Monday, October 29, 2012

Pointless little update. But hey, it's a blog.

It is very common for a person to wonder from time to time what they are doing with their life - but commonality does not necessarily lead to peaceful mentality. In fact, it usually just leads to annoyance, especially when it remains a commonality and refuses to change into something extraordinary or exceptionally awesome.
I hate wondering what I'm doing with my life. It's bothersome, tiresome and sometimes ridiculously obnoxious.
So one day I just stopped wondering, smacked my life in the face a little, and turned in my mission papers.
Then Satan decided he'd be a butt about it and make the paperwork process take ten years to finish...But try as he might he can't stop this girl - and as soon as my blood work comes back Wednesday morning I'm done.

In other news, I've given up netflix, sugar, and all electronic entertainment during the week. I figure if I absolutely have to cave and watch a show, I'll do it on the weekends when I actually have the time. But for now I'm going to read books, practice piano and cello, earn money for my mission and work on my homework. Now that I've posted it online for all to see, you can call me on it if you ever see me caving. I plan on being in tip top shape in the mission field, wherever I serve, and I'm not going to let anything remotely addictive get in my way.

Take that Satan, you numskull.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ireland - Days 3 and 4

I'm going to skip over a few of the things we did and just talk about the highlights, because I don't have time to tell you everything. If you really care - come visit me and I'll talk about my trip for hours. If you don't care - come visit me and I'll talk about other things for hours. If you are indifferent - come visit me and I'll make you lunch. And probably still talk for hours. Because that's just what I do.

One of the first things we did while in Ireland was visit the beautiful Cliffs of Moher, also known as 'The Cliffs of Insanity!'
Yes, Princess Bride references were made, and Yes, some people grew tired of them...
But not me.
I was still shouting 'Inconceivable' as we boarded the coach to leave.
Because if there was ever a correct way to use this word, it is to describe this natural wonder.

I honestly have over a hundred photos of just this morning - and most of them are pretty much the exact same shot - but even after countless times going through my folders, I just can't seem to delete any of them!

If there's one thing I learned ten fold on this trip, it's that true beauty cannot be captured on film in any way shape or form. If you really want to appreciate the magnificence of these cliffs, just board the next flight to Dublin and see them yourself. And take a friend with you - because this day would not have been nearly as fun without Kay Shaeffer by my side.

What a spectacular girl.

Okay, onto favorite moment number 2 - Inishmore.
I think you could ask every single person who went on this trip what their favorite day was, and most would answer this.

Inishmore is a small island (part of the Aran Islands) just off the coast of Galway in Ireland. We took a very uncomfortable ferry out to the site early morning and landed with somewhat dampened spirits (quite literally - as it had been raining all morning), but still some excited anticipation for what was to come. As a group we all checked out bikes at a local bike shop and then broke into two groups - one to take the high road, and the other the low road.

I decided to join the low road group, as I was very excited to see the ocean. It proved to be the best choice, for it was downhill most of the way, and as much as I love biking, it gets tiring after about 20 minutes. Our destination (Dun Aengus) was about a 45 minute ride away, and that was only if you were constantly pedaling. As almost all of us felt the need to stop every few minutes to take another picture, or to pet a nearby horse, it ended up taking most about an hour to finish - and this was despite the rain that was still falling off and on.

Biking across this beautiful island and up to the base of the Dun Aengus ruins was by far one of the most amazing and unreal experience I have ever had in my life.

After parking our bikes at the bottom of the hill, we ate lunch and then hiked up the rocks until we reached a site eerily familiar to what we had seen just the day before at Moher...
And yet somehow it was a different view entirely.

Not only was the air a little different here (being completely surrounded in a much more intimate way by the ocean), but it was windier too. It was almost impossible to stand straight without fear of being knocked down by the wind.

Naturally I loved every second of it.
Any of you who know me remotely well at all will know that I am obsessed with the wind. Having long hair made it twice as fun.
I love being able to feel it whip around in the air on a particularly windy day. And when that air is fresh and clean it becomes infinitely more fun.

The most exciting thing to do at Dun Aengus is probably also the most dangerous and thrilling thing I've ever done in my life - hanging off the edge.

I was too much of a scaredy cat to hang over as far as some of the others (there was a safe way to do it, and so that's the way I did it) - but even with my head only poking out a little, it was exhilarating!

