Monday, November 11, 2013

Expectations vs. Reality, NYC and dating ridiculousness...

Life has been a whirlwind.  I have lived in Virginia for over a year now.  I can't believe it.  It's gone so fast and has been nothing like I was expecting. haha  I think frequently of the film "500 Days of Summer".  Particularly of the part where the film goes into a split screen comparing JGL's expectations going into an evening with someone he used to date, and the reality of what actually happened.  It amuses me comparing the two versions of my life--expectations and reality.  My life has not been the Rachel McAdams film that I had expected, but has brought a fair amount of hilarity, amazing people, challenging experiences (aka opportunities for growth haha) and lots of learning.
I thought I was going to go back to Africa this summer for work.  I was sooo excited about the idea of leaving my mediocre place of work and get to do something 100% fulfilling again with people I had given part of my heart to. fell through, which was really sad, but allowed for a brilliant thing to happen.  I called my sister and said, "Kim, Africa fell through.  I won't have a boring summer.  Wanna go to NYC with me?"  If you don't know my sister, you should.  She's wonderful in every way.  She agreed to join me in NYC and planning commenced on what was to be the most amazing sisters trip that ever did happen.  The first of many, we've decided.  

We went to a museum which was originally really not our cup of tea.  Just lots of weird art that we were having a hard time appreciating...until we stumbled upon this beauty:

It quite literally took my breath away.  We just stood in front of it for a while in awe.  Van Gogh, you quirky genius.  I love that you took a piece of paper and created something that took my breath away and made me very happy.  It was a beautiful moment.  Just happening upon "Starry Night".  Absurd and beautiful all at the same time.

We went to a broadway called "Lucky Guy" for the simple fact that Tom Hanks was the lead.  He is hilarious to me.  It was so cool to see him in real life.  The broadway was not my favorite of the ones that we saw, but seeing Tom Hanks was super cool.  Kim and I waited afterwards to catch a glimpse of him.  And that's exactly what we got.  But it was perfect.
As a side note, while we were waiting for ol' Tom to come out of the theater, Kim and I got to witness something equally exciting as it was hilarious.  There was a cop that was fiercely attractive and yet I was also scared of him.  haha  I know.   I've never experienced it before.  He made a great cop.  As a crook, I would get scared out of my mind at the sight of this gent coming in my general direction.  He was ripped, had distinguished eyebrows that gave him a stern look and a walk that commanded attention.  Yet despite being intimidating he was also fiercely attractive.  I cannot explain further because I have never before experienced something of the sort.  

Kim and I were standing amongst a huge crowd, flooding the sidewalks, waiting for Tom Hanks to come out of the theater.  They had us all fenced off, leaving the streets clear, and policemen on horseback were constantly shooing passersby out of the street.  The fiercely attractive cop was pacing the area where Kim and I were scrunched...and fenced in.  Kim said she saw the cop talking to others, looking in our general direction, talking about a pick pocket.  They stayed close to where we were standing but tried to act causal.  Kim and I were nervously excited, grabbed our purses a little tighter but were watching the cops and the door of the theater at the same time...not sure which plot line in our lives was more exciting.  After Tom left, there was a bit of a scurry as the cops arrested someone (who had been standing near us in the crowd).  Kim and I were a bit ridiculous as we nonchalantly walked up and down the sidewalk, trying to overhear what the guy was guilty of.  It turns out we didn't really need to be worried about our purses at all.  The guy had been rubbing up against women in the crowd.  haha Yes.  Gross.  And real.  Apparently our ruby jewels were what were actually in danger.  Terrifyingly handsome cop saving us from a pervert on the loose?  Check. haha 
We accomplished so many lovely things on this trip.  We went for a jog through Central Park, played in FAO Schwartz, laughed our way through the NBC store, drooled our way through Little Italy (because of both the italians and culinary successes in that part of town), visited Ground Zero, went to the top of the Empire State Building, did sealings in the temple, meandered Grand Central Station, quoted "Arthur" daily, and had nothing but delicious food...everyday.  She's pretty much my favorite travel companion to date.  We love each other to bits, never run out of things to talk about, laugh all day and love living every moment of our time together from early morning to late at night. We saw Cinderella, Peter and the Star Catcher, Lucky and...Once.  Oh my...can we just talk about Once for a second?

We got to the theater a little late, but we snuck in and sat down in the middle of the cast having a bit of a jam session.  The cast has probably ten people, all singing and playing their own instruments.  Violin, mandolin, guitar, accordion, etc.  Perhaps it's because it taps into a genre of music that I love, but I was swept away from the beginning.  It opens with the main character singing a song all by himself on his guitar.  The song is called "Leave" and holy crap bag...this musical had a hold of me from that song forward.  The music was gorgeous.  The cast was perfect.  And I felt such a connection with the main character and the phase of his life the leading lass gets him out of.  I'm so thankful for music and the capacity it has to inspire.  This broadway was one of the highlights of my trip.  I'm so glad I got to experience it with my sis.
It was hard to say goodbye.  My sister and I didn't dislike each other but nor were we super tight growing up.  I love that we get tighter every year.  She's one of my best friends.  I love our long talks, her constant support, numerous laughs, she's one of my biggest fans and I'm definitely one of hers.  I hate that I took for granted the years that we lived under the same roof.  But love that in spite of the distance, we're very close.  I love her and am glad we were able to share this trip together.  It was perfect in every possible way.

Since New York, I moved with one of the doctors that I work with, to an office in Fairfax.  It's not my dream job or what I hope to be doing for the rest of my life.  But I have a job, I'm financially independent, and my boss loves me.  Counting my blessings.


