Wednesday, April 30, 2008

From Paradise, Returned

Appropriately, I finished reading East of Eden, John Steinbeck's pseudo retelling of the Adam & Eve/Cain & Abel story, early, early this morning sometime, as my Delta flight sped 30,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, carrying me from Hawaii--land o' pineapple soft serve and sand like cornmeal--to northern California, Steinbeck's erstwhile home and the low-hilled setting for this book.

Man, it was appropriate on multiple levels.

And while I'm gearing up for the Great Weekend (in which my parents and seven of my eight siblings come to celebrate with me as I graduate from el school of law) and, consequently, may or may not be around to make satisfyingly updated posts on this blog--even to tell you the details of my fun and lovely trip to Hawaii--I did want to take a moment right now to say this: Steinbeck might be genius.

[I'm searching for this great quote in East of Eden about Americans as being both terribly courageous and terribly fearful simultaneously, among other things. Anyone know which one I'm talking about or where it is?]

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hello, world.

I am done with law school.

Note: But law school is not yet done with me. I officially graduate on May 4 and will participate in all sorts of festivities surrounding that, including the Final Cleaning out of My Locker and the Emotional Abandonment of My Cubby. But if I do nothing else--if I do nothing else--chances are 99.999999999% that I will end up with a J.D. after my name. Who would ever, ever have guessed?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sarah's Sacrament Meeting Talk (March 16, 2008)

I gave a sacrament meeting talk on March 16. It was in all kind of a ridiculously wonderful day. The other single LDS 3L also spoke, in sort of a law-student-themed meeting (the third speaker was a non-lawyer woman). The other law student, my friend Mike, had two law student friends who said they'd come to church if he spoke, so he finally asked the bishopric if he could give a talk. They said yes (probably yes!) and invited me too, I think because they thought it would be cute.

We invited our classmates to come. About twelve(!) did. One even drove down from Berkeley (an hour or so drive) and arrived early to the 9 am meeting. It was wonderful--wonderful--to see them sitting in row after row after row, mixed in with my wardmates, grouped in pews on the right side of the chapel. I also had a beloved former (and future?) roommate from DC in town, and for some reason, the chapel was packed. It was a beautiful morning. The topic was the Good Samaritan.

Turns out the Second Ward has taken to recording sacrament meeting talks. Yesterday, I was emailed a copy of mine. The sound is a often fuzzy and a little edgy, but I'm almost entirely comprehensible. I hope you enjoy it. (Note: The talk begins with a reference to the squirrel story, which, awesomely, I posted a few weeks. It's a great story. One worth revisiting.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

A dating theory.

This is my newest dating theory. I'm going public with it. (Remember, it's just a theory, meaning (a) it's not even "true," necessarily, and (b) even if is true as a general principle, as a rule, there will be exceptions.)

Relationships may begin because two people like each other's best behaviors, but relationships end because either one or both people do not like each other's worst behaviors.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Oh man, so cute.

Last year, I got my dream calling*: sacrament meeting program maker. Every other week, I make my ward's sacrament meeting program.

Over the course of the last six months or so, I've tried to tone down both (a) the amount of time I spend making the program (I'm not really a perfectionist--most of you know this--except for when it comes to text and graphic design, turns out) and (b) the edginess of my designs (I have often ignored left-to-right sort of reading styles and once put a picture of the bishop's face next to his name in the program--so great). I worried that my programs were distracting from the real purpose of sacrament meeting (renewing our sacred covenants with God, for one) and were garnering undue attention (kind of the way my father has worried that a pink tie my sister gave him for Easter earns him more compliments than he's comfortable with). And, too, I began to feel heaven try to tell me that "it's about the people, not the programs." Which is true and makes me laugh.

Knowing all of that, I did want to share the program I made for this last Sunday because, I have to say, it was so, so cute.

Rather than using a full sheet folded in half, I used quarter sheets and folded those in half. Oh MAN. So cute.

