Friday, December 21, 2012

Things I Get Excited About

A while back, a friend of mine mentioned something that they were thrilled about and asked me if I was excited about it too.  I replied with a simple, "Yeah, that's cool."  This person gave me a rather bewildered look and said, "You don't really get excited about anything, do you?"  Slightly affronted, I explained that just because I'm not one of those people that publicly jumps up and down and squeals with delight doesn't mean that I am never excited.

There are two reasons why I may not seem overly enthused all the time. 

Firstly, I generally express my feelings of joy, sorrow, anger, etc. in private.  My freshman year of college, I came home from a date that I was actually very excited about and my roommates promptly came out of their rooms to ask me how it went.  All I said was that I had a lot of fun.  Not satisfied with my casual answer, one roommate exclaimed, "Can you please show some excitement, Celia?"  I jumped up in the air once and flashed a small smile.  Once I got to the privacy of my room, however, I could not stop smiling.  The door opened suddenly and my roommate was able to witness the true merriment I had been feeling all along.  So really, it's not that there is a serious lack of feeling in my life.  I'm just not very good at showing other people how I feel.

Secondly, different things excite different people.  Something that excites you might not excite me and vice versa.  Some people get really excited about cars.  I appreciate a sleek shiny vehicle as much as the next person but I can guarantee that I will never be talking excitedly about any car's horsepower.  Some people really love art.  I like making crafts and being artsy in my own way but you will never find me overcome with emotion while staring at a painting in an art museum.

So what kinds of things get Celia all riled up, you may ask?  Well, I'll tell you.

Movies - I love watching movies.  I love quoting them.  (Before she left on her mission, my old roommate Jen and I would text movie lines back and forth to each other for hours.  "Don't want that...don't want that...")  I love movies that transport me to another world or another time.  I love movies that cause me to be emotionally invested in the futures of the characters.  Some people go to movies for the social aspect of it.  They go because their friends are going.  I (generally, not always)go into a movie theater and try to forget all of the people around me so I can focus on what is going on on screen.  Weird?  Yeah probably.  But that's the way I like to be entertained.  ("Are you not entertained?")

Music - I come from a very musical family and I minored in the subject so I better be somewhat emotionally drawn to music.  The story I am about to relate very aptly expresses my experience with music: I really liked the soundtrack for the Star Trek movie that came out a few years back so I bought it on iTunes.  (I love movie soundtracks in case you didn't know!)  I was listening to it one day while studying for a test.  In one of the pieces, the main theme was being played on the oboe but then the violin section, almost imperceptibly, took over the melody.  It sounded so cool to me that I dragged my roommates into my room to listen to it.  They just looked at me and said, "Uh yeah, that's cool," and then left.  I couldn't believe they didn't appreciate the pure genius exhibited in those notes the same way I did.  (Here's a link to it so you can listen and decide for yourself.  I bet most of you will probably respond similarly to how my roommates responded and that's okay. What I'm talking about starts at 0:23.)

Books - I have never understood people who do not enjoy reading.  That is a completely foreign concept to me.  I love curling up in a blanket on the couch to read a book.  I love to imagine the characters and the scenery.  I am one of those people that can, and often does, stay up all night to finish a book.  Whenever I go to the library, I come home with three or four books I didn't intend to check out when I first walked in.  I love reading!  And I think it's one of the only forms of entertainment out there that can expand your vocabulary.  Seriously, what's not to love?

Politics - I am probably a little overly-passionate about politics in this country.  Anyone who ran into me after last month's election would probably agree.  There are very few times in my life when I've shown my anger as openly as I did then.  Though I like to talk politics, it often brings out a side of me most people rarely see.  When I was a senior in a high school, part of our grade was based on our participation in Mock Congress.  For two days, all the seniors gathered into their designated "senates" and debated bills of their own making.  I think I talked more animatedly during that two day period than I did the rest of the school days combined.  What can I say?  When you run into idiots you have to defend your beliefs from their idiotic attacks.  Just kidding...but really.

Boys - I would be remiss and dishonest if I chose to neglect them but...I'll just leave it at that.

American History - I love American history!  When I found an entire section in the BYU library on the American Revolution, I just about died from sheer joy.  George Washington is one of my heroes.  I have more books on the founding of America than on any other subject.  My favorite subjects to study are, in order, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WWII, the Great Depression, and WWI.  I get a little bit giddy everytime I watch this scene from the movie Gettysburg.
I love America!

The Celtics - Win or lose, I love my boys in green!  I get slightly hysterical during their games and witnesses to my hysterics are often bewildered at my sudden release of emotion.  If I had a Bucket List, watching a Celtics game in Boston would definitely be on it.

So next time you think I don't get excited about anything, think again.  Ask me to participate in any of these things and, trust me, you'll probably get more excitement than you bargained for. :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