As far as dating goes, my dear has this last year been a learning experience.  I have learned that I attract a rare breed.  And unfortunately, for some reason, I date them.  haha I would love to compile all of my dating stories one day.  I have some pretty ridiculous stories.  Perhaps I can share them with my kids one day in a book entitled "Gentlemen that made it clear that your father was the one for me".  haha 

I dated a guy for a couple of months that is not a member of the church.  (I attract those a lot for some reason.)  He was really handsome and adored me.  I go to church every sunday with a bunch of guys in ties that just want to be my friend.  So having someone that recognized me as a catch, got my attention, and I felt like I could give him a shot. He, however, worked part time--in a grocery store, took 7 years to finish his associates degree, and two months into our relationship told me that he had lied about his age. haha Yeah, real.  Sometimes I think I'm getting punk'd.  I'm not.  It's just my life.  I sat by him in the car, in disbelief and said, " lied to me about who you were so that I would go out with you?  Right?  You know who else does that?  Sexual predators." haha He didn't think it was as funny as I did.  But I needed to help him understand that people don't do that and it's not okay.  Needless to say, I feel like I shouldn't be dating a man whose drivers license knows more about him than I do.  We broke up, and he continues to happily stock the produce at the neighborhood grocery store.  Good times.

My other favorite is the times when I've had a few dark chocolate skinned gents envision our children together (again, real...unfortunately) and how they'll have blond curly hair.  Cough...I hate to point out the punnett square in the room, but that doesn't make any sense.  We recessive folk don't stand a chance if we don't marry other pasty blonds.  But thank you for amusing me and creeping me out by envisioning the children that you and I will not be having together. haha 

As much as I have wanted to be the girl that gives guys the benefit of the doubt and give guys chances...I feel like I need to be very careful with this.  I realize now that it's good to keep an open mind, but don't waste his or my time if there's nothing there or in "waiting" to see if feelings will develop.  For some reason I've been allowing guys to take me out that have very different goals, contrasting views on religion (which is just non-negotiable to me), contrasting work ethic and greatly differing personalities.  Things I have learned:

  • If I don't want to be seen in public with him, that's a pretty good sign I'm not interested in him.  I should want to be able to say, "I'm with that guy."  If I don't feel that way, it's probably because I'm allowing someone that I view as a friend to date me.  And we should therefore just remain friends.
  • Relationships take work, yes.  But I should be happy.  In hindsight, all of the relationships that I've been in have been exhausting.  I've been tired, stressed out and not happy...probably because I'm forcing myself to stay in a relationship that the guys wants...and am ignoring the fact that I don't want it.  You should be happy. 
  • There is wisdom in going out on planned dates.  
  • Your patriarchal blessing is your friend.  I remember when I got my patriarchal blessing (I was 21), I was kind of disappointed that it didn't give me my future husbands name, where I would meet him and when.  haha I was really disappointed because I thought it was really vague and that he could be anyone.  Alas, in hindsight, if I had paid attention to my patriarchal blessing and the type of man God has promised me I'll marry, I wouldn't have dated any of the men from the past year.  They clearly weren't the right one.  It turns out, there is wisdom in having faith in Gods plan.
So here we are, a year in to my life here in Virginia.  It's been nothing that I had expected.  But I'm thankful for what I have right now.  Thankful for the mistakes that I have learned from and will not be repeating, and thankful for plans for the future.  I'm applying to grad schools in Social Work and Public Health.  I'm excited to further my education and to have a goal to work towards.  I don't like being stagnant.  I'm thankful for "Once" in helping me to understand that I can be "unstuck".  Til next post,


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Arizona, the Family Littles, Things I hear...

It's been a long time since I've blogged.  Surprise, surprise.

Things have been kinda crazy here.  I have lots of things to update you on.

My brother Adam graduated from Thunderbird with his Masters in International Business.  I'm very proud of him.  He's worked very hard and has a great job in Kansas with his darling little family.  Congrats poopsiekins.

My handsome nephew Hayze was born.  I am so glad it worked out that I got to stop by and see him for a little bit.  He's teeny tiny and completely perfect.  I was already in love with him from the texts that I had received when he was born but finally being able to hold him was the best.  I'm obsessed with him.  The cutest, most perfect little baby.

Aannnddd it didn't hurt that spending time with my new nephew also meant that I got to see my brother, lovely sister-in-law and these two ladies who make me laugh all the time.  It's out of control how cute they are.  I adore them.

Kimmy and her two gents were able to come to Adams big day as well.  Again, how is it possible that my siblings make the cutest kids alive?!  It's one of the hardest parts about living so far away...having to  only see pictures of these tiny people that I adore and not be able to play with them.  
 Tate and my gorgeous big sis Kimmy.  Adore.  Both of them.  Everyday. All the time.
Look at the cheeks on that boy.  They want me to kiss them...all the time.

Speaking of cheeks, it was fun to see and play with my little niece Abby.  She is a doll.

So back to Virginia.  I'm still working at the hospital and teaching Sunday School.  I've been doing a lot of praying to decide where I need to be right now and what the right thing is for me to do.  It's been frustrating at times but I think personal revelation is the coolest thing.  How cool is it that God can tell each of us personally what we should be doing with our lives right now.  It's been a great experience for me and I'm thankful that I can make these decisions by myself and know what's right.  

Favorite quotes lately:

My co-worker said to me the other day after overhearing me singing to a song on the radio, "Wow, Mallory I'm impressed.  I didn't think you were the type to know these songs.  I thought you just church songs."  haha Yep, because they know I'm religious, they think I know nothing but hymns apparently. haha Nice.

My co-worker thinks it's cool that everyone in the office is from a different country.  
Dr. D from Czech Republic
Dr. A from Venezuela
Rosa from El Salvador
Trisha from Vietnam
Rosa has told several patients as they're checking out, "We're an international office."  As she proceeds to tell where everyone in the office is from, she finishes with, "And Mallory is Native American."  haha I think it's hysterical.  Apparently because I was born here (native??) she thinks that is what defines a "Native American".  I can't bring myself to correct her because I think it's funny.

Today after church I was at Munch N' Mingle (yep, that's a real thing. Be jealous.) and while I was in a conversation with a couple of people, I heard in a conversation next to me a gentleman saying, "It's like when Mallory Hansen walks into the room..that curly hair takes my breath away."  I'm pretty sure he was kinda teasing me/trying to get my attention but...either way, I didn't hate it. haha 

Things are good.  I have a vaca to New York that needs to be blogged about because it rocked my socks.  But for now, I'm pleased to have updated this ol' thing in any way.  Hope all is well with you readers.  Love from Virginia,

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Suspenders, More Creeper Stories, My Next Big Plans...

