Thursday, January 27, 2011


Every now and then, sports fans have the opportunity to witness the magic of a good matchup combined with a super-excited crowd. Those types of games are the ones you tell your grandchildren about, the ones that take you back in time whenever the subject is brought up.

For me, I think the BYU-SDSU game of 1/26/11 will fall into that category. My parents talk about the times they watched Danny Ainge play for BYU, but my kids will probably hear about the times I spent watching Jimmer Fredette play.

The buildup to this game was enough to not only sell out the entire Marriot Center but to also bring in national interest. BYU hasn't beat a top-5 opponent since 1965 and the Marriot Center rarely sees a matchup between 2 top-10 seeders. Add San Diego's undefeated record to BYU's Jimmer-and-Jackson-lead team, and you know the game is going to be legendary.

We ended up parking by the football stadium and joined the throng of people braving the cold air to the Marriot Center. We sold our extra ticket right off the bat and soon found ourselves in the crowded hallways of the Marriot Center. Dad grabbed Mom's hand, and I grabbed Mom's hair, and we slowly made our way to our seats in Portal C.

Inside the arena was a throng of blue-and-white supporters. The students were standing up and leading the crowd in various cheers and chants. The crowd went wild whenever Jimmer touched a basketball. Fans talked (or rather, yelled) excitedly amongst themselves about the great matchup about to be displayed. The energy buzz was high enough to be heard or felt from miles around.

And then the game started.

The game was all we hoped it would be. It wasn't perfect--Jackson Emery didn't play very well offensively, BYU missed a million layups, and the refs made some outrageous calls--but both teams were battling hard througout. The crowd was insanely loud--at times I felt like I would pass out because of all the extra pressure on my ears. Nonetheless, the noise gave me the chills and just made me want to scream louder. This was the kind of noise you only experience when something truly great is happening, and the fans knew it.

We kept waiting for Jimmer to make a half-court shot, but sadly, it never happened, though he did make 5 threes. I think the best moment, however, was when Jimmer made a 3 with about 5 minutes left, and Jackson followed that up with a steal and a dunk, putting us 8? points ahead of San Diego. At that point, the crowd just about blew the roof off and I'm pretty sure my ears are still ringing from the noise. It was at that moment that we knew we were going to win. There was simply nothing San Diego could do to stop us.

In the end, we won by 13 points. No one could stop the crowd of people who stormed the court during the last miliseconds of the game, and I think some of the players were a bit afraid for their lives. There they were, having just given BYU its arguably best victory in history, and fans were streaming in to attack them. I'm glad we didn't have any casualties.

As we walked back to the car, we were surrounded by fans giving game summaries via phone or face-to-face communication, and I can't tell you how many times I heard someone say, "Jimmer had 43 points!" Everyone was grinning from ear to ear, and the swagger in our walk wasn't because of alcohol consumption but rather because of the dangerously high decibels we just walked away from. Talkshows on the radio couldn't say enough about the team and the unusual stats associated with this particular game.

It's not very often that you can count on both a good matchup and a victory. As intense as the game was, I was never worried that BYU would lose, because this team knows how to win. It didn't matter that Jackson only scored 4 points--he made up for it on the defensive end. Our backups played unselfishly and did what they needed to do to get a win, and a lot of time that meant handing the ball to Jimmer.

I don't know if this is the best basketball team BYU has ever seen, but I'm sure excited to be witnessing a new legend unfold. I don't think I'll have to experience any heartwrenching losses like those I've experienced with the Jazz over and over and over again--BYU will not lose because of its own faults, but rather because of another team's greater abundance of talent.

I like our chances. This team will go far (it already has gone far), and I'm not just talking about March Madness.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

BYU and its many rivals

In between watching training videos at work, I have been reading up on various blogs, news, and sports articles to keep myself from either falling asleep or going crazy. After the Jazz's 5th-straight humiliating loss and with BYU's upcoming game versus San Diego, there has been a lot of reading material in the sports category.

For most of my life, I assumed that Utah was BYU's only rival. At home, my dad always called the U "the Devil's University," and most of my extended family watched BYU football religiously. It wasn't even unusual to hear BYU-Utah references at school or even in sacrament meeting.

But apparently, BYU has more haters than I was aware of.