10 Things I Am Grateful For

1. A Toothbrush - I spent the night of Thanksgiving at my brother's house in Brentwood with the rest of my family.  After stuffing my face with piles of plaque-promoting foods, I found that I had forgotten a very important item: my toothbrush.  I resorted to rubbing toothpaste all over my teeth with my finger and went to bed with a less-than-fresh feeling in my mouth.  There really is no substitute for a good toothbrush.  Whoever invented the modern-day toothbrush deserves about 40 million pats on the back.  I am truly grateful for their insight.
2. Jeans - After a long day at work, there is nothing better than slipping out of my dress pants and putting on some comfy jeans.  I am grateful for the clothes on my back, for the clothes in my closet, and for the stores just down the street that allow me to remain properly protected against the elements. :)
3. Nieces and Nephews - I just spent the last four days surrounded by children, all of whom are five years of age or younger.  While each one definitely had their little moments of insanity, I also enjoyed their moments of laughter and discovery.  I love them all and I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to watch them learn and grow. :) 
4. Movies - Anyone who knows me well knows that I love movies and good quotable lines.  I just recently splurged and bought the movie We Bought a Zoo.  I'm grateful for those who put time and effort in to producing good quality entertainment for my enjoyment.
5. Rays of Sunshine Through Puffy White Clouds - This past Friday, I had to walk in the rain to get to the bus stop.  After that rather miserable walk, I looked out the window as we rolled down Ygnacio Valley Road and saw the sun shining through the clouds onto the hills.  I'm grateful to know that there is always light behind the clouds.
6. Food - Thanksgiving is one of those holidays when everyone feels justified in filling themselves to the brim with delicious food.  I loaded my plate with mashed potatoes, turkey, gravy, corn, green beans, and rolls then sat back with a contented smile on my face when I was done.  I'm grateful for the abundance we enjoy.
7. My Job - Though I don't always know what I'm doing and I am sometimes asked to do things that go beyond my field of expertise, I am grateful for the opportunity I have to learn new skills and gain experience.  I am grateful for others' generosity and understanding as I become accustomed to a new field.  After going through quite an extensive period without a steady income, I am grateful to have a paycheck and the means to support myself.
8. My Country - Despite some recent disappointing events, I am very happy that I am an American.  There are so many people in the world who don't know what it means to be free.  We do.  I'm grateful to live in a country where my voice can be heard and where I have the right to stand up for what I believe in.  I am grateful for all those, both past and present, who have made this country great.
9. The Temple - Over the past year, I have been able to attend the temple quite regularly.  I can not tell you how many answers to prayers I have received while in the temple.  I have felt comfort and peace there even when it felt like the whole world was crashing down around me.  I am grateful that, through making and keeping temple covenants, I can be with my family forever.
10. My Savior - I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that He loves and cares about me.  There have been so many times in my life when I have been able to rely on His strength when I knew that mine was not sufficient to make it through the day.  With his help, I have been able to accomplish so many things I would have never thought possible.  I am grateful for the Atonement and for the sacrifice Christ made on my behalf so that I could overcome the trials and tests of this world and move on to a better one.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Classic Celia Moment #1

This is the first installment of what, I am sure, will become a common occurrence on my blog: recountings of what I will call "Classic Celia Moments" or CCMs.  My sister Lisa came up with her own acronym a while ago (CLMs) to describe those times in her life when events occur that she feels only happen to her.  They are the kinds of stories that, when related to others, produce a laugh and a loud, "That would happen to you!"  Although Lisa's stories generally involve falling down, walking into glass doors, dropping spaghetti sauce on white shirts, etc., mine seem to involve animals or bugs.  It's probably because I'm not too fond of them so I notice their presence more than the average person.  Whatever the reason, I feel that most CCMs will fall into the animal/bug category.

So, Classic Celia Moment #1:  A couple of weeks ago, my sister and brother-in-law were dropping me off at my apartment after a nice evening of babysitting my nieces.  I did laundry while at their house so I placed my laundry basket in their trunk for the short drive over to my apartment.  When we reached my complex, I stepped out of the car and made my way around to the back to open up the trunk.  It was dark and I wasn't fully aware of my surroundings.  I set the laundry basket down on the ground next to me, swung the trunk lid shut, and took a step to the right.  As I did so, I felt something squish underneath my foot and heard the rather nasty sound of thick liquid splattering on pavement.  I pulled my foot up quickly to find that I had stepped on a frog/lizard/insect/whatever-thing (I'm still trying to figure out what the heck this thing was) and that all the liquid that was in this creature before my unfortunate misstep was now foaming to the left of it in the parking lot.  The creature had somehow flipped onto its back and its legs and arms were flailing about as it tried to right itself.  At the sound of my strangled cry, my sister got out of the car and stood beside me as I tried to figure out what this monstrosity was.  Our speculations were cut short, however, as the creature did eventually manage to right itself.  As it began to limp (rather quickly, I might add) toward the car, I grabbed my laundry basket and ran up to my apartment while Brittany hastily got back into her car, shouting, "Make sure you wash your shoes!" as her vehicle sped out of sight.  Needless to say, I was grossed out for the rest of the evening.  The still visible splatter mark in the parking lot of my apartment complex will forever serve as a testament of the events of that disgusting night.

Yes, you can say it.  That is the kind of thing that would happen to me.
This is not at all what the "creature" looked like.
UPDATE:  If you wish to know exactly what I stepped on, my sister has figured it out.  Type "Jerusalem Cricket" into Google at your own risk.  Yuck!

(By the way, this is my 100th blog post!  Here's to over four years of being a member of the blogging world!)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween!

It's that time of year again.  It's that time when we can bake 10 loaves of chocolate chip pumpkin bread and feel justified in doing it.  It's that time when we can shove handfuls of Reese's M&Ms down our throats and say we're doing it for the sake of the holiday spirit.  It's that time when adults and children alike can dress up like lunatics and approach doors late at night and ask for free candy.  It's that time of year when we can act like the devil's angels and grim reapers and not feel at all sacrilegious.  It's that time when we can get together with friends and watch scary movies that give us nightmares or cheesy old "creepy" classics that make us chuckle.  Really, though.  Who doesn't love Halloween?
I took this picture while on the drive to work on the morning of Oct. 30.  (I know it wasn't technically Halloween but close enough.)  I thought it fit the spirit of the season :)
Picking out pumpkins in Brentwood with the fam!
Bruce was Buzz.
Sophie was an adorable little pumpkin.
Sydney was the cowgirl, Jessie.
Rhyan was a cute little ladybug.
All ready to go trick or treating!
The awesome decoration Brittany and Melissa made.
At the Halloween dance in Berkeley.
Mrs. Incredible and the waitress from Roswell.
I hope everyone had a "spook-tacular" night!  (Yeah sorry, that was lame but it needed to be said :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thoughts on Government

All of us, to some degree, have been privy to the intense political atmosphere this country now finds itself mired in.  As a conservative in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is nigh unto impossible not to get caught up in all the political debates and discussions occurring all around me.  Since most of what I hear is coming from the left side of the political spectrum, I thought it would be good to express a more conservative viewpoint.  I am not writing this blog post to convince anyone to change their mind.  (We're all so set in our own ways, I know that won't happen anyway.)  I just think it's good to understand where the other side is coming from.