I'm pretty much the worst at blogging consistently lately.  My apologies.  Though from my track record, I make no promises that it won't happen on occasion.

Lots of goodies have been going down.  First off, my big news from last post....kind of irrelevant now. haha I had received a job offer to go back to Uganda this summer and continue work with women in the Namatala slum.  I was sooo excited to go back and live in that beautiful country with those lovely people again.  I left there 9 months ago certain that I'd probably never see any of them again and I hated that feeling.  So naturally the possibility to go back made me extremely happy and felt like a wonderful opportunity.  And my job has been pretty rough so I was also really looking forward to a wonderful out.  Well...the job opportunity fell through.  The business apparently didn't have the finances to pay for my flight so it's a no go.  Soo....that was the exciting news! haha One of the life lessons that I feel like I repeatedly learn is that regardless of what you want, God always has you where He wants you.  While I'm sad that I don't get to go back and work there this summer, if God wanted me to be there, it would have worked out.  So He must have somewhere else that He wants me.  Yep.

I ventured into the big city a few weeks ago and hit up my favorite little panini shop.  (One of the few times that I throw my gluten intolerance to the wolves...and it's totally worth it. haha)  On my last occasion in the panini shop, I decided to read the scriptures on my phone and prepare for my upcoming sunday school lesson.  Spiritual enlightenment accompanies anything that involves pesto right?

Speaking of Sunday School, I kind of love my calling.  My first two lessons...Websters definition of "Fail".  haha The first time, I had read, studied, and prepped discussion points for 5 pages of the manual about the restoration of the priesthood.  Well..sacrament meeting went over with several peeps taking a brazilian years on their story-monies so I had 15 minutes for my lesson.  haha Which, lets be honest, sacrament meeting goes over sometimes.  It's okay.  It happens.  I was just all kinds of awkward and stressed about how to sum up the restoration of the priesthood in 15 minutes.  Not my best, really.  Not my best.  Lesson learned though--have a short and long version prepared.  Or better yet, prepare and follow the spirit.  Boink.  Sometimes the obvious life lessons take me a little longer.  haha  But my other Sunday School lessons have gone much better. Discussion feels natural, people willingly participate, it feels good.  It's been fun the last few times but dear me I've had some classes that were doozies.

It couldn't be more apparent that I wasn't meant to live in a big city.  My twelve point turns into parking slots are hardly my proudest moments.  Not joking.  Also, it's one of my new goals to regain the skill of parallel parking.  You pretty much can't go anywhere fun without having to decide between parallel parking and a $20 parking garage.  I literally don't think I have parallel parked since my drivers test.  Embarrassing, folks.  Embar.

I watched 500 days of Summer the other day.  One of my favorite movies.  There are so many funny parts in the film.  My friend Sarah says that relationships like that don't really exist.  (This was probably mentioned after I told her I really want to go on a date to IKEA. haha Yep, that's real.)  She then proceeded to inform me that she thinks I'm Summer.  Hmm...I will only accept that comment if she's implying that at some point in my life I get a darling, crinkly-eyed Joseph Gordon Leavitt all to myself.  Wouldn't ever complain about that.

I made a musical discovery a while back that was nothing but pleasing.  A friend took me to a local music place where Pig Pen Theatre Company played.  Seven gentlemen about my age played a variety of instruments and harmonized in such a way that they kind of made it difficult for you to not fall for them.  I honestly sat staring at them asking myself how and why the Orlando Bloom look alike in the band was making suspenders look hot. I dunno.  Must be those dang voices.  Jerks. They covered "Hey ya" by Outkast which...I didn't hate.  Here ya go:

I'll tell you a creeper story because...those are always fun. When I was in the middle of decorating my room, I would go to Home Goods a lot to look for cheap bedspreads.  Then, there's a Starbucks next door so I'd sometimes stop and grab a little hot chocolate for the drive home.  I had learned from a few little experiences that I needed to walk straight in, get my hot chocolate, and walk straight out.  I had been beckoned by some guys there on occasion so I learned to mind my own business and walk quickly.

Well this one evening after looking in Home Goods, I stopped by Starbucks and was approached by a guy.  He told me that he had seen me at Starbucks several times.  He told me that whenever he sees me (my eyes, my hair...blah blah gag me), he "gets a feeling".  My head tipped to the side in curiosity and also fear that he might say something entirely unclassy.  My suspicion was confirmed.  He proceeded to say, "I get a feeling.  And when I go home...I take care of it."  Ummm...are we serious?  Is that for reals?  I literally looked at him, said, "That's gross.", blinked a couple of times and proceeded to inform him, "You don't deserve that experience with me in person...OR in your mind."  haha

I called my mom on the drive home and told her the story.  She told me that I wasn't allowed to go outside at night anymore and that I shouldn't ever be alone. haha I love her.  But despite what she suggested, I'm not going to have my home teacher accompany me when I want to leave the house.  I just get trouble from the occasional foreign creeper.  But I'm sure that happens to many-a-lass wherever there are high dosages of foreign creepsters.  It's not like I'm Princess Kate and need a constant escort.  haha The very next day I got a package in the mail that had a hot chocolate maker inside.  Yes, my sweet, darling mother sent me a hot chocolate maker so I won't go to Starbucks anymore.  I doubt I could be any more obsessed with my mom.  She's so cute.

And in closing, part of the reason I've been a busy mess lately is because I'm taking a GRE prep course.  Yes, I'm preparing for grad school.  The current plan is to either go into Counseling (either School Counseling or Marriage and Family Therapy) or....International Development.  In any case, I'm excited that I have something to work toward and something to help me progress.  I had been feeling like I was in a rut there for a while and it's felt good (and tiring) having a big goal in my future that will get me closer to a better future.  So...not going back to Africa this summer, but I am going to grad school.  Different news that I had planned on announcing, but news nonetheless. :)  Loves!  Mal

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cute Couples, Baltimore, Home Decor

Well dear me, it has been many moons since I last wrote.  I hope that my last post wasn't depressykins. That was definitely not the point. I think a lesson that I'm continually learning in my life is that the challenges that undoubtedly come in life are always unexpected.  You don't always know what you're going to struggle with and you won't always have a perfect solution that will resolve everything right away.  But you can learn, be grateful and grow closer to God in any situation where you find yourself.