Note: Usually I avoid using the traditional sacrament meeting program template for my programs, but in honor of the particularly diminutive nature of this week's program, I decided to go straight-up traditional. I even put a picture of the Savior on the cover, which admittedly I should do more often. (I realized that I've put more pictures on the program of nature--and some shamelessly ripped off pictures by Ansel Adams--than I have of religious scenes, perhaps leading investigators to wonder if we are, in fact, pagan. Note: We are not.)

And, of course, a story: Saturday night, I was in the law library making this program, and when I was done, I was so excited about it--so, so excited about it--I turned to the law student in the carrel next to me. I don't know him well--he's a 1L--but I said to him, "Can I tell you something?" He looked at me for a moment and then, seriously, said yes. I showed him the program and, super quickly, explained lay clergy, volunteer service, callings, sacrament meeting, the tradition of sacrament meeting programs and their full-page folds, and said, "And this is the program I'm bringing to church tomorrow. Isn't it so cute?" He nodded kindly. I was pleased. And then he said, "Actually, when I looked over and first saw that, I thought, 'That is so cute.'" "Really?" I asked. "Yes," he said. "Really."

And before I left he said to me, "Tell me how it goes tomorrow!" At church, the first counselor began sacrament meeting by holding up my program and saying, "As you can see, we don't have many announcements today. And, the Second Ward is going green!" Then the bishop winked at me from the stand.

On Monday I saw my friendly 1L and told him that the program had gone well. In fact, I said, "It went over huge."

*In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, each full congregation is called a "ward." Since we don't have any professional clergy or paid church workers, all of the jobs to serve the congregation are done by members in the congregation as volunteer work. We don't volunteer, lobby, or nominate ourselves for these positions; rather we are asked by the congregation leaders to do particular jobs, usually for a few years at a time. An assigned volunteer job issued in this manner is called a "calling." Right now I have two callings (having more than one calling is not unusual): I make the sacrament meeting program (the paper program handed out to parishioners at each Sunday's church service) and I teach a doctrinal lesson once a month to the women in my ward, which I will do this Sunday, if you're reading this and want to come.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


They are tricky. So, so tricky.

But I do want to tell one story:

A boy I knew had had his heart broken by a girl he really liked. And his family, consequently, talked kind of badly about her. She wasn't good enough for him, she treated him badly, she needed to grow up and stop being so superficial and insecure, if they ever saw her again, they'd somethingsomething. Some of this was in jest--they are loving people--but some of it was said earnestly, in their hurt for their brother/son, whom they loved.

Most of the times I heard them say these things to my friend, he would try to deflect it. He would say, "No, no, it's okay. It's fine. I did x, y, or z, and that wasn't good."

Once, on one particular day, she came up in the conversation, and his brother made some comment about her and how she was a bad person, and my friend looked his brother in the eye and said, firmly, kindly, "She's doing the best she can."

I decided then that that was one of the most Christ-like things I had ever heard a person say. And I knew that if he and I ever broke up (yes, we were then dating), that he would treat me well, subsequently, and that I would not have to worry about how he would talk to people about me, including the ones closest to him, including his family. We later broke up, and he has treated me well, and I have not worried.

And I have tried--tried to remember to try--to follow his example in all of the situations I can. Even though, I want to acknowledge, that it may not always be true. We may be 100% confident that our ex did not try as hard as he/she could; still, still, I think we should treat them as though they had. I don't know. I'm not sure I can defend it, except that any other idea makes me feel sad inside. And this story makes me feel happy and full of grace and truth.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Squirrel Story (the Original!)

I have told and re-told this story to some of you and here--here is the original, courtesy of Dave Shoe (a friend in my ward, the speaker of the story) and Rix (the ward member assigned, apparently, blessedly, to record sacrament meeting talks).

Squirrels. Shoe. Genius.

