Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Big Apple

I knew living in New York would be different than living in Provo or The Dalles, but I didn't realize exactly HOW different it would be. Going from a population of less than 50,000 to living alongside 8 million people involves much more than rubbing elbows with a few extra people every day.

10 differences between New York and Provo:
1) In Provo, a furious person brought to extreme provocation may be tempted to utter phrases like "I hope you go to heck!" In New York, it's not unusual to hear a guy drop three f-bombs while describing what he had for breakfast.
2) In Provo, when you want to visit someone unannounced, you simply walk up to their apartment door and knock. In New York, the doorman blocks your way. If there is no doorman, it is probably the type of place you'll want to invest in some pepper spray and a good self defense instructor before braving the premises.
3) In Provo, you go to a nice sit down meal and get a heaping plateful of food for seven dollars. In New York, you're lucky if seven dollars will cover the busboy's tip.
4) In Provo, if you need to use the restroom, you simply enter a store/restaurant, go to the back, and enter the door marked "women." In New York, you give up all hope of ever finding a public bathroom after the first ten blocks.
5) In Provo, the morning commute entails spending fifteen minutes by yourself in an air conditioned car, complaining that you had to wait an extra five minutes at the light because of "traffic". In New York, you spend 45 minutes standing jammed between several large, often smelly people who sneeze all over you, trying to avoid catching the eye of any panhandlers, trying to make sure the people smashed against you aren't helping themselves to your wallet, and trying to figure out if the shady-looking guy next to you looks like his backpack contains any explosives.
6) In Provo, people jaywalk. In New York, people realized the only way they might possibly avoid being killed by a speeding taxi is to stay in the crosswalk while the light is green, surrounding themselves with people sturdy enough to cushion the blow.
7) In Provo, you see a policeman and think "Dang it, he's probably going to come over and write me up for throwing snowballs." In New York, you see a pair of officers and think "Oh good, maybe I won't get mugged, shot, or stabbed on this block."
8) In Provo, getting lost means having to go around the block to avoid going the wrong way on a one-way street. In New York, getting lost means getting on the wrong train and ending up in the New Jersey by mistake.
9) In Provo, when you say you think the person across the street is a terrorist, your friends laugh at you for being paranoid. In New York, they shut down six city blocks.
10) In Provo, "pests" are the few ants that make their way into your kitchen in the spring. In New York, they're rats that could eat your pet chihuahua for breakfast.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I hate flying

Oops... I know it's been a while since I've posted. Everyone has probably stopped following my blog by now. Unfortunately, taking finals and putting out the last editions of the paper and moving from my apartment and getting ready for New York turned out to be a full time job for the last couple of weeks. But now I'm in New York City! I got in yesterday, after the longest red eye flight I've ever taken. I left my house at 9:00 p.m. Oregon time, and landed in New York at 2:30 p.m. NY time so jet lagged I could barely see straight. I would have gotten there sooner, but my flight got delayed. I have the worst luck with flights. I don't know why I don't just automatically schedule my flights a couple of hours early, because anywhere I'm flying to, there's guaranteed to be a blizzard or some other sort of inclement weather. So while I was stuck in the Houston airport for an extra four and a half hours, I amused myself with my standard airport pastime of watching people talk to the gate agents and wondering how they were intelligent enough to manage to book a flight in the first place. This may sound mean, but if you spent the number of days I did stranded in the Salt Lake airport two Christmases ago, you would understand. This time I saw a guy who had to have the meaning of the word "delayed" explained to him three or four times before he comprehended that the plane wasn't taking off for at least another hour due to weather problems. And then he said "Can't you just call them and tell them that it's really important for me to get there on time?" I also cannot tell you how many people I have seen throw a fit when they get to the gate ten or fifteen minutes after takeoff and realized the pilot has not held the plane for them. These people were serious. They actually thought that instead of closing the jetway and taxiing toward the runway ten minutes before takeoff, the pilot and all hundred and some passengers were still sitting there saying "Well, gee, I really hope Mr. and Mrs. Smith get here soon." And yet, their flight always leaves on time, while I get there two hours early and then get delayed another hour or two. Where's the justice in that? Waiting to get on the plane isn't really all that exciting, and then I finally get to board and I think "Woohoo! No more sitting and being bored.... oh wait, my flight is four hours long." And then I try to get a good night's sleep while sitting upright in my chair next to a complete stranger. Before I got old enough to start flying, I used to think it would be so exciting...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Man contests