Here is an attempt to do some sort of updating in regards to life on the east we go!

I work for a pair of Endocrinologists.  It's nothing super swanky but there are details that I love.  For instance, just because I work in the hospital, I have frequent interactions with a variety of elderly people.  My favorites are the cute little couples that come in for their appointments together.  I love asking them how long they've been married.  Some still genuinely smile at each other and laugh together.  It's cute.  They make Nicholas Sparks look like silly. haha  One of my favorite little couples got out to the waiting room after their appointment and each helped the other put their coats back on, the husband handed his wife her scarf and thanked each other for the small but thoughtful gestures.  Darling.  I love that after all these years, they still look for opportunities to help each other and both genuinely (and audibly) appreciate it.  So so cute.

I have a friend out here named Sarah.  We originally met 5 years ago when I went on my study abroad to Paris.  I knew of her and we both liked each other back then...but didn't really hang out that much at the time.  Quite literally 5 years of radio silence later, we happened to run into each other out here and have been playing nonstop ever since.  She's been a life saver and is nothing but a good time.  Hence my selfish sadness upon learning that she scored a killer cool job in Uruguay and will be moving there this summer.  I'm so happy for her and she completely deserves it...but I'm selfishly ticked that my life won't have her geographically in it anymore.  So we've created a bucket list of things to do before she goes.  One of which, was visiting Baltimore:

I obviously have nothing but good feelings for all things Italian.  So it didn't take me long to google the nearest "Little Italy" to my zip code and get myself there.  I loved Baltimore.  Granted I spent just one Saturday afternoon in the area but that one afternoon did not disappoint!  We just did silly things.

Grabbed some hot chocolate, walked through a book store, I purchased a Ryan Gosling coloring book for one of my best friends (why would I not invest in such a clearly genius purchase?!  haha Seriously one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen.), walked around the harbor, and wandered around in search of Little Italy.  We walked around for an almost embarrassing amount of time, had to ask several people, the PTSD part of me (thanks to some choice incidents in Uganda haha) was nervous in some areas where we were walking, but we finally spotted an Italian flag and had made it!
 It's a cute, quaint little area with restaurants, darling housing, gelato and pastries.  Yes, it's a happy little land.  In fact, I've heard that in the summer time they have outdoor movies on Fridays and watch Italian films projected on one of the buildings.  You guessed it, that too is on my bucket list.  Yep.  It's happening.

In other news, I've been in the process of decorating my room for a while now.  I've been wanting to make a picture collage on my wall with different sized, shape and color frames...with shutters mixed in. I dunno, in my mind throwing shutters in there is a subtle way of expressing my love of Italy.  My aunt had the brilliant idea to go to a thrift store to buy frames.  So I actually had a date that wanted to accompany me to one of these thrift stores.  I embarrassingly acquired mass amounts of frames and shamelessly arranged them on the ground deciding which were my favorites.  Here is the loot:

 After the paint job:

I've been slowly acquiring shutters and was soo exciting to finally give them a fresh coat of paint.

 I'm still not quite finished...but here's what I have so far:
After years of watching home decorating shows, it's been fun to finally have a space of my own to decorate.  It's coming together slowly but surely.  There's something awfully satisfying about taking a room that was originally a sickly version of white and add color and life to it.

In other news my roommate found out that I am shamefully uneducated in Julie Andrews films.  She found out that I haven't seen "Marry Poppins" or "Sound of Music" and now I quite literally have random people approach me in church or send me texts exclaiming their curiosity (and secret disappointment) that I haven't seen some of the classics.  Apparently, even her coworkers now know that she has a roommate that has never seen the Sound of Music.  My apologies.  I need to be a better human being clearly.

There's more to say but I'll save it for another day.  I have potentially big news coming up but I want to wait until it's official before I spill it.  Give me a week and I'll get back with you.  Lots of love from Virginia.  Til next post!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Reflective trip to the grocery store

I learned some great lessons tonight.  There's something very nice and satisfying about taking time to ponder.  I had never understood it's value before.  But I really see it now.  It's good to look back at different lengths of time in my life and try to make sense of it, try to draw conclusions, try to learn.  Tonight was really great for me in that regard.

I was in the grocery store, meandering the aisles, trying to pick up the necessary ingredients for this weeks menu of delicious dishes.  It's been a roller coaster of 5 months on the east coast.  I've been very blessed.  I've been a wee bit stressed.  While reflecting on the time spent in the area, I'm in the produce section, squeezing the cucumbers, trying to make sure they're just right for my cucumber salad that I have planned to eat tomorrow at lunch.

I've learned so much in the last half year.  I feel like I've been broken down, I feel like I've been built up.  I moved out here with a fearless sense of adventure.  Right off the plane from Africa, nothing seemed more exciting than picking up and moving to the other side of the country, not knowing what awaited me.  I was sure I'd move out here and find a fantastically swanky job, have a fun city social life, be able to afford the wardrobe of my dreams, and have a fun, sassy, single life in a big city.  It makes me laugh now because I realize that all of those things take time.  And that's okay.

The truth is, I was really surprised by how difficult living in my own country could be.  I naively had had the thought (and I can almost quote it), "I've lived in France, Italy and Uganda, how hard could the east coast be?"  Well, only a couple of weeks ago had I put together why it's been difficult.  I could never put my finger on it.  But I figured it out.  In all of the other places I went, I went with a group--we came from the same culture, we went with the same purpose, we experienced the same culture shock, language barriers, struggles, etc.  We knew what we were supposed to do there, we knew when we'd be returning home.  We had someone else that was going through the exact same thing we were going through.  Well moving out here by's been hard because it's felt very lonely.  I don't have a companion (like in the mission) where when they're struggling, we strengthen each other, we go out, we work hard and know what our purpose is.  I don't have a study abroad roommate who is experiencing the same culture shock, but we study, listen to music from home and go out to explore together.  It's not even like being in Africa--with a group of girls who all felt as unfamiliar with the language and living circumstances, but were sure of their desire to serve and make the lives of those around them better.  It's not that I'm dependent upon other people.  I feel rather independent, in fact.  It's more the idea that I'm the only stranger, the only one that's not settled, for whom this place is not normal everyday life.  It's strange going through that alone.  Arriving here by myself, unsure of exactly what I'm supposed to do and having no idea when I'll be going home.  Somehow I'm supposed to figure out why I'm here on the east coast and what I'm supposed to be doing...all by myself.  haha

By this time, I'm in the section of the grocery store that sells those facial wipes--you know, for those of us that aren't classy enough to wash our faces in the sink before bed.  One of my companions in La Spezia bought them as well and we'd wash our faces while we talked across the room in our beds before falling asleep.  I decide on the apricot scent and remind myself that it's my one splurge for groceries.