The view was spectacular and completely indescribable. Kay attempted to capture some photos of the beautiful blue below (as I was too scared to hold the camera out myself) but I'm not going to post them because they do it no justice at all.

Really - the only way to experience this remarkable place is to go there yourself. And make sure you bike it. I totally crashed on the way back to the ferry - had a crazy bruise for the next few weeks and everything - but I still think it was the best day of the trip.

Even the ferry ride back was fun. It was much better than the ride out anyway, as the rain had stopped, and we were up top instead of down below. It was beautiful seeing Ireland from this perspective.

I think one of the main reasons why Moher and Inishmore were two of my favorite days was because they were our first two real days on the trip. The only things we went to before happened after getting off the plane - so we were all very tired and physically drained.

I went to bed on day 4 of our trip seriously wondering how it had been only 4 days, and how they could possibly top what I had just experienced.

And somehow they did.

But more on that later. This is enough update for now - and my mom just called me for ice cream. WOO!

Saturday, October 20, 2012


I realize that I am due for another tour update, and am now choosing to ignore that to talk a little bit about myself instead.
Well, because I'm a girl, aren't I? And we enjoy drawing attention to ourselves, don't we?

Yes obviously.

If you don't believe me, just watch a few sitcoms. Or reality TV. Or real life, if you're so inclined to walk out the front door.
We're self conceited creatures - females. It's in our nature.
The only thing possibly more so would be the males of our world, I'd think, and only then because they are not willing to admit it.

Is this not what blogs are for? Talking about yourself? You? Oneself? The individual? (I'm never quite sure what word to use in that instance.)

Now that I have sufficiently diverted your attention from the fact that this post is not about Ireland, (though the title clearly states otherwise) I would like to point out a few discoveries I have made over the past few days...
Discovery is the wrong word.
More like a realization, I'd say.
I think one would use the word discovery to describe a new find - and I'm not so sure these are new finds, just things I have never noticed before.
It's quite easy to not notice things when they are about you.

My voice.
All my life (to this point), I have heard quite a different voice in my head then that heard by others. As such I have always found it quite difficult to listen to recordings of myself, and have been known to freak out when forced to in any circumstance. As this statement is true to most every individual, especially the female individual, and as countless people have and will attempt to give me very boring scientific detail as to the reasoning behind this natural occurrence, I will interject here to state that I do not care why these natural things are so.
That gravity works, and that it works on everybody is enough for me. This is perhaps one reason why a belief and knowledge in a God comes so easily to me, and is perhaps why many people find me so insufferable a companion or friend.

But that is not the 'realization' I have come to.
I already knew that bit.
And just to infuriate you more, I'm going to skip ahead to the next bit, instead of explaining the rest of this one.

Mint, strawberries and the color pink.
These are all things I have told the entire world I hate. They are also all things that I honestly believed I did hate until very recently in life. Mint makes my tongue burn, strawberries my throat, and pink - my eyes. I avoided all three like the plague, and told anyone who offered to shove off and leave me well alone. Naturally, things change in life...we being to enjoy tastes we did not before. Sometimes we adapt to the culture of change and we begin to notice what was once invisible to the child...
But as I am still a child I do not think this is the case.

I now eat mint just for fun.
I buy not only strawberries, but all berries when I can afford.
Yes, even raspberries.
And I am wearing pink underwear right now.
(Stop giggling. It's a completely normal word).

Finally, Love.
I have absolutely no idea what this word means.
Nor have I ever.
I'm not even going to attempt to explain this right now.

Now that I've told you of the three things currently playing most in my mind (seriously - it's like a bloody circus. They won't let down), let me tell you what has come from it all.

I am, in fact, a girl.

I know, a bit of a let down. I'm sure you all knew that already. But I didn't. At least not entirely.

The past 20 years of my life have been spent in the constant company of men. Six brothers, one father, lots of friends who were boys, cousins, uncles, grandpas, the friends of my brothers...I don't care what your average 16 years old heartbreak tells you - men are everywhere. What I did not realize until this point, however, is how great of an influence they have been on my life: How much I have patterned myself - despite the gender of my birth - after their characteristics.
No, again that is the wrong word...
Let's go with attributes.

I have given myself (quite delusionally) the attributes of men, because I have been surrounded by men my entire life.

