Go star gazing. :)
  18. Work on my family history project of awesomeness.
  19. Go on a road trip with my girlfriends.
  20. Reunite with a lost friend.
  21. The 1812 Overture at WSU (with real cannons and the Utah Symphony!).
And that, dear folks, will be my summer. What are your plans?

Videos: Obsessed With Gilmore Girls

Wow. I sorta stumbled onto this video that turns Gilmore Girls into a Pride and Prejudice trailer. And while I absolutely love the idea, I found myself drooling over the love interest, Jess, most of the time. Of course, I then clicked on another video, and another, until soon I had a whole plethora of interesting videos dedicated to Gilmore Girls. Here's my favorites:

-Oh, and some of the videos are just links, because the video uploader here is weird and when I try searching for some of the videos they don't come up.

The first one that started it all: "Pride and Prejudice Gilmore Girls Style." I must say, the girls who did this are quite talented, though they have way too much time on their hands.

Where did all the anvils go? Puh, huh, huh. "My Favorite Gilmorisms and Rants From Gilmore Girls"

"Hit by a Deer"

One of the best things about Gilmore Girls is that it is set in a quirky community.
"Choosing the Town Whore"

This is one of my absolute favorite moments from the first season featuring Stars Hollow. The town meeting! Sense of community is so important, isn't it?

The best of Luke and Jess. I keep having to stifle my laughter because my roommates are asleep.

I've always been a Jess fan, but watching the clip of how Rory and Logan meet makes me want to change my mind...

But of course, I absolutely adore Jess with all my heart. 

This girl has a thing for kissing guys and then running off. This last video is a good way to top off the evening- er, morning (it's almost 2 a.m.)... "Rory's First Kiss."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Poem: Trickle Down Theory

Happy National Poetry Month. Write a poem.

Trickle Down Theory

They say it should be easy
That it's like breathing
Or treading water

But I know several who use a respirator
And sink before treading.

Will Rogers said if the rich have money
The rest of us will benefit eventually.
The theory of trickle down
Means the good fortune of few
Will benefit many others.
I hope this is true.

Facebook posts and invites in the mail
Scream for empty congratulations
For friends gone by
And we deliver as asked
Because we hope to receive the same
In years to come.

Sooner rather than later.

But as I sit back
Surveying through a poet's eye
I can't help but shed a tear
And cry a little cry.

Days go on
And on
And on
And many hopes and wishes are gone
The way of the earth

For we hoped and planned
That what happens to others
Will come to us

We never plan for the day
When we're still here 10 years later
The same as before
Because that's all we planned on.

By: Me. :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012



What a peculiar name. Frankly, I did not know what to make of these mushy green items when I first saw them at Subway. I've always heard of the avocado, but never tried one (except in guacamole) until last year. Normally I despise mushy foods, but these things actually taste pretty good. That got me thinking. What IS an avocado, and where does it come from...? And why do people eat them by themselves as a treat? WebMD and Avocado.org helped me find the answers!