The other day one of my friends was showing me a picture of her little sister, and worrying that she is now sixteen and can date. I listened to the protectiveness in her voice, and realize that with no little sister to worry about, I am missing out on that highly protective feeling. Of course, I do have younger brothers, but I don't worry about them in quite the same way. When it comes to brothers, your biggest worry is generally that they'll live through their teenage years. Forget about someone taking advantage of them on a date, I'm more worried another guy will offer one of them $5 to chug a gallon of guacamole in a minute, or jump off the roof blindfolded, and that'll be it. Trust me, I've seen them do worse things for less money before. Usually because I was the one offering. When Lance and I were both teenagers, I managed to convince him it would be a good idea to chug a glass of vinegar-- free of charge. It was great, except for the moment when Mom and Dad walked in the door while he was throwing up in the kitchen sink. How did I do it? I invented the term "man contest." I discovered early in life, that the most reasonable guy in the world will do anything for you, if only you throw his manliness into question. This is how I persuaded my straight-A student brothers to do a multitude of unpleasant things, from lying shirtless in the snow to eating dog food (if I was mean enough, I probably could have taken that one exactly where you were thinking it was going). I made it a "man contest," and whoever did the best was the manliest of the three. It worked beautifully every time. Even once they realized what I was doing, they couldn't help themselves-- they had to give in eventually, on the off chance I really would believe they were less manly than the other two. Of course, they have other ways to determine who was the manliest, some more reasonable than others. One of their favorites is who had the most hair. I swear, a guy could walk down the street in a pink cardigan, singing "My Heart Will Go On" at the top of his lungs, and if he had enough hair on his arms they would all be saying "Man, what a stud!" The words "peach fuzz" are an insult of choice at our house, never mind that all three of my brothers can grow a five o'clock shadow before noon. The other most important determiner is the deepness of a guy's voice. If any one of my brothers had the indignity of being a tenor, I'm not sure he could ever live down the shame. I sometimes worry about how my brothers are going to react when I bring home a fiancee someday, but then I realize as long as he's got chest hair and a voice like Barry Manilow, they'll all get along just fine.

The art of procrastination

It's finals week, in case you were wondering what could possibly cause me to go so long between posts. I thought in honor of this time of year, I would write about procrastination... since that's exactly what I'm doing right now anyway. Somehow, writing a blog post seems much more appealing than writing a term paper at the moment. The reason I was so busy last week was thanks to procrastination. I seem to be a creature of habit, because I follow the exact same pattern every semester-- I start off strong, determined to get my best grades yet... then I get partway through the semester, and I wonder why I am studying when there are so many more appealing options available, such as hanging out with my friends, watching YouTube videos, or lying on my bed staring aimlessly at the ceiling while listening to Here Without You for the 100th time. Then I get to the end of the semester, realize I've got 12 weeks worth of work due tomorrow, and think "Oh... that's why." Fortunately I know I am in no way alone on this one. I always laugh when professors go over the requirements for a midterm paper two weeks before it's due, and seem surprised when no one responds after they ask "Any questions?" No one responds because it's written on every one of their faces that they plan to not even consider the paper until midnight the night before it's due. Fortunately, it's possible to get an A on a paper you finished at 3:00 a.m, because most professors at BYU have never experienced a paper written during the daytime hours and profread the next day (or at all), so they think the quality of papers they get in is our best, most polished work, and grade accordingly.

Friday, March 26, 2010

In pursuit of a meal

Hey all... I apologize for my unexpected haitus from the blogging world. I know you all missed my wit and sarcasm terribly :) Unfortunately, the real world interfered with my social media-ing in the form of various papers and tests. Anyways... I was thinking today about the great lengths college students will go to get free food. I was thinking about it as I sat through a rather long (more than an hour), somewhat awkward and occasionally tense meeting that was completely optional, all for the sake of some free pizza. Some of my colleagues sensed a trap and were smart enough to stay away, but despite the fact that I foresaw the potential for much awkwardness, I was hungry, and there was pizza. Good pizza. So I went. This wouldn't be the first time something like this has happened. In face, the day before I stayed at my workplace unpaid for an extra hour, also in the pursuit of free pizza. Which considering I make $9.50 an hour, may not have been mathematically sound. It is my belief that if all the clubs and organizations on campus stopped enticing poor, starving students with the promise of mint brownies and other unspecified "refreshments," said organizations would cease to exist, with the exception of a few, such as the Medieval Club, whose members do not necessarily follow the normal behavioral patterns of your average college kid. I have seen people sit through many extrordinarily long and boring presentations in pursuit of a 2X2" square of brownie and some Kool-Aid. I have also seen people promise their vote for student body president away for a piece of candy. I wonder if this principle could be applied beyond the bounderies of campus? Of course, adults (real adults, not the college variety) would probably have to be bought off with a little bit more than a fun-sized Twix, but I wonder if a donut would do it? Could I rule the world, one pizza slice at a time? It's possible. After all, today's leaders are yesterday's starving college student, and deep down, I am sure that the insatiable desire for pizza is still there. This has potential...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mad about March

It's that time of year again... March Madness. The time of year when productivity goes down around the country as everyone calls in "sick" or tries to sneak peeks at the game(s) in between spreadsheets. Fortunately for me, I work in the type of office where it is perfectly acceptable for us to have a giant flatscreen on the wall tuned to the ESPN at all times. As journalists we're supposed to keep up on the news, and well, basketball is the only news half the country cares about right now. Forget the healthcare vote, we want to know how the heck Murray St. managed to beat Vandy and how Iowa managed to beat Kansas(which pretty much destroyed the brackets of everyone in the country). The first round was pretty fun. The average game was decided by less than five points, and the BYU vs. Florida game (2OT!)was the best BYU basketball game I have ever seen. We watched it in the newsroom, and by the time we went into our second round of overtime we didn't care that broadcast was recording next door- we were all yelling. Of course, not everyone in the newsroom was grouped around the TV with baited breath. Most of the girls were at their desks, calmly going about their work while the fate of BYU basketball was played out on the national stage. This explains why when I say I went to a basketball or football game and guys ask me how it was, they are completely thrown for a loop if I say anything more astute than "We, like, won!" Come on, girls. Stop accepting traditional gender socialization and start realizing that it's okay for women to be interested in sports, too. If you have a problem with the sweat and other un-feminine aspects of actually playing sports, it is still okay to know that football has quarters and basketball is played in halves. An NCAA bracket is not any more complicated than the stars' love lives, and understanding it gets you a lot more respect from the guys. If you're not in it for the game and can't keep all the rules straight, you should at least be able to remember the names, numbers and positions of various handsome, manly men with large muscles who frequent such events as the Superbowl and March Madness. That way, when a guy says he's dreaming of sweet sixteen, you'll know it has nothing to do with age. Next year, maybe...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Where there's smoke, there's dinner