I believe that each public servant we elect is just that: a servant to the public.  We are not here for the government; the government is here for us.  And what is the role of government in our lives?  According to our Constitution, the government is in place to "establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."  It seems simple and straightforward but, considering that most of the political squabbles we encounter today involve the depth of the role of government in our lives, it is not.  Liberals tend to be proponents of large government and government programs.  Conservatives tend to be distrustful of large government and of putting too much power into the hands of a few.  As a history major who has studied governmental authority and how it is wielded, I firmly stand with the conservatives on this point.  As you may recall, the American Revolution took place because American colonists felt that their lives shouldn't be ruled over by a king or a parliament that operated 3000 miles away, across an ocean no less.  Our nation was born from this very principle, that the people should decide their own fate, not government officials who have only their own selfish interests at heart.

So our founding fathers set up a system that gave the people the right to elect their own officials, people who would truly and selflessly represent the people of their region and their needs.  Perhaps the only person in our history who truly lived up to the office of President of the United States is George Washington. After the war was over, the reluctant hero wanted nothing more than to retire from public life, return to his home at Mt. Vernon, and live quietly for the rest of his days. But that dream never became a reality for him. He was the obvious candidate for president and, unfortunately for him, he was chosen unanimously. Putting aside his dreams of a life without repute, he relented and became the first president of the United States of America. He never wanted the glory that was given him. He never wanted to be a hero. But he believed in a cause. He believed in the idea of America. He gave up the life he wanted in order to live the life he knew was needed. He was, perhaps, one of the few selfless public servants this country has ever had the privilege of knowing.  He was not perfect.  He made mistakes.  But he went into office with the right attitude, one without thought of political gain or power. 

Today if anyone were to mention the idea of a selfless and incorruptible politician, all of us would probably throw our heads back and laugh.  Sad?  Yes, but it's reality.  We must remember that we are an imperfect electorate who have to settle for imperfect beings to represent us and to lead our nation.  If you are a huge Obama fan and think the man can do no wrong, get your head out of the clouds and come back down to earth.  On the flipside, if you think Mitt Romney will immediately fix the situation our nation has fallen into, you've got another thing coming.  Both of these men are seriously flawed.  Heck, they are human just like the rest of us.  The trick is to pick the candidate who will strive the hardest to get this country back on its feet again.  As discussed before, your opinion on the role of government in society has a lot to do with who you will vote for.  But it also has a lot to do with what you choose to believe.

I have been involved in several debates on facebook.  I should have exercised better judgment and stayed out of them but...that's just not me.
  • Debate #1:  Big Bird  Mitt Romney said he would cut funding for PBS and liberals everywhere practically started a verbal riot.  "Oh no!  I won't be able to watch Downton Abbey anymore!"  Let's analyze the facts here.  Our nation is 16 TRILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT!  We are spending far more money than we take in and it's only getting worse.  How do we get back some of this money?  By cutting back on wasteful spending.  Now, I love Downton Abbey as much as the next person.  The third season is already up and running in Britain and I am ticked that us Americans have to wait another few months before we can see it.  But the arguments people have against Romney's plan are just plain ridiculous.  One person I was debating this subject with said that it was the government's responsibility to provide us with "the arts" because it improves our quality of life.  Oh, please!  So what you're saying is that a portion of my next door neighbor's taxes should go to PBS just so I can get my Downton Abbey fix every week even though he doesn't watch it himself?  And what is your definition of "quality of life?"  This is the difference between the liberal view of government and the conservative view of government that I was talking about earlier.  The liberal view is that the government should pay for these programs (with our hard-earned tax money) to improve our quality of life.  My view is that I should be able to keep the money that would otherwise be taxed so that I can watch whatever I want to.  The government's role is not to spoon-feed us these things but to provide an environment in which we can obtain what we want ourselves.  That, in my opinion, is true freedom.
  • Debate #2:  Obama cares about everybody and Mitt Romney only cares about rich people.  People have this messed up notion that Obama is this caring loving politician simply because he says he is.  He says he wants everyone to have cheap access to great healthcare, for example.  You know, I'd really like that too.  It would be nice not to have to pay an arm and a leg (literally) everytime I step into a doctor's office.  But Obama's ideas are just not plausible.  If you look at other countries that have socialized medicine or partially socialized medicine, their taxes are extremely high.  Doctors still have to be paid.  Medical equipment and medicine still have to be bought.  You'll either be paying high premiums to an insurance company of your own choosing or you'll be paying high taxes for a government-run (and therefore, innefficient) health care system.  So when Romney shoots down one of Obama's great sounding ideas, it's not because he's cold-hearted or favoring the rich over the poor.  He's just being reasonable.
There are several other topics I have debated with people but I'll get off my soapbox now.  As you have rightly assumed, I am voting for Mitt Romney, not because he is the perfect man for the job but because I think he is the right one for the time.  Whoever you decide to vote for, just make sure you put aside partisan politics and truly analyze the facts.  So read and watch.  Make informed decisions. Vote.  If you choose not to get involved in politics, don't complain when you wake up one day and find that all of your liberties have been thrown out the window.

