Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Strange things that have happened recently:

1) I was ill with what I believe to be swine flu.
2) The metro crash
3) The holocaust museum shooting.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

In Memoriam

I know that you all have been waiting, breathlessly, for this post.

Everywhere I go I am reminded that the world has lost its greatest talent in the music industry- and I say that in all seriousness. On the evening of June 25, 2009, I was laying in bed with a sickness that I would equate with the plague (that's how bad it was), when I got a message from my good friend, Becky West, on Facebook consoling me regarding the news that Michael Jackson had suffered a heart attack. I was surprised by this, obviously, but I didn't feel much of anything. I thought, well, people have heart attacks all the time. They get better, they go home, they take care of their kids, and they go on 50-show concerts series' and perform better than anyone else ever. Problem solved. Well, a short while later, I was still laying in bed fighting delirium when my older sister, Stephanie telephoned me, sobbing. She reported that the King of Pop was dead. I was quiet and confused. I immediately turned to my computer (which was conveniently placed on a chair next to my bed for movie-watching), and searched "Michael Jackson" on every celebrity/news/search engine site I could think of. Nothing loaded. Stephanie was watching E! News, and they kind of kept changing the story. I started to freak out a little bit. Freaking out is not a good idea for someone with the plague. I didn't know what to believe!! Nothing was confirmed online, and nothing would load right. It was so incredibly frustrating. The E! News team finally announced the tragedy again, and our worst fears were confirmed.

Michael Jackson was dead.

Stephanie and I talked about it for a while, and then I talked to Elise for a while, and then I talked to Meghan for a while. I really wasn't that sad. I think that was so for 3 reasons: 1) I was very sick. 2) He kind of already felt dead to me anyway. He represented a mere mask of his former glory. 3) I knew that because he was dead, people would suddenly remember how amazing he was, and he would be rightfully appreciated once more.

It wasn't until the next day that the reality of it all crashed on me. Never again would there be a newly released song. The concert series in London would not happen- the greatest comeback in history would never occur. I would never get to say "HA! I told you he was the best!" when he performed in those shows and the world stood still. I would never ever ever ever have the chance to see him perform live (I thought that was already true, but I still secretly harbored hope).

And now I am left to see the prophecy that I made that first night after he died, fulfilled. The world appreciates Michael again. He will be remembered like Elvis Presley is. People will surely remember the weird stuff, but his genius will also be appreciated and his music will be forever loved. He left a legacy of brilliance.

Things I remembered/knew about Michael Jackson before he died (new fans ENRAGE me. That is so not fair. They are not sad. They did not care one smidge before all of this happened).

1. I have always said that if there is a true music artist in this world, it was Michael Jackson. He was way ahead of his time, in more ways than one. If anyone wants to witness that artistry in pure vocal form, all they have to do is listen to "I'll Be There" (to hear his natural, childhood ability), or for a more refined evidence, "Keep the Faith" from the Dangerous album. If anyone wants evidence in dance form, look up the Motown 25 Billie Jean performance on YouTube. Pure Artistry.
2. When Michael Jackson dances, he IS the music. He defines rhythm. I knew this before, and I know it now. For this one you can also reference the Motown 25 performance. You can tell that he is purely feeling the music. His body seems to move involuntarily. He has to dance. And it has to be spectacular. He once said, “The Backbeat just gets in the backbone and it vibrates and it just takes me.” How else can you say it?
3. I read Moonwalk, his autobiography, written in 1988. It was fantastic. It was written in a soft voice, and definitely could have been higher quality writing style, but it was perfect. He wrote how he talked, and it was compelling. I can tell you lots of stuff about every one of his songs from reading that book.
4. He was a fanstastic songwriter. When Billie Jean was written, he obsessed over it. He kept the song hidden from Quincy Jones, his producer, until the Thriller album was almost ready to be released. Quincy, being intuitive, knew that Michael was hiding something good. It was too precious to be thrown out prematurely, but when Michael played it for Quincy, it was gold. Between Thriller and Bad, Michael wrote close to 70 songs. He only released the 12 songs that fill the album, and only one of them, Man in the Mirror, was written by somebody else. That album is fantastic.
5. Quoted from Moonwalk: “My attitude is if fashion says its forbidden, I’m going to do it.” What else besides musical genius does Michael remind you of? Fashion. Crazy clothes. Short pants, sparkly socks, one glove. fedoras, military jackets, that red Beat It jacket, the works. And it would look retarded on anyone else. But on Michael, it's magic.

A sign of Michael's renewed popularity: The charts on iTunes following his death (yes, I watched these obsessively- checked them several times a day to observe the progress and celebrate the new levels of appreciation).

These are the top ten lists from Saturday, June 27th, two days after he died.

Top Songs
1. Man in the Mirror
3. The Way You Make Me Feel
4. Thriller
5. Don't Stop Till You Get Enough
6. Smooth Criminal
8. Black or White
9. Billie Jean
10 P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)

Top Albums
1. The Essential Michael Jackson (2 disc edition)
2. Thriller
3. Number Ones
4. Off The Wall
5. Thriller 25
6. Bad
7. The Ultimate Collection
8. Dangerous
9. HIStory

Top Music Videos
1. Thriller
2. Billie Jean
3. Black or White
4. Smooth Criminal
5. Beat It
6. Remember the Time
7. We are the World
8. Bad
9. The Way You Make Me Feel
10. Scream

4. Thrillercast

2. Thriller
3. The Way You Make Me Feel

My Michael Jackson Memories:

1. I seriously remember when the Black or White video came out. It was on the Today Show. I watched it with my Mom. I knew it was cool.
2. I remember when Michael Jackson did the half-time show at the Superbowl in 1993. I watched it in awe, and I consciously remember thinking that Michael Jackson was the most famous person in the world. Later, I asked my mom what happened to him (because I suddenly stopped hearing about him all the time). She said that he was hiding because he was in trouble. I was sad.
3. The 3-D Captain Eo show in Disneyland. Coolest thing ever.
4. Free Willy and that amazing music video of Will You Be There before the movie. We watch that thing over and over again at my house.
5. Ogling at my Grandma Janice when she claimed to adore Michael Jackson. I thought he was gross and that she was crazy. I did not understand.
5. Forgetting that he was cool until my sophomore year in college when I received the Michael Jackson music collection from my true friend Megan Knell. She exposed me to the greatness. I fell in love with the music. It all started, by the way, with Man in the Mirror and the Free Willy song. My Grandma Colleen, by the way, is obsessed with that song. She is the reason we watch and listen to it over and over and over again.
6. I went to Wal-Mart at midnight the night when the Thriller 25 album came out that year (2008). I saw all the different versions you could buy on the shelf, and then on the very top, I saw a box that said, "Michael Jackson Fan Pack." Immediately, I thought, "Fan Pack? Me? I'm a Fan. That must be for me." And so I bought it. It had the album I wanted inside it, PLUS the DVD of the Number One music videos. Best idea ever.
7. Our Michael Jackson Party on February 13, 2008. We had Michael's favorite foods- Mexican food and orange gatorade. We played the best Michael music. We danced and watched music videos. We dressed up like he did for Will You Be There. Short black pants and a flowy white shirt. We traced Meghan on a big sheet of butcher paper in the shape of the famous "up on the toes" move and taped it on our wall. That life-size Michael brought much joy and laughter to our apartment. It got really funny when it was really late at night...
8. The summer of 2008 when Michael music was my soundtrack and I read "Moonwalk." Also, my sisters and I made a really awesome music video to "Dirty Diana." Hilar.

9. I saw the Beat It Jacket at the Hard Rock Cafe in Washington, D.C. I'm so glad I live here.
And last, a list of my favorites:

My Favorite Songs:
1. Man in the Mirror
2. Beat It
3. Will You Be There (Beauty)
4. Keep the Faith (This is the one with the amazing artistry)
5. Dirty Diana (A little sketchy, but super hot)
6. They Don't Care About Us (MOST AMAZING BEAT EVER)
7. For All Time (a previously unreleased track from the Thriller days. It actually came out last year).
8. Streetwalker (This one has trumpets!)
9. Human Nature
10. P.Y.T.
11. Billie Jean
12. The Way You Make Me Feel
13. Another Part of Me (Remember the 3-D Caption Eo movie at Disneyland with Michael? Yep. It was this song).
14. Just Good Friends (A duet with Stevie Wonder. I love him too).
15. Baby Be Mine (If you want 80's, listen to this song)
16. Leave Me Alone (A response to the accusations that he was a weirdo)
17. One More Chance
18. The Earth Song (This is a recent discovery. I actually only fell in love with it on that fateful night).
19. You Are Not Alone (written at the time of his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley. I still wish that they would have had children. Imagine an Elvis/Michael hybrid man.)
20. Heal the World
21. We are the World (co-written by Michael and Stevie Wonder, recorded by masses of ultra famous people
22. Can You Feel It (probably one of the catchiest songs I've ever heard. It's pure dance)
23. I Want You Back
24. I'll Be There
25. Who Is It
26. Rock With You
27. History (I'm going to play this song for my students!!! Every day.)

Okay, so I had a really hard time limiting that list. The top 5 really are legit. They are in order. The others all mix together as number 6. Notice: 7 are from Bad, 6 are from Thriller, 4 are from Dangerous, 1 from Off the Wall (I really need to get to know that album better), 3 are from HIStory, 3 from the Jackson 5 days, and 1 is from the 2003 release of the Number Ones album. I think that puts in perspective what my favorite albums are:
1. Bad
2. Thriller
3. Dangerous
4. History
5. Off the Wall

Favorite Music Videos:
1. Beat It
2. Will You Be There
3. Thriller
4. Rock With You
5. Billie Jean
6. Bad
7. Black or White
8. You Rock My World
9. Smooth Criminal
10. They Don't Care About Us

Favorite dance move:
The Lean Favorite costume: the Smooth Criminal outfit, featured above.

Okay, I'm done. Please don't think I'm too weird. I just had to provide an appropriate, personal memorial for my favorite music artist ever. The end.

P.S. The good news is that we have TONS of music to enjoy still.
P.P.S. The other good news is that there is still an amazing Michael running around- Michael Buble. I just recently purchased his new concert CD/DVD. Awesome.

Peace in the D.C.

Catchup real fast- The Friday before Kaitlin's wedding was Ashley's birthday. So, we went to Hard Rock Cafe for dinner, and then to a National's Baseball game! I love baseball games. It was really fun except for the nasty misty rain. But here are some pictures from our adventures:
Our beloved Foggy Bottom metro station.The baseball diamond!
The gang at the game. Ashley with her fantastic birthday treat. Elvis's jogging suit! Marvin Gaye's suit. Yes, that is the Beat It jacket. Yes, I was in shock. And Yes, nobody understood my excitement because the world has a hard time appreciating greatness until something horrible happens.

So for a while there, my weekends were CRAZY. I was going out of town every weekend, and I was having a blast, but it was exhausting! The last two weekends were very relaxing in comparison. I didn't travel anywhere, but I still had some fun...