Cooking takes on such a different meaning when you're living away from home. In high school I helped with dinner fairly often. I would come home after a long day to find my mom on the phone discussing her church calling, painting the ceiling, and dashing down the ladder to forward the laundry every half hour, and I would know that it was up to me to heroically save my dad and brothers from starvation. But it's different when you are the only person between you and an empty stomach every single day. Some days I come home and really enjoy the chance to be productive and creative in a non-homework way, but there are a lot of other days when I get home late and exhausted and think "Hmm, I could spend twenty minutes making something, or I could eat this bread straight out of the bag." Sometimes the bag wins. At least I know how to cook. There are a lot of girls out there who can barely manage to figure out how the toaster works, and I wonder how they survive. Of course, even though I cook more than most of my roommates, I am just as accident prone. As mentioned in my "Lessons from Apartment Living" post, my roommates and I have confirmed our suspicions that sausage grease is flammable, as well as discovering the flamability of less likely suspects, such as noodles and the cardboard under the frozen pizza. Every day when I come home and the apartment is still standing I feel grateful. Fortunately our smoke detector is on the other side of the kitchen, unlike at home where it was directly over the stove. Every time anything spilled over onto the burner, the whole neighborhood knew the McDowells were cooking again. I think it might be a good idea if I marry a firefighter.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Swimsuits for Mormons

I went swimsuit shopping yesterday. Do you know how hard it is to buy a swimsuit when you're a Mormon girl? Even in Utah, it is exceedingly difficult, although not as bad as in Oregon. Outside of Utah, you go to a department store and they've got several racks full of bikinis, and the only one-pieces are a couple of extra exra larges and a really ugly floral print with a little skirt that was obviously meant for a 70-year-old lady. All the girls who read this know exactly what I'm talking about. The fashion industry doesn't believe in one-pieces for anyone under 50 years old or 300 lbs. Unfortunatley, I do. So when my roommate needed a new swimsuit and I decided I did too, I was excited to go shopping in the Land of the Modest Clothes. I mean, they have prom dresses with sleeves here. How hard could finding a new swimsuit be? Answer: harder than I thought. Part of the problem is that my roommate and I are poor college students with a very minimal interest in fashion, which means on the list of things we want to spend our money on, clothing is pretty close to the bottom, somewhere in between notebook paper and dryer sheets. So the first couple of stores we went to were out, because I had forgotten that some people feel morally okay with charging $50-$70 for a couple of square feet of spandex. We finally ended up in a store which was more in our price range (It may have started with "Wal" and ended in "Mart." Don't judge, okay?). Then the real shopping began. After discarding the ones with the little skirts, the ones that only came in extra large, and the ones that were just plain ugly, we had a few choices left. The problem was, none of them worked out so well. I'm a lot more picky than just fulfilling the one-piece requirement, and the rest of the swimsuits were either too low in front, or had no back, or some other problem like that. See, a lot of girls don't really wear their swimsuits to go swimming in. Guys would probably be surprised to hear it, but it's true. Even for Mormon girls, the point of owning a swimsuit is to lounge around the pool, watch the guys show off, and maybe do a little bit of flirty splashing with your feet (provided it doesn't mess up your hair), all while wearing considerably less than you would be allowed to wear to school. I, on the other hand, go to the pool to actually swim. Sometimes I even do things like river raft or play basketball, or other activities that involved a fair amount of rough-housing. So I like my swimsuit to fit, and fit well. So all the options were out, except for one decent-looking but not particularly cute black one. The only problem was, there was only one small size, and my roommate needed it worse than I did. Long story short, I still have the same swimsuit I've had since high school. Guys have it so easy.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Indirect flirting

In my linguistics class yesterday we talked about indirect speech, which is when we say one thing but actually mean another. If you think about it, we actually say what we literally mean far less often than we think, all in the name of politeness. For instance, when we say "Is it your turn to do the dishes today?" what we really mean is "The kitchen is disgusting and apparently you've forgotten it's your dish day, so do the dishes!!!" And when someone cuts us in line at the grocery store and we say "Excuse me, I believe I was next," what we actually mean is "Get to the back of the line, you self-entitled jerk." Normally we all speak the same form of indirect language, and so we can all be rude to each other without using actual rudeness. However, when it comes to dating, sometimes it seems as if guys and girls are speaking a completely different language altogether. One phrase or gesture can mean two completely different things, depending on gender. For example:

Actual sentence: Sorry, I'm busy.
What the girl meant: I'm not interested, but I'm giving you one chance to take the hint gracefully before I have to spell it out for you.
What the guy hears: Oh darn, I really think you're hot stuff and want to go out with you, but I have a life or death situation to attend to. Please ask me out again.

