Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A round of love for everybody

Love this.

Love him.

LOVE this.

3.3.2011 in SLC!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Oh, Baltimore

If I were to love Baltimore, it would have to be for its quirks - you know, those things that make you chuckle and roll your eyes a bit as you say, "Oh, Baltimore." I had one of those moments this morning as I sat in my car with the window down searching for a parking spot. A complete stranger from down the block just starts yelling, "God bless you! God bless you!" I start swiveling around to figure out who he's talking to, and - finding myself the only potential recipient of such a blessing - finally look back at him from our distance with an incredulous, "who me?" face. Stranger: "Yes, you! God bless YOU! It's a wonderful day. Whoooeee, lady! You've got a sweet ride. Seriously, I love your ride." Still separated by a couple blocks, I yell my thanks right back at him. I have to attempt my thanks several times because they are punctuated by his repeated, "That's a beautiful car. I love your ride." Finally, my light turned and I drove off to his smiles and waves, all the while thinking to myself, "Oh, Baltimore."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Waiting for the locusts

In the famous words of Mikale Clark, "If it's not one natural disaster, it's another." In the last 9 months, DC survived an earthquake, a hurricane, 2 Snowmaggedons with 5 feet plus of snow (where even Johns Hopkins closed for an entire week), crazy heat waves, a tornado, weeks without power, and flash floods. It has almost become the norm to be without power, and Pepco just might get the ax. Now we're just patiently awaiting the locusts. Bring 'em on.

Thursday morning we woke up to continuous thunder and lightening like I've never heard before in my life. Deafening and continuous (although some people were miraculously able to sleep through it). And then the rains began; the heavens opened their mighty gut and gushed for 45 minutes. In that time, 4 feet of water collected in our front yard. I went to leave for work and could not even leave the door. Our cars were immersed in water and we all began to wonder if we had been magically transported to Pakistan overnight. My car story doesn't have a happy ending - I guess the engine didn't like getting soaked. But we won't dwell on that. Just thought you might want a couple pictures proof, even though these weren't at the highest point.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Keeping 'em open

We live in a world of almost infinite opportunity. At every turn we are beset by new options, from the menu at a restaurant or list of careers to the people we befriend and date. Growing up in the old Land of Opportunity, we imbibe the adage "there's nothing you can't do." In so many ways, these opportunities enrich our lives, but I've also seen them wield their fair share of destruction. Too often we allow ourselves to become paralyzed by this vastness of opportunity, endlessly chasing after something simply because it is there. Just the mere awareness of an option can make it seem valuable and plausible. Sometimes we even start to dream about it becoming ours or integrating it into our lives. We fear losing something, even when it isn't necessarily a good option for us.

And it's only natural, I suppose. We humans have a potent aversion to loss, in whatever form it may come. Even the loss of something that is not technically "ours" is something our constitution avoids. We want to keep our options open, sometimes indefinitely, because quite frankly, the thought of loss is so painful to us that we do whatever we have to do to keep our doors from closing.

Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational did an experiment where he asked people to click on a door to earn money. Each door would bring a varying profit, but it was their choice which door they continued to click. One group was allowed to revisit a door as frequently as they wanted, and they had 100 clicks total. Another group was allowed the 100 clicks, but if they left a door alone for 12 clicks, it would disappear forever. He found that participants in the 2nd scenario were harried, frantic, and made 15% less money than those in the 1st group. They would have made more money by simply choosing one door and sticking with it for the entirety of the experiment. But the presence of those options and the idea that they might disappear were enough to make participants act in illogical ways, chasing after doors that didn't present a good return on investment. In other words, they wanted to keep that door "alive" even though it wasn't benefiting them. They couldn't stand the idea of loss.

Ariely also tells the story of Xiang Yu, a Chinese commander who burned his army's own ships and destroyed all their cooking pots. Of course, his men were confused about why he would do such a seemingly crazy thing. His response was that without the pots and ships, they had no choice but to fight their way to victory or perish. He forced them to close some doors, to suffer a loss so that they were motivated to move forward.

Sometimes there will be somebody who burns our proverbial cooking pots or ships in order for us to move forward and close a door. More often, we are the ones that will have to take the initiative and make conscious decisions. There are some doors we need to close, and others we need to keep open. How do we forge ahead, consciously closing doors when expedient? And how do we decide when it is time to close a particular door?

Sunday, May 23, 2010


When I stopped eating sugar in January, I did it to be healthier, thinking that I understood the intentions behind my actions. But recently, in conversations with friends and my own gospel study, I discovered that I had underestimated my desires.