Weekend One:
Friday: The Capitol tour. Well, first we had a briefing with Congressman Matheson in one of the House office buildings on the Hill. It was good- I liked him, but I was a little T.O.ed because he didn't ask if anyone was from his district, and I had been SO EXCITED to tell him that I was from St. George! It was very disappointing. And THEN, we took a very very short tour of the capitol. We literally only went to the rotunda and to statuary hall. That is only a very little amount! Dumb.

But then, that night, me, Ashley, Kate, Taryn, and Erik went to Old Towne Alexandria! It is one of my favorite places. It's so cute and old and charming! We walked down King Street to the Old City Hall and then to the pier and sat on the dock. The pier was super fun because it was kind of like a carnival, except not on purpose and not for any special event. There were just random guys standing around making balloon animals or playing multiple instruments at one time like Bert on Mary Poppins. They just do these sorts of things for their jobs! Like the balloon animal guy is a career balloon animal maker! My eyes were opened to so many more career paths! Imagine being a little kid and having a balloon animal maker for a dad. What would you want to be? Perhaps a professional face-painter, an acrobat, or some sort of street minstrel?

My head looks like a turtle in that picture. That's why I posted it. Because my neck looks funky.

Saturday: All day service project and the ZOO!!

We did our semester service project at this one place (I don't remember what it's called) where they take care of pregnant women. I guess it's a woman's prenatal clinic, except it's free. And it's painted really bright colors and they do other things there too like give classes and stuff. It's really a cool place. We had to be there at 7:30am on Saturday morning, and were divided up into several groups to clean out this nasty giant aquarium thing, pull weeds, clean out the attic, clean out the garage, cut some paper (I was inclined to volunteer for this position, but I decided it was time to branch out. I'm way too good at cutting paper already), and paint the fence. I was in the fence painting group, which, luckily enough, didn't have any supplies for the first 2 hours of the project! So instead of painting right away, we sat around! And then we helped every other group finish their jobs so that by the time the paint stuff came, all 50 of us were raring to go, ready to paint that fence. These people, I think, clearly underestimated the capabilities of 50 Mormon young adults. We have LOADS of energy, and we have been trained to do service with a smile since birth. Really and truly, we sat around a lot of the time simply because we finished the assigned tasks so quickly and didn't know what to do next! It was great. It was cool that the women's clinic people underestimated our ability to work, but it was not so cool when they underestimated the amount of pizza that we would need for lunch. Sometimes 8 boxes of pizza just won't cut it when there are 50 mouths to be fed. :(

It was fun, though. I really do love service projects. Painting that fence was fun- and it didn't get too hot. But I did get paint all over my clothes. Oil based paint. I hate that stuff.

So after the service project, we went to the ZOO!!! I had been talking about going to the zoo for ages, and it finally happened!! The National Zoo is a good zoo, but it is not the best zoo. I firmly believe that it is not the best zoo for 2 reasons: 1) It is government funded. 2) It's free.
So anywho, our first and highest priority was to see the pandas because Adam insists that he IS a panda. And you know what? The pandas were my favorite part. There was one that had some personality and actually tried to eat a tree while we were watching it! We saw lots of elephants and other animals after that, but the end was my other favorite part. In the ape house there was a gorilla with a baby! It love babies! The mommy had the baby all tucked up in its arm and you could only see it sometimes, but it was so cute! Best part ever. The zoo gang, before I forget, included: me, Adam, Genevieve, Kate, Ashley, Erik, Jon, Alicia, Matt, Taryn, and Amanda. I think that Ryan and the other Matt were there part of the time too.

Weekend Two:
Friday: briefing at the National Defense University. I'm going to describe this very quickly: INTENSE. So, we were all given assignments for the briefing- it was role play where we were given a scenario between Mexico and the United States and we had to meet in delegations, and bilaterally, and talk out all the issues. Basically we were set up in diplomacy teams and we were trying to solve the world's problems. My assignment was Secretary of State. That meant that I had to control the meeting with the delegation from the U.S., and then I had to be the spokesperson when we met with Mexico. Both were very intimidating, daunting tasks. IT STRESSED ME OUT. Our first scenario was basically current conditions between the two lovely countries and drug cartels that are based in Mexico but are spreading north. We talked over the issues, and thought we had the situation under control with Mexico. But THEN, the scenario changed after lunch. Now, the border was controlled by the evil cartels, there was mass chaos in Mexico, the government was being overthrown, and there were random outbursts of cartel-induced gang violence in the United States! The border was about to be overrun by crazies, and people were dying!! As secretary of state, I asked congress for an imidiate declaration of war on drug cartels. They gave it to me.... but then we realized that most of the problem was really Mexico's, and that we could lay back and have them tell us what they wanted. I loved being the higher power... But it was still very stressful. ESPECIALLY when we met with Mexico and they claimed to already have the military might to destroy the cartels- without U.S. intervention. That was a bunch of hogwash. It they had the military power, why were there cartels with so much power in the first place? Why was this even an issue?! There was no talking sense into the Mexican delegation- they stuck their noses up at us and were very defensive. Luckily the simulation ended before a riot broke out. :) Tough crowd.

I was too worn out from all the Defense University craziness to do anything that night. Or anything else the rest of the weekend, for that matter.