Acutal sentence: I'm SO sorry! I have to go to my grandmother's funeral then, but I would love to go out with you some other time.
What the girl meant: Dang it! Why did it have to be this weekend?! PLEASE ask me out again, because I really like you!
What the guy hears: I am not interested. In fact, I am so not interested that I'm lying to you. Please do not ever ask me out again.

Actual sentence: I think that movie looks so good!
What the girl is actually saying: Please ask me on a date to this movie.
What the guy hears: I think that movie looks good, and I would love to see it by myself or with my female friends.

Actual sentence: I love this song!
What the girl meant: Please ask me to dance.
What the guy hears: I would enjoy standing here and talking to you about the song and what makes it good while everyone else dances. The only thing that would be better is if you wandered off to get a drink or talk to your buddies standing on the sidelines.

Actual sentence: Ha ha ha, you are so much fun to hang out with! And smart! And cute!
What the girl meant: I am really laying it on thick now. I'm being so obvious I'm pretty sure even Helen Keller could tell I was flirting.
What the guy hears: I might be slightly interested in you. Then again, maybe not. You'd better not risk asking me out yet. But keep leading me on, just in case.

If they could teach us how to translate THAT type of indirect language in linguistics, it would be the most popular class on campus.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


This weekend I am going to a Divine Comedy show. For the uninitiated, DC is a comedy sketch group on campus. And they are hilarious. I think part of the reason they are so funny is because, well, let's face it... they've got a lot of material to work with. They can make fun of popular culture, college culture, Mormon culture, Utah culture, and BYU culture. It's a bonanza. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE BYU!!! Seriously, it's amazing. But it's also a crazy mix of the strange and ridiculous some days. I mean, where else could you overhear a snippet of conversation that goes like this...
Guy#1: 39?
Guy#2: Fornication.
...and instantly know they were studying for a Book of Mormon test? Not to mention how professors of non-religious subjects always throw in scripture references when they're teaching. For example, one day one of my classes went like this:
Professor: You know, when I make up multiple choice tests I kind of feel like Satan. I take the truth and then I twist it several different ways to trick you into picking the wrong one. Isn't that what he does?
Student: No, if you were following Satan's plan, there would only be one answer for each question and we would all be forced to get an A.
Class [chanting]: Satan's plan! Satan's plan!
...Only at BYU, eh? I think that's why our police beat and letters to the editor are so funny. Instead of alcohol-related incidents and other serious crimes we get incidents like this sneak preview of tomorrow's police beat:
March 4 A caller with a Jamaican accent made a call to the police department trying to reach men’s basketball coach Dave Rose. He wanted to inform Rose he had won a contest, and for Rose to receive his prize, he simply had to send them a cashier’s check. Being familiar with the scam, the police officer told him to stop calling. The caller continued to call. By coincidence, Rose was in the office during one of the calls and told the secretary to give the caller his number. The coach then took care of the problem by blowing a loud whistle into the mouthpiece. The caller has not called back since.
And finally, letters to the editor. Some are extremely articulate. Others make me wonder if maybe BYU needs to add a psych test to the admissions process. This year there was the writer who wrote a strongly-worded chastisement to the Bookstore for displaying Satanic images that "drive away the Spirit" when they hung up posters of cute little cartoon witches and ghosts for Halloween. There was the girl who compared girls who let guys pay for them on dates to prostitutes. There was also the guy who angrily claimed that he forgot to turn off his cell phone before going into the Testing Center because he was mercilessly distracted by the sight of a girl in a low cut shirt (he must not have outgrown his sixteen-year-old hormones yet). Fortunately, there are also students who write letters like this in response:
Dangerous Cleavage
I sympathize with the cleavage-sensitive student (Jan. 23, "Mind the gap") who spoke of a Testing Center worker "branding a particularly vicious v-neck," and of being so distracted that he lost the ability to read a sign. Recently, I was exiting Japanese class when I was attacked by a fiercely low-cut blouse. It leapt from its wearer's bosom, mercilessly assaulting me like a wicked stream of bullets that each have a gun that shoots additional, smaller bullets. Dazed, I managed to stumble only a few yards towards the exit when I collapsed, inadvertently pulling the fire alarm in the process. An Honor Code rescue squad had to be summoned to perform Chastity Pulmonary Resuscitation on me, and for the rest of the week, I was prone to fainting spells when near the opposite sex.

Like I said... Divine Comedy is not lacking in material.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Overheard in the Newsroom

Tonight I am too lazy to write my own post. Yes, it was one of those days. Instead, for your enjoyment, we have some of my favorite quotes from "Overheard in the Newsroom," which is basically a Web site where people contribute funny things said in the newsroom. The following represent my chosen career quite well:

Reporter: “You have to block comments on this story. I predict a flame war.”
Editor: “I’m sorry, all I heard was ‘more hits!’”