  • An avocado is a fruit. Huh!
  • Like all good things (the tomato, the pumpkin, the bean), the avocado originated in the Americas.
  • Evidence points to the avocado being domesticated as early as 750 B.C. in Peru.
  • Although it is very fatty (European explorers used mashed up avocado in place of butter), most of the fat is the good kind. Half an avocado contains 15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and only 2 grams of saturated fat. Oh, and no cholesterol.
  • Additionally, there are other healthy components inside this peculiar fruit: fiber, potassium, and vitamins C, K, folate, and B6.
  • On Super Bowl Sunday, Americans eat about 8 million pounds of guacamole.
  • How do you avoid your avocado going brown?? Ah!! I've been wondering this because the other day I used half to make a turkey avocado sandwich and put the rest in a plastic baggie for later, only to discover it had gone all icky. All you do is sprinkle lemon juice on top (should make it an interesting flavor) and seal it in a plastic bag, and refrigerate it. 
  • California produces 90% of the nation's avocados from more than 6,000 groves. Oi. Good job, CA!
  • To give them a little credit, Florida accounts for the rest of the U.S. avocado market.
  • What's in a name? Well, those darn Spanish conquistadors (no one seems to like them much, do they?) couldn't pronounce the Aztec word, so they changed it to aguacate, which got changed to avocado in English.  I wonder what the Aztec word sounded like?
  • The variety of avocado most of us enjoy is called 'Hass', but it wasn't the favorite until forty years ago, when large-scale industry expansion occurred and the 'Hass' variety replaced the longtime favorite 'Fuerte' variety. The "mother of all Hass Avocados" still stands in La Habra Heights, CA.
  •  How good is the 'Fuerte' then?
  • The avocado is also known as the Alligator Pear, because its shape is that of a pear, and the Hass variety is green and rough on the outside. 
  • Sick of hearing about Hass avocados? I am. Go to Florida, where the surface is shiny and smooth. Marketers from Florida are calling their varieties "light" because they have less fat (but most avocado fat is good), but more calories. They are also twice as big, and less slimy inside. So take your pick.
All in all, I think I like the avocado. It's strange, but hey- that's fruit. Now I can cross it off of my list of strange things to eat from the produce section.

Fascinated? Read more at these fine websites!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Story Behind Keep Calm and Carry On

I love this! Please share with all your friends. :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Having A Hairy Self Confidence

Today, I got out of the shower and started getting ready when I thought of maybe straightening my hair. This may seem like a normal, simple endeavor to many of you, but if you have hair like mine, it takes at least 40 minutes with a flat iron and copious amounts of Dove Heat Therapy. It got me thinking about why I even straighten my hair, and how far I've come from wishing I could do it everyday to thinking about it maybe once every two months. I like my hair. In fact, it defines me. Here's why:

Growing up, I was always self conscious about my looks, but most especially my hair.

Now, most people probably don't think hair is what makes or breaks you, but I do. You see, I have curly hair that, when not tamed, can get pretty frizzy. And believe me, if you ever acquire the name Frizzy Lizzy you'll never forget how much your hair affects how other people look at and even treat you.

Like many little kids, I settled for the same haircut as my mom until I was about nine years old. Not that a chin length bob with bangs is bad, but it certainly didn't fit in at a time when straight hair and Full House bangs were all the rage. My hair would not do Full House bangs. I fiddled with curlers and curling irons a little to at least try to look mainstream, but please- my hair has its standards. Curly hair rebels and refuses to be twisted and tamed in ways that are unnatural. I was always looking at other girls and wishing I could have hair like them, never seeing myself and the potential I had. If I had to have curly hair, then why won't my hair curl in big, perfectly round loops that were shiny and ordered?

Now, a contributing factor to my frizziness was that I could not use hairspray, moose, or any scented gels because of my mom. My mother has the nose of a blood hound that can pick up anything scented from a mile away and because of this, she suffers from migraines a lot. I can't blame her for having this problem, but it was definitely hard to find product for my hair growing up that didn't cause my mom to throw me in the shower because I "stink". In fact, my sister (who blessedly does not have curly hair) and I gave up on finding hair product until our brother found an unscented aloe vera gel at the store one day when I was about 13.

However, I didn't know what to do with it at first because I had gotten used to putting my hair in a pony tail or pig tails for the last 13 years. My hair had a permanent pony tail bump around the middle because that's what I did everyday. Also, I was terribly shy about my appearance. This was the time when stick straight hair like from the 70s was all the rage, and bangs were so passe. I kept comparing myself to other girls, too. I remember this girl who rode my bus I so wanted to be like. She had long, nut brown, stick straight hair she flipped around as she flirted with the boys on the ride home. I remember nervously flattening my hair in the bathroom with water everyday of junior high between classes because little frizzies would fly up, giving me a mad scientist appearance.

And then I made a friend in my German class who had a huge influence on the way I viewed my hair.

