The hardest part about riding the train is knowing where to look. Staring out the window is your best bet, unless you’re crammed in a middle seat. You could look at the floor, but the man sitting across you begins twitching until he puts his backpack on his lap. No, dude, I wasn’t staring at your lap. You could look far ahead of you, but now he’s worried I’m staring into his eyes.

I’ve stuck with my iPad mini reading Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, but when the train is full, people get nosy. Like on Monday I’m reading a chapter called “Hooking Up Is Confusing” and the thirty-year old man sitting next to me wearing a plaid shirt and beanie looks at the chapter heading and chuckles. As if a friend just told him about the craziest night with some random chick and he’s like, “Oh dude, I’ve been there.” 

A couple days later I finished Mindy’s book, so I thought I’d read Ether from the Book of Mormon, which is 15 quick chapters . Then some blonde girl sitting next to me begins hovering. I realize she’s reading with me, but the thing is, she starts reading faster than me. So she reads, gets to the bottom of my iPad, sighs impatiently, and looks out the window. When I scroll down to new text, she straightens up and hovers again. Like, dude, get your own damn word of God!

Or the old man this week sitting across from me, who said “It’s a fine day outside!” And looks at me for a response. I ignore him blatantly and continue reading. The nice girl sitting next to me does a quick “Mhm.” There’s only a small pause before he says, “Kids these days. They sit around and stare at that plastic all day. No care in the world to actually look up and talk to people.

I see Nice Girl’s cheeks turn red. “Mhm,” she says again.

For a second I wonder if I should look up and apologize. Or look up and smile. Or explain I’m reading a book and not youtube-ing “babies see shadow first time” (which I highly recommend watching). But I decide against my need to please and remember I didn’t want to talk to the pervy man in the first place.

He continues his speech about “kids these days” until the train slows and he gets off.

I’m big and getting bigger. I’ve just stopped running. No hopes of running in my life right now. Yeah, yeah, I know you awesome active people looking at me with no sympathy. I KNOW. Just do it Anne, just just… Blagh. I’m too bummed and my tummy is getting bigger and so I just keep drinking more Dr. Pepper and feel happy for a second.

Okay, I’ve never been a soda addict until the last year. I mean, yeah, when we go out I’d get a drink, but never would I buy soda for the house or stop by 7/11 in between grocery days. But people, I’m a Dr. Pepper addict with the occasional Mexican Coke.

Have I already complained about Fringe to you? Fringe is not on Netflix anymore. I’ve watched all of Friends, Stranger Things, Sherlock a million times, but I just want my Fringe. I want my Olivia Dunham and Walter Bishop and sexual attraction and sci-fi. No, I don’t want some crap Gilmore Girls.

Tonight we drove around Salt Lake City. It was blue in the sky and yellow on the ground. The leaves in front of our home have turned gold. It’s the first fall in years that I’ve noticed stink bugs flying around. We spent the day driving down the street to the small toy store and grabbing hot chocolate and a caramel apple spice steamer at Starbucks.

Now about our home. We have been lucky enough to not have ant infestations or serious mold problems. Yes, we’ve heard the occasional loud sex or bi-monthly neighbor scream-outs, but overall it’s been a peaceful and (relatively) comfortable place to live for the past four years.

But the last six months has been dreadful. We have neighbors who really like hookah. For a day, it was kind of nice. It’s sweet-ish. But there’s no circulation in our buildings. And it’s taken over our house. It. Will. Not. Go. Away. I opened my drawers to get out my winter clothes and HOLY MOTHER OF HOOKAH it smelled.

I hate hookah. I hate it. I know it’s the dumbest thing to hate, but I hate it. It reminds me of the time I almost got raped. Not that it was the hookah that I blame the whole thing on, but it’s all those dumb pipes and smoke that I remember.

The best thing about living here is this bunny. He showed up when we started thinking about getting a rabbit. This bunny lives down the hill by our parking lot. He’s always chewing on something in the grass when we walk down to our cars in the morning. When he sees us, he hops off to the bushes nearby. I haven’t seen him for a week, though, but Spencer saw him yesterday. He is grey-brown with a perfect cotton ball tail.

I decided to blog today because we were at Barnes and Noble and I was reading the first two pages of a new book by Maria Semple and Regina Spektor was playing and for just a second, I felt completely me. I won’t try to explain it further. But I felt me, and I really loved me.

Bear in Yellowstone

My family and I were driving on a dirt road in Yellowstone, searching for a picnic spot. We were starving, but more adamant about finding a shady place to sit. A second before, we said how much we’d love to see a bear on our trip. Then we looked out the window.

There he was. Walking on a fallen tree. Hopping off. Sniffing the sagebrush. For three minutes we had him all to ourselves. He walked up the hill, then down the other side, and vanished.

 

Hike in the Uintahs

Hello, hello, hello! *Hugs, kisses, tear drops*

This may be the longest time I’ve abandoned my blog. What do you think?