Editor: “Did the mayor really use the word shenanigans and compare the city to a three-legged stool?”
Reporter: “Yeah, that guy’s a quote machine.”

Copy Editor: “Being a Copy Editor is a lot like ‘Where’s Waldo?’ but instead it’s called ‘Find the Career-Ending Mistake.’”

Editor #1: “We have another snowblower accident, this time the guy got it in the leg.”
Editor #2: “That’s three! Trend story!”

Copy Editor walking into sappy moment at meeting: “There’s so much caring in here, it doesn’t even feel like a newsroom.”

Reporter 1: “Someone just called to complain their neighbor has already set up Christmas decorations.”
Reporter 2: “I smell Pulitzer.”

Copy Editor on phone with Sports Editor, talking about Sports Writer from another paper:
“It’s not that hard to figure out who scored a touchdown. Usually they go ‘Wooooo!’”

Editor: “We’re not looking for Pulitzer material here. We just need something to fill the space between the ads.”

Reporter: “I don’t like to go near the Copy Desk. There’s a constant cloud of gloom hanging over there.”

Copy Editor to Editor: “This doesn’t have the feel of an on-time paper.”

Reporter: “Being a government reporter makes you hate democracy.”

Reporter trying to talk an Editor out of pursuing a story: “Isn’t there something to be said about ‘First, do no harm?’”
Editor: “That’s for doctors, not reporters. Our oath is, ‘Go get ’em.’”

Reporter showing someone around and entering the newsroom: “This is the nerve center. This is where we fill up all the space we can’t sell ads for.”

A Reporter tries to get a Photographer to go to a political event with him as an Editor listens in:
Photographer: “I’m shooting basketball that night.”
Reporter: “Basketball won’t be the Governor next year.”
Editor: “And more people will still care about basketball.”
Reporter: “And THAT is why I hate people.”

Cops reporter: “You know it’s a slow news day when the police department is just blasting Journey over the scanners.”

Editor: “Did you just mash random keys or were you actually attempting to spell Alzheimer’s?”

Reporter shouting at a city official: “Show me where in open records law there’s an exemption for antagonistic people.”

Reporter on phone with principal, trying to set up a time for photographers to come: “I’d like to shoot some kids.”

Reporter: “Ugh, I hate the smell of burned houses.”
Photographer: “You hate the smell of job security?”

Editor: “What’s going on the rest of page 8?”
Writer: “My obituary. I figure I’ll take one for the team.”

Copy Editor: “There isn’t a headline that can’t be improved by adding the word ‘pants’ in it.”

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hair people

It’s that time of year again… the time of year where it’s been a few months since I got a haircut, and the split ends are starting to show up. I’ve been procrastinating getting it cut again, though, because, well… I hate getting my hair cut. It’s not the actual act of cutting I don’t like. I definitely don’t mind people touching my hair. I just don’t like judgmental hair people touching it. If you’re reading my blog, chances are you know me. And my hair. And you know exactly why when I walk into the salon and I’m greeted by a perfectly coiffed girl who’s been flatironing since kindergarten, she always gives me a look that says “Like, OMG honey, did you stick your finger in a light socket?” and then the innocent questions start. “Do you usually straigten your hair? You just wore it in a ponytial to get it cut, right? Have you tried this product before?” And pretty soon I have a whole basket full of expensive products being “highly reccommended” to me. So I have a lot of hair. I just don’t know what to do with it. I grew up with all brothers, remember? So even though I can explain everything from the electoral process to the BCS system, curling irons still mystify me. I can use them (and straighteners) for minor touch-ups, but when it comes to transforming my whole head full of hair, it ain’t happening. Guaranteed, if you see me in anything more time-consuming than a ponytail, my roommates got their hands on me. Because even if I did know how to do all that stuff, who wants to spend that long in front of the mirror every morning? I personally have more interesting things to look at. There are definitely advantages to being low maintenance, though. During my freshman year when everyone else was spending an hour getting ready for a dance, the boys would get tired of waiting and leave, taking me with them. And let me tell you, the uneven ratio wasn’t a bad thing. I mean, what were those girls doing??? They must have been straightening each strand of hair individually, because I don’t think I could spend a whole hour getting ready if I tried. I don’t think they realized that not a single guy there noticed they had curled their eyelashes. They’re boys, for crying out loud. I doubt they even registered what color half the girls were wearing. Yeah, there’s probably a lot of guys that have passed me over for dates because I’m not as primped as other girls. But those guys are shallow anyways. Some day a guy is going to realize that while other girls were perfecting their mascara and curling iron skills, I was busy learning to cook and sew and talk football. I may not be able to do a french twist, but I can make a heck of a loaf of french bread. And I’m pretty sure that’s going to count for something in the end.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The drug dependant albatross

