Finding Nora!

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Lets be realistic, whatever else happened, Nora was still going to be the highlight of the week. She entered the world Friday, weighing 7.5 pounds, and measuring 20 inches. Not so sure why we always put these statistics out there, but for what they’re worth, you have them. More interesting is the fact that she has dark hair, no eyebrows, or eyelashes, or teeth, doesn’t cry much (yet,) hasn’t eaten steak before, and loves Uncle Hunter. That’s Nora. Tanner says she is “perceptive.” I didn’t get past “heavenly.” I went over Saturday night, held and rocked her for a little and then relinquished her to Annemarie. It was amazing to think that just a short time before, she was in heaven.

Now for the filler. This week was thanksgiving break. As previously stated, Monday I enjoyed work and had lunch with Pres. Young. Tuesday I had a free day. I went to school and worked on some assignments, mostly genealogy and was thrilled with progress in the Gerken-Hesse line. More to come hopefully. My professor was helping me, and I don’t exaggerate when I say that what I could have done in weeks, he accomplished in minutes. My roommates all went out of town for the break, so I was left with the apartment to myself. Tuesday and Wednesday nights, I discovered that ABC puts up SharkTank episodes on their website, and enjoyed watching some. My bedtime averaged before 10 pm for the week, which probably hasn’t happened since I was 12 And I woke up about 6 each day, able to work out and read and relax a little in the morning. A welcome respite from the usual school and work.

Originally planning to go with Tanmarie and her parents for thanksgiving at an extended family member’s house, I opted for Uncle Ben’s instead. We had a Thanksgiving feast, and it was nice to spend time, the whole day, with family. Sarah W. came down from Idaho, and that was a great surprise. We decided to do something on Saturday, and my first idea, was a game night. Sort of spur of the moment but it worked out. About 15 people came over, and we played some ice-breaker games, code name, and one other which had me laughing until I cried. But, to play it, it requires people never having played it before. Thus, I shall wait. I made cranberry muffins, sugar cookies, and put out chips and salsa for snacks. And water of course. The cranberry muffins turned out slightly burnt, and a bit misshapen, and  not wanting to sit on 24 muffins, I impressed myself by creating simple placards on index cards which read “Chips+Salsa.” “Cups for water.” “Sugar cookies.” “World Famous Ugly+Delicious Cranberry Muffins.” Incredibly, it worked and 20 muffins were eaten, and people were complimenting them, and leaving the sugar cookies which actually tasted good, much better than the muffins, relatively untouched.

Other noteworthy happenings: I unfotunately did not finish my paper for the BYU Religious Symposium. Looks like it’ll have to be next year. I I went to Swigs with a roommate on Friday. Its supposed to be a fantastic soda parlor. I ordered an Italian Soda and it was horrible!!! I had never been there before but have heard such good things. Now, I will have to return and try something else, just to see if its that bad, or if they forgot something in my drink. Like sugar.

Fique Firme!!!

 

Believe it or Not

First, just to clarify from last week, I am planning to leave my current apt, for a new one, but still stay in Provo. Unfortunately, the person who wanted to buy my contract texted me last Monday saying he had been on a waitlist for an apt complex for a long time, and they just let him know that a spot had opened up. So i’m still trying to sell it.

Wednesday, we had another bathroom adventure. My roommate clogged the toilet again, and left. I came back from the gym, didn’t even use it, but about to hop in the shower, and seeing toilet paper, flushed it. The water rose incredibly fast, and overflowed, filling the bathroom with water. Nasty, disgusting water. Still wanting to take a shower, and knowing the problem wouldn’t fix itself, I went to start mopping it up. And then, someone knocked on the door, which almost never happens. Half-naked, I opened it up, a panicked neighbor. To be exact, a neighbor who lives directly below us. He told me that water was pouring in their ceiling, and he wanted to know if someone was taking a shower. I told the truth- the problem is not with the shower. That didn’t make him feel better, but I promised to fix the problem quickly. I mopped everything up, took my shower, now that I really needed to be clean, and texted my roommate, raising awareness of the situation, and letting him know he could finish the clean up. He did. I think we both learned some lessons.

I was leaving that mess, to meet up with Tanner, and listen to BYU Philharmonic play. It was marvelous. They finished by playing Scheherazade by Rimsky-korsakov.

Thursday was lots of school, a dance test, an organ test, then a meeting of the Toqueville Society where we talked and debated about the influence of the Reformation on our society as a whole, and on the LDS church. I left having changed my opinion on a few things, grateful for the learning experience.

Friday after work, I got together with a guy from chess club. We met in the library to play a longer game, 45 minutes on each side. We had a fair amount of spectators come by, ask about the club, etc, but it wasn’t until we were done that two guys came up, one jubilant, congratulating my competitor on his victory and informing that he had won $10 off of him, which his friend confirmed by wistfully looking at me and asking, “10 dollars…How did you lose when you had the winning position early?” Impatient attack, and not castling, my friend. I feel your pain.

