This post covers July 29th – August 4th. Disclaimer: It’s been one of the most influential weeks in my life.
Monday I made my second trip to Orange, CA. Thankfully, the flight left at 8:32 this time, and I had plenty of time to sleep and make it to the airport. And good thing, because I was stopped by security (my scriptures are always the culprit, the gold tinted paper and the density sets the alarms off rather frequently,) and then I WENT TO THE WRONG GATE. In a different terminal. It took me a bit to arrive, the whole time I was questioning why it would be in the other terminal, and sure enough, it was a different flight, albeit same airline, and then I had to run back to the right gate. I was huffing and puffing, and had the dubious distinction of hearing, “last call for flight 1749 to John Wayne Airport…We are looking for passenger Shanerk.” That name made me smile and chug the legs faster, and I made it onboard. The flight was uneventful, on a Boeing 717, which felt much more crowded than a 737 and I didn’t sleep much.
We arrived to a delicious breakfast, and once again I knew the pounds would be trying to come on. Lunch was catered, and frozen yogurt followed an hour later. In between the meals we heard from the c-suite execs and founders on their business history and where they see ListReports heading in the future. We finished around 5:30 and I crashed at the hotel for a little HGTV and laying on the bed doing nothing. Rested, I headed out and went walking to check out a couple restaurants. I made it to the first one, Lucille’s Southern BBQ, and my nose told me this is the place. Placing an order, I walked to the nearby Crystal Cathedral and explored in reverent awe.
The main cathedral was closed for an organ renovation and the secondary area closed at 5 pm (holding a life sized replica, scanned digitally and replicated of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling,) but the grounds were beautiful, and the cemetery extensive and hallowed.
I enjoyed my time there and then went back to pick up my tri-tip sandwich, beans, biscuits, and fries. So, so good.
Tuesday started off much the same, with breakfast provided once more. I erred, mistaking a cheddar and jalapeno bagel for an asiago. For lunch I returned to the Taco Shack for a California Burrito, and then had two hours to work. At three we did a sales team outing. Originally scheduled to be an Angels game, that changed to something sinister. We boarded a “party bus,” previously unknown and unheard of to me. Music was blaring, lights flashing, and there was a pole in the middle. Thankfully no one was onboard but the sales team. Nevertheless, the alcohol was flowing, and the 35 minute trip to Long Beach left my ears ringing. We arrived to take duffy boats out into the bay and canal and cruise around for an hour. That was enjoyable and the houses along our route were stunning. We exited to eat at a restaurant close-by and lets just say that the food wasn’t appealing unless you were hammered already. (Quite a few were.) We left that and rode the party bus back to our office and then hotel. The bus alone cost close to $1,000. Crazy. I am glad that my co-workers were very respectful of our decision not to drink. My testimony was strengthened as I sang to myself hymns and left the bus peaceful, with no expletive-laced music in my mind.
Wednesday is our weekly company meeting and it meant another delicious catered breakfast. Its from the same place every time and I can’t get enough of the hashbrowns and sweet potato pancakes. Sandwiched in-between work, I left to go to lunch with a co-worker, Denise, who heads our 100 person support team in the Phillipines. I enjoyed hearing adventurous outsourcing stories. We ate at Urth, which has an organic, hippie vibe. And delicious Reuben sandwiches. We worked until 3, when a company party started. We were celebrating Team Utah in California. They had the most delicious Thai food, and I ate all that I could before returning to the restaurant. The night before I had missed the presidential debate, and was glad to catch 90% of this one. It did not disappoint, and I am already excited for the next one. So far I am most impressed by Elizabeth Warren and Tulsi Gabbard. And Bernie Sanders, which goes without saying. His energy is contagious, alas his sincerity and belief in his plans is not.
Cousin Michael picked me up and we went to the mall for some Panda Express. It was great catching up, as this was the first time in 5 years since I’ve seen him. I t is great to see him doing well.
Thursday was my last chance to eat the free hotel breakfast, but I woke up not feeling hungry, not surprisingly. For lunch I ventured into the unknown and ate at a cuban restaurant, Felix’s, which exceeded my every expectation. I will be eating there at every return trip.
We finally had a full work day, and we left at 5 for the airport. Before our plane departed at 6:40, the exclamation point to the trip was put on by my first visit to California Pizza Kitchen. I slept well on the plane (which means a successful flight) and returned home without incident.