Song lyrics are funny things. For those of you not left-brained enough to understand them, here’s a mathematical hint: the amount of sense a song makes is inversely proportionate to how hip it is. This may seem like a very modern idea, but anyone who has studied poetry on at least a high school level knows full well the art of passing off Mad Libs as works of art has been around for centuries. Some day, when I get to heaven, I am going to find William Blake and he’ll admit to me that when he penned the words “Tyger, tyger, burning bright,” he was actually writing about a tiger. At that point I will laugh triumphantly in the faces of all the English teachers who gave me bad grades on my poetry analyses over the years when I said things like “The author wrote that flowers were pretty, so I’d say the underlying message of the poem is… she thinks flowers are pretty.” And then I will probably get kicked out of heaven. Maybe I should refine this plan. I sometimes wonder if a hundred years from now our great great grandchildren will be analyzing the words of bands like Cake and Nirvana (since, let’s face it, who writes actual poetry anymore?). Their teachers will try to tell them that “You can dress up like a sultan in your onion head hat” is a three-level metaphor for transcendentalists challenging coporate greed in a materialistic world, even though the words were actually picked randomly out of a hat by a bunch of drunk guys in a garage. To illustrate my point, I have arranged some of the lines of five Owl City songs into a new song (Yes, I got REALLY bored with studying), and I dare you to tell me it doesn’t make the same amount of sense as the individual songs did by themselves:
Hello Seattle, I am an albatross
And that's why I don't drink and drive
I will disguise myself as a sleeping pill
'Cause I just don't foresee myself getting drowsy
At a church rummage sale
Cough and alcohol don't mix
So if my resolve goes south I swallow my pride with asprin and shut my mouth
'Cause I saved a few and I keep them in a jar
Mixed with stale gasoline
I've been to the dentist a thousand times
I'm hooked so toss me over
Down your dark basement stairs
I'll keep my helmet on just in case my head caves in
I brush my teeth and look in the mirror,
When I'm far too tired to fall asleep
'Cause I feel like such an insomniac
I know the part, it's such a bummer,
Oh throw a party and greet my undersea friends
With friends like these well, who needs enemies?
I call it “The drug-dependant albatross,” and trust me, it’s going to be a smash hit some day when they sing it on their reunion tour, complete with weird lighting and albatross dancers. I feel a career coming on… and if it doesn’t work out, I can always sell my garbage can to an art museum for millions of dollars. I call it “Receptacle of Rubbish,” and some day some poor guy will write his master’s thesis on how the Snicker’s wrapper near the top represents the fraility of human nature.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater

Today I had a story in the Daily Universe, which you may want to read before continuing: http://universe.byu.edu/node/6474
The story was cowritten by me and my partner Danny for an advanced print reporting assignment. I have to give credit here where credit is due: although I did a lot of interviewing and writing for the article, it was Danny who got The Interview. Since the article topic was my idea, I was supposed to take point on it, but I told Danny to feel free to interview anyone he heard talking about interesting cheating-related things. He called me later to tell me about Heather. She started talking to one of his friends at work about her procrastination "method," and he asked her if he could interview her, fully expecting her to say no. Amazingly, she agreed, even after he made it very clear that this article would appear in the newspaper with her name and information. She didn't care, which proves once again several things I have learned since becoming a reporter:
1) Some people are stupid.
2) Some people will do anything to to get into the newspaper.
3) Some people don't censor themselves well.
4) Some people don't understand the power of the press to make or break a person.
5) Some people don't realize that newspapers aren't just five minutes of fame any more. If you're mentioned in the newspaper, a potential employer could Google your name ten years from now and found out about that time that you did that thing...
So he interviewed her. I interviewed other students. We wrote a story. And then we put it in the newspaper as promised, prominently displayed as the front page package. So far, we haven't heard from her. Maybe nothing will happen to her. Maybe she'll get kicked out of BYU. Maybe everyone will hate her and next year she'll still be getting "Hey, weren't you that girl...?" I'll probably never know. A small part of me feels bad about possibly having a hand in ruining her life. But a bigger part of me is okay with our desicion to publish. She knew her name was going to be in the paper, and she decided she was okay with the consequences. She did it to herself. It's not our job to protect unwise people from themselves, especially the dishonest ones. And we believe her story conveys the message Danny and I set out to give in the first place: there are many BYU students who would never dream of taking cheat sheets to a test. They think of themselves as honest, temple-reccomend-carrying, calling-holding members of the church. And yet, they are rationalizing their way down a slippery slope of "Well, I'm not really lying" instances. If at least one person read this article today, thought Heather was a bad person, and then thought of this article next time they were tempted to do something dishonest, then Danny and I did our jobs. Because from where we're standing, we don't see any gray areas.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Scout camp vs. Girls'...camp?

