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.

I’m worried I’m never going to find a movie I like just as much as You’ve Got Mail.

You’ve Got Mail warms my soul. It makes me lovely this life. It makes me love Nora Ephron a whole lot too. I love Meg Ryan and I love Tom Hanks. I love the comedy in that show. The wit.I love that I’ve been to Cafe Lalo in New York, where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan sat.

Dan in Real Life makes me feel that way, but not quite to the extent of You’ve Got Mail. I love Steve Carrell as Dan. I love the family’s cabin near the forest, the lighthouse. It makes me want to live in Rhode Island.

I can’t tell you how many times my prayers have been answered this week. Again and again. It’s also been a hard week on so many levels, and even though I feel so blessed, I’m exhausted.

Spencer has fallen asleep next to me. Sleeping sounds nice, but I have to stay awake until 7, so I can get a full eight hours in before I go to work. I’d like to watch You’ve Got Mail, I guess, but I watched it on Friday. Can I really watch You’ve Got Mail twice in a weekend?

I don’t want to watch a movie that’ll make me cry, nor one that’ll make my heart rate go up. I don’t want to laugh either. Or watch one that’s too romantic. I just want to watch and feel warm inside.

For having a husband that wants to cuddle with me in the mornings.

For friends that call me.

For loving parents.

For the power of scriptures and general conference talks that gave me confidence in a meeting this week.

For my husband holding my face and kissing my forehead.

For the German leader who called me this week and was so happy we could fix a computer error he said, “I’m going to mail you an ice cream cone right now! What flavor would you like?”

For receiving the full-time position as the Customer Satisfaction Subject Matter Expert at work.

For benefits.

For my husband’s patience.

For my husband’s testimony of God’s glorious, eternal plan for us.

For twinkle lights.

For donuts.

For the strength that comes after pain and sadness.

For Megan calling me this week, confirming that we are soul sisters.

For God helping me notice what my spirit craves.

For heaters, fleece blankets, and pillows.

For good doctors.

For fuzzy socks.

For chapstick.

For the hour I get to spend each Friday speaking with 9-year-old Yongzhen on Skype.

For Jesus Christ’s mercy.

For the powerful women in my ward–Karina and Haley.

For gold leaves in the fall.

For Pinterest.

For my good bishop.

For my good boss.

For kind words.

For Spencer. Spencer. Spencer.


by Anne

October 21st, 2003

First, take an airplane and it takes six hours to get there. I think. Then you’re there. If you have been in Utah for your whole life, you freeze for a moment. I can smell the ocean. I feel the breeze on my legs. It’s a little cold, but not too much. It feels good to me after being in Salt Lake City in the summer which goes to 100 degrees. It’s nighttime. There are so many stars. I see two shooting stars. Then I go to my grandma’s cute little summer house and fall asleep. When I wake up, my grandma is there to see me. We go to the beach and write. I smell the salty water and feel the sand against my toes. I play hide and go seek with my brother in the sand dunes and then go kayaking in the river. I hear the crows cawing at something. I look up. A bald eagle has a little black baby crow in its mouth. A flock of crows are chasing after the eagle saying, “Give me back my baby you stupid big crow-stealing turd!” I splash in the ocean and collect the shells. A little white crab is walking over to my toe. I step backwards and look at the sunset. It was so pretty and had beautiful colors like, red, orange, a little bit of pink, and a beautiful yellow. The winds are blowing and making a whistling sound. I am bear foot walking down the wet sand with the waves gently splashing against my feet. The seaweed sticks to my arms but I don’t care. This is where I call home.

Gondola in Venice
Venice Galore
Venice Boats
Pieces of Venice
Man in Venice
Boats in Venice

We said we could have skipped Venice. Too far away from the other cities we visited. Too tiny and claustrophobic. Too rainy, too dark.