Saturday: Did absolutely nothing besides sleep in, go to the gym, and clean. Oh wait. I went Kayaking on the Potomac. That was fun. :)

P.S. If you haven't already, you should read (or just look at the pictures and leave a comment) the post about Kaitlin's wedding. It's under the music video one.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Holding Out For A Hero

Props to my awesome roommate, Genevieve, and her mad editing skills. Also, these people are the coolest ever.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Georgia and Periwinkle Blue

On the morning of June 6, 2009, I woke up with a start at 4:15. Very, very early. However, it wasn't quite early enough. Somehow, in a haze of sleepiness, I had turned off my alarm when it went off the hour prior... I was supposed to have woken up at 3:15am. Reality was that I had FIFTEEN MINUTES to shower, finish packing, get ready, and get my butt out the door. My flight was scheduled for 6:00am, and I was already going to cut it close. So, I jumped out of bed and into the shower, frantically packed, braided my hair, skipped out on makeup, and ran down the stairs at 4:34 to meet Cameron (who I had convinced to accompany me to the airport). Needless to say, I was very impressed with myself. :)

He and I walked down to the foggy bottom metro stop to ride to the airport.... and we slowly realized... that the metro doesn't open until 7am on Saturdays. Cameron was like, "So, you wanna take a taxi?" It seemed my only option. We looked over to the road, and low and behold, a taxi was sitting there, waiting for dumb people like us to show up, thinking that the metro was going to be open at such an unholy hour of the morning. The problem was that neither of us had any cash. The cab driver said he would take us to an ATM. So good, problem solved. I made it to the airport on time, the flight was horrible, I was very hungry, all the usual stuff.

Fast forward to the WEDDING! Well, actually, I have to say that I met Meghan at the airport. We hadn't seen each other since that fateful day when I drove away from Provo, leaving behind my glorious BYU with the soul roommates. So it was AWESOME to see her. I was so excited!! Meghan is way too amazing. I love her so much.

Anyway, we rode the train together, and then Kyle picked us up and drove us to Kaitlin's house. I was very excited to see Kaitlin as well. Everything I said about Meg applied to Kaitlin too-- it's just a little bit of a different situation because Meg is going on her mission soon, and I will still see Kait in the fall. :) I still can't believe that she is married though... so weird. But she looked GORGEOUS. She was just on her way out, ready to drive to the temple. We were given our bridesmaids dresses, and shown to a room to get ready in. Kaitlin had little presents for Meg and Me. It was so sweet! We had really pretty necklaces to wear with our dresses and cute little notebooks.

During the sealing, I sat in the lobby with Spencer's sister. Meghan was lucky and actually got to go to the ceremony. I was super jealous-- but it's okay. I know I will be able to go to a sealing someday...

The weather for pictures after was perfect. It was cloudy and the sky looked very threatening, but it was cool, and not too bright. I loved being important enough to be in the professional pictures. I hope the photographer man got some good ones! I'm slightly obsessive about how I look in pictures, so I was kind of worried. :)We had several hours after the wedding until the reception, so me and Meg got settled in the room we were going to stay in (at the next door neighbors house. The neighbor lady was like the nicest person I have ever met. SO awesome), then went to help set up the reception. We had a lot to do, but I swear, there was like an army of wedding set-up people. It was awesome. When we were all done, I couldn't believe how amazing it looked. This reception was the prettiest wedding I had ever been to. And I've been to a lot of weddings. I'm being totally serious. It was perfectly gorgeous, and I want my wedding to look just like it. I asked Kait's mom if she would do my wedding... I don't remember if she said yes, but it'll happen.
Best flowers at a wedding, EVER.

And then, Meg and I took a much needed/deserved nap. I was suffering from a 3-hour night's sleep and was exhausted. We slept for like an hour, but then I had to get ready! We were told to be back at the reception at 6 to finish the last set-up and take more pictures! Me and Meg were the cutest bridesmaids ever. And Kaitlin had a friend, Lauren, who actually grew up with her in Georgia who was a bridesmaid too, and she was awesome. We become such good friends in that one day!The reception was SO FUN! Me, Meg, Lauren, and Kyle played guard duty at the entrance. We took turns taking presents and telling people to write in the sign-in book I made.
After a while we took a very long break to eat food and sit at the table that was "RESERVED for the wedding party."
We felt really cool about that. And the food was really yummy. They had a chocolate fountain, this amazing cheesy dip stuff (that, after having like 3 servings each, me and Meg finally just filled a whole cup up with and got a whole plate full of chips!), ham and turkey, lots of fruit, 5 different flavors on the most beautiful wedding cake EVER, etc.
I was pretty much in love with this wedding. MY FAVORITE EVER.

After Kaitlin and Spencer left, we all helped clean up, and then it was immediately hot tub time. We had been eying that small body of water ALL DAY. We jumped right in and proceeded to get pruny in the hot tub until about 2 in the morning. Probably not the best idea ever, considering my high level of sleep deprivation, but I had to spend as much time as possible with Meg! And it was fun to hang out with Kyle and Lauren too.

We had to get up the next morning at 5, and Kait's Dad took us to the airport. My flight left at 7:30, and I made it just in time. And, GUESS WHATTY?? The plane was nearly empty, so I had a whole row to myself, I got a blanket the moment I stepped onto the plane (so I was warm), and I got to sit by the window on a plane for the first time EVER!!! Plane rides are a million times more enjoyable if you are warm, have a lot of room, and can look out the window!! It was great. And, I was home and in my bed by 10am that morning. I slept pretty much all day.
Spending the money on a flight to be at Kaitlin's wedding, I think, was a very good decision. I'm so glad that I was able to go! I wanted to go SO bad, and I finally just spent the money that I didn't really have on a ticket. I'm so happy that I did. I loved being there for Kaitlin- helping her, and supporting her on her day, and I loved seeing Meghan. It would have been horrible not to have been able to spend that time with her. I'm going to miss her so much. She leaves SO SOON!