Okay.  I'm done.  (I could say more but I think half of the people reading this want me to shut up now so I'll oblige them just this once.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Hilarity of Daily Life

At first glance, my life doesn't seem all that exciting.  I go to work for eight hours a day.  On Tuesday and Wednesday nights I go to class and spend the other nights trying to get homework done.  I babysit occasionally.  I go to the singles ward home evening activities on Mondays.  I go to church and eat dinner with my family on Sundays.  I chat with people on Facebook far into the night when I should be in my bed sleeping.  I read books and watch movies and TV shows. doesn't seem too exciting now, does it?

But one thing I've learned how to do over all these years of dealing with boring schedules and daily routines is to see the humor in everyday life.  The reason comedians like Brian Regan are so funny is because they talk about ordinary everyday things that everyone can relate to, just in a funnier way than most of us can manage.  (For example, Brian Regan once did a whole skit on ironing boards.  I always thought ironing boards were pretty unremarkable items until I heard Brian Regan say, "Every ironing board I've ever had sounds like a witch being boiled in oil."  Now every time I unfold the legs of an ironing board and hear the shriek of metal scratching metal, I bust up laughing.  It's so true!)

My life may not seem too exciting but it can be pretty darn funny sometimes.  Here are a few instances in which the seemingly mundane things of life became extremely amusing.

At a ward Linger Longer, a bunch of us sat around a table and talked about facial hair.  After about thirty minutes of discussing whether or not guys can really pull it off, we came to the conclusion that some guys can and some guys can't.  We have yet to figure out what the distinguishing feature is that allows someone to pull off facial hair.

I was babysitting last night.  Usually babysitting jobs are pretty uneventful but last night was different.  Sydney was already in bed.  So I set up my laptop and Sophie and I Skyped with my old roommate Heidi for an hour.  After we finished, I put Sophie in the jumper and proceeded to unplug my computer.  I had plugged it in behind the couch.  I pulled the couch out a little bit but apparently I didn't pull it out far enough.  I managed to get my arm behind the couch and unplug the cord but, to my dismay, I fell, landed on the couch, and pinned my arm behind the couch just above the elbow.  I tried and tried to move the couch with my other arm to no avail.  The numbness in my arm obviously extended to my brain as I thought about that guy whose arm got pinned under a rock while hiking alone in the mountains and, after a couple days, he decided to cut off his own arm to free himself.  Though my situation was not that dire, I didn't really want to be pinned to the wall when my sister and brother-in-law got home.  Crying out in pain and frustration, I finally managed to pull my bony elbow out from behind the couch.  I now have a lovely bruise all around my elbow as a testament of my clumsiness.  That was not a fun experience while it was happening but, in retrospect, it's kind of hilarious.

If there was a quote wall at work, these are the things I would put on there:
  •  Melodie (during a staff meeting): "Men sniffing their snot..."
  • Jeff (walking to my desk to retrieve a candy bar from the candy jar): "I need chocolate!  Gimme chocolate!"
  • (So there's an overhang just outside our door at work.  One of these overhangs actually fell down once.  David is really concerned about ours falling randomly while someone is standing under it.)  Jeff: "Hey David, why don't you go take a call outside.  And make sure you stand below that overhang.  That's the real secret to managing an overstretched payroll."
  • (There are a few extra offices in the back.  On the wall of one of the offices, there are a bunch of little red dots and red streaks.  Even though we're pretty sure it's just furniture polish, we make jokes about people being shot in there and their blood splattering on the wall.  We call it the Zombie Room whenever Jeff's kids come into the office.)  When we haven't seen someone for a while, we say, "They must have taken a trip back to the Zombie Room."
  • Jeff (to Melodie): "You're getting way too logical.  If I wanted that kind of logic, I'd stay home and listen to my wife!"
  • Melodie: "Can you just shoot me?" Jeff: "Only if you shoot me first, and with my last dying breath I'll shoot you."  Celia: "Rough day, huh?" 
Make sure you take the time to laugh today.  You'll be surprised at how funny life really is.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me

I love General Conference weekend!  It is one of the most amazing things in the world to hear our church leaders speak the messages they have been inspired to relate to us.  We have always been told to listen to the Spirit while we watch Conference.  Though the speakers always convey their messages clearly and eloquently, it is the Spirit that is the true teacher that carries the messages we personally need to hear into our hearts.  I made a goal this year to write down impressions rather than to take notes on what was said, to make the Holy Ghost a more active participant in my experience with General Conference.  And I can tell you that it worked!  As I focused more on what I was feeling rather than on what I was hearing, I felt the truth of the gospel as it applied to me personally.  Any emotional person can relate to the Tissue-Box-Pulling Fest I experienced over the last two days. Needless to say, I am very glad I chose to watch Conference alone in my room this year ;)

The main themes I picked out from this Conference were these:
  • We need to cling tighter to our values and standards in a world that considers good morals to be old-fashioned and outdated.
  • We need to gain a testimony but having knowledge of truth is not enough.  We must have a mighty change of heart and be truly converted, becoming doers of the word rather than just proclaimers of the word.  Faith without works is dead.
  • We can be happy now.  No matter what circumstances we may find ourselves in and no matter what trials we may be going through, we can be happy and have hope through the Atonement of Christ.
  • Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are involved in the details of our lives.  It is usually through other people that the Lord meets the needs of his children.  We need to be open to the Spirit so that we can be instruments in His hands to help and lift those around us.
  • We need to be true followers and disciples of Christ.  Once we have taken upon ourselves covenants to serve, we cannot go back.  We cannot justify "petty" sins.  If we are to be true Christians, we must strive with all our might, mind, and strength to become more like Christ for that is true discipleship.
I loved that there were several references to Peter in Conference.  I have gained a lot of respect for Peter over the years.  One of my Bishops at BYU liked to tell the story of Peter's attempt to walk on water.  As you may recall, Peter began to walk out on the water to meet the Savior but fear overcame him and he began to sink.  But the part of the story that we all forget is that Peter walked on water!  He started out with the faith necessary to do so.  So it is with us.  We may not be walking on water but we can overcome our fears if we remain focused on the Savior and allow him to be our "pilot."