I never see her anymore- I don't even think we're friends on Facebook. But, I remember going to camp one summer and asking her how she did it. How does she keep her naturally ringleted hair so neat? She showed me how she uses hairspray to sprunch her curls. Laugh all you want, but I was amazed. No one had ever shown me how to work my hair like that. Instead of trying to minimize the effect of what her naturally curly hair did, she accentuated it. After this, I began experimenting with ways to use the aloe vera gel, which was not quite as strong as some gels yet still workable, to accentuate my curls. I was done hiding them.

As I grew to love my hair for what it was and not despite of what it looks like, I began to notice other people around me who have curly hair. When you concentrate so much on something you hate about yourself, you forget that a lot of other people have that same trait, too. I have a good number of curly-haired friends, and it's a delight to see what they do with their curls. Every curly haired person is different. Some friends have tight ringlets they can put up in a bun and leave cascading down their face, while others (guys) settle for an Afro- even if they aren't African American. And it all looks good.

All this time growing up, I thought my hair was ugly. I hated it because I did not know how to make it look good. I was always finding ways to hide something that was a big part of who I am.

I suppose that is the message of this rambling blog about my hair. Don't be ashamed of what makes you unique- even if it is not in the social mainstream. In the last few years, curly hair has made a comeback, and now it's amusing to watch other people try to emulate what comes naturally to my part of the population. My confidence levels when through the roof when I accepted my curly hair, because I felt better about myself for being unique.

So that's the message. Be unique, and love yourself for it.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Oh, the Irony of iTunes

I'm back, back in town... and everything has changed. I feel, feel let down. The faces stay the same. I see, see shadows of who we used to be. When I drive, drive so slow through this memory.

Where's my guitar when I need it? I just need to hit the strings really loud and dramatically right now. We all have those moments, right?

Two weeks away feels like the whole world should have changed, but I'm home now and things still look the same. I think I'll leave it till tomorrow to unpack, try to forget for one more night that I'm back in my flat.

Ha. You type one word in your iTunes and get a handful of songs that fit the situation perfectly.

How do I describe my feelings right now? Sometimes you just can't without getting overly angsty. In this case, I'll just sit back and let the music do the talking.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Oh, for the Love of Utah Truffles

Embarking on my movie-making career, I filmed this short YouTube video using my Nikon point-and-shoot camera last week. Like it? Eh, eh?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bring On Another Long, Hot Summer

In the words of a friend of mine, I'm "trunky" every time I think about how awesome last summer was. (I realize I could be using a pretty derogatory word here, but I don't know any better) I'm pretty sure it ranks as the top summer I've ever experienced - minus the summer where I chased down the ice cream truck everyday.

One of the reasons I get "trunky" is because summer is so gosh darn fun! Seriously, everyone around here says they prefer to be shivering cold than sweating in the heat, but you can't go boating, hiking, rock climbing, dance in the rain, lay on the green grass with a book, have a picnic, play volleyball at the park, swim outside, garden, randomly run away to the reservoir and play frisbee for an afternoon, take long walks past sundown, watch fireworks, go to carnivals, attend outdoor concerts, or just wander around town looking for adventure during a Utah winter. At least, you can't do those things without freezing your butt off.

These folks are what made summer the best.

Last summer was also great because of the many friends I had. Who knows where we'll all be - and what we'll be doing - next summer, but if they're still around when summer hits in Logan, you know where I'll be.

So when I stumbled on a Keith Urban song tonight, I started getting "trunky" again. Forgive me, but I am. I miss the freedom to just run outside and play in shorts and a T-shirt, and be barefoot at the same time. All hail Global Warming! I'm sick of shivering at the bus stop in the mornings. Bring on another long, hot summer.


....And nothing beats those sunsets. I recently watched one, and it was weak sauce. Summer sunsets totally rock. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Most Embarrassing Moment Ever... Revealed

Alrighty. After about a week and a half of putting it off, I am now revealing my most embarrassing moment ever experienced. I am fairly certain it will be the most embarrassing moment in my entire life, but at least it's easier to laugh about now.