Also, I LOVED GEORGIA. It was SO PRETTY! Somehow, I didn't expect it to be so amazing. And the Albas are like the coolest family ever. I love them! And seriously, spending that short 24 hours in Georgia kind of made me want to live there! It was just so perfect and pleasant and beautiful. Since coming out to DC my eyes have been opened to the fact that there are other places in the world worth living than Utah- and particularly, St. George. Virginia is really pretty too. I love all the greenness!

Anyway, it was the best 24-hour vacation ever. I loved it, and I'm so happy for you Kaits! And sorry, ya'll. This is a really long post.

I love TJ and Abe.

I am super far behind. I have gotten SO BUSY, and time flies too fast. This is my attempt to catch up. I am going to post in fairly quick sequence to get all of you, my fans, up to speed.

So, 2 weekends ago, we didn't have class on Friday. Instead, it was cultural enrichment day, and we were simply required to spend the day doing something that had to do with history or art or something similar. My vote was to ride bikes 12 miles to Mount Vernon and spend the day. I was outvoted by, well, everyone. Tyson was excited by my idea, but Adam convinced him that renting a car and driving to Monticello was a more valuable use of our time. I agreed, but was bitter. In the end, me, Tyson, Adam, Ryan, Jeff, and Amanda went to Monticello.

Now, a little bit of preface. Thomas Jefferson is my hero. He has always been my favorite. AND, I have ALWAYS wanted to go to Monticello. It has always been a priority. I remember that sometime in Elementary school we learned about TJ and my teacher told us about some of the cool inventions and things in his house. It seemed like a distant fairly tale-ish kind of a place- not anywhere that I could ever actually go. I know this sounds silly, but that's how I always felt about it. The place in engraved on the back of every nickle for crying out loud! It's like a palace of America, besides the white house, of course. So anyway, I was very excited. And I love day-trips, and I love riding in real cars instead of trains and buses. :)

Adam got the car early Friday morning, and we drove to Monticello. It's just a couple hours in to Virginia. Virginia, by the way, it gorgeous. So green and hilly and beautiful. I loved the scenery. It was much more exciting than good ole I-15 between Provo and St.G!

We spent about 3 hours in Monticello. There was a movie to watch at the visitor's center, a small museum about Jefferson, and a shuttle that went to the house. When we got up there, we had some time before our tour, so we walked around the plantation, looking at the gardens, Jefferson's grave, and some of the slave huts. It was really cool. And really pretty. I really love the scenery in Utah, but there really is something to be said for green-ness!

Our tour of the house went through the main level- the front entry way (with the cool clock that is based on a weight system that falls through holes in the floor), the parlor, kitchens, TJ's bedroom and office, etc. The bedroom/office was my favorite part. Jefferson designed the house, so he built his room and office to perfectly suit his needs. He was all about inventing things that made everyday tasks more efficient. His bed was in an alcove that had two openings instead of one. When he got up in the morning he could choose to get out of bed on the office side, or on the bedroom side. Above is bed alcove was a closet for his out-of-season clothes. The little stairs that led up there were located at the head of the bed alcove. It was really cool! And his office had all sorts of gadgets that made reading easier and such. I loved it.

We walked around the stables and skill shops after the tour, then headed home.

We drove back a different way we came and went through Fredricksburg, the home of a civil war battle, and Montpelier, James Madison's house. We weren't going to drive through Montpelier, but Ryan secretly convinced Tyson (who was navigating) to give Adam (who was driving) wrong directions so we could end up there. I had really wanted to go, but everyone else was against the idea, so that was nice of Ryan. :) I'm glad we got to go through that little town, and I'm glad that the boys I hang out with are so considerate of me. :)

I got home around 7, ate dinner, then went to the Air and Space Museum to see Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian!!! I was excited to see a movie in the place where it was filmed, but honestly, the movie wasn't that great. I didn't love it. It was funny, I just don't think I would want to watch it again. But I'm glad I went, and Tyson and I enjoyed making fun of the cheesy parts. Right when the movie was over, I rushed home to write the paper that was due by midnight, that I hadn't started on.

It was a research proposal for our semester projects. It was very dumb of me to wait until the very last minute to write it. I was kind of freaking out a little bit while I was trying to write it, but I chose spend money and have fun instead of work on it. Most would say that writing a reserach proposal in less than two hours, right before it is due, and turn it in without proof-reading is a very bad idea. And in theory, it is. But somehow, it worked out for me. I got it back yesterday, and everything is jolly good, :) This is actually a very bad thing. I wish I would have done horrible. Then, maybe, I would learn my lesson and work harder in the future. But when I still do okay without really trying, why would I ever start trying??!! This is a new, very bad attitude about school. I have zero motivation for anything related to schoolwork. And I have papers due every week! I have yet to write one more than a couple hours before it is due. Hopefully I'll get the laziness bugs out of me before next semester, and I can be a good student again. :*

On Saturday, we woke up super early to go to the White House. My friend Brett had arranged for us to go on a tour. It really was a special privilege because white house tour tickets are getting harder and harder to come by, and as a general rule, you have to request them like 3 months in advance. We arranged our tour the week prior. :) That's what you get when you have friends who work on Capitol Hill! I love it.

We were instructed to bring nothing with us except our ID. I couldn't even take a camera! or a cell phone! Security is very tight around that place. Who knew?! You can actually see snipers in the trees and on the roof. :) The tour was really cool, though. My favorite room was the blue room. It in the middle of the rounded part that you can see on the front outside of the building. It had really cool blue furniture that was designed by some president in the mid-1800s. Then, when Jackie O. was the ruler of the place, she moved all that furniture out becuase she didn't like it. It was all sold at public auction, but recently, the pieces were all gathered together again to re-create the original room, and it was gorgeous! I had a good time talking to the secret service guys about what goes on in each room. They don't tell you much. They are very good at keeping secrets. We asked one guy if Obama was going to speak at the Lincoln Memorial rededication that was later that afternoon. He said, "I cannot comment on what the president will or will not do." Very strategic. We got no information.