When I was a freshman at BYU (April 2008), I had the opportunity to sing at General Conference with other members of the BYU choirs.  It was probably one of the most profound spiritual experiences of my life.  I had the opportunity to bear my testimony of Jesus Christ through music before the entire world (well, at least all the people who were watching Conference that day).  I'll never forget how I felt as I sang the hymn, Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me (Hymn #104).  The lyrics seemed especially applicable to Peter's story.

Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life's tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treach'rous shoal.
Chart and compass came from thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
As a mother stills her child,
Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boist'rous waves obey thy will
When thou say'st to them be still!"
Wondrous Sov'reign of the sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
When at last I near the shore,
And the fearful breakers roar
'Twixt me and the peaceful rest,
Then, while leaning on thy breast,
May I hear thee say to me,
"Fear not; I will pilot thee."

Here is the footage (you might have to copy and paste the link) of us singing that song in Conference. (Please ignore my lack of expression.  I was a freshman and had no idea at the time of how weird I look when I sing.) 

I hope you were all as inspired as I was this weekend.  I know that as we rely on the Savior and his Atonement, we too can overcome the frightening rocks and waves of this life and make it safely to shore.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Back to School

"Don't you just love New York in the Fall?  It makes me want to buy school supplies.  I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."
- Tom Hanks, You've Got Mail

It's that time of year again.  That time when you wake up in the morning and realize you have a full day of work and school ahead of you.  That time when you realize you will be trading valuable sleeping hours for just a little more time to write a paper you procrastinated.  That time when you finally finish an 8-hour work day, hurry to catch the bus, and drag your feet as you walk up the hill to campus.  Yes, it's September and I'm in school once again.

Things are a little bit different this time around.  For one thing, I'm not going to BYU.  I'm going to Cal State East Bay.  We watched part of a film in class on Wednesday and I was the only one that was phased by the use of the F-word.  (Reality check, Celia...people do swear.)  My classmates and I are pretty much taking all of our classes together so it would be in my best interest to get to know these people very well.  (Luckily there are some very nice people in my classes that I've already become "friends" with so it hasn't been as difficult as I thought.  One of the guys was actually in my graduating class at Northgate High School.)  It was easy in my history classes at BYU to just sit and take notes, make occasional comments, and roll my eyes when that one kid in the front row raised his hand for the tenth time.  Since this is vocational training and not just education, I'm getting the feeling that my usually passive-yet-attentive style is not really going to work here.

But not everything is different here.  Campus is still up on a hill.  It's within walking distance (although my walk to Cal State East Bay, Concord Campus is considerably longer than the one I would take up to BYU everyday).
View of Mt. Diablo on my way to school.
Walking to campus.
Cal State University, East Bay - Concord Campus
I still see random wildlife on campus but instead of seeing deer I see wild turkeys and SO MANY SQUIRRELS!  They're everywhere!
There were about 20 turkeys walking around campus the first time I came out of class.  This is the only one that didn't run away from me :)
My first week of school is officially complete.  I can honestly say that I forgot what it is like to do homework and to be truly exhausted.  This is a different kind of exhaustion than what I've felt before.  When I was at BYU, I worked custodial and didn't really have to think for the four hours I walked around the JKB cleaning.  Now I work 8 hours everyday and actually have to think about what I'm doing.  Then I go to class where I sit and think some more.  But I like being busy.  I like having a schedule and a routine.  I like feeling like I'm working toward a goal.  I'm okay giving up a few hours of sleep for this. :)

So it's back to riding the bus, back to taking notes, back to long hours writing papers, back to sitting in front of computer screens, back to thinking, back to reality.  I got this!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Things You Should Never Try To Live Without

I moved into my new apartment this past Saturday.  After hefting all of my possessions up three flights of stairs for a back-breaking hour and a half, I was able to get everything pretty much situated.  This is the first apartment I've lived in that isn't furnished so I borrowed a lot of my parents' furniture but also got some of my own.  Lucky for me, my sister-in-law, who is very adept at finding furniture for low prices, located a couch for me that I was able to get for $15.  I went to Big Lots and bought a small shelf for the living room for $20.  I got a bunch of odds-and-ends for the kitchen at Ross.  Basically, discount stores now rank among my closest friends.

I really like the layout of my apartment.  My room and my roommate's room are on opposite sides of the apartment.  The living room is in the middle.  We each have our own bathroom!