Reader's Digest and the Promise of a Brighter Tomorrow

I'm wondering if every family has its schemes for success. I know some who've started frozen yogurt businesses, some who sell handmade hunting arrows, some who play harp and violin and flute and perform at weddings. I've read about those who talk about starting egg farms (The Egg and I). I hear tell of those who record primary songs in foreign languages and sell the albums to members abroad. And I know of at least one that jokes about buying planes to live on islands and off their wealthy son-in-law (mostly, mostly in jest). My family--we, too, have our scheme. Schemes. Now we talk about making movies and writing television pilots and, actually, media production of all kinds. But before this, before all this, there was the First Scheme. And the First Scheme was Reader's Digest.

For instance, today my roommate Reija (a high school science teacher) had this as her gchat status:
Me (doing problems): Oh! There's a spider on my chalkboard! Kids: AAAAAAAAAHHHHH! Me (poking it with a pen): It's alive! Kids: AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! Me: Don't worry I'll just draw a circle around it and label it "spider". If it leaves the circle, the you can scream. (Three minutes later) Kids: AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!
My brother Peter, also friends with Reija via gchat, chatted me about it, saying this:
It is brilliant. It shines.
And then, whammo, he added:
I keep trying to think of how we can turn it into a Reader's Digest joke, but I'm having trouble.
It turns out, my parents--okay, mostly my mother--would and do often take advantage of family gatherings, even informal moments, to talk about ways we can make money, as a family or as individuals. "We're funny," someone says. And my mother pipes in: "You should write something for Reader's Digest." And someone usually adds, "We really should," shaking his/her head to show that yes, in fact, it's astonishing that, for whatever reason, our destiny with Reader's Digest has not yet been made.

This Reader's Digest moment arises, of course, because of the fine-print promise embedded in the front matter of the Reader's Digests that fossilize in our bathrooms and rest scattered from time immemorial throughout my grandparents' mountain cabin. The promise is something like this: Submit inane and mildly funny joke-meets-short-paragraph. Get paid $300. Lightning will strike.

To my family, this possibility that we could, with a minimum of effort and typing, cash in on the invariably small and funny moments of our life seemed/seems like the golden egg, the cash cow at the end of the rainbow, the promise of a new tomorrow. This is, after all, America.

That's it. That's the whole spiel. This is our original idea for making money, and it, despite its seeming out of sync with the times (doesn't Reader's Digest strike you as being anachronistic, even though it features hot commodities like Tina Fey?), it comes, it resurfaces, it haunts. You should know, though, that though we've done a lot of thinking about it (after Peter's comment, I'm realizing that my thinking times 9.5--one for each of my siblings, plus one for my mom, and .5 for my less-invested dad--is a lot of thinking), I don't think anyone in my family has ever submitted anything to Reader's Digest. Not to "Life in These United States," not to the general non-true joke column, certainly not to "Humor in Uniform. "

Yet, yet, faced with something true and short and funny (specifically, a pithy kind of funny), what does Peter do? He tries to turn it into a Reader's Digest bit--for the possibility of $300 and the satisfaction of fulfilling my family's long-held dream. Just a boy wanting to make his family, his mama, and America proud. Reader's Digest. America in your pocket.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

"These Women"

There's a moment in one of the early seasons of The West Wing where, at the end of the episode, the West Wing staff are chatting over chili that President Bartlet has made after work. And, because of the greatness of the internet, I've been able to find the script of the exact moment. (A West Wing primer: Bartlet is the President. Josh is the Deputy Chief of Staff. Leo is the Chief of Staff. They are looking at a room full of their colleagues, including their rockstar female colleagues: CJ Cregg, Donna Moss, Mrs. Landingham.)

Look at this, will you?

At what sir?

I don’t know why, but nothing makes me feel quite so good as the sight of colleagues,
enjoying each other outside work.

So, what were you guys talking about?

We were talking about these women.


We can’t get over these women.

I have thought about this moment. I've had this moment, this moment of looking at the women around me and being delighted and in awe of their greatness. Their genius, their goodness, their buoyancy, their depth and kindness and nimbility. Maybe it's the product of my last nine years of living exclusively with other girls, but I have a profound testimony of the goodness of so many women.