Currently, I am the communications intern for the Utah Senate. If you are a lobbyist, don't try to talk to me to get an "in" with my senator, because
a) I don't have a senator (ha!) and
b) My boss makes his own appointments

Anyway, as I am the communications intern, I get to do a lot of fun stuff like run around taking photos, shoot video, write blog posts, set up live press conferences, sit around reading the news/scowl at the computer, etc. Well, a few days before the legislative session started, I was sitting in my "office" (a corner of a counter by the pages room) talking with another employee who sometimes helps out with communications stuff, and my boss came over and handed me the agenda for the Utah Taxpayers Association's Pre-Legislative Conference. Discovering it started about an hour ago, I asked my boss what he wanted me to do with it.

"Go and record the senators talking, and then post a podcast," he said, pulling out this gigantic black digital voice recorder the size and bulk of an old-school cassette player. I stared at it a moment, wondering if the batteries even had enough juice. It looks like a relic, but at least it's digital, I reasoned.

With my co-worker beside me, I headed over to the East building to the conference and recorded it. There were a lot of middle-aged people there, looking bored/ slightly interested at the same time as they clutched the pamphlets left on the chairs. Near the end, this guy from the taxpayers association stood up and announced there will be a press conference in the Capitol's main building in fifteen minutes. My co-worker and I shrugged and decided it would be cool to go record it for another podcast. Little did I realize....

On the walk back to the main building (which is like 3 minutes, but it's not fun in cold weather), lines from the film Super 8 kept running through my head: "Production value!" and "This is mint!" We were on a roll!

Anywho, we showed up rather early. The Capitol Boardroom has this big, long, gaudy-looking table surrounded by super comfortable leather chairs in the middle, but the organizers of the press conference decided to have a nice podium in the corner instead. Other, lesser but still comfy chairs lined the walls. We sat in the row behind the podium and a little off to the side, thinking it was far enough to not make us look like the speakers. People started trickling in: reporters, staff members, legislators. President Waddoups of the Senate walked over to us and said a friendly hello because he recognized us, and then sat on the other side of my co-worker. First overlooked sign of trouble.

Then, my boss came in, spotted us, and told me to be sure we got this recorded for a podcast. Already ahead of ya! I thought. Then everyone around me stood up and took turns shaking this man's hand, so I followed suit. He proceeded to sit two spaces down from me, closer to the podium. It took me a few seconds to realize that was Governor Herbert. So, the seating arrangement went as follows: podium, Governor Herbert, chair, end table, Lis, co-worker, President Waddoups, and House Speaker Lockhart. Suddenly I realized where we were sitting, and saw that my boss and all the staff were sitting along a different wall, away from the camera and obviously not with the speakers. A big camera with the Fox 13 label was now set up and pointing at the podium. Gulp.

Before I knew it, the same taxpayers association man was standing and talking. He was introducing the reason we were here today to the camera and crowd of reporters on the other side of the room. Then, I had another realization: With all my ample time, I forgot to put my gigantic voice recorder on the podium. Well, I'll just walk over and place it on the edge of the conference table, I thought. The recording won't be nearly as good of quality, but people will still be able to hear it. Besides, who listens to podcasts, anyway?

My boss had other ideas. He leaned over from his chair and whispered loud at me, "Lis, put it on the podium!" --pointing and repeating his words.

President Waddoups tried to help me, too. With a kind smile, he said, "Go ahead. Put it up there." Now I had my boss, his boss, and my co-worker urging me to put it up there in loud whispers, and all the while this guy from the tax association is smiling nervously at the camera, no doubt reveling in his 15 seconds of fame, introducing the keynote speaker. I looked down at the bulky recorder, and up at the podium. Suddenly it seemed even further away, and twice as big. Not while this guy is talking, I thought. I would have to set it next to the Fox 13 microphone and tiny shiny recorders the other reporters had foresight to place before the guy got going. Then my co-worker offered to put it up there for me, and I knew I had to do it for the sake of my pride.

