Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mahler (not to be mistaken for somebody who goes to the mall)

I'm not the biggest fan of classical music. Well I don't mind it so much if I don't have to sit there and watch it being played. Once when I was attending an hour long student violin recital with my room mate Belinda, I had a sudden epiphany before I fell asleep in the middle of it: I will not let my kids learn piano or violin because I don't want to have to sit through their concerts and pretend to enjoy them. Call me the wicked mother, but at least I will not be a hypocritical one.

Which was why it was with dread that I agreed to go with Andrea to a symphonic concert up in Salt Lake city last weekend. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Utah orchestra were performing "Mahler's 2nd Symphony" and it was apparently going to be a big deal. As I wriggled into my seat, I glanced at the program, trying to read up on the next two hours of my life. Skipping over all the fancy music terminology, all I could glean was that it was going to be about a hero's funeral, nostalgia about his past, and eventual resurrection. Intense stuff.

Even without lyrics, somehow the music spoke and unfolded the story to me as I could have never imagined it. In my mind's eye, the hero morphed into a courageous but convoluted figure - he was disciplined yet passionate, tender yet crude and his funeral - oh those cellists! Their bows hacked the poor man's soul into pieces, lamenting his passing yet confining him to the bounds of mortality. But wait! The bugles sounded in the distance - could it really be? The choir of angels appeared and summoned fallen soldiers from remote lands and star-crossed lovers from their watery graves and called the most common of the commoners to stand forth to be resurrected.

By the time the symphony ended, I was sitting on the edge of my seat, mesmerized. One of the music buffs we rode back with claimed that Mahler had "made his weekend, no wait, his week, no, his Thanksgiving!" To which, his equally enthusiastic friend upped his game and claimed that Mahler had made his year. While I did not think that Mahler was life-changing, it was probably life-changing for my future children: sorry kids, it's back to the piano for you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What happens in Vegas

What happens in Vegas . . .

You can probably tell after reading my Subway post that I really need to work on being more spontaneous. So in an effort to throw all caution to the wind, I agreed to go on a random road trip to Las Vegas last weekend, not knowing quite what was going to happen or where I was going to sleep. Being a bunch of squeaky-clean Mormon kids, we spiced up all the Casino touring with a good dose of Utah fun, a.k.a. photo scavenger hunts. Random people would jump in our photos and one even asked for a kiss from a girl in our group. We finally succumbed to peer pressure at 3 a.m. in the morning - in order to fit in a little more, we all went and bought slurpees at 7/11 just so that we would have something to drink as well. Vegas was also the one place where I was so keenly conscious that I was underage. It also didn't help that I didn't have my I.D. with me half the time :P

My roommate, Dawn, and I were about to head back with our original group the next day when we realized that our stuff were locked in a hotel room and the people who had the key were gone bailing another member of our group out of jail. Ok, that was an exaggeration, but he was detained by the police in a holding cell. He got out fine but that meant that our ride left and we were left in Vegas for another day. More drama ensued but eventually we made it home safe and sound. This last spontaneous stint was very uncharacteristic of me but at least not I'm one step closer to being more comfortable out of my comfort zone.

Stays in Vegas

Las Vegas is gaudy. Everything is bright and over the top. Everywhere I looked was loud makeup, exaggerated laughs, and extremely tight outfits. Billboards scream for your attention and every casino was designed to lure in those lucky few who could win hundreds or those unlucky many who would lose thousands. Sometimes, I'm embarrassed to look left or right, so I stare at the ground instead, which is even worse, as it is covered by calling cards. It is a city where people lose their inhibitions, conforming to the general practice of playing to your lowest denominator. As I walked by one casino, I heard over the loudspeaker an ad that went something like this, "Show the world that you are a sinner. Let us tempt you." I could not have summed up Vegas better myself.

When we got home to Provo, I threw all my smokey Vegas clothes in the laundry immediately. What happened in Vegas can stay in Vegas, thank you very much.

Not wired the right way

I have always thought it is interesting when boys write "Be Mine!" on some sort of a card or say it to me. The image in my head isn't one of red valentine's day hearts carefully cut out on construction paper. Instead, I see clawing hands clasped around my vulnerable shoulders, making sure that I can't run off. There is a sense of possessiveness embedded in that phrase - some sort of jealous frenzy that is waiting to be unleashed. The passion behind it heightens to a whole new level when it is all in CAPS LOCK or when it is accompanied by multiple !!!

To me, those two little words are absolutely suffocating.