Last month, or maybe the month before, a friend of mine got up during our fast & testimony Relief Society meeting and bore her testimony. It began as you would expect: "I'm grateful for my Savior and for this church. I know that President Hinckley is a prophet" (this was likely before President Hinckley passed away) "and I love this ward." But then she took a stand: "I love this Relief Society, and I want to say that I want you sisters to be happy. I want you to get the man of your dreams, and I don't care if he's the man that I want and you get him. I want you to be happy, and I will root for your success." (Essentially. This is essentially what she said.)

We were delighted. I was delighted. This is a hard thing to say, I think, because it's such a sensitive subject. How do we say--how do we mean--that we are glad for each other's romantic successes, even when it means that we do not have the success we want in the moment we want it? It seems funny that it's even an issue. I wonder about women's reputation for cattiness, and I've been glad to have so little exposure to it. But still--in our community, small as it is, we may date the same people. We may like the same men. We may hope for successes with the very people that others want to succeed with. And I think the answer--the only comfort I've received--comes from my belief in the goodness of so many women. This is what I figure: If there's a boy so cool that I like him, then I'll probably like the women that he likes (maybe--maybe--even more than I liked him). So, if he chooses another one over me, then I can take comfort in my happiness for her--that she, this good woman that I do or would like, is getting attention from a good man.

So, a story: The first boy I sort of dated at BYU was named Brent. I didn't know we were dating until after we'd broken up. In post-break-up talks he said, "So when we were dating..." I said, "We dated?" And he said, "Yeah, but then when we broke up..." And I said, "We had a break up?" (I was totally excited.) After we broke up, he started dating this other woman named Kirsten. I wondered about her--he and I were still friends--what she was like, how I would feel if/when I met her, what I should think about the whole thing. But then, one night, maybe at a poetry reading at Brent's, I met her. And you know what? She was awesome. Awesome. She was smart and cool and pretty and great, and she helped Brent dress better (which he needed) and got him to watch movies (which I never could)--good movies, ones I like. And they got married and they have three or four kids, and sometimes I get baby announcements from them. And I delight that he ended up with someone as great as she.

That's my story. And I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

To: The World / Re: Email Dread

If you've emailed me recently, you may have received my "vacation responder," which indicates that because of a newly dead laptop and some traveling (NY first, Utah now), I'm without meaningful email access. "Sans meaningful email access," the email says. (Today in the shower I considered my choice of the word "sans." It sounds pretentious when I think about it, but then, I usually use it without thinking about it. Thinking about that, I realize that one of the reasons I use it without thinking--sans thinking, if you will (as a great ex-boyfriend once said to me, "Of course I will")--is because I first learned it in Mme. Ulin's seventh-grade French class. Not, NOT a pretentious place to learn a word. Le chat = cat. Parce que = because. Sans = without. Le biftek = steak. Steak? Really? Weird.)

Anyway, the point of this blog is not sans. The point of this blog is my email. I have told some of you this before. (Most recently, tonight, Reed C., who wins the award for being the fourth boy to respond, even unwittingly, to my Hey Boy post.) When I don't check my email regularly--meaning, multiple times a day--I start to dread it. I fear the email. It's not the pile-up, per se. I find a great deal of satisfaction in selecting emails to delete. (I know, I know--I have gmail and I still delete. Reckless. Backward. Something.) It's not the load of emails I dread. It's the content. I'm always afraid that I'm going to get emails that say one of three things:
  1. You're stupid.
  2. I hate you.
  3. You owe us money.
And I do get these emails. They don't say these things this explicitly, usually. They say things like:
  1. You're stupid. AKA "You didn't turn in that journal edit when you were supposed to." "You didn't submit your income tax form when you were supposed to." "Your library books, which you thought you returned, you didn't, and they're now overdue."
  2. I hate you. AKA "Oh, it's okay you didn't visit teach me last month. I feel uncomfortable when you come anyway. And I've decided to start attending a family ward." "Yeah, I'm not sure I'm going to be able to come have lunch with/go to church with/ever see you again. Have a great summer!" "Sarah, I know we haven't talked in a while. Since our last date, in fact. I'm doing great. I'm dating X." "You left the house a mess. We will discuss this when we return. Or not." "I just got the test back that you graded. I think your grading policies are irrational and flawed, and the professor has said he will back me up on that."
  3. You owe us money. AKA "Your credit card/car insurance/health insurance/rent/utilities/library fine/bar review course/bar exam/income tax/chipping-in-for-so-and-so's-birthday is now overdue. Please pay up. 300%."
Note: Some of the above can fit into more than one category. Also, some of these sentences are a dramatization. I've not received each of them exactly, but I have received each of them essentially. (Thanks, Justin S., for prompting the clarification.)