Friday night I went to Tanmarie’s and played games. And borrowed their car for my Saturday adventures. Super kind of them. But to back up a little,

Thursday, wanting to go out, I decided to go all out. I went up to a girl I did not know, and had never talked with, asked her name, conversed for a couple minutes and then invited her to get some ice cream with me on Saturday. She said yes, and made my day. So, Saturday, I drove(!!!!) to the football stadium, braved the cold weather, a cold team, and the UMass coach who won hands down for most swearing in the season. I returned home, quickly showered, and went to pick up my date, Lexie, a ballerina from St. Louis. We went to what is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, Rockwell’s Ice Cream. Of course, there was no parking, so we ended up having to walk a couple blocks. On our way, waiting for a crosswalk light to change, two bums came up to us. They said they liked my coat. And they thought it would look good on them. I politely declined, and they then left us alone. We enjoyed fantastic ice cream; I went with strawberries+cream and Lexie chose snickerdoodle. During our time at Rockwell’s there was one silence in the conversation, that lasted 20 seconds, which is actually pretty long. Try sitting at a table with someone, and timing 20 seconds before saying anything. I feel comfortable with silence, and was savoring the dessert, but saw her twitch and knew I should say something. Preferably something that doesn’t increase the awkwardness. So, I asked her what grocery store chains they have in St. Louis. BANG! Its said if you get kneecapped once, you can still make it out, however painful. But, I followed her response by saying, “I know that was a weird question, but I’m just really interested and fascinated by grocery stores.” BANG! Man down. However, overall, I enjoyed it, and believe it went well. I brought Tanmarie’s car back, met Annemarie’s mother, and we played a game of scrabble. Me and Tanner fought to the end, but I played “THrEADING” and that was enough to claim the victory. And, I took advantage of my time there, and did my wash. For free.

Sunday, I taught family history class. I also made it a point to try and meet anyone I didn’t know already. Including Shelby, who I talked to briefly. There was a face-to-face event with Elders Oaks and Ballard happening that night, and Elder Ballard in his visit to BYU on Tuesday had made a special invitation to bring a friend. I went and invited everyone I home teach, but no one was going, so I decided to ask Shelby. Of course, I don’t have a car, so that made me find someone in the ward who did, and invite them to double with me. He, Jordan, wasn’t planning on going, but I promised him blessings, (and a date,) and he agreed. I went and invited Shelby, and her roommate. All four of us had a great time. Shelby is from Pleasant Grove, UT, served a mission in Cleveland, and works full time at DoTerra.

Monday, I had a fantastic time at work, and had lunch with my mission president. Pres. Young, which was THE highlight of the week. He works relatively close to me, so we had set this up a while back. I won’t include everything here, my separate type up is three pages, but know that we talked and talked for an hour and a half. Actually, I basically just listened, happy to hear, and trying to soak up as much wisdom as possible. I left thoroughly touched and inspired. And I’ll just add, he might have the best proposal story I’ve ever heard. I almost cried. And of course, when that thing happens, I ended up going home, and having a candlelight dinner for one, (of fish, spinach, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes,) writing thank you letters, listening to classical music, and reflecting on my life. And finishing this letter.

Dancing with Cougars

First, a Happy Birthday to Tanner. I’m just coming back from his birthday party, good times, and I feel like I always leave a better person after spending time with AnneMarie and him. It’s been an evening full of games and food. Specifically shish kebabs of peppers, pineapple, mushrooms and chicken. That had been marinated for 12 hours. As AnneMarie says, Tanner’s food has to taste good and look aesthetically pleasing. (they prepared it all). And then lots of ice cream, and brownies and lemon bars. Good stuff. Saturday, we also celebrated his special day by going to a movie, Murder on the Orient Express, and then playing games in the evening. Earlier, about a week ago, asking me to come to the movie, Tanner said that it would be so fun, they would all dress up like characters from the film, and really get into it. Well, I’m not the type of person you need to call to remind about something, like giving a talk in church, etc. I don’t forget. And thus, I watched the trailer to get an idea, and dressed up. I was subsequently picked up by TanMarie, who had on gym clothes. And we were then joined by others. In gym clothes. #fake news. They got me good.

Of course, there’s a little more to the story than just that. That morning, I had spent grilling with my charcoal grill and watching football, (I also cooked the kebabs which makes my new favorite hobby BBQ’ing) and was eating my steak quickly to finish in time. When, I heard shouts for help coming from the small gym in the clubhouse. I went over to look, and the lone athlete had dislocated his shoulder and asked me to put it back in. I never took anatomy in school or anything similar which might have explained his wails that almost cracked the glass doors, but hey, after a couple tries, his shoulder went back in. Then, I returned to finish my steak. Of course, I was now five minutes behind schedule and texted Tanner to let him know. I wanted to make sure I had time to change and wouldn’t be the only one not dressed up. C’est la vie. But hey, steak, a good movie, better company, and games all in 24 hours? Even if you throw in a scary dislocated shoulder, it was still a nice day.