After the tour, we went to the White House visitor's center, and then to Chipotle for lunch. I had never been there before, I just know that Chipotle is Spencer and Kyle's favorite place ever. I had high expectations for the place... and I'm not sure that my expectations were met... but it was still really good!!! I actually would really love to go back. :) It was delicious. I don't understand how they can like it better than Cafe Rio, though. That whole idea is completely foreign to me. In comprehensible.

So, the plan for the rest of the day was to attend the Lincoln Memorial re-dedication on the mall, and hopefully get to see Obama and hear him speak (his presence at the event was a pervasive online rumor). But, we still had several hours before the event, and we already had a crew on the mall staking out spots for us to sit in (in the shade, of course). Chipotle is near Chinatown, so the walk back included a stroll past the National Archives. IDEA! Why don't we spend our extra time studying the real Declaration of Independence, and hope to find treasure?? So we did. Well, not exactly. We went in the checked out the exhibits on the upper floors, but when we made our way down to the rotunda where all the cool stuff is, Amanda (leader of the mall crew) called me and said that we needed to get to the Lincoln Memorial because if we got tickets, we could get an actual seat and the event! We rushed to the Lincoln (about a mile from where we were), found a park service guy dressed in brown who was handing out tickets, and stood in the massive line for chairs.

The rededication is something that I am glad that I went to, but also something that was very miserable to sit through. It was VERY hot, the sun was in my eyes (and I didn't have sunglasses), and I was very, very tired. As you read about earlier, the day prior was a big day, I was up late, and I had to get up really early for the white house tour. And last, it was miserable because THE PRESIDENT DIDN'T EVEN SHOW UP! I promise, I will see that guy in person before I leave Washington. I have to. That is the whole point, dag nabbit! I've walked through his house, for crying out loud! And I can walk past it whenever I want! Everyday if I have to! So yeah, I'm glad we went because it was still a cool thing, but kind of disappointing at the same time.

I don't want anyone to think that I am an Obama fan. I don't want to see/hear him speak so bad because of the person he is, but because he is the president. No matter who it is, there have still only been 44 of these guys in the history of America. You can not get more high profile than being Obama right now. He is currently the epitome of famousness. Hands down, the most famous person in the world right now. Sure, there are select celebrity that emit massive amounts of star power and what not, but seriously, Obama is the premier famous person world-wide. You know it's true. And might I add that people in D.C. are OBSESSED with him. There are gift shops all around that sell only Obama things. There is a store in Georgetown, amid other stores like Urban Outfitters, Banana Republic, and J. Crew, that is called "The Inauguration Shop" and it sells Obama-related apparel. I'm actually dead set on purchasing some button-up collared pajamas with Obama heads all over them. How hilarious is that??!! And I didn't see it there, but I bet that they carry the Obama Chia Pet that I advertised on my blog a couple of months ago. :)

So anyway, after the rededication I was completely worn out, and I just went home and showered/took a nap until late, when we watched a movie with the projecter. That's what we do when it's late. Watch movies and huddle inside the B-low Center and its air conditioned rooms. :)

Until next time...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

China and Italy

The last day. I'm sick of being stuck on this New York trip posting thing. I'm ready to move on to other very exciting things!!

SO, anyway, we rode the train back in to New York City from Morristown at 9:00 in the morning, and when we got to the City, rode the subway straight to Chinatown. The place was CRAZY! There were all sorts of little Asian women running around with funny hats on, lots of fruit stands with exotic fruits, and TONS of jewelry and handbag shops. The little Asian women stood on the corners and sidewalks and called to people when they walked past: "You want Gucci? Prada? Versace? Come with me!" They held little pieces of paper that sampled their black market merchandise. Other women had long sleeved button-up shirts on, with the cuffs unbuttoned on the sleeves so that they were easily pull-up-able. They would pull up their sleeves and expose lots of jewelry that they were illegally selling. It was really quite a spectacle. I think that a good word to describe it with is chaotic. There were way too many people all crammed together, yelling, bargaining, trying to find each other, sell things, etc. Incredible madness that was really very stressful. S0mehow, while we were looking at all of this stuff, me and Tanier got separated from the boys. I think it was because we were taking too long trying on rings and stuff while Adam and Cameron were on a search for watches. Adam was trying to find a solid gold watch. Cameron wanted on with a face the size of his wrist. Needless to say, Cameron was successful, Adam was not. :)

So while Tanier and I were walking around, we happened to pass a woman who yanked up her shirt sleeve as we walked past. As she held up her arm, she yelled, "You want Tiffany's??" MAGIC WORDS. "Why, yes," I said to her, "I really would like some Tiffany's." She whipped off a bracelet and threw it around my wrist. My was this lady a good saleswoman. All she had to do was say Tiffany's and flash some silver in my face and I was sold! I obviously knew that it wasn't real, but it was SO PRETTY! So I bought the bracelet. And I have worn it a TON since. I swear, it looks real. Tiffany and Co. is etched on the side of the heart charm that is attached and there is a number on it and everything. So I pretend that it is real. :) I also bought a diamond-studded heart-shaped ring from one of the shops. I saw the ring in the first shop we went in, and I just kept thinking about that same ring when we walked into every other store. By the end of our visit to Chinatown I realized that the ring from the first shop had to be mine! So we went back, and I bought it for $10. I was very happy. Rachelle, you have converted me to the ways of rings. I obsess over them a little bit. And I talk about diamonds a little too much.
So, Chinatown was absolutely charming and I loved it. Me and Tanier had our share of adventures... all of which should not be recorded... But, right next to Chinatown is Little Italy. And as many shops as there were in Chinatown, there were just as many restaurants in Little Italy. We found the boys and a cheap little pizza place to have lunch. And I am going to bluntly state that the pizza we bought at this tiny pizza cafe-like place was THE BEST PIZZA I HAVE EVER HAD. I don't really understand it. I might have been way too hungry, so it just tasted extra amazing, I don't know. But it was delicious. To top off the amazing piece of pizza, I got some spumoni-flavored gelato from a cart with two Italian men gushing over my beauty. Haha. He gave me an extra scoop of the pistaschio flavored part. YES. I love that part the best!
Little Italy!! See how everything is green and red?