I know it sounds ridiculous.
Just hear me out.

I hear a much deeper, manlier voice in my head because as I was growing up those are the voices I heard most around me. I grew up 'hating' mint and strawberries because they reminded me of things like Hello Kitty and romance novels. (Don't ask me to explain this one - it's far too complicated). Pink explains itself, and I have never understood love because I have forever been surrounded by boys who also did not understand love - nor had any desire to.

Now take everything I have just told you and put a big X through it.
That's what I did just now (or rather ten minutes ago when I began this post) when I came to the true understanding of what these fake 'realizations' meant.

Again my conclusion - that I am, in fact, a girl, and that I have always been a girl.

My voice does not magically change when I hear it on a recording. It has always been exactly as it is now. The only real explanation for the difference (science aside) is mentality. I have told myself that my voice sounds like a mans, and so it sounds like a man. It takes some real concentration on my part - but I can actually hear what most others hear when I speak now. I actually hear the annoying little girl who talks way too much.
For some reason it wasn't so annoying when it sounded like a man.

I have always loved mint, strawberries and the color pink. Every memory, thought or statement I have said otherwise was again, pure mentality.
While I may have thought the 'burning sensation' of mint was undesirable, it was still my preferred type of toothpaste for (and I quote) "the fresh feeling it gives afterward." I ate (and still eat) thin mints when I thought no one is looking, and I always took gum when it was offered (even when a "well I don't really like mint" excuse was given). Strawberry was and has always been one of my favorite flavors, and my excuse for not eating the actual fruit growing up was that I did not like the texture of the berry. Yet, I cannot remember actually trying one before I was 14. In fact, I think the first time I remember eating a whole berry was at a bridal shower for a girl in the ward. I only ate it because it was covered in chocolate...or at least that's what I said after the first two. Five later and I had no excuse. I loved strawberries. Still do.
Especially dipped in chocolate.

There is a pink lamp in my room that I have had since I was about 8.
I sleep with a pink blanket almost every night. A baby blanket, in fact - that I have had since I was born. And within the past few years my closet has grown to resembled something eerily similar to a pink rose garden I saw in London just a few weeks ago.

That's not all. I also loved playing with Barbies, even if I didn't own any growing up, and had dreams about princesses on a regular basis. I played dress up with actual dresses, had crushes on boys as early as age 6, gossiped, giggled, worried about how I looked, played matchmaker with friends, painted my nails and pretended to not want makeovers during parties...I watched girly shows and read girly books...I was obsessed with fashion everywhere (even if I did not apply it to myself) and would often watch something just because I thought the girls outfits were cute...I planned dream weddings, picked out baby names, daydreamed about wearing fancy dresses and going to fancy balls...I mean honestly? I couldn't have been more girly if I had tried.

And yet how could I have been so convinced I was a tomboy? So convinced that I had not a girly bone in my body? So delusional that I would tell people I did not care or think about love when it has most likely been the only thing on my mind since I could walk?

Well, because I told myself so.
Because I heard the voices around me and told myself I was just like them.

Are you getting it yet?

You've probably had it from the beginning, and I've just been ranting nonsense this whole time - purely for my benefit, of course.
That's probably another apt definition for a blog - 'rants for ones own benefit'.

Basically, it took me almost 21 years to realize that I have never, in my life, been a boy, and that all these 'new found discoveries' that I suddenly like boys, or suddenly enjoy dressing up are total nonsense. It was all there before, I just masked it behind the picked up attributes of those that surrounded me.

There's a lesson in this, I'd say. Perhaps it's that you can try to change who you are, or you cannot, but no matter what you try - there is a real you down there, and he or she will come out eventually to say 'Wise up stupid. You've always been you.'

Or perhaps it's that blogs are never really a good idea, and that all journals that have been written in should be dowsed in lighter fluid and set on fire.

I'm done.

Real post on Ireland tomorrow.
I promise.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rexburg and the Flight to Dublin

Telling you all about my adventures in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales this past month will take longer than the time I actually spent there...but regardless I'm going to give it a go. I'll only post about it a few days at a time, because I have lots of pictures to share, and lots of fun memories to store. I hope you're patient with me, and if not, I would suggest simply buying the next plane ticket to Dublin so you can experience the adventure yourself! It will probably take less time than it would to read and wait for all these posts anyway...