Somewhere in my socialization process, I must have missed a couple lessons on how not to think too much when boys tell you that they like you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Habits comfort me. And eating at Subway for lunch is one of them. I was introduced to Subway rather late in my life but ever since I took that first bite, I was hooked. I go to the Subway at BYU quite a bit so much so that I recognize a new employee when I see one. I sort of know their shifts. I even know who is better at wrapping sandwiches and who is better at cutting the bread. When I reach for my wrapped sandwich, I normally can tell whether it would be tightly packed or not. I know that I need exactly three napkins if I have a cookie with my sandwich. And of course, I know just how much water to fill up in my cup so that I would have just enough to quench my thirst after my sandwich.

I used to pride myself on knowing my sandwich so well. There was this beautiful precision that I appreciated. But yesterday something changed subtly. I was just reaching for my wrapped sandwich when the cashier interrupted this familiar scene as she looked at me and said, "Wait, do you come here every day?" I mumbled a quick reply and turned away, embarrassed. I felt like my dad that one time when he walked into a Hilton hotel in Tokyo and the bell boy greeted him by name. All of a sudden, I realized that I have gone to Subway one too many times. Somehow, by wrapping around myself the comfort blanket of habits, I have become downright predictable and unadventurous. Over my 6-inch chicken breast on Italian herb and cheese bread that day (the same sandwich that I eat everyday), I resolved that I would do more to put myself out of my comfort zone.

Today, after an hour long of microeconomics, I unconsciously headed toward Subway once more. When the same cashier asked me what I wanted, I held my breath and made a quick decision: Roast beef on Italian herb and Cheese please! She seemed startled. There, I showed her. I could shake things up once in a while too.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The law of attraction

I'm considering going to law school so I've been to quite a few pre-law events recently. I can't help but notice that these events generally attract certain types of personalities. At the risk of offending some die-hard future lawyers (Andrea!), I present to you my shameless stereotypes:

Slick hairdo combined with ultra shiny shoes and a legal note pad in one hand. They raise their hands several times eagerly to ask "out of the box" questions but somehow just seem to annoy the heck out of everybody else. I really don't know why but whenever they speak, others in the room just tend to roll their eyes. You get the sense that they would climb on top of you if it means getting up the rankings just one more notch.

The Harvard dean of admissions came to speak at BYU and there were probably around 90 people in the room. I counted 13 girls. 6 of whom I was pretty sure were there accompanying their bf/husbands/fiancees. Whenever somebody brought up how hard it was to get into Harvard, this girl in front of me would whisper (what I imagine to be) sweet nothings in her husband's ear to encourage him. It must be nice to be so supported.

They are just shopping around for law schools. Not a single clue which one's better than the others. Just know that Harvard is probably somewhere up there after watching Legally Blonde. Probably just woke up one morning and said, "I think I'm going to go to law school." I know I did.

Your standard law buffs. Not quite as die-hard as the gunners but more serious than the "tourists". They feel that they are meant for law school and will work hard to get in, but probably not break their backs doing so. They appreciate the pizza at the events as much as the speakers. Generally nice, down-to-earth people.

Here are some photos just in case you haven't figured out which type I think I am:

Me playing the tourist in front of the Supreme Court

Dressing up as the Supreme Court Justice!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The gift of feeling lonely

I don't feel lonely very often. I've always been able to reside within my own thoughts and walk around examining my memories or exploring my recent experiences. I love to be alone sometimes, just so I can enjoy my own company. That's why, for me, the rare occasions of feeling lonely is an indirect gift that I should learn to treasure.

To me, being lonely and feeling lonely is different. The former is where you are left to your own devices, with no familiar face around to smile at you. The latter is where you are surrounded by loving faces, but yet you feel so detached. You may be joking, making a room full of person laugh, but you alone know that you are not smiling underneath.

There is something wistful yet beautiful about loneliness. No one really understands her until he has walked a mile with her by his side. Hence no one really understands a lonely person until he has felt lonely - utterly, dejectedly alone - at least once in his life. Perhaps that's why, for the sake of others, we should embrace loneliness and walk a while with her.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

I got this fabulous recipe from Sis. Ferguson in Hong Kong. The first time my room mates and I made it, we were astounded. This is the perfect chocolate cake for college students since it literally took 5 minutes and the only dishes I had were one cup and a spoon!


4 Tablespoons flour
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 Tablespoons milk
3 Tablespoons oil
3 Tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
a small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug
Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high). The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.

EAT! (This can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous). Now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!