I was thinking about camping yesterday, most likely brought about by a highly enjoyable YouTube video found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rps1zdppqBA, which you may want to watch before continuing.
After listening to the stories my brothers bring home from scout camp every year, I would say the video is pretty accurate, barring, of course, the game of patty cake in the tent. Also, I am pretty sure the process of becoming an Eagle Scout involves more than just catching a trout. But I may be wrong.
I've heard some great stories through the years about scout camp, including our bishop arriving at the campsite just in time to see a young man come streaking in. And by streaking I am not referring to how fast he was going. There was also the incident in which a certain older scout tied a certain deacon to the rafters by his feet, wrapped him in toilet paper, and left him hanging there for a scout leader to find. Names have been removed to protect the innocent (also, close relatives).
Of course, I went camping every year too, with the other young women at church. Here, however, I use "camping" in a much looser sense of the word. I attended three different girls camps in my years as a young woman, with varying degrees of primitivity (cabin, teepee, tarp over wood), but I would still say each was markedly different from the scout camp experience.
For one, girls do not believe their sleeping bags should ever touch the ground, even if the ground is a wooden floor. There must be an air matress or cot in between the sleeper and said ground. This negates the definition of camping that my family uses. When you have six people, three of them gigantic teenage boys, still using a five person tent, there is not a lot of room for air matresses. Or breathing.
Secondly, girls bring suitcases to camp. Some suitcases are small, others would garner all sorts of fees at the airport, but even the smallest suitcases contain much more clothing than any scouter would bring. After years of observing brothers and their friends leave for scout camp I have come to the conclusion that there are two different types of scouts. Half of them bring a backpack with the bare essentials, namely beef jerky and candy. The other half have mothers who forced them to cram everything they own into a pack the size of a well fed deacon. When they return home a week later everything not edible is in the exact same place as their mother packed it originally.
Girls, on the other hand, use everything they bring. The fact that 90% of girls still wear makeup at girls camp, when the only guys around are the occasional married camp dad, proves the point that girls dress up to impress other girls, not guys.
Girls also shower. It doesn't matter if the water makes the dust stick better and the passion fruit body wash attracts more insects, they will still make a daily trek to "freshen up." My brothers, on the other hand, didn't realize until the end of the week one yearthat their showers were broken. I doubt some scouts even realized there were showers.
There is also the food. Boy scouts can subsist on a steady diet of burnt hot dogs, but most girls have taste buds. Most girls also know how to cook. I say most here, because I have to exclude my teepee-mates from my third year, who mistook lemon pudding powder for flour and rolled the chicken in it. Let me tell you now: Lemon pudding does not belong in chicken casserole. Ever.
There are also pranks. Both camps have them, although the male versions often seem a bit harsh for young women. You will never come across a Beehive tied to the ceiling by her feet. One year, however, a group of girls took another girl's bag of makeup and hair products and ran it up the flag pole. The victim had a fit, the pranksters stepped forward to be condemned by the rest of the group as having gone "too far," and there were tearful apologies all around.
Some day I will tackle the differences between Elders Quorums and the Relief Society...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lessons from apartment living

20 things I have learned from living in an apartment:

1) Noodles are flammable.
2) Never run the dishwasher without first running the garbage disposal.
3) Make sure everything near the bedroom windows is waterproof.
4) Don't hang things on the shower rod.
5) Top Ramen does mold. So does juice.
6) Milk tastes bad after it has expired.
7) You can drink out of bowls when there are no clean cups.
8) Utensils are overrated.
9) There is no such thing as a magic crumb-removal fairy. There may, however, be a plain old crumb fairy.
10) Grey is the new white when it comes to saving money on laundry loads.
11) You can iron on the floor. Just don't leave the iron on the carpet afterward.
12) Ice cream lasts longer when you don't eat it straight from the carton.
13) Frozen eggs are hard to bake with.
14) There is usually more hair in our shower drains than on our heads.
15) It is best to wipe out the oven cleaner before attempting to bake anything.
16) Not putting a bag in the garbage can makes it really hard to take out the trash.
17) Co-ed laundry rooms can get awkward.
18) Do not eat anything off the kitchen floor more than a day after cleaning checks.
19) People do strange things in their sleep.
20) Some people use a lot of toilet paper.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Press Releases that look like THIS!!!!

Being an editor means dealing with a lot of press releases. For those of you who don't speak newspaper-ese, a press release is what people send the newsroom when they want us to write a story about them, or more often, the company they do public relations for. Most PR people are perpetually perky little things, so sometimes it gets a little tiresome wading through all the honey. I always want to send a back a fitting reply that looks something like this:
"OMIGOSH!!! That is SO EXCITING!!! :) I am SO GLAD that you put so many awesome, tremendous, exciting adjectives in CAPITAL LETTERS with EXCLAMATION POINTS so I could appreciate your news!!! :) :) :)"
What they don't realize is that everyone else puts their email subject lines in all caps too, starting with the word IMPORTANT!!! I would probably be more likely to notice it if it was in tiny letters that said "Please don't read this." Actually, I guarantee the journalist in me would be tripping over myself to scour the entire thing.
They also try to throw in buzz words they think will pique my interest. The story could be about a new hamburger joint in town and still be peppered with phrases like "environmentally friendly," "political impact," "human interest," and "international charity." I'm a reporter, for crying out loud. Don't they know I get much more excited about phrases like "major disaster," and "political career crashing and burning?"
Often I wonder how these people think their news constitutes an article. Do they really think I get their email and think "Oh wow, I do have these stories about the Haiti earthquake and State of the Union address and terrorist attacks in Jordan, but I will definitely save some space in the paper for the announcement that the Malte Shoppe has a new flavor of milkshake. I just don't know what we would have put on the front page otherwise."
Recent press releases I have gotten include:
1) The announcement that the "immensely popular restaurant chain Smashburger" is opening a new restuarant in the neighboring town
2) The restaurant Magelby's is now open two hours later.
3) Someone not connected to the university in any way discovered a new species of fossilized rodent.
4) The Utah Farm Bureau has declared this week "State Food Checkout Week." (whatever that means)
5) A Senate candidate posted a new Youtube video.
And many, many more.
I think some people are trying to cleverly avoid paying for advertising. Like they think I'll look at an article that says "Come to your local Toyota dealers and check out the following deals:" and accept it as legitimate journalism.
I'm on to you, people. Oh sorry, I mean I am SO FABULOUSLY onto you!!! Charity!!! Woohoo!!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