So then, we walked over to the Financial Disctrict, namely, Wall Street. The first place we noticed there was Trinity Church. That's the church with the underground graveyard and really cool stair/elevator system that lead to a TREASURE in National Treasure. So, we went inside to look for treasure. We didn't find any, but that's only because the secret passageways and such were roped off and and we are good BYU kids who don't go past things that are roped off. It was really pretty, though. The grounds were awesome, and some of the graves were SO OLD! Trinity Church is on Wall and Broadway--- a pretty famous intersection, don't you think?
Christ Church
The charming ancient graveyard. :)

After walking through the church, we walked up Wall Street. I'm not really a finance-oriented kind of person. I don't really get the whole Wall Street/stock market thing, so, I wasn't super excited about this. There was statue of George Washington, though, and after Cameron finished taking a picture of me by it, he said, "Um, I just saw something down the street that is going to make you VERY happy!" So, I looked down the street, and I saw it: The Mothership. Tiffany's. I have to preface this with the fact that the WHOLE time we were in New York, I was on the look-out for a Tiffany's. I kept saying, "Okay, guys, the only thing that's on my list of priorities (besides Ellis Island) is Tiffany's. I HAVE to go there." So after we saw it, Cameron and I made a beeline for the store. Excitement was mounting. Alert! Diamonds ahead! My heart beat faster. I saw sparkly things in the back of my mind. I quicked my pace. And then.... The door was locked. It was closed for Memorial Day. And I was crestfallen. Poor, poor Audrey. Cameron took pictures of me looking sad, and then we moved on. :(When we caught up with the rest of the group- Tyson, Adam, and Tanier, we decided that we had enough time to go to the pier and look at some cool boats, but that was about it. So, we walked down there. And, there were some cool boats! I love nautical things. That means I love boats and anchors and navy blue, and most of all, sailors. (Did I mention before that there were navy sailors swarming all over New York City for the holiday weekend? Best weekend ever. They were so adorable in their white suits and blue neckerchiefs!)

And when our time at the pier was over, we rode the subway back to the train station, and caught the bus that was headed for home. And by home I mean Washington, D.C. The bus ride was like the saddest thing ever because the bus was really full, so none of us could sit by each other. I was more than a little T.O.ed. I had to sit by this random lady who talked on the phone the whole time, and my phone was DEAD. Oh, the anger. AND, I was muy muy muy exhausted, and I couldn't sleep because bus seats are very uncomfortable, and I had nothing to lean on so everytime I almost fell asleep, I fell over and jerked awake. I was very excited for the bus ride to be over.

I have to admit that I was actually very anxious to get home. D.C. is like slow-paced compared to NYC. I was excited to be normal again. New York stressed me out a smidgen. And I was suddenly very grateful for the metro system that we have in D.C. The one in NYC was GRODY.

We got home around 9pm, I unpacked and went to bed. It was an amazing trip. I loved almost every minute of it, and I'm so glad I was able to go. I get to do so many cool things, I have to pinch myself every couple minutes or so. :) I love being here. When every day ends it makes me sad that I have one less day to spend in Washington, D.C. It really is a great place to be. And Meghan, I really am so jealous of myself right now!

P.S. Even though I love it here, I could so totally do without the rain. It has rained nonstop for like 2 weeks. SO SICK OF IT.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Day 3: I love Sunday, Day of the Diners.

I've been SO excited to post this day, but I just now have time! YAHOO! I realize that I am taking way too long to tell about New York, and I just need to hurry it up already.

SO, we got up at around 8 and checked out of The W by 9, got breakfast, then met up with the boys and started our walk to church. We made a few stops along the way: The Plaza Hotel, and Central Park. Well, Central Park wasn't really a stop- we just had to walk through it to get to church.

The Plaza was beautiful--and so fancy! There was a giant grand staircase, a ballroom with fancy golden chairs, and doormen dressed like in the movies! They also had a giant picture of Eloise (you know, the little girl books?), so here ya go, Elise, I know you were excited about that. Me and Ashley felt all fancy because we went there. And it was perfect because we were in church clothes, so we felt appropriately dress for the place.
I LOVED CENTRAL PARK. This was probably my favorite part of the trip. Honestly, I imagined the park to be kind of gross and run-down. I imagined there to be lots of homeless people and grubby shopping carts and craps all over the place. I was given the impression, somehow, that the park was a dangerous place to go. I didn't think it was ALL going to be gross, just some of it, and that the rest would just look like your average park. Well, I was dead wrong. It was by far, hands down, the prettiest park I have ever seen. There were lots of ponds and bridges that were covered in vines and lots of cute park benches and big, pretty trees. And lots of grass that was mowed just perfectly, and fountains, and sculptures. We were there pretty early in the morning, though, so there weren't a ton of people out yet. When we walked back through after church is wasn't as awesome because it was more crowded and the weather was hotter. But I loved it.
I love park benches. An example of the gorgeousness.This is my frolicking through Central Park. :)

We went to church in the Manhattan Temple. There is a meeting house on the 3rd floor of the temple. It was really cool to see the Angel Moroni suddenly poke up out of nowhere in the middle of New York City. The building was really pretty inside, too, but the air conditioning wasn't working, so pretty much, I just sat there as baked for an hour and a half of an extra long sacrament meeting. Really, it was probably the longest sacrament meeting of my life. We only stayed for sacrament because we had too many things to do! And, since we had met up with everyone for church, there were kind of a lot of us to squeeze in as visitors in their Sunday School classes.

