on American history.

Because I'm waiting on a few clearances before I can start my internship, I was kind of bummed today while everyone else started their new job. They all looked so great and professional. As Dr. Goodliffe told us, "you gotta look good in DC!" While I really do wish I had started today, I can be grateful for the chance I have to really wear this city out before I'm a 9-to-5er.

Today I spent the afternoon in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The two and a half hours I spent there weren't enough to get through one of the three floors there. It was incredible. I guess it's no surprise that going to a museum (especially one at the pinnacle of one of my majors--American Studies) is a personal and almost spiritual experience. But I was sort of caught off guard when certain exhibits moved me. The very first exhibit is one featuring the enormous flag hurled at the victory of the War of 1812, when Francis Scott Keyes was inspired to write the Star-Spangled Banner. I've never felt strongly about the flag until today. It was beautiful and felt monumental. I was also especially touched by the Abraham Lincoln exhibit, called "An Extraordinary Life."

It started out with an excerpt from an incredible poem, written by Lincoln in 1846 (entire poem here).

My child-hood home I see again,

And gladden with the view;

And still as mem'ries crowd my brain,

There's sadness in it too--

O memory! thou mid-way world

'Twixt Earth and Paradise;

Where things decayed, and loved ones lost

In dreamy shadows rise--

I range the fields with pensive tread,

I pace the hollow rooms;

And feel (companion of the dead)

I'm living in the tombs

Obviously, this is a good starter to a tearful 30 minutes in memory of the man we love. I really can't put my finger on it--the flag or President Lincoln. I've never been able to figure out why America has been so important to me. I can only reflect on all the times I've felt it is important. With my study of international development and my experiences in India, I have to often wonder, why do I want to study America? What's the use in that? Who am I really helping? But for some reason, this country and its rich history sit inside sacred places of my heart. I'm not sure I understand it fully now. But I know I can trace these feelings to several influential people.

Mrs. Howell, my AP U.S. History teacher, junior year of high school. She was passionate and definitely motivated us to be the same. She taught us to question typical readings of historical events. For example, the first day of class we had to read an American Indian account of Christopher Columbus. It was brilliant. I'd never been exposed to such a critique of the discovery of America. She also made us dress up as significant players of the Progressive Era. I remember her wonderful monologue as Abigail Adams. She prepared us for the AP exam so well.

When I got to college, Dr. Kimball taught my American Heritage class. He also taught with perspectives I'd never heard before. I learned a ton and by the end I knew I wanted to be a TA for American Heritage. I really was never able to pinpoint why though. I just knew it was something I had to have. And now two years later, I'm positive I can't go back to BYU and not TA. I love that class. And I love teaching it.

My first semester TAing was with Dr. Holland. Dr. Holland, not surprisingly, also brought a viewpoint to the table that I hadn't thought of before. I feel I can contribute most of the emotions I felt about Abraham Lincoln today, to him. Remember this post? These facts and Dr. Holland's teachings/writings about Lincoln replayed in my head as I examined his top hat and compared the size of my hand to his. Not only did Dr. Holland motivate me every single lecture to study America and to help solve its problems as well as adhere to the founding and the Constitution, he also advised me so many times on what to do with my life. He made himself so accessible and made time for me whenever I dropped by. When I was having a dilemma about my major (as I do most semesters), he gave me wise advice--that doing what you loved was never selfish. And that I should do what I loved, which happened to be American Studies. I'm so grateful for his guidance in my life, and not surprised that his voice was ringing in my head in the Lincoln exhibit.

And since I've pursued American studies, things have only gotten better. Dr. Sederholm is a brilliant humanities professor who never lets his students forget to ask, what is an American? And with Dr. de Schweinitz this semester, I've gained an incredibly imperative point of view that shouldn't even be considered a "point of view," but should be mainstreamed and curricular--the African American side of American history. Best class I've taken at BYU--hands down.