Of late, I have been thinking about what I eat in terms of my personal stewardship over my body. If my body is the "temple of God" and has been "bought with a price" I have a responsibility to maintain its sanctity by what goes into and out of it. We are told to "glorify God in [our] body" and that proper treatment and use of our body will lead to its sanctification.

We learn that the "natural man is an enemy to God." Thus, in this life we are to "bridle all [our] passions" and subject our carnal desires. This, in my opinion, is one of the principle purposes of fasting - to learn how to allow our Spirits to gain traction over our bodily desires, to practice the arts of self-mastery so that we can be more in-tune with the Lord's guidance of our lives. I also believe this is a major theme in the Word of Wisdom. The Word of Wisdom provides guidance that can facilitate self-mastery and strengthening of the spiritual. By helping us to bridle some of those passions, we are promised the blessings of wisdom, knowledge, strength, and divine protection. It is for our temporal salvation, "that every one of [us] should know how to possess [our] vessel in sanctification and honor."

Eating is tricky, because so often we do not immediately see the effects of what we do, or we don't tie food directly to how we feel. While we often focus on certain facets of the connection between the physical and spiritual, we often miss that connection when it comes to eating. But the virtues of patience and self-mastery can be so perfectly developed in making decisions about what we eat. We live in a society of self-indulgence, even hedonism at times. We want things, and we want them now. I am reminded of President Uchtdorf's talk on patience. We are becoming so unaccustomed to having to wait for anything or postpone pleasure, and this includes our eating habits. "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." But how often are we ceding our rule over our spirit to our temporary desires? Do you know how sweet a strawberry is when you eat no other sugar?

I am not advocating that everybody stop eating sugar - it is simply my personal decision based on my feelings of my stewardship over my body. But, I feel strongly about my need for self-mastery and temperance. I feel that what I eat has an influence on my ability to feel the Spirit and communicate with God. As I practice self-mastery, my spiritual tendencies are refined and I feel I am a better steward over what God has given me. "The same is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler

Milton alert! I feel privileged to report that we've got a veritable Office Space-inspired drama ensuing at my very own office. It started off innocuously enough. Our coworker came a knockin', asking if his interns could borrow staplers to do lit reviews. Why, who could turn down those cute little interns? And they needed those staplers for such a noble task (that much ennobled by our dislike of it).

Enter scene right: intern #1, with a penchant for walking in all circumstances upon his tiptoes and pasting a perpetually perplexed look upon his face. Also to be noted, a high-toned, low-volume manner of speaking.

Intern #1 walks to Big Intern Boss' office, perplexed at not finding him there. In his bewilderment, he happens to fortuitously turn around and lo... what does his eye fall on? A shiny (not red) stapler.

Complication: Said stapler is currently cohabiting with another coworker, who will certainly lay claim to the stapler.

Intern's solution: Lurk and maneuver body to size up the stapler from every angle until the owner of the stapler turns around to find him there.

Intern: "Um, I think that's my stapler."
Coworker #1: "Well, let's see... I'm pretty sure this is my stapler."
Intern: "No, see, I know that's my stapler."
Coworker #1: "When I started here, this stapler was in my office, so I think it's mine."

Coworker #2 intervenes: "Hi, Intern #1. Were you looking for a stapler? Because I put my stapler in your cube so that you could use it."
Intern: "Oh, really? I didn't see anything."
Coworker #2: "Yeah, I did. Do you want me to come and show you where I put it?"

*Intern and coworker #2 enter Intern's cube. Intern takes one look at the stapler and instantly responds, "Oh, no. See, that's not my stapler. My stapler had a sticker on the top. That's why I know Coworker #1 has my stapler. See, it's the sticker."
Coworker #2: "Well, this is a stapler and it works just fine, so how about you use this?"
Intern: "But she has my stapler."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I need you to need me

I suppose that every guy has his weakness - that one thing that will make him fall madly, deeply in like with a girl. But, as I've been told ad infintum, the one ring that rules them all is being needed by a girl. A guy must feel that he is needed. Fair enough, I say. It makes perfect sense. But what I grapple with is chasing down that elusive, slim line demarcating the boundary between the overly dependent and overly independent.

We're told (and I strongly believe, I might add) that as women we should not sit around and wait for our Prince Charming to come along. We should be active, pursue our dreams, and find things that make us happy. We should act and not wait to be acted upon. In essence, we should live our lives to the fullest, seeking and finding joy in whatever stage we find ourselves.