On having all brothers

I have all brothers. Three, to be exact, and they're all younger than me. Some people think this is cool. Others equate it to being raised by wolves. Whatever the case, it has definitely given me a different perspective on life than some of my female counterparts. Some "I was raised with brothers" moments from this year:

1) At a ward activity two sisters with the last name of Gay mentioned that they were spending Thanksgiving with "the Gay side of the family." Only two people snickered: me and the only guy at the table.
2) During a religion class we were talking about the sacrament when the professor ran over to the board and started drawing a chart with six numbers and arrows everywhere. While all the girls around me asked what the heck it was, I immediately recognized it as a map of the positions for passing the sacrament.
3) During an analysis of Superbowl commercials in a media class a girl asked why a cell phone commercial was effective when it didn't even talk about what the phone did. While all the other girls nodded in agreement I said rolled my eyes and said "Because it featured Megan Fox in a bathtub." The guys' response: "Darn straight."
4) I had to go to the lost and found and ask for the jacket I had left in class. I was describing the color and style when the girl rolled her eyes impatiently. "What brand is it?" she asked. Me: "Um...Kmart?"
5) During a round of catch phrase I guessed all the Star Wars/Trek related clues and none of the chick flick quotes.

Internet Privacy- yeah, right

My original intent was to post on here every day, but obviously that's going about as well as my goal to write in my journal every day. I was reading a blog by a Newsweek staffer today about Facebook and Google Buzz invading our privacy. "Internet privacy" kind of seems like an oxymoron to me. It amazes me that people get surprised or even upset when their personal information becomes common knowledge after they post it on a blog or Facebook. I don't care how good your privacy settings are, you shouldn't post anything ON THE INTERNET that you wouldn't be okay with everyone knowing. It's like people who tell reporters things during an interview and then get their knickers in a twist when they're quoted on the front page. Hello? That's kind of the point. Sure, I've got my Facebook privacy settings on "friends only" and I'm careful about who I friend, but that doesn't mean I'm so naive I would post pictures of me doing something illegal/unprofessional/stupid and not think a current/potential boss may see them. Who knows, I might be friends with his nephew. So yes, I am highly suspicious of the privacy factors of Google Buzz, but I have a solution: don't post anything on there I don't want everyone in my contact list to see. Genius, right?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Graduation Requirements

BYU is amazing. Its people are amazing. In fact, they are so amazing that sometimes I wonder if the graduation requirements at BYU are really hard enough for anyone here but me. Consequently, the following list is a new set of graduation requirements which I feel more accurately reflects what my fellow students are up to these days:

Seniors must now achieve all of the following before receiving a diploma:
1) Triple major in three unrelated subjects (a double minor doesn't hurt either)
2) Start a major international charitable organization
3) Get accepted into both medical and law school
4) Become a national champion of something
5) Take a minimum of twelve dance classes
6) Run a marathon
7) Become the president of something
8) Achieve at least a 3.9 GPA, but declare that grades don’t actually matter to you
9) Have a scholarship named after you
10) Complete three internships at prestigious organizations
11) Get a perfect score in the Testing Center
12) Get married (must be in the temple)
13) Become an Elder’s Quorum or Relief Society president
14) Change someone’s life
15) Complete 300 credits
16) Win an olympic medal
17) Publish a book
18) Gather a 7-year supply of food storage
19) Shake the hand of every member of the Quorum of the Twelve
20) Pass American Heritage

Good luck!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Male and Female Bathrooms

Okay, now for a real post. I was talking with a friend the other day about the difference between bathrooms in girls' and guys' apartments. I grew up in a house full of brothers, and this is the first year I've lived in an apartment instead of dorms with communal bathrooms. It's taken some getting used to. There are some similarities: I always thought I deserved some sort of award for sharing a bathroom with three brothers, but it turns out girls leave shreds of toilet paper on the floor and toothpaste splatters on the mirror too.
The differences kind of make me want to go back to sharing with my brothers. When you're sharing a bathroom with five other girls there are SO MANY BOTTLES!!! Our counter is covered with beauty products. I counted, and between our two showers we have 23 bottles of shampoo/conditioner/who-knows-what, plus a plethora of razors and poofy things. There's hardly room to turn around in there. This is in sharp contrast to when I got in the shower back home over the summer and realized my only options were a bottle of Axe shampoo and a sliver of soap that looked like it had been there since I had left for school the year before.
At least the floor around the toilet is less questionable.

Hello World

So, I decided to start a blog. Obviously. There are several reasons for this:
1) It seemed like a journalist-ish thing to do.
2) It will fulfill all of my narcissitic needs that aren't being met by Facebook.
3) I (the girl who grew up in a western town of 12,000 people) am going to New York City for an internship this summer. This should provide some interesting material. Until that point, anyone who happens to come across this will have to put up with everyday observations.
We'll see what happens here.