Monday, September 15, 2014

The Good Life

Photo: The Life I Need
Every so often life just seems good.  The superstitious side of me wants to knock on wood after typing that, but all other sides of me want to bask in the moment and just tell you why I'm happy.

To begin with, it's fall.  That alone is enough to get the corners of my mouth turning up.  Nebraska weather has been uncharacteristically fantastic lately.  Our summer was mild, and the last week has fluctuated between window-down and sweater weathera perfect range if you ask me.  With fall comes one of life's greatest joys: college football.  Again, I don't want to jinx things, but so far this season really has been a thing of beauty.  Exhibit A: Taysom Hill.  Exhibit B: Penn State's post-season sanctions being lifted.  Exhibit C: 3-0.  Exhibit D: Taysom Hill.  I'm not naive enough to think going undefeated (for either team) is a probability, but you can bet I'm going to enjoy watching these teams this season.  That's guaranteed.

Something else that's been keeping a smile on my face lately is the abundance of BABIES.  It's like everyone I know got together and decided to have a baby this summer.  And good for them!  Because seriously.  So.  Many.  Babies.  As you all know, I absolutely adore being an aunt.  After last week I'm up to 11 "real" nieces and nephews and am quickly accumulating honorary nieces and nephews throughout the country.  It's such a blessing to see so many people I love embrace their roles as parents, and I'm grateful they let me be a part of their babes' lives.

It's been hard to be away from family and friends for all of the excitement, but I'm really grateful for the friendships I've been able to strengthen as a result of staying in Nebraska a bit longer.  After graduation, a lot of my closest friends moved back to their respective homes.  It's weird to be left in the Midwest without them, but I've grown a lot closer to some of my other friends, particularly a couple of girls in my ward.  I've really appreciated making memories that involve chasing the Northern Lights and becoming utterly obsessed with new tv shows.
As a nice little cherry on top of all this happiness, David comes to visit later this week.  This will be the fourth straight year he makes a trip out to Nebraska in the fall.  I'm always so grateful for his willingness to take the time and money to come see me.  Makes me feel like a spoiled little sister!

I hope your life has been equally joyful and rewarding these last few months, but if not, just remember: "Whatever your circumstances, this can be your season of strength."  (Barbara B. Smith, "A Season for Strength," October 1983 General Conference).  I hope you all find joy in the journey.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Happy Anniversary

Despite its title, this post is not aimed at congratulating my sister and brother-in-law on seven years of marriage (though I will quickly say, Happy Anniversary Jess!).  Instead, I'm taking this time to reflect on another important anniversary: the day I moved to Omaha.  This morning I launched Timehop and read with fondness the tweets chronicling my arrival in the city.

I've been saying this a lot lately, but I'm going to miss this place.  Of course I'll be happy to be closer to my family come the end of the year, but the Midwest will always occupy a place in my heart.  The people here are friendly without being intrusive.  The lightning storms are breathtaking.  There are more restaurants than I could have possibly tried in my three years here.  And while I think the Husker fanaticism is the byproduct of some ethanol-based brainwashing, this place loves football, which I can appreciate.

I've enjoyed my independence here.  I like having a place that's all mine (which I think stems from being one of six children).  I brag about this as if it's a personal victory.  I'm excited to spend these next three school-and-bar-free months enjoying parts of Omaha I didn't have time to see before.

I'll miss Beauty Brands and Wheatfields.  I'll miss the rain and the trees.  I'll miss Gigi's Cupcakes and my job.  This has been an incredible time in my life.  And while I'm anxious to read the rest of my book, I'll be sad to finish this chapter.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Teen Wolf in Your Late Twenties?

Since I'm awake I should either be studying for the bar or getting work done. Instead, I'm finishing yet another season of Teen Wolf. Yeah, you read that correctly. Teen Wolf. I don't even remember why I started watching it. I think it was just on one of the scrolling banners on Amazon Instant Video or something. But that's really beside the point.

I like the show because it's smart and complicated and lighthearted all at once. Some of the wolves are downright beautiful (and the actors are in their 20s, so it's not too creepy to say that--or so I try and convince myself). But there's another reason I've really fallen in love with this show. And it's this kid:
Stiles, played by actor Dylan O'Brien. This character might be my favorite television character of all time. He's smart and loyal and good. I really enjoy my teen dramas and young adult novels, but they all come with one major frustration: immensely flawed and selfish lead characters. It often makes it hard to root for the one who should be the good guy. But that's not so with Stiles. Don't get me wrong, he's not perfect. But gosh he's admirable.