My bedroom.  In case you couldn't tell, I really love America :)
The other side of my room. That door leads to my bathroom.
The view outside my bedroom window.  Not too bad, eh?
The living room.
The dining area.
The kitchen.
So I'm feeling quite satisfied with the way things have worked out.  Although, there were a couple of days when I had to live without some necessary items.  So get out your notepads and jot down a few tidbits of what I'm about to say.  It may come in handy later in life.  These are three things you should always have at your disposal:
  • A Toaster:  I thought I had it made when I showed up at my apartment with the basic breakfast items, bread and butter.  However, when I woke up the next morning ready to eat some slightly-browned toast covered in melted butter, I was bitterly disappointed.  Alas...I had forgotten a toaster.  I spread the cold butter over my cold bread and ate it with as much cheerfulness as I could muster.  Advice: Don't live without one of these wonderful inventions.
  • Shower Curtain Rings:  Who knew little plastic circles could be so essential to one's happiness?  I woke up Sunday morning to accomplish the usually painless task of getting ready for church but found myself faced with a dilemma.  I had a shower curtain (which my old roommate Heidi so willingly and generously bestowed upon me) but I had nothing to hang it up with.  In a desperate attempt to make do with what I had, I flung the curtain over the bar and taped it so that it hung straight and would block (most) of the water from reaching the floor.  Never in my life have I felt more white-trash than I did then.  Advice: If you don't have shower curtain rings, find some other means besides tape to hang up your curtain.  It turns out hot humid air and cheap adhesives don't really mix.
  • A Microwave:  There's nothing worse than making a bunch of delicious food, putting it in tupperware to save for later, and then realizing that your now cold food is inedible because there is no microwave on your counter to heat it up with.  Advice: If you are unfortunate enough to not own a microwave, make only one serving of whatever deliciousness you want to eat so that you don't end up with leftovers.
So despite some difficulties at first (having to do without the aforementioned items, dealing with the smokers down below us), apartment life in Concord has been just fine.  I think my roommate and I will get along well, there is a shopping center just down the street, my sister Brittany lives just around the corner, and the Concord Campus of Cal State East Bay is within walking distance. Yes, "I find myself quite content with my situation." (I'll give the person who knows what movie that line is from a high-five.  Sorry, I'm a poor starving college student again so that's all I have to offer. :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I Will Remember You

I'm a cryer.  It's quite annoying, really.  I cry when I hear a touching song on the radio.  I cry during the tender moments of movies.  I cry every time I get up to bear my testimony in church.  I come from a long line of cryers.  In other words, this horrible tendency to burst into tears is actually hereditary and, therefore, not my fault.  What can I say?  I'm a Christensen.  Crying comes with the territory.

So it should come as no surprise to you that I cried the day I left Provo.  I woke up that morning, looked around my nearly-empty room, laid my head back on the pillow, and promptly let out of a few wails.  Later that morning, tears streamed down my face as I vacuumed behind my desk and my dresser.  My throat ached but I managed to hold the tears back as my sister Brigitte and I drove down University Avenue past restaurants and old apartment complexes, away from the Y and all my BYU friends.  I nearly cried again when I said goodbye to Brigitte, my closest family member for the past five years, and drove away with the Lamberts to make the long journey back to the San Francisco Bay Area.

I have been back in California for a little over a week now.  I've started a new job.  I've managed to find an apartment (though I haven't moved in yet).  I went to the Walnut Creek YSA Ward this past Sunday.  Everything has been going just fine.  I love the fact that I can have Sunday dinner with my parents, my grandma, my cousin, and two of my siblings and their families.  But, like any change in life, adjustments and reality checks are required.  I'm not in Provo anymore and, though I've managed to hold back the sob-fest since I've been home, I am still a little sad that my ward members don't live next door, that I can't just walk up the hill to church, and that I have to make friends all over again (something that's never been particularly easy for me).  I am happy to be here, though, and I really believe that this is where I am supposed to be right now.  So to Provo and all of my friends there, I'll quote the lyrics of a song that aptly express my feelings toward you: "I will remember you and all of the things that we've gone through.  There is so much I can say but words get in the way so when we're not together, I will remember you."  If any of my Provo friends are ever in the Bay Area, please feel free to visit me.  I'd love to see you.

New beginnings give all of us the opportunity to be a little better than we were before.  I start school in a few weeks.  Maybe this time around I can be a better friend and example to those around me than I was in high school.  I will be attending a new ward.  Maybe I can try to serve those around me with a little more zeal and enthusiasm than I did before.  This is my chance to be a better version of myself.  Let's hope I can start it off right!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Office

I'm Pam Beasley.  Except I don't work at a paper company and, unfortunately, Jim Halpert doesn't sit on the other side of this desk.  But I am in charge of the candy jar!

The Quote Wall

Apartments really aren't complete without a quote wall.  The year-long record of a set of roommates/friends' moments of shear brilliance or just plain stupidity (for we all know that quote walls can only be filled with these two extremes) is a testament to how much fun and laughter the group has enjoyed that year.  I don't know what it is about the late hours of the day that makes us all say strange things but these sentences always tend to burst from our mouths past the fateful hour of 11:00 PM.  As soon as one of these phrases is said, at least one girl in the apartment manages to rise between fits of laughter, run to the quote wall, and write down the sentence that caused the frenzy.