This was first brought to my attention last summer when I was on a group date with an even mix of BYU and Utah State students. The Utah State kids were constantly railing on the BYU kids (in a friendly manner, of course), and the BYU kids just didn't have any cool comebacks. In fact, I think a lot of us were a bit surprised by the heated arguments they had against our school. After one person person expressed his relief that the blue U on the back of his van was a U and not a Y, my date leaned over to me and said quietly, "You know, I find it ironic that Utah State hates BYU so much when half of BYU doesn't even know Utah State exists."

I thought it was a true and hilarious insight on the BYU-Utah State "rivalry." Some would argue that BYU students are too high-and-mighty to stoop to having a rivalry with a school like Utah State, but honestly, one rival is about all most of us can handle. Hating another school would require too much energy. After all, we have a lot of studying to do.

But apparently the U of U and Utah State aren't the only schools that make it their life goal to beat BYU at everything and to mercilessly mock its students. I just came across an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal that emphasizes the animosity many of the Mountain West teams have for BYU.

And all this time I thought BYU was always underestimated and ignored. That may be the case still with some people, but it's obvious that the BYU basketball team is definitely good enough to merit national interest and to spark a desire in all of the western teams to be the next one to beat BYU.

Rather than being annoyed or upset by all of this negative energy, I think it's quite awesome and a tad hilarious. BYU has a reputation like none other--it is extremely easy to mock BYU and its students--but some attention is better than none at all, right? It makes everything more exciting.

I will be joining the sold-out crowd at the Marriot Center tonight to cheer on my team. It's going to be an awesome game, and the more haters we have to shut up, the better. Call BYU fans arrogant, annoying, weird, or whatever you want, but there's no denying that we deserve the bragging rights in this case. Let the haters go on hating.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hello, Utah sky

I am not one of those people who hates winter. In fact, I spend a lot of time each year looking forward to it. The image of sitting in a warm family room while a storm rages outside, or the thought of going sledding at the golf course with a bunch of other "lawbreakers," is what draws me to this particular season, not to mention the magic the holidays bring.

But after New Year's, the warm fuzziness of winter goes away. The holidays are over, it's time to go back to reality, and we're looking at 10-11 months before we can feel the magic again. The recovery from Christmas break is the hardest transition I have to make all year.

But life goes on. Even without presents and Christmas smells, the new year brings a lot of good changes--even in the weather. For the first time all year, I actually saw the sky this week.

The worst part about winter for me is the bitter cold combined with the yucky smog. And all year so far, that's what we've been getting. The sun never really comes out, even if the day gets brighter, and the sky is always clouded over with grey . . . stuff.

So when I walked out of my office building on Monday, I was delighted to see blue skies, and even a bit of sunlight, above me. Even better, it was pushing 40 degrees. I hadn't realized how much I had missed the sky until I was able to finally see it. I guess I'm not totally immune to the whole winter depression thing.

My drive home has been even better because the sunsets have been fantastic, especially when I hit that corner in Spanish Fork and all I can see is orange and purple skies reflecting off the snow-covered mountains. Combining that with all of the pot holes that are STILL cluttering the road (despite UDOT's inconvenient attempts to fix them), I'm surprised I haven't run into a lot of accidents. Or, um, caused any. I know that I certainly get distracted when I see something pretty--my focus shifts from the road to trying to figure out how to work the camera on my iPod, and then to trying to hold it and the steering wheel steady as I try to capture the beauty I am seeing. I really should stop doing that, because I never get good pictures and it's just distracting me from enjoying the scene anyway. And it would probably be bad if I crashed into someone, althoug I am quite talented at driving without my hands.

Usually I wait till about February to say this, but I am ready for spring to get here. Enough of this cold, yucky winter. I want more blue, sunny skies. Please.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Technological headaches

I have been doing a lot of reading at work about technological stuff, and it's kind of made me rethink my whole take on technology. I have never really been much of a techie, but for the most part I believed that technology's main job, up until about 10 years ago, was to make your life easier.

I'm not so sure about that anymore. Recently I bought myself a 4th generation iPod Touch as a reward for getting a job. My brother covets it and is constantly trying to download useless apps on it (when am I ever going to need a light saber sound effect?) My favorite part about my new iPod, though, is that I can finally fit all of my music on it--no more screening through my playlists whenever I add a new album. I could care less about apps and wi-fi.

But unfortunately, the trend these days seems to be that everything should come in one package, that everything you own should be able to do everything your heart desires. Using my iPod example again, I can use it to access the internet, take pictures and video, play games, read e-books, take notes, measure my walking speed, calendar events, keep track of contacts, use it as an alarm clock, and--oh yeah--listen to music. And that's not counting all of the functions I haven't figured out yet.