I keep trying to pinpoint why living here would be that different.  Well...I miss my life.  Everything about my life has changed...and it's been hard to figure out how to adjust.  I miss having tons of friends around me.  Christmas break filled me with joy because I loved having friends scheduled every day of the week to visit and catch up with.  We laugh our faces off, we adore each other, we share a past, we'll always be friends.  I miss them.  I don't have those here--at least not near as strong of friendships as I have at home...yet.

Missing my family is a given.

I miss the feeling of home.  It's really awkward not knowing where I am.  I need a GPS to get anywhere more than 4 miles away from my home.  But I'm working on it, trying to explore, things will get better.

The new job and housing arrangement is obviously an adjustment.  Naturally starting a new job adds stress and one needs to figure out how to do everything and become comfortable with that adjustment.  I think that's fairly normal and to be expected.  But it just contributes to the lack of familiarity in the my present life.  But it will get better.

By this time, I've checked out at the register, scanned my recently acquired VIC card, which saved me approximately $7--making my apricot facial scrub splurge less of a blow to my wallet, and am now driving home.  I park in front of the house and the once watery eyes have now spilled over and a few crying noises begin.  Oh great. haha  Inside I feel the fight between telling myself to knock it off and allowing myself 15 seconds to be upset.  I give myself 15 seconds.  That's plenty.  I then pull myself together and open my scriptures on my phone.  I had last been reading in 1 Nephi 4 in Italian.  I came across these verses which were just what the doctor ordered.  The ever famous verse 6 but followed by the first 4 words of verse 7.

"And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.  Nevertheless, I went forth"

Oh Mal, you know that you're supposed to be here.  Stop fretting about why.  You're not the first nor the last to be unsure of the path ahead.  Just go forward.  Have faith.  Keep moving.   If you felt good about it and the Spirit led you to be here, than keep moving and go forward.  In time the purpose will be clear, but until then, take heart in the fact that people have faced greater unknowns.  See the good.  Choose to be happy and love each day you are given.

Mmm...okay.  Carried my groceries inside, made some gluten free muffins, and prepare for bed.  Definitely need to thank God, as always, for the comfort given in scriptures.  I'm thankful that I know that everything will be okay, even if my current pathway isn't clearly marked before me.  I'm very berry blessed.  I do love my life and am thankful to be here.  Til next post, Mals

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mattress hilarity, new calling, dating creativity

I haven't blogged in many moons.  Who's surprised that I'll be updating you with random bullet points?
  • I have a bed!  It it one of the most wonderful things in the world.  My friend Steve in the ward was outrageously kind and helped me move my new mattress (that I was buying off my old employers) to my cute house.  He normally bungees a mattress and box spring on top of his car.  Since I am only the owner of a the bungees were hard to get really tight on my mattress and therefore the ride home was kind of hilarious.  The mattress blew off the car as soon as we were pulling out of the neighborhood.  We looked at each other with our eyes big...but laughed.  The next hour and a half of our lives was quite eventful.  Bungees snapped and it slid down the car two more times on the way to my house.  I felt really bad because while it was already super kind of him to take time out of his Saturday to help me, the task wasn't being made easy.  Thankfully he was the perfect person to experience something like this with.  Instead of either of us being stressed or angry, we both laughed, he put on the hazards, and we'd try strapping it again tighter.  We concluded that he should probably have rope for the next time he ties a mattress to the roof of his car.  I personally concluded that the experience might have justifiably scared him away from ever offering to give service again. haha 
  • My friend Sarah is quite literally a saint.  She came over one night and had seen that I hadn't put my bed together yet.  She made me do it.  We took 3 hours on a Sunday night and put everything together only to discover that the last, and most crucial piece, was missing.  So I slept on my mattress on the floor, returned to IKEA the following day, and found out that piece was sold separately.  My bed is fully constructed.  And I feel incredibly spoiled and fortunate to have a comfy bed of my very own. 
  • My new job is great.  The doctors I work for are very patient and darling.  I work for two endocrinologists.  I tried hard not to die laughing on Valentines day when loads of men came into the office (or their wives) requiring last minute refills on their testosterone cream. haha Awesome.  Happy Valentines day indeed.
  • I have a co-worker that is hilarious.  She asks me the silliest questions about my religion and it makes me wonder what she actually thinks of me.  She asked me if we celebrate birthdays, Christmas, etc.  Last Friday, she asked if we're allowed to dance.  (Do I radiate some sort of "Foot Loose" aura?)  She then put her fingers in both hands to make quotes as she asked, "Well don't you think music is satanic?"  haha No, my friend.  I love good tunes and I enjoy shaking it like you wouldn't believe. Neither of which are against my religion. haha Hilarity.
  • I got a new calling today.  Sunday school teacher.  I had that calling in Logan and I loved it.  It's funny to me because I remember being at BYU-Idaho back when I was like 18 and was asked by one of the bishopric members to substitute teach a Sunday School class one week.  I agreed...because I never wanted to say no to a calling.  But I was terrified.  I was so intimidated and thought that nothing I could say would be enlightening to the spiritually brilliant members of the class.  I had some label on all RM's that they knew everything about the gospel and my testimony and gospel knowledge would only make them roll their eyes and demonstrate what a spiritual amateur I was.  I called home crying to my dad and asked him for tips.  It's all hilarious and laughable to look back on now.  I spent a year and a half teaching the gospel non-stop.  So I had to figure it out and enjoy it.  But it's been funny to look back at that moment of being asked to teach one week and see how inadequate and terrified I felt.  It's not that I feel brilliant or like I have more to offer than other people.  But I understand now that I do have things to offer--everyone does--and it's my job as the teacher to facilitate a way for everyone to learn and share together.  Anyway, it still makes me nervous but I'm excited as well.  I know I'll learn a lot and it will push me.
  • Dating hilarity has happened.  My friend in the ward had had a really bad day.  My natural instinct for him, or any friend of mine, would be to do something nice to get their mind off it.  I think it's what anyone would do.  I had come home with extra lunch (some reps came into work with tons of sandwiches and salace so I got to take some home) and felt like the very least I could do was bring him some free food.  We hung out for a few hours and watched a movie together.  I, unfortunately, assume as always that we're just friends.  He kept inching closer on the couch.  We were sharing a blanket which I initially hadn't thought anything off but the shrinking proximity between us was making me start to rethink this.  I didn't feel in the mood or like I had the energy to have some embarrassing "I thought we were just friends" DTR so....I did something new.  I was racking my brain for anyway to get out of this and not have to deal with it.  I started thinking, "Well his next move is either going to be to put his arm around me or hand holding...neither of which I'm wanting to happen."  In him doing these gestures, he'll obviously be looking for me to reciprocate--snuggle in to him or hold his hand back.  Well, if I don't want to deal with this...I just need to be in a state where I cannot reciprocate whatever he does.  So...I forced myself to fall asleep. haha I started making less little comments during the film, closed my eyes, and fell asleep in a little ball.  Naturally he'll leave me alone if I'm asleep. haha When I woke up he was watching the special features.  I sat forward and when I sat back...his arm was there.  I was right!  Thankfully I only had to awkward my way through 15 minutes of it instead of a dimly lit hour and a half.  I told him that I needed to go home so I wouldn't fall asleep on the drive but just died laughing.  Definitely a first for me.  Purposefully falling asleep so I wouldn't have to deal with someone putting the moves on me and having to talk to them about it afterward. haha Gosh.  Good times.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The latest little details...Shutters, new job, marriage