I woke up wanting to tell virtual world how I’m feeling. One, I don’t think I’ve written because I’m not terrible. My innards aren’t burning, my head isn’t throbbing of anxiety–I’m fine. But every year seems to be this new, big thing in our lives. We’re over that. We don’t want new and crazy. We want consistency.

We’re back to the what-the-crap-are-we-doing phase. Spencer finished his bachelors in mining engineering (YAY!!!), which means we’re gonna get kicked out of our cinderblock home. People, I know we’ve been living in dark and dreary for four years, but the rent?! We’re looking at new places and we’re gonna have to pay at least $200 more dollars. Oh, and we’ve decided we need a two-bedroom. For our sanity.

I’m applying to business school. I’m taking the GMAT instead of the GRE because BYU only accepts the GMAT. I want to go to BYU because it’s like in the top 15 or something in the U.S. and it’s cheap and I think I’d like it. So I’m taking this GMAT prep course at the U right now. Maxwell has been helping me with the math. It is so freaking hard. I remember learning it, but I haven’t used this crap since sophomore year.

Spencer’s looking for a job. I know he’ll get something soon. He’s reliable and hardworking and his professors and co-workers and previous managers love him. I know it will work out, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a little nervous.

I’m still at the Global Service Center at the Church speaking to German leaders all day. I’m writing e-mails in Spanish too, along with Danish and Norwegian and Swedish. We have a new manager, who is really awesome, and I’m starting to do North America calls. I’ve never been more afraid to speak with Americans than with Germans. I know the European laws and the tax certificate issues and the money transfer issues and the data privacy issues, but the U.S.? No.

Anyway, I’m struggling with consistency. Why can’t I go to sleep at the same time and wake up and leave work at the same time and study my scriptures at the same time and wash the dishes and the laundry and dinner and breakfast and Church at the same time? Why is that so hard? I know I’m a really hard worker at my job. From the start to the end I’m working and fighting to learn more even when I’m hesitant. But once I’m home I don’t want to do anything. Anything.

Who is really good at this? I honestly can’t think of one person. Do you know someone? What do they do?

Anyway. I gotta go eat and drive to Murray to study for the GMAT. I’m not sure if this study group will as beneficial as sitting with Maxwell, but we’ll see. After studying, Spencer and I are going to look at an apartment, which we’ve pretty much decided we won’t take. But it has a poooooooooool.

Wishing you all the best.

Four phases of culture shock that ever traveler needs to know!

Young travel friends, I’m so excited to write another post and hope we can get to know each other more. I’ve loved the conversations in my post about 10 Tips for Exchange Students and hope I can help you understand the four main phases of culture shock while traveling abroad. I hope this will help you prepare. I would love to hear your experiences with culture shock in the comments! ^

Phase #1: Everything is new and exciting.

Exciting Culture Shock

Continue reading 4 Phases of Culture Shock

Celestial BuildingIn my religion, we believe all human beings must become like God. We believe that we will become our own gods and goddesses one day and will create our own worlds. Although it’s a given that none of us can be perfect on this life, the goal is to understand joy in this world and to gain as much knowledge as possible. If we need to become like God, I assume we need to, like, know everything.

I spent most of my time in college reading obscure German novels and then making paninis at Zupas in the evenings. When I’m feeling existential, I’m not really sure how my knowledge of German literature and making sandwiches really contributes to, you know, building worlds or whatever. “Your celestial avocado, coming right up!”

After cleaning the house and going through all of the junk mail, I’m turning through the Salt Lake Community College class list. Here are the ones I want to take:

  • Print making
  • Bollywood dance – For kids, but I’m totally there
  • Hip hop
  • Blogging and podcasting for beginners
  • Bookbinding: The Art of the Hand-Bound Book
  • Cake decorating basics
  • Intro to screenwriting
  • Quilting for the very beginner
  • Travel almost for free
  • Beginner’s Guide to getting published
  • Start your own gift basket making business. Ello chap! Would you like a gift basket?
  • Voice-Overs… Now is your time!
  • Guitar
  • Hiking the waterfalls
  • Scuba experience

Maybe I’ll just stick with paninis. My brother Maxwell said he owned a pretty high-end coffee shop in the pre-mortal world. Maybe we’ll see if it’s still around once we’re dead so he can start it up again. Maybe he’ll let me make celestial paninis there.

We’ll see.

Cinque Terre

I’m turning 23 this month. I’m glad I lived to reach my 22nd birthday. It was the most fabulous year of my life.

Many unknown factors coming our way this year. Where will we be in the fall? Will we still live in our cinderblock home? Spencer is graduating this spring. He’s applied to graduate school for this fall and we’ll see where that takes us.

I’m letting Spencer take the lead this year. You know how freaked out that makes me. it’s the first time Spencer knows where he is going and I don’t.

I worry I won’t be extraordinary. That if I don’t decide right now what I’m doing, I will be common folk. I think this is a young person issue. We all want to succeed–and fast. We all want to be those single CEOs in their mid-30s, like on TV.