So while it is cool to be able to take my iPod to institute so that I don't have to bring my scriptures, I see several major problems with keeping up with the latest technology: (1) the "best" technology changes every second, so while you may have just bought the world's coolest toy yesterday, there will be something better tomorrow, (2) it requires constant research to keep up with the new technology releases, and (3) what will I do if I lose my toy?

And that's just the beginning. I am one of those old-fashioned people who has a camera, an iPod, a cell phone, and a laptop all in SEPARATE devices. And I have hundreds of physical books that you can hold, smell, and touch. Many people today would either raise their eyebrows at me and think to themselves, "Someone's sure making her life a lot harder than it needs to be," or they will look at me pityingly and start informing me on all the great things I am missing out on.

And, I have to throw one more thing out there--I like my privacy. I am a bit notorious for never answering or returning phone calls (unless an immediate family member is calling me). I don't want people to be able to contact me whenever they freakin' want. True, I love email and the fact that it saves me from actually talking to people, but with all of the technological "conveniences" of our day, it's hard to take a break from life. Constant interuptions aren't making my life better, and sometimes I just don't feel like multitasking.

I have always been a proponent of quick and easy solutions, and I think the old-fashioned options of 2 years ago suit me just fine. I don't have the energy, or the brains, to keep up with all of the latest trends.

I used to think it was pretty funny that my grandpa doesn't know how to work a computer, but I think I'm starting to understand him a little bit better. Some things are better left untouched.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lessons learned from the 5 books of Moses

While I was at BYU, I tried really hard to focus my religious studies outside of the Book of Mormon and typical Mormon stuff, so I ended up taking a lot of bible classes. As a result, I am a bit obsessed with the bible now, thanks mostly to my Isaiah and Bible and Literature classes.

Despite my new fascination with the bible, I haven't actually read the entire Old Testament or even the entire New Testament. So a few months ago I decided to start from the beginning and keep going until I had read every page.

The main reason why I have never finished the OT, however, is because of the first 5 books. Well, more like books 3-5. All those laws and numbers are incredibly boring, and frankly, they don't really apply to our modern Mormon lives that much. So when I took Old Testament in seminary, my plans to read the entire OT rather than just the minimum requirements crashed when I hit Leviticus. A member of my bishopric at the time told me that Leviticus and Numbers aren't really that important to us to study anyway, so I gave up that notion with a sigh of relief.

However, being a new convert of the Old Testament, I decided to give it another try and stubbornly plow through every boring page of the 5 books of Moses.

And believe it or not, there are some lessons in there. I still read a lot of the laws and geneology dictations with glazed-over eyes and a cloudy brain, but when I forced myself awake I mananged to find a few nuggets. I started thinking about why God would take so much time explaining these laws at all in such specific detail, and it suddenly started making sense to me (started being the key word here). God wanted his children to remember him always, and I think all of the laws--from what not to eat to what not to do with your wife--were small ways of keeping God's spirit in your life. The Israelites had a very hard time grasping the one-god concept and they needed constant reminders of it. So I think all of those laws were issued to help the people remember who was really in charge so that they could receive abundant blessings.

The biggest lessons for me still came in the stories, however. I love watching the blessings promised to Abraham unfold throughout the 5 books of Moses. I can see personalities in some of the characters, especially the women, and this makes them all the more relatable. Reading this history of their lives truly felt like reading my own family history.

I've talked about this before, (click here, if you must), but the stubborness and childishness of the Israelites has always boggled my mind. They are completely taken care of, and yet they continue to doubt and complain. However, this is where the biggest lesson came in. I have often pictured the god of the Old Testament as a tyrannical god of fire and destruction. We see the Epytians endure plague after plague, and the Israelites themselves go through quite a bit of "purging." It is quite understandable that God would be angry or jealous, because the children of Israel do everything they can to warrant God's anger and jealousy.

But then there is the recurring phrase, "but God's hand was stretched out still" (or something to that effect). God may have punished his children, but he never abandoned them completely. He was incredibly patient--protecting them from their enemies, providing for their physical needs--and for the most part he went unthanked. Even Moses had his faith struggles.

So for me, the OT will no longer be ruled by the fire-and-destruction god. In his place is a patient, loving father who just wants his children to choose the right. All we have to do is remember him and keep his commandments and he will fight for us in the battle against evil. That's a pretty incredible promise.