Here are the latest deets and tails of life on the east coast. :)

My last three days of nannying are coming up.  It doesn't feel like my days as a glorified babysitter are actually coming to an end. haha I will miss that little boy.  Because his health has been all over the place and I've spent so much time with him, of course I will miss him.  He's darling.   The job has been a blessing to me in many ways.  I've been able to save a little money, I've been humbled in realizing that I'm not entitled to any particular occupation just because I have a college degree, I've had glimpses of how wonderful (and stressful) motherhood will be one day, I've learned an awful lot about patience etc etc.  There were definitely hard things about my job that I will try to not complain about.  I'm blessed.  Punto.

I'm in love with my tiny little bedroom.  This morning I tried doing a Jillian Michaels video in it and it was hilarious due to the lack of space.  Finding enough room to do lunges or push ups was comical.  My inflatable mattress fills up the majority of the space.  But I love it.  It's amazing how nice it is to have a space that's mine.  I can unpack, pull out my pictures, and decorate a space that I can call home. Perhaps it's a silly joy but that's okay.

One of my dear friends gave me a plug in candle of sorts for Christmas.  It smells like a dream and the tiny little glow of this accessory surprisingly does a lot to make this room feel warm and cozy.  Easily pleased and loving it.

Because my job as a nanny has been coming to a close, I've been looking and not touching when it comes to the idea of decorating my room.  I just haven't felt comfortable dropping moolah on something like home decor--which I feel is semi-responsible.  haha But I occasionally drop by Home Goods on my way home from work and wander through the aisles brainstorming about how I'll decorate my little space.  I really want to have a cool collage of pictures, cool frames, and some fun painted shutters.  The street view of apartments in Italy is one of my favorite things.  There's something so charming to me about cute painted shutters and baskets of flowers lining the balcony.  So I've been trying to conjure up ways to decorate my room with details of Europe that I love without going for the know, like a life size photo of the Eiffel Tower--although I am nothing but fond of the existence of that structure.  haha The shutter idea is darling in my head but it could be a gargantuan belly flop in reality.  Time will tell.

I got two job offers this week and have decided to accept a position as an Administrative Assistant for an endocrinologist.  They're later going to train me to be a Medical Assistant.  It's a huge blessing to be able to have a smooth transition from one job to another.  It's nothing ground breaking or even a ton of money, but I'm lucky to be employed and feel like it's a step up from where I've been...which is all I could really ask for.  I'm so excited to be able to talk to people during the day.  I've spent my last four months talking in a high pitched voice to a baby and am greatly looking forward to interacting with adults again.  Feeling blessed.  Just all kinds of blessed.

I got a message on facebook this morning from a friend in the ward in Africa asking why I'm not married yet. haha That question always makes me laugh.  I had several guys in Africa ask me that question.  I usually go with the true, but what I think would be obvious, "I just haven't met the right guy yet."  He then replied with how I probably have my standards too high.  And I probably have missed out on opportunities in the past because I expect too much of men.  He politely suggest that I lower my standards so that I can manage to find a husband. haha I just laughed.  What a dear soul. My previous boyfriend consisted of a chap who drank, smoked, had no fond feelings for the law of chastity and didn't care about my religion...or christianity in general.  So standards are definitely too high. haha He hit the nail on the head.  Bless his heart.  I'm sure he has good intentions.  

I've been talking with a lot more italians lately.  It never ceases to amaze me how my heart floods with love for those people.  Well...I love everybody, but there's something unique about how much I care for those people.  Talking to them, noting their distinct and charming accents, the expressive musicality of their speech and way of being, the way everyone of them envelopes you as family.  Everyone should think their mission is the best in the world and I'm no exception.  Speaking that language and connecting with my friends there brings a joy to my life that I'd never known before.

Here's a Roberto Benigni interview...just because I'm obsessed with Conan and Roberto.  Oh the hand gestures and poetic manner of speaking.  Love all of it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Moved in, New Years Resolution, Italian

All moved into my little closet-sized room.  I'm in love with it.  When I brought some of my things on Saturday, I got awkwardly sentimental about how tiny it is.  My mind took me back to some homes I went to in Uganda--they were probably the size of my room but housed multiple people.  Even though by American standards my room is little, I still feel enormously blessed.