So I stood up, trying to think as small as possible, and hurried over to the podium, trying to duck low as I came in camera view. Thank heavens this wasn't important enough to be live. And then, the man speaking stopped. I could feel his eyes boring through my skull, and everyone else in the room staring at me wondering, "What on earth is she doing? Can't she tell we're in the middle of a press conference here?"

Clunk! My mammoth-size recorder banged on the podium louder than I'd intended. I hurried back to my seat, and he resumed his introduction, his possible chance at being on tonight's TV no doubt ruined. My boss gave me a thumbs up.

Then the governor stood up and gave a great speech about Utah's economy, followed by President Waddoups and then Speaker Lockhart. I did my best to look like I belonged in the front, even though I am certain all the reporters were wondering how I got so lucky to sit up by the governor and the taxpayer association guy was sending daggers my way with his eyes. I'm pretty sure my face was redder than our state.

As soon as it was over, with taxpayers association guy still glaring at me, I collected my recorder and hurried away. My boss later told me I did the right thing and to never be embarrassed about doing that because all reporters do it, but I was humiliated for several hours anyway. Now, I can laugh. It really is a funny story. Also, it is a good thing I never wanted to join the Utah Taxpayers Association.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January: Lessons Learned

Aside from figuring out how to set up a live stream with a video camera (Which is not easy), I feel I have learned a lot in the last month. Here are a few maxims:

  • All the stereotypes about politicians are true.
  • When someone asks you to do something for them and you are too busy, you can say no.
  • UNLESS your job is on the line. Then you rearrange your priorities and make it top priority.
  • The Frontrunner does not wait for buses that arrive at the station right at leaving time, even if you run.
  • It is possible to get up at 5 a.m.
  • It is also possible to fall asleep in the middle of family scripture study, when you are the one currently reading aloud.
  • They really do bang a gavel to start the daily Senate session.
  • Certain reporters are rather snooty when you politely ask them to move their chair two inches so you can get their faces on camera.
  • You can't change anyone's opinions, and if they try to change you, get rid of them.
  • The UPS man needs the correct address to deliver a package. Even if you work in the most prominent building in town. 
  • It smells really bad on the Trax.
  • Taking the initiative is often encouraged and impresses your boss with your mad skills.
  • Unless you mess up. Then, taking the initiative was a bad idea.
  • When you accidentally interrupt a press conference, pretend like you belong there. Smile, and try to look as nondescript as possible so the man at the pulpit whom you interrupted forgets your face.
  • Never upset the secretaries. They can be either your friend or your worst enemy.
  • Never upset the pages. If you do, suck up like your life depends on it, because it probably does.
  • People are more friendly on public transportation.
  • The radio/Pandora/my mp3 player has a sick sense of humor in depressing situations.
  • Best friends are always the cure for a broken heart.
And most importantly, the Lord knows your needs and is only waiting for you to ask for help. He will send it in some of the most unexpected ways, but it will be just right for what you need. There are a lot of people who have no idea how much they've affected me with their kind actions and passing words when I needed them most. Thanks, everyone. :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

30 Things to Do Before I'm 30

I love making lists. Here's a life list:
  1. Kiss on top of the Empire State Building
  2. Run a bookstore
  3. Write a book/attempt to get it published
  4. Be published in a national magazine
  5. Go river rafting
  6. Visit Europe
  7. Get a job in D.C.
  8. Eat dinner at a 5-Star restaurant
  9. Have high tea 
  10. Meet the president of the United States
  11. Interview a foreign dignitary
  12. Post a YouTube video that goes viral
  13. Attend Sundance Film Festival
  14. Learn to sail
  15. Eat sushi in a traditional sushi restaurant 
  16. Become proficient in Spanish, and fluent in German
  17. Date a man who writes me a song and sings it to me
  18. Go on a cross-country roadtrip
  19. Go skydiving
  20. Become an expert in Italian cooking
  21. Become proficient at driving manual
  22. Get paid to travel
  23. Spend a week in India with a guru
  24. Ride a camel
  25. Restore a 1965 Mustang
  26. Read the biographies of 15 U.S. presidents
  27. Restore a house
  28. Take a self defense class
  29. Kiss a complete stranger
  30. Earn a pilot's license
Of course I want to do things like get married and have kids by age 30, but these are goals I have more control over. This is not the first list I've made--nor do I suspect it will be the last. But, I really want to do these things. I want to look back on my life and say, "I've gone for the gold. I've shot for the moon and made it. I achieved my dreams." One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain. He said, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.Explore. Dream. Discover."