Just listing all of that makes me feel ill. And makes me feel like an irrational worry wort. (Are there worry worts of any other kind?)

But that's the point of this post: to purge. So that's my story. That's what I fear. My email. Admittedly, people are very kind, and God/life/my parents have given me a huge safety net, so the chances that any sum of days away from even my finances is get-over-able. (Another moment brought to me by my socio-economic status.)

Eventually, I confront my email. I weed through it. I delete, respond, apologize, cope, pay up, change. And then I get back on the bandwagon and become an email junkie once more.

But if you or your well-meaning email gets caught in the cross-fire, I apologize. You hate me, I'm stupid, I owe you money, I know. I'll get over it. And I'll write you back.

With love,

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Hey Boy

"Hey boy [da-dun dun dun da-duh] why you didn't call me?"
I've embedded a second song on the lower right part of this page. It's one KT found, of course. (She's the finder.) And it's catchy and includes a multiple-choice list in the lyrics, which we totally dig. Also of course. (We've sung it so much around the house that Michelle can sing it too, even though she's never actually heard the recording.)
"A. You're gay. B. You've got a girlfriend. C. You kinda thought I came on too strong or D. I just wasn't your thing, no ring."
I dedicate this song to, among others, Graham D., seat 11D, exit row, JetBlue, JFK to SFO.
"It's not a lot that I want, just some talking. Really you've just injured my pride."
Which, in the case of Graham D., isn't necessarily true. (Has my pride been injured? I'm going with no. Sources say no.) But it does make for a great song lyric and, ergo, a totally singable song.

(Note: I'm wondering: Do boys like this song as much as the girls I know do?)

Added note on April 5: Graham D. called me today. FYI. :)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Tapering off.

I wanted to post again, to say something calming after the weekends described in my last two posts. Things have calmed down substantially in my world, back to pre-Spring levels. Maybe even calmer than that. Today Michelle and I watched three movies. (We felt justified because she's on Spring break. I decided to live vicariously through her.)

We watched:
  • Say Anything
  • A classic Michelle had never seen. My favorite part remains the "If you were Diane Court, would you go for Lloyd Dobbler?" moment, but a new favorite is the scare quotes Diane uses when she tells Lloyd she loves him for the first time. "I love you." "What is that?" he says. "You're talking like that girl Sheila." It's so great.
  • Benny & Joon
  • Michelle kept wondering, "Do you think Mary Stuart Masterson goes around thinking, 'I kissed Johnny Depp'?" I kept thinking, "Aidan Quinn is so good looking. Where did he go?"
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel
  • A Hayes family classic, apparently. Sink me, it's a charming movie. With such amazing (and amazingly heavy-looking) wigs.
And Michelle made chocolate-chip cookies for lunch. And I didn't even get out of my pajamas, until it was time for institute choir.

(But, for the concerned parents out there who may be reading, I did do laundry and I did run to the institute for choir tonight and I did pack for my little trip to Utah this weekend. Productive things, all.)

In short: Rest assured, world. I am lazing about.