But, as we do these things, we become increasingly independent. In fact, we acquire a necessary, learned independence. It is not necessarily that we want to do those things alone, but we must. We have to learn how to provide for ourselves and become self-sufficient. In that light, it was particularly striking to hear a man talk about this woman he was pursuing. He had doubts that she would ever be interested in him because he said, "Look at her. She's beautiful, educated, successful, well traveled, talented, and capable of doing anything she needs in her life. Where do I fit here? Why would she need me?" To this man, there was no chink in her armor. He couldn't see any entry point into her life because she was so self-sufficient. She appeared to fill any function he thought he might provide. She did not need protection, provisions, or fun. He was not needed - at least that is how he perceived it.

I think that often times women come off that way without intending to. We have to be independent, and most of us want to enjoy ourselves, wherever we are in life. So how do we provide for ourselves and pursue our dreams as we have to and want to, while still showing guys they are needed? I'm not talking about stroking pride or fostering inequitable relations between men and women. I think feeling needed is something essential for both women and men in a relationship. But how is that done? Where is that balance?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

When "if-then" statements fail

This is not an Onion article. I swear, this is a real news story: "Iranian cleric blames quakes on promiscuous women"
Highlights from the senior cleric include:
  • "Promiscuous women are responsible for earthquakes."
  • "Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes."
  • "What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble? There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes."


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oh, what a difference a word can make

As I was reading through some proposals at work, a couple things made me laugh. Sometimes a few little letters can change so much.

"Started several not profitable companies for local citizens..."

On a person's CV:
"Arabic: Fluent
English: Unacceptable"

*Note: the "unacceptable English" proposal was not tied to the first quote, although maybe it should be...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Major faux pas

I met this Arab guy today who told me he was going to NYC and asked me what he should do there. In my mind I started walking around NYC and was naming things he should do as I got there on my mental walking tour. I was so focused on envisioning the area and what there was to do in that area that I utterly forgot to think about who I was talking to. I mentioned the Statue of Liberty and then my imagined feet took me to Ground Zero. So I rattled that off, too, not thinking a wink. I stopped when I noticed his ironic look. He sputtered, "Yeah, I have no interest in going there at all." My friend sunk back into her chair and pretended she hadn't heard anything. To add salt to my open faux pas, I found out that he's Iraqi. Great, Heather. Really great. So, this is why Americans are so beloved around the world, eh?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Language confusion

And the results are in. Number one sign you’ve been in a foreign country too long: When you finally get the chance to speak to a native English speaker, you’re still speaking in broken, almost unintelligible English. You might find yourself saying things like, “Oh, it too much hot in here,” or “Ben come?” On other occasions you just might substitute one key word for an entire sentence, leaving that word to be interpreted as it may: “Office?” And then, the confused and unmarred English speaker looks at you pityingly and nods or walks away.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Quote of the day

“You know, you’re not black; you’re white. But, besides that you look exactly like an Ethiopian.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Ethiopia. It's the country where coffee was invented. Coffee is Ethiopia's main source of income, by a long shot. Coffee is life in Ethiopia.

Now, imagine little old me trying to explain to a bunch of quizzical Ethiopians why I don't drink coffee.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The password is Ethiopia

Oh, CVS. Every time I go there to pick up a prescription - no matter how long they've had to fill the prescription - it isn't ready. I've had to entirely quit myself of the assumption that when your doctor calls in a prescription it will be filled. So, I don't know why I was at all surprised this week when, upon approaching the pharmacist, we began the familiar haggling. "Sanders, you say? When did you drop it off? No, I don't see anything here. Are you sure your doctor called it in?" This is followed by staff receiving the novel inspiration to check their voice messages, which apparently have not been checked in days. Oh! There's that message where my doctor called in my prescription 2 days ago.

This week has been crazy busy and I really didn't feel like I wanted to spend more time driving all the 6 blocks (I know, I know) back to CVS. So, a little exasperated, I mentioned off-handedly, "It's just that I'm going to Ethiopia in a couple days and I really need this prescription before I go." Ethiopia?! All eyes snapped to me, people started smiling, and I began to receive profuse congratulations on my decision to travel to Ethiopia. Everybody stopped what they were doing, wanting to talk to me about Ethiopia and bless me for what I was doing. The pharmacist in the back pulled me aside and furtively said, "I can have your prescription ready in 10 minutes. Can you wait that long?"

So, if your pharmacy is anything like most of the pharmacies I've been to in DC, you might want to casually throw in the word "Ethiopia" without regard to the propriety of its use. You just never know what they might be willing to do when you mention that secret password.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Saturday gems

I love Saturdays. For some many reasons. One is getting to go visit Juanita, who provides endless entertainment. Another is DC bucket list activities.