Friday, was also a memorable day. I had work off, because of Veteran’s Day. However, my boss called on Thursday wanting to know if I would come to his house and do a concrete project. I couldn’t because of prior commitments, but appreciated the offer, and the trust. Those prior commitments included meeting with Roger Minert, world-renowned german family history specialist. He isn’t just an expert in the field, he is the expert. He is teaching my class on that subject, and I’ve already learned a lot, but it was amazing to spend an hour and work through some tough problems on our tree. The main goal is still to find where Frank Schenewark and Fam. lived in Germany. I sprinted from that meeting back to my apt, changed clothes, had lunch, and was back on campus for my 2nd stab at Dancesport. This time we were dancing the quickstep, and I had put some serious practice time into it, and we were looking good! Alas, it was not to be, as disaster struck and we failed to advance. Everything went wrong. Another couple bumped into us, we were thrown off, and instead of fixing the slight damage at that point, we tried to keep going without missing a beat, and that made us go downhill faster than Paul Bunyan could fell a tree. It was  disappointing. And to add to the forgettable finish, I had given my camera to someone, but they couldn’t figure out how to film us until half the dance was over, and then didn’t know how to zoom in.

 With my friend who won one of the Latin divisions. Coincidentally, we matched.

Friday night is date night (at least in theory). This week theory went into practice, and I went on a double date, with a friend from the MTC, Paul. I set him up with Rebecca Welch, and he set me up with Cassidy. It was actually a good time; we started off by going to the soap factory where we made our own custom bar of soap. I chose a flower design, blue color, and eucalyptus/pine scent. Cassidy went with a purple penguin with lemongrass. Paul and Becca made 12 tiny dinosaurs. The best? Definitely the one smelling like rootbeer. Paul says it will be his new car freshener. While we waited for the soap to set, we played banana grams, then went for ice cream at Rockwell’s. It was hard, but I branched out, only sampling my go-to cookie dough flavor, and instead choosing Apple Pie Ice Cream. Impressive, and worth a return trip.

I bucked the natural hesitancy for change, and put my winter housing contract up for sale last week. Only one person appeared interested, but that one person (in D.C. on an internship) got into contact, had his sister come over to look the place over, and tonight, asked to close. I’ll be leaving in December, (still looking for a new place to live,) and am mulling what the future holds in store. Stay tuned….

 

The Man in the Arena

This week saw my return, this time triumphant to chess  club. I was asked to be a part of the team sent to the Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Tournament. Unfortunately, it’s held in Columbus, Ohio during Christmas Break, so I don’t think I’ll be going.

I asked out a girl from one of my classes, and if you’re wondering how it went, let’s just say that this would be an appropriate place for the following:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Yes, judging by this poignant, impassioned speech, good ol’ Teddy Roosevelt must have suffered his dating defeats as well.

One of my roommates told me that getting turned down meant I could treat myself to something. I think he meant ice cream or a snickers bar, but I went and bought bitcoin. Those who know me, know that I am extremely cautious with money and that it takes months for me to buy the simplest (non-food) items. I wanted to buy Bitcoin before my mission, with the money left over, but my last day, the internet went down. I left instructions with the family to purchase it for me, but alas, it was not to be. At the time, the price was $200 something. It reached $7000 this week. 3000% gain in two years. Oh well. I still feel like it has a lot of room to grow, and expect to see it reach $10,000 before the end of the year.  And don’t worry, I’m not risking the farm, you are able to buy 1/ 1 millionth of a coin.

On Wednesday, dateless, I went with a friend to see the BYU Symphony play. They played a variety of dances, mostly by some Russian composers. And Friday, dateless, I went solo to see the Wind Symphony play. And won a gift card to a soda parlor while there, so, if I do get a date, i’ll know where to go. Tanner always kids me that my favorite instrument is a trumpet- something brash and powerful. No, I think I’d choose strings any day. However, after hearing the wind symphony, I must admit, it is overpowering what a good brass section can do. And similarly, while I think I like adagios better, the marches I heard were good pick-me uppers.

Saturday, I cleaned the house, did laundry, etc, and went shopping at Costco with Tanner and AnneMarie. The kitchen shelves were bare before, but have since feasted. Think fish, and cranberry sauce, and rolls. Yummy. Thats what happens when your teachers don’t assign any homework. I am up 4 pounds this semester, with a goal of between 7-10 more to get back to that pre-mish weight.

This weekend was stake conference and it was one of the best I’ve ever been to. Every talk was fabulous and inspiring. The Spirit was strong throughout the conference. And, Sunday morning we were sweetly serenaded to by a Polynesian Choir singing in Samoan. Oh yeah. If you haven’t heard it, put this on your bucketlist. They have the gift of music and sing happiness.

And Sunday evening I spent with Tanmarie again, joining them for dinner and fun games. Crazy to think I’ll be joining unclehood in like 2.5 weeks.