And that's what I intend to do. Don't ever tell me I can't do something, because I will prove you wrong.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

John Adams Rocks

Always an honest man, often a great one, but sometimes absolutely mad.
--Thomas Jefferson, about John Adams

The other day I was looking up quotes by John Adams and found myself actually laughing out loud--genuinely laughing. I found a new respect for America's second president. He's quite witty, and very profound. Here are some of my favorite John Adams quotes:

Posterity! you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.
  • Letter to Abigail Adams (27 April 1777), published as Letter CXI in Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife (1841) edited by Charles Francis Adams, p. 218
I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.
  • Letter to Abigail Adams (12 May 1780)
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
  • Argument in Defense of the British Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials (4 December 1770)

Abigail Adams
You bid me burn your letters. But I must forget you first.
--Letter to Abigail Adams (28 April 1776)

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.
  • Letter to Jonathan Jackson (2 October 1780), "The Works of John Adams", vol 9, p.511

You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.
  • Letter to John Quincy Adams (14 May 1781)

Thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am right.
  • Letter to Edmund Jenings (1782), as quoted in John Adams (2008) by David McCullough, p. 272

All the perplexities, confusions, and distresses in America arise, not from defects in their constitution or confederation, not from a want of honor or virtue, so much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation.
    • Letter to Thomas Jefferson (23 August 1787), The Works of John Adams

I read my eyes out and can't read half enough. ... The more one reads the more one sees we have to read.
  • Letter to Abigail Adams (28 December 1794), Adams Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society

My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived; and as I can do neither good nor evil, I must be borne away by others and meet the common fate.
  • On the Vice-Presidency of the United States, in a letter to Abigail Adams (19 December 1793)

Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.
  • Letter to Benjamin Rush (18 April 1808)
Thomas Jefferson
You and I ought not to die before we have explained ourselves to each other.
--Letter to Thomas Jefferson (13 July 1813)

I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved — the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.
  • Letter to Thomas Jefferson (3 September 1816), published in Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams (UNC Press, 1988), p. 488.

Power always sincerely, conscientiously, de très bon foi, believes itself right. Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak.
  • Letter to Thomas Jefferson (2 February 1816)

Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it.
  • Letter to his son, John Quincy Adams (13 November 1816)

No man who ever held the office of president would congratulate a friend on obtaining it. He will make one man ungrateful, and a hundred men his enemies, for every office he can bestow.
  • Letter to Josiah Quincy III (14 February 1825)

Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.
  • As quoted by Josiah Quincy III, in Looking Toward Sunset : From Sources Old and New, Original and Selected (1865) by Lydia Maria Francis Child, p. 431

A pen is certainly an excellent instrument to fix a man's attention and to inflame his ambition.
  • (14 November 1760)

Virtue is the mistress of all things. Virtue is the master of all things.
  • (6 August 1796)

The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.

When annual elections end, there slavery begins.

Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.

The world grows more enlightened. Knowledge is more equally diffused. Newspapers, magazines, and circulating libraries have made mankind wiser. Titles and distinctions, ranks and orders, parade and ceremony, are all going out of fashion.... Some truth there is in it; and if the opportunity were temperately improved, to the reformation of abuses, the rectification of errors, and the dissipation of pernicious prejudices, a great advantage it might be. But, on the other hand, false inferences may be drawn from it, which may make mankind wish for the age of dragons, giants, and fairies.
  • Discourses on Davila No. 13

And then I love the song in 1776 where Adams and Jefferson are at each other's throats....

Source: WikiQuote.org