But then I think of spending thirty minutes in a store full of masks, trying on gold ones, silver ones, red ones with Megan and pretending in front of the store mirror that we just arrived to a masquerade ball.

I think about looking for our hostel, “Venice Lagoon House,” which we found was a regular house outside of the city owned by a man named Luca. He had a couple of bedrooms, and when it got full, Luca slept on the couch next to the kitchen.

I think about Megan and me buying 4-euro pizzas from the pub two blocks from Luca’s and walking back to eat the boxes while watching Spiderman on Megan’s iPad.

I think about how excited we were to finally have a room we didn’t have to share with other people.

And when it was time to sleep, we were so delirious that we had a laugh attack. I don’t remember what was so funny, but we laughed until our stomachs burned.

I think about trying to weigh a peach at the grocery store and when I couldn’t figure out the Italian weight machine, an old woman came over and showed me how to print out a receipt sticker by pressing the button with the fruit name on it.

And when I said “grazie mille” to her, she took my face in her hands and said “Ohh, ohh” followed by cutsie Italian words.

I think about puddles and umbrellas scratching on brick walls as we tried to walked through tiny, busy streets.

Looking back, Venice was a dream.

Since I got back on Tuesday, Spencer and I have been saying each day that we’ll go running. We haven’t.

Today I woke up at 7am with more energy than usual and bullied Spencer out of bed. “Get up, you! No more sleeping!”

He groaned. “Will you scratch my back for just 10 minutes? I’ll feel so much more relaxed on the run. Please just scratch my back.”

I usually fall for Spencer’s morning back scratching whines. Not today.

“HECK NO, GET UP NOW!” I stood next to his face and jumped on the bed.

“That’s not good for the bed, you know.”

“Then get up!” I kept jumping.

We went outside and it was already sunny. Both of us like running when it’s dark. But I still pranced around and gave Spencer flirty kisses on his cheek to celebrate that we were running together.

I was mostly excited to show him the run to the zoo and then up the Bonneville shoreline. Amber, Charlie and I ran this last year every morning. No stops.

But before we got to the trailhead at the zoo, I was panting.

“I can’t do it. My knees. I can’t breathe. No. Too hard. No.” I was totally pooping out.

“We’ve got this,” Spencer said. “You lead. You set the pace. Let’s just get to that cement block at the top.”

I walked and waved my arms around, hoping my arms would distract Spencer from the fact I wasn’t really running.

“I’m so glad we did this,” he said. “Look how beautiful the valley is!”

My flirtiness had worn off and now I was the one whining. We walked through the shrubs and ran when another runner was passing us, until they couldn’t see us anymore and then we walked. I was pissed at myself.

“I’m so out of shape. I used to run this every day! I can’t even get to the trailhead.”

I gave myself another minute to be negative. Then I said, “At least we got up this morning.”

“And got our running clothes on.”

“And ran to the zoo.”

“And… ran when it was sunny out!”

“And got up the steepest part.”

“And ran even though we’re sore from boating.”

I guess my summer Netflix workout wasn’t doing it for me. Back to running!

Anne & Meg

Megan and me at the leaning tower of Pisa

During the summer before 7th grade, my parents moved us from Salt Lake City to the middle of nowhere. There was nothing but our house and dirt hills, which my parents took as an opportunity to come closer with nature. In the mornings, my dad threw a bag of garbage over his shoulder and walked to the trash can down the street. With only his see-through underwear bottoms on. Whistling as he walked.

To show how angry I was at my parents for making us move, I’d storm out of the house with my dog, Miss Cairo, and find an unfinished house to hide in. I’d sit on wooden boards and play with leftover nails until I thought I’d been there long enough to make my parents frantic. But they were never frantic. “Hi Anne!” They’d say when I walked in hours later. “We’re making cookies! What have you been up to?”

Maybe they’d get frantic if I smoked pot, I thought. Just once. But getting pot meant finding human life, which was non-existent. Continue reading First Day of Seventh Grade