If the first 5 books of the OT taught me this much, I'm looking forward to what the rest of the bible has in store.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Student vs. career woman

I am happy to say that I not only survived my first real week of a real job, but that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Getting up at 5:30 every morning—something that I haven't done since high school and which I never EVER wanted to repeat again—wasn't even that big of a deal because I had a very good reason for waking up. And doing most of my 2.5 hours of driving in the dark didn't even depress me one bit because I was just so happy about the way things were working out.

As much as I loved college, I looked at most of my classes as entertaining and informative, rather than, um, useful (except for my editing minor classes, of course). I was more dedicated to work because (1) I needed the money so that I could pay for my crappy apartment and buy yucky food, and (2) I needed to build up my resume somehow so that I wouldn't be left with nothing but a degree in English when I graduated from college.

However, even though I was very reliable and worked very hard with both my BYU internships, I was never able to fully overcome that student stigma. Most people seem to think that students are unreliable and incapable of real tasks—the only things they can handle are easy office duties and short projects. It wasn't so bad at the Humanities Publication Center—Mel was actually an amazing employer—but there was still the idea that school was supposed to come before work and that it was okay if I didn't live up to any grand expectations.

At times I appreciated the leniency I was given, because being a student really is hard and we need all the sympathy we can get. But toward the end of college, I was tired of it. I wanted to be a real, important member of a team and I wanted to be treated like an equal. I've never really been good at being at the bottom of the totem pole.

Having a full-time career—complete with benefits, a salary, and my very own fishbowl cubicle—was everything and more than I hoped it would be. I am not working primarily to get experience for something better—the things I do affect the real world in some way, and that is much more satisfying that simply "getting experience." And it has been surprisingly fun to work with salespeople rather than writers and editors. There's a bit more variety to interact with, and it is much less exhausting to work with a bunch of guys rather than a bunch of girls. Just sayin'.

In short, being a career woman is MUCH easier than being a student. No more trying to butter up your professors so that you can get that good grade or that good letter or recommendation. No more trying to learn additional skills that could possibly someday in the distant future give you an edge when you're looking for a job. And best of all, the career day ends at 5:00 p.m. When you're a student, there is never an end to studying, writing, and reading. I don't think I'll ever get over how cool it is to be able to go home at night and actually be done for the day.

I may be eating my words in a few months and wishing desperately for college life again, but for now I'm pretty content. :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The confusion of a new year

The transition from the holiday partying of Christmas to the stark reality of the new year has always been a very hard transition for me. Martin Luther King day is actually pivotal to my sanity, even though its close proximity to the long Christmas break may make it seem redundant.

So beginning a new year is always accompanied by panicked confusion. Below will give you an insight on what my thinking process has been like over the past few days:

Sunday, January 2
4:00 p.m. I still haven't managed to eat all of my darn stocking candy.
4:30 p.m. Those Christmas decorations are bugging me.
5:00 p.m. I can't remember how to add.
6:00 p.m. I kind of miss my blog. When was the last time I actually thought about something?
8:00 p.m. Remember, you don't want to go back to your life of nothing . . . It is a good thing that you have to go to work tomorrow . . .
9:00 p.m. Let's play a game! Oh wait . . .
11:00 p.m. Hm. I'm not going to get much sleep tonight.

Monday, January 3
7:30 a.m. I hope I remember how to get to work . . .
10:30 a.m. I could never be a salesperson.
12:00 p.m. There sure are a lot of guys working here. And none of them would ever argue about the origin of the word "travesty" or argue passionately for the serial comma. This is going to take some getting used to. :)
12:45 p.m. Apparently it's really weird to be a girl, like Lord of the Rings, and enjoy sports.
1:00 p.m. Where did I park my car?
5:30 p.m. My iPod is a fun toy.
9:45 p.m. It feels really weird signing a document that says so-and-so gets my money when I die.
11:00 p.m. Hm. I'm not going to get much sleep tonight.

Tuesday, January 4
5:40 a.m. Why am I in such a good mood?
6:57 a.m. It's really dark outside.
7:12 a.m. We should have our singing practices in the wee hours of morning because I can hit like 5 extra manly notes.
3:30 p.m. It is possible that I should thank Obama for the fact that I have a job right now.
5:20 p.m. So THIS is what it's like driving during rush hour in Salt Lake.
6:00 p.m. If I have to drive to and from work in the dark, I should at least get to watch the sun rise and set. Stupid smog.
6:15 p.m. Big trucks should not drive behind little cars.
6:30 p.m. I hope I have enough money for gas until payday . . .
7:41 p.m. Gah! Star Trek and NCIS!!!!! That's it. I'm leaving!