I don't know why I'm a patriot, but the truth is, I've never felt so patriotic as I did today, standing, weeping, in that museum. And I hope I can narrow in on my patriotism a little more and figure out why American means so much to me. This city definitely holds some of the answers. I know this is where I'm supposed to be. I don't know if I'll ever come back to DC, but for now, this is where I belong.


dc's the bomb.

i've gotten less stoic and more bieber-feverish in the last couple years since i started this blog. hence the title of this post.

I arrived in Baltimore around 9 p.m. Friday night and with the help of some fellow cougars, made it safely to the Super Shuttle which took me to my new home in downtown Washington DC. The first few hours of my residence here I was definitely honeymooning. I loved it.—even though it was dark and all I really saw were the trees lining the highway, a few highway exits to NASA and NSA (employees only), and the back of the Watergate. I got to chat with my shuttle-mates and talked a little with the shuttle driver.

The Barlow Center (where I live) is close to everything. It’s on Pennsylvania Avenue (the White House is on the same street, about 10 blocks away) and has the familiar carpeting and artwork of your regular LDS Church. We BYU students live on the 3rd and 4th floors of the church office building/institute. It’s quite roomy and actually quite nice. I like it.

On Saturday, first things first were to go grocery shopping for the essentials. Our nearest grocery store is a Trader Joes, just across the street. However, my roommate Natalie and I, along with Becky, made the trek down to Watergate Safeway. It’s in the Watergate. Weird slash cool, right? DC just passed a law in January that grocery stores must charge .05 cents for every plastic bag you use…as an incentive for people to bring their own reusable bags.

At the checkout I dropped my wallet. The cute woman checking me out was very adamant that I pick it up before I do anything else. I guess it was at that point I realized that crime was kind of a big deal in this city. I’m going to watch out a little more carefully.

The whole day was full of Georgetown—the cutest little shopping district I’ve ever seen. We ate a big, wet pizza for lunch in front of a jazz band (whose drummer was super mellow playing the drums, but we had just seen him in the pizza place 15 minutes before—completely bent out of shape because there was “cheese all over this pizza man!”).

By Saturday evening a lot more interns had arrived. We all went to Georgetown (again) to eat dinner and “bond”—both of which we did. After a savory crepe, Peter, Trevor, Mandy, Seth and I went to the waterfront. It was beautiful.

As Peter kept reminding me, I need a vista. In other words, I still don’t feel oriented and would like to find a high place to get a view of the city. I think air travel (airplanes, helicopters, hovercrafts, etc.) can be highly disorienting. I feel like I sat down in a seat, slept a little, read a little, and then I was in another place. But with no transition, there was not time for adjusting. And now I’m just here.

Today, getting to church was a journey. Once we got there, it seemed fun but overwhelming. After talking to my mom, reading a little, and taking a nap, Kailee, Russell, Peter and I went exploring. My first time to the Lincoln Memorial. It was incredible. I thought I would be disappointed because I always imagined my experience of the Lincoln Memorial to be tourist-less and peaceful. Obviously, this is unrealistic—which I realized when I got to DC. There are so many tourists! Although it wasn’t like I anticipated, it was meaningful and awesome, in the true sense of the word. I loved it.

We continued to the Vietnam memorial, World War II, Washington monument, and then to the capitol building. We found this great little nook just near the capitol that looked like it belonged in Lord of the Rings/Disneyland. Great combination. We rode the metro home, which I really love. I am slightly scared of it—anyone could fall right in there and get smashed to death by that thing. And also, what if it crashes?!—but I really love it.

So far the verdict is positive. I keep using the word overwhelmed, but I don’t think that’s right. I feel confident that I can do everything I want to and more in the next three months. I do feel inadequate. And I feel like I wish I had my friends with me. Shopping in Georgetown would have been so much more fun with Ariel and Lene (not to mention Sephora with Dani). And riding the metro would have been great had I been with someone to tease me about being scared. I would have liked my mom to be around when we passed the beautiful parks between 15th and 25th. I wish Audrey and Lynne and Ryan were here to show me around this big ol’ city. Or my sisters to enjoy a Georgetown Cupcake with.