I spent the month of August at home, enjoying a very short but very fun summer break from school.
One of my favorite evenings was on the last day of the month, when a rare 'blue moon' filled the night sky. Not only was it a beautiful sight (and quite impossible to capture on a camera), but it was also the evening of Neil Armstrong's funeral. It was a fitting farewell, and such a miraculous man will surely be missed. But if anyone is at home in the Heavens, it's sure to be that guy.

September started out with a lot of light packing (I had to fit everything I needed for the next 6 weeks into one small carry on suitcase and a purse) and a road trip! Paul found us a ride back to Rexburg with a girl named Tran from Vietnam, who turned out to be really awesome. We stopped quite a few times at some prime photo spots, and then spent the night at Gr Gr Gr's in Bountiful. The next day we stopped in Ogden to have lunch with Tran's friend (one of the missionaries who baptized her while she was living in Texas a few years back) and then drove the rest of the way up to Rexburg. It was a beautiful drive, but we sure were glad to get out of the car.

No sooner had we arrived in Rexburg than Brittany invited us to a fun bonfire activity for her summer wards closing social. It was not only a great excuse to be out of a car, but also to be out and about and NOT unpacking - which is never much fun after a long journey. Since I was going to be living out of a suitcase for the next few weeks however, I didn't even have any unpacking to do, so I quickly agreed to come with Brittany and her friend Jasmine. Paul took a little more convincing, but in the end we all went and had a really great time! Of course, it's nearly impossible to have a horrid time when smores are involved.

Those two weeks in Rexburg were perhaps the most pleasant weeks I've ever spent in that town. Probably because I didn't really have the whole semester to worry about, or the pain of moving in, or the stress of new classes. I did help tons of other people move in, so my arm and leg muscles still got a great work out, and I did go to classes that second week (when school actually started) - for almost the entire day even! But still, it was a very stress free environment that I quite enjoyed. I stayed at Brittany's new apartment the entire two weeks, with a fun weekend visit from Becky, her friend Syd and our friend from last semester Seth. Becky and Syd spent one night on Brittany's floor, but since I was already an added guest, found some other friends to stay with for the next few nights. Brittany's new roommates - Bethany, Stephanie, Amy and another Brittany - are all awesome, and not only did they welcome me very graciously into their temporary home, but made me almost wish I wasn't going to be leaving in just a few short weeks. You have to be pretty awesome to make someone not want to go to Europe...and awesome they were.

As mentioned before, I spent pretty much all day on campus as soon as classes had begun. In the morning we would all meet as a tour group on the 3rd floor of the MC for morning devotional and instruction. Then we would break into classes. As my next classes weren't until after lunch, I usually just brought my homework and other stuff with me and stayed in the common room area on the 3rd floor to work. Then I would meet up with everyone again around 1 or 2 for more afternoon classes together, until about 4. My class met at 4 until around 5 or 5:30 (depending on the day), and then (again depending on the day) I would either head back to Brittany's for the day, or we would meet one more time as a group for an evening activity. It was a pretty crazy schedule, that changed from day to day, but I loved getting to know the girls (and two boys) in our group better, and part way through the week they even made me a group leader! But more on that later.

I should probably start telling you about our trip. As I've already written a bunch already, I'll just go through the flight and then leave the rest for later.

On Monday the 17th of October all 50 of us headed for the Salt Lake Airport. Kay Shaeffer and I had caught a ride down to Utah that previous Friday afternoon from a few really cool African guys we found on the ride board. We spent a fun weekend hanging with my cousin Rachel in Kaysville, and then Monday morning her mom dropped us off in Salt Lake. As Kay was on the later flight, we parted ways and I headed with half of the group to our terminal. We left the Salt Lake airport around 11:30, and landed in Chicago around 3. It was a beautiful landing amid the clouds, and despite my hatred of landings I couldn't help taking photos out of the window.

The only thing that could possibly compare to such a beautiful landing was the following decent into the Dublin airport, 8 hours later.


It was morning the next in Ireland already, so we got to land with the sunrise. Even though we were all exhausted beyond belief - every eye was glued to the window. Many of us were even jumping up and down in our seats with excitement....Okay, it was me...but hey - can you blame me?! I mean - look at this view!

Until next time! Cheerio!