My aunt and uncle were gracious enough to let me borrow a blow up mattress so I'm camping out until I dare drop the money on a bed.  It was really sad leaving my aunt and uncles home.  Not because I love being dependent upon other people, but because I so greatly value their company.  They're really amazing people and I've loved spending time with them and their cute kids.

I do, however, love the feeling that I've made a little bit of progress out here.  I don't have a dream job or anything yet but that's okay.  I'm in an apartment, closer to the city and I feel like I'm inching toward my original goal.  Progress.

My bedding currently consists of a right nice, fuzzy, giraffe print blanket.  I love it.  It was a great Target find.  haha Also, conveniently a way to deal with missing Africa. haha Pathetic.

My New Years Resolution is to be better about recording spiritual experiences/promptings.  During my mission I was consistent about keeping a scripture journal.  It is so valuable to me now.  It was where I wrote my insights, what I understood, how I could apply it to my life, etc.  I love that little journal.  Unfortunately I haven't been consistent in the least at keeping a scripture journal post-mission.  So this touristy Leaning Tower of Pisa gem has been used to record my scripture insights lately.  I've been loving it.  I get so much more excited to read the scriptures and love reading back over what I've written and learned.
This weekend was so lovely.  Saturday and Sunday I had skype dates with peeps from Italy.  Now when I say "skype date", it wasn't an actual date...just an arranged time to converse with a person of Italian decent. haha Both of these people are people that I'd only met one time.  They're members of the church that I met at a church activity or because they joined us touring the city on a P-day, but they were members of a different ward.  Well we talked for a couple of hours and it amazed me how people that I only met for a brief time over 3 years ago, are now people that I consider friends.  We talked, laughed, shared experiences, things we've learned, what we want from our future, etc etc  I guess I was struck with the beauty of how all it takes is a brief encounter with someone to make an impression.  Both of these people left distinct impressions on me when we met years ago and we were somehow able to pass hours of our time together as if we'd been friends all along.  I love that.

I'd forgotten how much I LOVE speaking Italian.  Oh my dear it makes me so happy to hear it.  It's hard for me to explain.  It makes me smile hearing it spoken by Italians.  I love the expressions that just don't translate into english.  I love the happy, musical inflection.  I love how poetic it seems. I love the warmth of the people who speak it.  I need to be better at keeping in touch with my friends in Italy because I was overwhelmed with how much joy it brought me using my mission language again and catching up with those that played such beautiful roles in a critical part of my life.

I discovered the wonder of Trader Joes tonight!  I'm obsessed.  I literally oogled at the cheese section with satisfaction and joy.  That's classy Trader Joes.  Real classy.  Though I've heard Whole Foods puts them to shame in that department.  I pretty much just want to buy a sack full of produce and live off it all week.  Now that I have unpacked, I'm ready to put my Vitamix to work and throw a bunch of produce in there.  So stoked about this....Til next time.   Happy MLK day.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New job, new place, new year

Things have been changing around here.  It's really great and exciting.

  • My nanny position will officially be ending February 22. I've been very fortunate to have this position because it's allowed me to save some moolah and get me in a better position to apply for other jobs.  So while I'm thankful for it and it's been a blessing, I'm excited to not be a 25 year-old glorified babysitter anymore.  
  • Speaking of my job really quick, maybe someday I'll write a post of all of the crazy train things that are said to me at work. haha One of my recent favorites is that when my boss found out I had broken up with that boy, she gave me a hug and said, "You know what you need to do?  You need to read this great book called 'He's Just Not That Into You'".  haha Yeah.  She didn't realize that I wasn't asking for her advice, or that if I had, she's terrible at it.  haha She says stuff like that quite frequently.  I realized on Friday that I need to pray to have charity for her.
  • I'm moving into a house in a week!  I'm so excited to have a place where I can finally unpack and make my home.  My Aunt Jane is fantastic and has been so fun taking me around to home decorating places.  I've never been able to do a lot of decorating in past apartments, but I'm excited to slow piece together a fun, darling, homey, tiny room.  I'm excited.  Hopefully my decorating skills aren't a total bust and my room doesn't end up looking like a twelve year old lives there.  haha  Time will tell.
A couple of new changes for the new year.  I'm excited about all of it.  I'll keep you posted with pictures of my tiny closet sized bedroom and the deets of the job hunt.  Best of times on the east coast!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

French lover, french verbs and Adam Sandler

Tu me manques.  In english we'd say, "I miss you" but directly translated it means "you're missing to me".  I love that.  I first became fascinated with the translation of this verb back in Paris in '07.  I'd never realized the beauty of recognizing that something is gone from your life.  When something feels different.  Like your days, your life feels different because something is missing that used to be there...something that contributed to your life in a way that's recognizable now that it's gone.

I broke up with my little french lover yesterday.  Well, we went "on a break" when I was home for Christmas.  Yeah, like Ross and Rachel style.  But we got back together, gave it another honest try, but it was a no go.

I was kind of Bella Swaning yesterday.  Yes, I embarrassingly enough just made a Twilight character into a verb and then compared myself to her.  Not my classiest moment. haha You know, in the book/movie when she breaks up with Edward and she's a hot mess.  Thankfully, I was neither as pathetic nor as incessantly blinky, but I could sort of relate.  Something didn't feel right.  That dang french verb came to mind and realized that I missed him and was going to miss him for a little bit.  Crap bag.

I guess it's just hard because I've never felt that way for someone before.  I've been fortunate to date some really great guys, but while I adored them for how they treated me and the people that they were, I didn't feel the same way as they did.  But it was different with this guy.

It seemed like everything he did was good.  His hands are constantly aflame while my fingers are always frigid.  He would always take my hand in his, warm it up and kiss it.  It's silly, and normally that would stress me out if one of my dates randomly pulled crap like that.  But it was weird how something so simple could somehow seems like the most wonderful thing in the world.  It was strange to me how much I loved hearing from him, being next to him, the sweet things he'd say to me, how whenever I'd bring up something that was worrying me he'd look at me concerned and intent--wanting to fix it and make it better, or speaking french together--me butchering it while he spoke it with such ease and attractiveness that it was kind of a hate crime.