Hopefully this isn't too much of a spoiler for anyone (and maybe this will cease to be true when I make it further in the series), but Teen Wolf has a lot of fantasy in it...mythical creatures and such. And Stiles is just this awesome human kid whose best friend is a werewolf. And he's always right by his best friend's side, whether Scott is trying to kill him or needs help solving a murder.

I think there are a lot of analogies one could elicit from Stiles. He says a lot about what "normal" people can accomplish. He's a great example of loyalty and acceptance, regardless of others' faults. He uses his God-given talents to solve problems and bless the lives of those around him.

I just really like this kid.

On paper, you'd think he's unremarkable. But in my mind, he's the reason the show works. That's probably true of a lot of people close to you, right? People who view themselves as ordinary. People who think they don't measure up to their friends. Do you have a Stiles in your life? If so, go tell them how great they really are.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Dark Side of 'Friends'

So I had a week off school. It was Easter Break and I had big plans to work extra hours and write the bulk of my final papers. Instead, I fell head-first into three books: the Breathing series by Rebecca Donovan.
If you follow me on Goodreads, you might have seen that I didn't give these books particularly high ratings. Last night as I was making dinner and missing Evan (the main male character in the books), I started wondering why that's so. I don't really have an answer other than that I got really bugged by the narrator, Emma, in every book. But aside from my personal annoyances, taking this series as a whole, I have to admit that they are masterfully written. You really saw Emma grow up through the three books. You felt her depression. You felt her fall in love. Rebecca Donovan really did an incredible job. I don't know whether I recommend these books or not; they left me mopey and moody all weekend, but I kind of love that.

But that's not actually what I meant to write about.

You see, after I finished the third book I restarted Friends.  I've watched the series countless times, but I couldn't remember what episode I had last watched. So I started over again with the Pilot. Suddenly it hit me: Rachel. Rachel had a daughter named Emma. Emma's mom's name is Rachel. If you've read the Breathing series, you know where I'm going. If you haven't read the series and you think you might want to, stop reading this post now. I'm not going to hold back on the spoilers...

The Breathing books are all about Emma, a girl who was abandoned four years earlier by her mother, Rachel. OH. MY. GOSH. The Breathing series is a story of the sad life of Ross and Rachel's child!!! Of course Rebecca Donovan renamed the other characters! Otherwise it would have been even MORE obvious.

We've always wanted to know what happened to the Friends after the finale. And now I know! So, based on the books, we know Ross and Rachel never got married. We also know that Ross died when Emma was little, and after that, Rachel went off the deep end (well, no surprise there). Rachel becomes an alchie, and she ends up leaving Emma with Emma's uncle...but wait. Ross doesn't have a brother. Of course he doesn't! To protect identities, Rebecca Donovan also changed genders. Emma didn't go live with her father's BROTHER. But instead with his only sibling, his SISTER, MONICA and her husband, Chandler. Jack and Leyla are, obviously, the twins we met at the finale of Season 10.

Now, Friends fans, this part is going to hurt. With the switching genders, I'm not sure if Monica is Carol or if Monica is George. Either way, either Monica or Chandler is super abusive and tries to kill Emma while she lives with them. Whoa.

Then, of course, in the second book, Rachel comes back to us. She's still super hot despite being a little older. Of course, we always knew that would be the case. I mean, look at Jen now.
Of course beautiful, young Jonathan would want to hook up with her. And here's some kind of good news for Rachel: she's still friends with Phoebe (she's just named Shannon in the book). Yeah, you know, Shannon who takes care of Rachel when she's drunk. Shannon that took care of Emma when Rachel was in the hospital. Of course Shannon is Phoebe. (Or maybe her name was Sharon...I don't know. I don't retain details like names when I'm reading.)

So the question on everyone's mind at this point is: where's Joey? I'll tell you. He's still just being Joey. He only makes a brief appearance in these books, and I can't even remember his pretend name. But he shows up at Rachel's poker party and starts hitting on Emma, and that's how I knew it was him.

So...anyway. Did I just spend too much time writing a pointless blog post? Yes. Should that time have been spent on schoolwork? Yes. Do I regret it? Not at all.