Friday it was back to the office, which ended up being a fantastically productive day, and we all left early. I bit the bullet, taking the van for an emissions test, step one on the road to Utah registration. The rest of the evening saw me go for a run, and workout, trying to start burning all these calories from the trip. I also hung up my Boston temple picture, and LOVE IT!
One co-worker in California asked me how I have energy if I don’t drink coffee, or energy drinks. I couldn’t help but laugh and responded that I try to go to bed at a decent hour, eat well and exercise. The amount of stimulants in the world is amazing. Besides the aforementioned drinks, there’s pills and powders. And music. It is nearly impossible to find somewhere that is quiet. Restaurants, gyms, workplaces almost always have music on. The comparison is easily drawn to the old slave ships, (think Ben-Hur) where the slaves rowed and a coxswain like person pounds the beat out. That is what much of the music has devolved to, with a constant beat designed to stimulate us and keep us going. Not thinking, but going.
Saturday morning I awoke early for a return trip to the gym, then went with William Gentry to Hruska’s, where we ate a few kolaches preparing for our evening visit to Pioneer Book. I took off from there to President Young’s, where he talked about his desire to become a garlic farmer, and I delivered another key lime pie and chocolate cream pie. Then it was to Oquirrh Mountain Temple, my first time visiting there. I quickly ate lunch, and picked up William to head to Pioneer book. With the purchase of a kolache, Pioneer Book gives you a buy one get one free. And William had two coupons, so we each picked up two books, and no one had to pay. It was very kind of him to think of me and share his coupons. Finally, John Carlson was waiting for me upon my return and we played three games of chess, remembered the good times, and caught up on what has been going on with us.
Now, to the really important parts. I’ve decided to go to Law School. A few events happened this week where I realized that I needed to do this. First, on Wednesday I watched the Democratic Presidential Debate. I realized that I couldn’t articulate positions as well as the candidates could on many issues, and nearly all have them earned J.D.’s. I couldn’t understand the nuances of the law that formed the foundation of their positions.
Second, while in California I read “To Draw Closer to God,” by Henry B. Eyring. He quotes Pres. Faust as paraphrasing a Sesame Street episode in which Cookie Monster has the option to receive for free a house in one month, a car in one week, or a cookie right then. Of course, Cookie Monster chooses the cookie. The original point was about chastity, but when I read the chapter, I knew that some of the decisions I was making were in order to secure immediate satisfaction and ease, instead of setting myself up later with things of greater value.
I realized that I’ve been going after money. Not necessarily in the easier to identify, “let’s get rich” view, but in perhaps the more pernicious “let’s avoid financial hardships”. Of course, that really means let’s forgo a little pain and stretching and let’s miss out on the bigger, more important rewards later.
To paraphrase something I read recently, John was exiled, Paul was jailed, Jesus crucified. Why do we assume God’s will for us is to have a great job, a happy life, and a large bank account? I’m comfortable where I am, but I know its not the place for me.
So, I shan’t be afraid of struggle. The end is worth the journey. Per Pres. Oaks, (another J.D.,) “The acquisition of knowledge is a sacred activity.”
Finally, I talked with Pres. Young on Saturday and he agreed that this was a good decision. Everyone I’ve talked to has said something along the lines of “I can that” or “You’d be really good at that.” I think this career choice best aligns my natural talents and provides me the best opportunity to reach my potential and help others for good.
The last experience I’d like to share was special, and I’ll include only part of it here.
I’ve mentioned Pres. Ballard’s quote before, that no other joy compares to the happiness that we experience when we are engaged in the service of our God. Reflecting on that statement, I committed to doing better, and wondered what I could do here in Provo.
And then, I caught a vision of myself in 25 years, sending my children off to Utah for school. I saw myself wondering what would happen, if they would stay on the path, if they would have good friends. I was worried. And fell to my knees, pouring out my soul to our heavenly Father, pleading for his help that they would make good choices and be ok. And at that moment, I was comforted by the thought that there would be other students to help them. To love them, and to serve them.
The biggest takeaway was right now, I need to be one of those “other students.” Right now, there are parents and friends on their knees, pleading with all the fervor of their souls that their loved ones will be ok. We have the amazing privilege, and responsibility to help with that.