This isn’t fair, though. By saying this, I’m also saying that there is such thing as common folk. And that I, ANNE LOUISE, believe that some people live boring, common lives. Am I just as bad as the media? Am I involuntarily putting these thoughts on the people I meet? Do people talk to me and walk away feeling less extraordinary because my expectations of myself and of them are too high?

The more I’ve tried to understand, the more I see that parenthood is a secret joy club. It’s the dessert. And us  single people and married non-children people are not understanding that joy. And that doesn’t mean that we need to rush things, or that we can’t be happy without children in our lives right now, but it means we should be aware of our blind spots. And be careful of how we speak of parenthood with our neighbors and co-workers and friends and family. In short, let’s not be idiots. Haha.

Now back to my birthday (the REAL thing at hand here, right?).

Is there a song about being 23? Taylor Swift got me through 22. Every singer got me through 15 and 16 and 17. Now people, what’s the reason to live for 23?

Here are some of my ideas. What do you think?

  1. My knees are strong.
  2. I am working full time and have the evenings to be with my hubby.
  3. I have time to think about the things I love and then do them.
  4. The doctor says I’m perfectly healthy.
  5. I am most calm and carefree than I’ve ever been in my life. Thank you, 22, for kicking yourself in the patootie about your anxiety.
  6. God and I are pretty close right now, because all of year 22 I worked on faith.
  7. I’m still pretty, so that’s nice.
  8. We have no credit card debt.
  9. Spence and I get to figure out a chunk of the next few years together.
  10. I have close friends who aren’t going anywhere. At least not too far (cough, Ana).
  11. I’ll live to see Spencer and my 4th anniversary.
  12. I’ll live to see Maxwell get his driver’s license (gasp).
  13. I will probably have the opportunity to drink hot chocolate with marshmallows or whipped cream in a bright-colored mug.
  14. I will have thousands of chances to walk into Anthropologie.
  15. I get to be 23 on the 23rd of February!
  16. I still get to go to speak German at work everyday.
  17. I will probably get to swim in the Great Salt Lake with Mom again.
  18. Spencer and I will have many summer weekends for adventures.
  19. I still have a good pair of lips to kiss Spencer with.
  20. I own a fab camera.
  21. Nailpolish will still exist.
  22. I can eat microwaved grape nuts and milk with bananas and honey as much as I want.
  23. I’m extraordinary.

graduation

german-speaking customer service job at the church

moving to richfield

capitol reef

Bryce Canyon

balloon festival in salina

4th of July fireworks sitting on a curb

a three bedroom apartment with a dishwasher, laundry machine, and dryer

waimea

waikiki

kailua

laie

maggie, jane, jack, cora

max and mira

food trucks

moving the king size mattress to the living room on weekends

fringe

friends

parenthood

anxiety meds

insomnia

spencer in the mine

weekly dates at the Chinese restaurant

a ticket to Europe

megan and me

the colosseum

the vatican

st. peters basilica

michelangelo

florence and all its glory

cinque terre

edwin

venice

pizza at luca’s

mask shops

loira and dave

big ben

wicked

the m&m factory

trafalgar square

kensington

little Venice

biking in hyde park

sitting in “a green”

the globe theater

crepes in paris

disneyland paris

the eiffel tower

notre dame

full-time job, German-speaking customer satisfaction subject matter expert

—–

my favorite year.

 

I forget about the little things that make me happy. If I could just remember to do some of these little things each day, I can get through winter and stressful work days and awkward moments and anything else that makes me cringe.

  1. Light a candle. If you don’t own a candle, Anne, buy one.
  2. Write or call a friend once a week.
  3. Make your bed. It makes everything better.
  4. Always take your colored pencils to church. Draw in your bible. Who cares if you can’t read the verse below your scribbles? They’re your scriptures.
  5. Look at kayak.com/explore. Just for fun.
  6. Hold Spencer’s hand for 5 minutes.
  7. Scroll through your doggie board on Pinterest.
  8. Wear fuzzy socks.
  9. Take a picture outside.
  10. Drive to work in silence and list 5 things you love about your life.

Time to prepare for the post-Christmas winter!

For a year now, I’ve met with an 8-year-old boy every week for English lessons. He was shy during the first 10 minutes we met. Now we’re best friends.

The only thing is, he and his mom, Xiaoyan, moved back to China in the beginning of the summer. So we only see each other through the fuzzy screen on Skype.

I tell him the meaning of words like “soggy” and phrases like “a nagging feeling.”

We think of ways to ship his mom’s dumplings to me.

Sometimes Xiaoyan enjoys the conversation and pops on the screen to talk to me herself. She tells me about the Chinese class called Morality and what they learn in the class. Yongzhen tells me about his favorite food.

We talk a lot about food.

We read stories from a textbook called “Story Town” and study vocabulary words. We talk about Harry Potter. He shows me his legos. Spencer sometimes gets on the computer to show him his legos.

When Yongzhen turned 9, he invited Spencer and me to his birthday party. Xiaoyan never let us leave without a jar of spices or a bag of dumplings.

We changed the schedule to two times a week now. Every Friday and Saturday I get to see my friends.

We miss them.