As a bucket list activity, we headed down to the National Building Museum. Though it was family engineering day, we didn't let our child lack stand in the way. Besides, I think that a group of 20-somethings qualifies for the nouveau family category. (We're oh-so-modern.) We found ourselves at a table-making station, surrounded by all the newspaper and tape you could ever want. So there we were, in the midst of half-hearted 8-year-olds and over zealous fathers, making a newspaper table to see how much weight it could hold. We really poured our souls into this table. JP even brought out his knife, so we knew it was serious business. We drew up schematic after schematic and divided into task forces. When we were ready to proudly present our table, we brought it up for its moment in time. The weighing guy looked at us incredulously, but with no kids to be found, he accepted our over-achieving table.

Weighing guy: "You realize that you're competing against 5th graders, right?"

Me: "Yeah, this is how we get our kicks. We are utterly unsuccessful in normal life, so we have to compete against kids to prove our worth."

John: "Has anybody's been able to hold all the weight yet, or will ours be the first?"

Weighing guy: "Who do you think you are? Just because you're all adults, you think you have a market on strong newspaper tables? Of course others have withstood all the weight!"

Well, all right. Maybe he didn't say that. But his look said it all. Anyway, our pride was merited: our table held all the weight they could bring. In our excitement, we got a tad overconfident and told a 10-year-old boy to stand on it. Now the weighing guy's laughing.


I am in seriously deep smit with this food site. I could content myself just looking at the pictures, the colors, the unusual names. But, they've got recipes and food tips to boot. Sigh of smit.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Is it me... or is it you?

Ah, there you are emptiness. We two are such handy co-conspirators. What force is it that keeps us knocking heads? Big parties, you say? Oh, yes. That's it.

Is it me? Am I the only one who feels empty and deflated after big parties? In theory, these big parties seem like great inventions: see anybody who's anybody in one place. Brilliant. But, once you start getting into the actual details, well, it all falls apart. Talking about inane things with person after person? Not brilliant. Trying to hold the attention of a person so over-stimulated that they can't keep their eyes on you? Again, not brilliant. Screaming at people just to be heard? Not brilliant, I say. I feel my hours meaningless and stale. But maybe that's not the point. I don't think anybody ever sat down and thought, "Hmm, now here's something meaningful: big parties." I don't believe that everything we do has to be uber meaningful, but I do think that as humans we crave meaningful interactions with our fellow beings.We desire something beyond the superficial, something to give purpose a footing. We seek discovery, intimacy, even vulnerability. And big parties just don't do that. Yet we follow after our fallen god.

But perhaps I assume too much. Perhaps I am among the few disenchanted. Either way, I have to ask myself: Why do I do it? Why do I keep returning to my folly? Isn't there a better way? I don't want to be stuck with co-pilot emptiness, but I choose it. I don't know if I go out of obligation, or just because I do genuinely want to see my friends, and I believe it might be different (always room for a little hope, non?). But, something's gotta change. I've got to find a better way. Who's with me?

Monday, January 11, 2010


After many long years of oppression, redheads have finally had enough. Me and my posse of 3 are speaking out. And we are here to debunk some popular myths about redheads. We only have time for one tonight, but it's an important one. Redhead myth #1: All redheads must be related, regardless of the fact that they otherwise look nothing alike. Come on, people! We redheads have got to have at least one other distinguishing characteristic. I mean, does anybody even look beyond our fiery locks? There's more to us than a little ginger. So, next time, please take a closer look, and don't be so hasty to think we all look alike.

I am frequently told I look like celebrities, and I maintain that it is only because I have red hair, and so do they (or have had at some point in their illustrious careers). In order of look-alike frequency:

1. Lindsay Lohan

2. Melissa Joan Hart

3. Tina Fey

4. Christina Hendricks

Really? I look nothing like them... minus the hair color. I hope 2010 will bring a more discerning eye to my public. Meanwhile, we redheads will work working furiously to debunk the spurious myths surrounding us.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Pensive. Confused. That knot that only anxiety has the power to muster. Embarrassment of naivety exposed. Not even the cold wind can coax these worried feet to hasten their thoughtful, plodding steps. Didn't anybody care when I declared my abhorrence of politics? When I claimed abstention from their games? No, they jeer, you are a part of this. Everybody is a part of this; no exemptions. You can ignore them, but the politics will play you just the same. And the politics did play me. Played me, regurgitated me even as I spurned them. Must I play their game to beat them at it? Why can I not stand outside, act outside their realm? Why must their tentacles coil around every corner? Is there no choice? I want to clear a space for integrity, but it is so quickly overgrown. I want to trust another's intention, but I am made to calculate and question. I want to share my knowledge, but I am reprimanded by propriety and exclusivity. I want to say what I think; I do. And I am played, played, played.