Note to self: next time you go somewhere special, bring someone to share it with. But alas I ventured here on my own, and promise to make new friends to begin to enjoy this city with. Surely with time I will love the people I’m with now and love DC even more.

66th relief society south.

kate. brittany. audrey. melinda. lucy. emily. (this is seriously how they were standing. all i had to was nag them to hold still while i took a picture with my unreliable camera).

kate + melinda.

audrey + brittany.

i love these girls and will miss them. aren't they beautiful?


the best day of my life.

i came in 51st out of 99. bottom 50%...not bad.

not really the best day ever, but i seriously had so much fun running the Commit to Virtue 5k on saturday. it was hosted by an anti-pornography group on campus, and it was my first ever race! my friend Lynne and i registered for it and talked through our life theories (mostly gleaned from Gilmore Girls and Runaway Bride).

all i can say is, i felt better than i look like i feel in these photos. i remember when kate ran her first marathon. of course, i also remember watching my mom and dad run marathons as well, but i was too young to have experienced meaning as i did when i watched my sister kate. i know many people feel this way when watching marathoners. it is just so moving to see them run 26.2 miles! it's incredible and kate seemed to do it with such ease. i have never believed that i could run a marathon, but boy do i want to. seriously, they are all just so successful.

i felt a tiny glimpse of what it must feel like to run a marathon--success! and while the first mile or so was difficult and the steady incline up University Parkway was long, i finished. and that is something i want to feel again. i wish i could feel that way every time i run. do i have to pay $12 and wear a special t-shirt to feel happy while running? i feel rejuvenated after the Commit to Virtue 5k.

friday was my last day teaching American Heritage (for a while at least). i was sentimental but also excited. this semester i taught my favorite batch of students i've taught in the 2 years i've been TAing. i was happy to be with them and sentimental--not sad--about it ending. remember when i applied for the job, and then got it? oh man it was a dream come true. and still is. i'm guessing no job is perfect, and this one certainly wasn't the exception, but as i stood there in my very favorite lab of students, i felt that what i've been doing is something good. that there is a purpose for American Heritage and that me being a TA for it also had a purpose. and then, at that moment, I realized I was going to DC.

at the end of my Amer Her career and the moment of realization that I'm going to be interning with USAID in DC, i felt clarity that i haven't felt in a long time. i felt a sense of direction. obviously, i have no idea where i'll end up. i have a few ideas about what i want to happen--but regardless of what the specifics are, i hope i can count on doing something that contributes to society, that alleviates suffering, and gets our society closer to its ideals.

i keep saying to myself, 'yep. this is it. this is right.'

my friend buzzed this quote the other day: I realized that if I understood too clearly what I was doing, where I was going, then I probably wasn't working on anything very interesting...Work that really counts pushes us to the brink of confusion. --Peter Carruthers


anita's makeover.



so, some people requested a before and after series from anita's mini makeover. here it is! isn't she lovely. we seriously didn't have to do anything but put a little blush and a little mascara on her beautiful, blemish-free face.


candy counter.

Candy. from amy mcdonald on Vimeo.

this is just one of the projects i've done this semester. i really like audio slideshows. i like audio. and i like photos.


if every day could be like this. .

dani + me.

brad + rachelle. + dani.



the betrothed. steve + ariel.


ted + lene.

we had a picnic last sunday. it was like magic/time standing still.
now, finals.


anecdote of the jar.

I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion everywhere.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.

Wallace Stevens, 1923

eng 293 forever.


cute idea.

isn't this a cute idea? i don't know if i would take the risk that someone i love wouldn't blow it up. via FPO.


where i want to live. don't you love this light/white/use of eclectic color?