Throughout my five years in Provo, I've both heard and said some crazy, thoughtless things that made it onto the quote wall.  If I went all the way back to my freshmen year, this list would be far too long so I've decided to record some of the best ones I remember from the last couple of years.  They probably aren't that funny to anyone who didn't experience them first-hand but, trust me, they were funny once.
  • (When Jaden wanted to borrow one of Jen's DVDs), Jen: "If you scratch it, I will scratch your face."
  • Celia:  "Let me go put some pants on."  Kristin (Greer): "Good.  Public nudity is frowned upon in most societies." (For the record, I was wearing basketball shorts when I made that comment.)
  • Rachel: "Do I look like a walking advertisement to you?"
  • Celia: "I'm sorry, I just think you're hugging too many people."
  •  Jen: "Jaden, please don't lose me on purpose!" Jaden: "Okay, I'll lose you on accident."
  • Rhiannon: "It gives them a first-degree burn." Jen: "That's what happens when people touch me."
  • Celia: "Don't say that here!  We're in a public place!"
  • Rhiannon (to Jen):  "You're scandalous!  I've missed you!"
  • Jen: "Celia, I always want to hug you and I don't know why!" Celia: "Well, you always want what you can't have."
  • Rachel: "Wait, what?  Pikachu died?" Kristin: "Yep, Ash was in mourning for a week."
  • Celia: "Thank you for your time and talents."
  • Rhiannon: "My dream will be made MANIFEST!"
  • Jen: "Being pregnant hurts." Rhiannon: "Yeah, apparently it's worth it."
  • Celia: "That's the nice thing about big hips.  You have more to swing around."
  • Rachel: "What crackhead show is this? Sorry, I didn't mean to say crackhead."
  • Jen: "She's black and he's hispanic.  That's like too many races in one relationship."
  • Robin: "It's like an endless stream of's like vomit!"
  • Celia: "I haven't had Ben&Jerry's since the last time I had it."
In my last apartment, we didn't have an official quote wall so I took the liberty of writing down some of the quotes in a pad I keep in my purse.  Here they are:
  • Trevor: "This food is going to burn through me like Sherman burned through Atlanta."
  • Kristin: "I'm going to marry a normal guy so my kids can have a normal childhood."
  • (My hometeachers gave me a priesthood blessing in my room), Ryan: I'm in a girl's room.  I should take advantage of this." Celia: "What do you want to take advantage of?"
  • Celia: "Seriously, why don't people hang out with us?  We're so much fun!"
  • Heidi: "I'm like wearing a horse's butt on my head."
  • Kristin: "Heidi...someday, if it weren't against the Word of Wisdom, I'd really like to get you drunk."
  • Heidi: "I could be Ginny now. Get me some Harry!  I need me some Harry!"
  • Kristin: "I've bombed everything without fail!"
  • (A brief synopsis of the movie A Little Princess), Melissa Smith: "Her dad leaves her then her dad dies and then she's like the orphan slave girl and then a lady in the street gives her a flower and calls her a princess."
  • Celia: "It's permanent until it goes away."
  • (All of these were said during the course of our craft night a few nights ago), Brigitte: "Handmade bows, hand-cut's just hand-done!"  "We're so innovative!"  "'Free' can be taken a lot of different ways.  You don't want that in your bedroom."
I strongly encourage anyone who does not have a quote wall to get one.  You won't regret it.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Clock is Ticking

My time in Provo is winding down fast.  It's kind of a mind-boggling feeling to have a five-year chapter of my life come to a close.  When I look back over the last five years, Charles Dickens'  words, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," take on a whole new meaning.  I've experienced moments of great joy but also moments of heartbreak and sorrow.  But that's the college experience, right?

I would like to take a moment to reminisce about some of the finer moments of my college career.  Please excuse my little trip down Memory Lane.

Freshman Year (2007-2008): Oh, Heritage Halls!  I am convinced there was no better place than Penrose 85 to spend my first year of college.  My roommates that year far exceeded my expectations.  Melissa, Shauntelle, Sandee, Caitlin, and Kory pulled me out of my shy little shell and introduced me to the world in more ways than one.  They took me to Wal-Mart for the first time in my life.  I rode in Sandee's convertible with the top down.  I rolled down restricted grassy slopes on campus way passed my bedtime.  I "broke into" the top floor of the SWKT with my FHE brothers.  I "stole" couch cushions from the apartments of most of our ward members with our guy friends.  In all honesty, what didn't I do my freshman year? :)
That one and only time I went to a formal dance on campus.
That time we did a human pyramid and I (stupidly) volunteered to be on the bottom.
That time we dressed up all funky and danced to the closing-time music in the Harold B. Lee Library.
That time we frolicked in the autumn leaves.
That time we sewed cheesy Christmas sweaters for the boys.
That time we wrote a Christmas letter, took a "family" photo, and gave a copy to each of the apartments in our ward.
All those times we played with Sandee's computer which we affectionately called "Mobi."
That time we drove around Provo in Sandee's convertible with the top down.
That time we dressed up to eat at Macaroni Grill.
That time Sandee dislocated her shoulder dancing in the Thanksgiving Point parking lot after Preference.
That one time I got to sing in General Conference with the rest of the BYU Choirs.  No big deal :)
That time at the end of Freshman Year when we got a group together to go eat at IHOP at midnight.
That time we had to say goodbye to "our boys" before they all left on their missions.
Sophomore Year (2008-2009):  We moved over to good ol' University Villa for our sophomore year of college.  Despite the fact that our apartment complex looked like a group of Communist buildings, it was actually a fairly decent and fun place to live.  Sandee went off to study abroad at the Jerusalem Center but our new roommate Julie fit into her place quite nicely.  Our friends from freshman year were all on their missions but we made new friends fairly quickly.  We all had to grow up a little bit that year.  I buckled down into my school work.  Shauntelle got married.  Sandee came back from Jerusalem with a serious boyfriend.  Our new roommate, Ji Yeon, moved in winter semester.  Times and situations were changing but we still managed to have some fun.
That one time...oh wait! One of the many times my Idaho roommates made fun of us Californians :)
That one time we went to Shaunie's bridal shower.
That one time when we decided to make a "Melissa burrito" in the University Villa lounge for Shauntelle's bachelorette party.
That one day in December of 2008 when Shauntelle got married. She was the first in a long line of my roommates to take the plunge.
That time we built a snow fort.
That time we tried to slide down the hill wrapped in garbage bags at Rock Canyon Park.  Our attempt to "garbage-bag sled" was pretty much unsuccessful.
That time we dressed up yet again to go to Macaroni Grill.
That Relief Society activity where we did facials and other girly things.
That time we played games at Kiwanis Park on the first warm day after an especially long winter.
That time we dressed up like hooligans to see Imagine Dragons at the Velour.
Junior Year (2009-2010):  We decided to stay at University Villa for another semester.  Sandee got married just before the beginning of the school year and three of my roommates (Kory, Caitlin, and Julie) were engaged.  Melissa was in London for the Fall.  I spent most of my time buried in my studies, but for the rest of the time I had fun being a third-wheel to Julie and Kyle and trying to be a social member of the ward.  When everyone got married in December, I moved over to another apartment and ward in University Villa to live with my friend Hannah and her roommates Melissa, Kristin, Alyssa, and Jen.  It was awesome to room with another fun set of girls!
That time we had a combined bridal shower for Julie, Caitlin, and Kory.