He was a lot of firsts for me.  First time I’d been in a relationship where we mutually adored each other.  First time I fell in love.  I’d never been able to understand what everyone was talking about when they talked about “being in love”.  I’ve always cared deeply for the people I’ve dated, but have never been in love with them.  Well I understand now.

But it was really hard too.  I'd never dated a member of a different religion before.  It was difficult meeting up with my boyfriend to go on a date and when he kissed me, he smelled like smoke...and not because he had a habit of roasting marshmallows.  It was hard that the Law of Chastity was such a huge sacrifice for him and having that standard frequently challenged instead of respected.  I missed having my religion as a common denominator.  With him, it was hard to talk about my mission or the church, because he didn't relate, understand or...necessarily care.  At some point, it was time to face the facts that were whack-a-moling me in the face and not postpone what needed to happen.

I’m not mad.  I don’t have bad feelings for him.  I won’t speak poorly of him.  He is a really great person.  It embarrassingly hurts a bit and I miss him. The feeling that something’s off because it’s gone, and aching a little because it’s not coming back.  But I think that’s okay.  It means that we actually had something to miss.   If it didn’t hurt at all then what we had wasn’t that great. 

So here we are.  Should I spend the evening binging on brownie batter and watching a depressing chick flick of my choice?  Nah.  I'll do a Jillian Michaels video, remind myself in my prayers that I was lucky to have the experience, not forget that I'll eventually find better, and fall asleep to an Adam Sandler film--Just Go With It, specifically.  haha  There you have it T. Swift.  Write a song about THAT!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas break, bulleted goodies and Parisian dads

I spent the last 10 days of my life in Utah.  It was not the worst idea.  Not at all.  I was actually surprised by how much I loved being back.  The girl that can't stop traveling and couldn't wait to move out of Utah found it oddly refreshing to be back.  I found myself noticing how pretty the mountains are when they're dusted with snow.  I love the tangible feeling of "home" that lingers when I drive around that little town.  And to top it all off, ALL of my siblings made it to Utah county for a few days.  The last time all of my siblings were together was at my graduation in May...for like 24 hours before I moved to Uganda.  haha I have the greatest siblings on the planet.  We love each other.

My schedule was crazy train.  I tried to meet up with as many friends as I could.  Much to my family's dismay, I love catching up with my friends when I come home.  It was especially nice this time because I'm a very social lass, so being out here in Virginia starting completely from scratch in the friend department has been new.  So it was nice to go home and realize that I do have a lot of friends and I'm not a loner just because I live in a new state and watch someone else's infant all day. haha 

Some highlights and random details:

  • My cute niece Abby was blessed.  I met her for the first time over the break.  She's so tiny and perfect.  I'm obsessed with her.
  • Kim and I worked out to Jillian videos which do nothing less than please.
  • Christmas day was magical--as always.  I still wake up in the night like an anxious little kid.  I love watching people open gifts that you've been thinking about and conjuring up for a month.  My sister made me a collage of some my Africa pictures.  And my parents are always outrageously sweet and thoughtful.  It was a perfect holiday--like it is every year.
  • We saw Les Miserables and I'm pretty sure I have feelings for the gent that plays Marius but who doesn't after seeing that film?!
  • We hit up the new outlet mall--not a disappointment.  Bless the soul that thought a J.Crew outlet was a good idea.  
  • My grandmother passed away the day after Christmas--on her birthday.  Her funeral was beautiful and I loved learning more about her life, being inspired by her service, adventurous spirit and commitment to the gospel.  She was a wonderful woman and raised some amazing children.
  • Card game night--the best!  When all of my siblings lived in Utah, we had a Sunday game night tradition.  I loved it!  I think part of the reason that I started a game night up in Logan was because I missed playing games regularly.
  • My nieces and nephews ARE the cutest little beings on the planet.  You might think that yours are...but maybe that means you haven't met mine.  I'm completely infatuated with them.  They're darling to look at, sweet to talk to and hilarious to play with.  Aannddd their faces insist that I kiss them...all the time.  My siblings make cute babies.  Exhibit A:

I've been kind of sickly the last few days.  The flights back to Virginia were comedic because if I wasn't drowsily reading a Nicholas Sparks book, I was very berry unconscious.  My flight from California to Virginia was my favorite.  There was a father-son duo sitting next to me that had me entranced.

Ever since my Parisian excursion of 2007, I'm fascinated and in love with darling, involved fathers.  It was weird to me, in Paris, that when you went to the park you would see families there.  Not the kids by themselves, not the kids and the mom, not the kids and the nanny, but entire families--with the dads. I feel like you never see that in America...but maybe that's just my observation.  Even on my layover in Paris from Uganda, Kelsey and I grabbed a pastry for breakfast and went and sat at a playground to eat.  There were several fathers there playing with their kids.  They weren't texting or watching videos online, they were up playing on the playground with their kids.  It was the cutest thing to me.

So this father on the flight hit a soft spot.  He was busy writing on his yellow notepad brainstorming ideas for work, but whenever his 8 year-old son would inquire what he was doing, the father demonstrated no level of inconvenience.  He would put his pen down and explain in an enthusiastic, yet simple way what he was doing.  He read a book with him, pointed out landmarks outside as we were close to landing, and asked him if he was excited to start school tomorrow.  "That's exciting for you huh?  Which guys are you excited to see?"  The son lists a few names and the father comments that one of them doesn't come out for baseball.  He mumbled something about needing to talk to the boy about that.  "Which girls are you excited to see?"  The son pressed his feet against the seat in front of him, moaning that he'd have to answer.  "Ah, dad."  They talked about his upcoming birthday party.  And all throughout the flight (at least when I was alert) his father would occasionally put his arm around the son and kiss him on the forehead.  

I loved it.  It made me miss Paris.  It was a lovely Christmas break.  I miss everyone already but am happy and excited for the new year and new opportunities, adventures, challenges, friends and lessons that will accompany it.  Happy New Year dear ones.