So, instead, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art! It was FABULOUS. There were lots and lots of statues and paintings and every kind of art. The museum is enormous, so we had to pick and choose what we wanted to see. My favorite part was the Greek and Roman art section. I pretty sure that any faithful reader of my blog could have guessed that. I love Greek and Roman things. Especially Roman things, and even more especially things from the Augustan period. The Met gave me exactly those things-- There was a TON of stuff from the Augustan period. Do you realize what that means? Augustan means that it was made during the time of Augustus, aka OCTAVIAN, my favorite guy!! I told everyone, "This is my favorite emperor. Do you have a favorite emperor? Mine is Octavian/Caesar Augustus. And my second favorite is probably Hadrian. But that's mostly because I like his name. But do you know how cool Augustus was?" A lot of people actually wanted to know what he did that was cool. So I told them, and I enjoyed myself. :)Caesar Augustus himself!!!

The museum also had this circular room that had a mural of the buildings and grounds at Versailles, France. There were benches in the middle of the room to sit on, and the lights were kind of dark. This was my second favorite place. After we had been walking for so long, Me, Cameron, and Shawn used this room as a relaxation room. We seriously sat in there for like half an hour, and it was lovely. The murals were really pretty. The three of us agreed that they made us feel like we were actually at Versailles.

After the museum, we rode the subway to Penn Station to buy train tickets to Morristown, New Jersey. We were going to stay at Jon's sister's house that night. :) Oh, I forgot to say that after the museum, Ashley took the bus back to Washington with Matt, Erik, and Ryan. So it was just me, Tanier, Tyson, Cameron, and Adam who were together. Anyway, after we got our tickets, we were all VERY STARVING, and even though it was Sunday, we still had to eat, so we went to a diner by the station. It was kind of a 50's-ish dealio with classic American food. I got this grilled-cheese sandwich thing that sounded really good on the menu, but is was super weird because instead of grilling it, the cheese and meat was melted in between two pieces of French toast. It was soggy and dumb.

Anywho, we decided that our last stop for the night should be ground zero. I had been really excited about this too. We thought it was cool that we were going to go there the night before Memorial Day. They didn't have anything special set up, though. I was really surprised by the whole thing because it was just a construction site. There was a path to go up and look down on the site, but there was nothing to see but construction for new buildings. They are building new towers. The new towers are going to be really cool, but I was disappointed that I didn't get to see the wreckage from 2001. I guess that was dumb of me, because, well, 2001 was like EIGHT years ago. Obviously the wreckage wouldn't still be fresh. I don't know, I just thought it would be preserved some how. That's what I had wanted. It was still really cool, though, and we saw the big steel cross that some firemen had built and stuck on the heaps of burned down/collapsed building. And they had a small exhibit with a timeline- hour by hour- of events. I liked that.

By the time we were done at Ground Zero we realized that we only had about 40 minutes to ride the subway all the way back to the hotel, get our luggage, and then right all the way back to the train station, go through security, then catch our train. We were in a massive, stressful rush, and my feet hurt so bad. I didn't have blisters or anything, but my feet had been walking on shoes with no support and very thin soles for miles and miles. The bottom of my feet felt like they had giant, very tender bruises covering them, and they pulsed with every step I took. It was very miserable. But, we had to hurry, and I had to run. Somehow, some way, we made it, and plopped down into our seats on the train all hot, sweaty, and bothered. I was still in my church clothes, by the way, and I felt disgusting. BUT, the train ride was very pleasant, and it was supposed to take about 2 hours, but I swear it was faster than that. There were official guys that came around to check our tickets after we made every stop. It was an actual passenger train. I honestly didn't know that those things still existed in the United States. They sure don't exist in the west. Sure, in Salt Lake we have the Trax system, but this is like a long distance, you buy a specific ticket kind of train. :)

So, we got to Morristown, New Jersey, and called Jon, our ride to the house where we were going to stay. Jon and Jeff, his partner in crime, had not followed the plan. They were supposed to have left NYC like 2 hours before us, so, accounting for traffic, they would get back to Morristown before us, and be able to pick us up when we got off the train. Well, I don't know when they left NYC, but they were still like an hour out of Morristown in traffic. The five of us who rode the train were not happy campers. And what does one do when they are not a happy camper? They find a place to eat ice cream. I need to add that at this point it was about 11:00pm. We walked down the block a little ways until we came to a little Diner. (This is Diner #2 of the night--- We decided at that point that it was funny to see how many diners we could go to in different states on the same night). We ordered milkshakes, finished them too quickly, then just sat and waited until Jon showed up. It's just so funny when we are in a public setting such as this. It was late at night, everything in the diner was very quiet, and then we show up, and suddenly the diner was a much more lively place. We get comments all the time about how happy we are. The waitress was a little blown away by us because we dragged our luggage in, and then sat around laughing hysterically under the inlfuence of milkshakes for like 2 hours!

Jon finally showed up, we drove to the house, then went immediately to sleep. :)