That time Shaunie and I decided to go cheer Melissa on at the finish line of her half-marathon.
That awesome time when you get a roommate that you just automatically click with :)  Miss you, Jen! (not that you will see this while you're on your mission)
That great semester when there were four of us from the same ward in Women's Chorus.
That one time Bailey came into town on Valentine's Day.
That one time we went out to dinner before Jane left on her mission.
That one time we walked down to McDonalds and were saddened by the fact that the play place was closed.
The first time we bought cupcakes from The Cocoa Bean.
Senior Year (2010-2011):  We all decided to live in The Elms for our senior year.  Since we had to accommodate seven of us, we decided to split into two next-door apartments, W23 and W24.  I roomed with Jen, Kristin, and Alyssa, and acquired two random but awesome roommates, Rhiannon and Rachel.  Rachel and I played volleyball with a group from the ward at the very beginning of the semester and met our friends Cameron and Jaden.  Little did we know that Jaden and Rhiannon would soon hit it off and end up getting married.  I bit off a little more than I could chew that year when it came to schoolwork so I had a few friends in the ward but my social life took place mainly within the walls of my own apartment.  My friends, Russell and Kyle, came back from their missions that year so I spent some time with them as well.  I moved to B32 in The Elms in the Spring of 2011.  My roommates were Alex, Robin, Becca, Melissa, and Kiana.  I went over to A102 pretty much every day that summer and hung out with Jaden, Cameron, and their roommates (Andrew, Kevin, and Bryan).  Before my graduation that August, Alex, Robin, and I had packed in quite a few fun summer adventures.  Senior Year was definitely one of the highlights of my college career.
That one time Rachel decided to join in Jaden and Rhiannon's cuddling session.
One of the many times we attended BYU football games, each taking a swig from the water jug every time we scored.
That time we went to the corn maze and got scared stiff by the guy with the chainsaw.
That time we dressed up as The Incredibles for the Ward Halloween Party.
That time when we were awesome...which was all the time :)
That one time when my roommates found it necessary to cover me in Jen's birthday streamers.
That time we went to Park City during the Sundance Film Festival to see if we could spot any celebrities.
That time when I went to clean the bathrooms on the 3rd floor of the JKB for my custodial job and found this.
The time when our FHE brothers cuddled with Jen to her little heart's content.
That time when Trevor, Jonah, and I decorated the winning cake for a ward activity.
That time when everybody came over to watch YouTube videos...oh wait!  That happened like every day spring term.
One of the many times Robin, Alex, and I went to such places as The Cocoa Bean.
That one time Robin, Alex, Kevin, Cameron, and I hiked Bridal Veil Falls, got lost, and nearly died.  No joke.
Post-Grad Year (2011-2012): I stayed in the same ward but moved over to The Avenues to live with Heidi, Kristin, and Faith.  Post-graduation time was not at all like what I thought it would be.  Basically, I never succeeded in finding a job so I had way too much time on my hands.  My social life pretty much depended on ward activities and whatever my roommates were doing.  Needless to say, life can be fairly boring when you're not in school and everyone else is.  Spring and Summer terms have been really fun, however.  I've been able to hone in on my cherry-pit spitting skills (an event at our ward's Olympics), get killed several times playing Super Smash Brothers, enjoy the fireworks for the two major holidays of the summer here in Utah (Independence Day and Pioneer Day), be ward choir director, read LOTS of books, see lots of movies, and jump over fences illegally while playing Fugitive.  It's definitely been an up-and-down year for me emotionally but it was a good experience.
That time when Shauntelle took roommate pictures for us up at Sundance.
That time we went to Tucanos for Heidi's birthday and Trevor said that memorable sentence, "This food is going to burn through me like Sherman burned through Atlanta."  He then turned to me and said, "I thought you'd like my reference to American history."
That time we went to the midnight showing of The Avengers and Heidi and Kristin both fell asleep.
Those times when we went to BYU Men's Volleyball games!
That time we decorated Easter eggs.  It was the first time I had done so.
That time we went on a camping trip as a ward and went boating on Yuba Lake.
That time when Heidi fell backwards while sliding down the railing.
That time when we had a ward finger painting activity (or foot painting activity depending on who you talk to :).
That one time Heidi, Andrew, Kevin and I took a random road trip to St. George.
That one time I had the opportunity to go see Wicked in Salt Lake.  It was so awesome!
That one time we went to the Manti Temple for a ward temple trip and ate delicious pizza afterwards.
That one time we had a Harry Potter party and everyone was assigned a character.  I was Helena Ravenclaw, the Grey Lady of Ravenclaw Tower.
I've had some great times in Provo.  But alas, my time is short.  I leave this place in a week and a half.  So long, Provo!  It's been real!