Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How did it go today?

The short answer is it went fine. No stories.

But because I am me, and I love stories, I will also give you the long answer, which is, at the moment, in bulleted form.

This is how it went today:
  • Woke up around 4:15 am because I was hot (and because Anika was trying to quiet Ellie, who woke up because she was on the opposite side of the bedroom we're sharing with seven and cold--too close to the AC)
  • Dozed nervously/restlessly until 5 am
  • Showered, had a father's blessing, heard my mother use the word "discombobulating" in her blessing over my breakfast (in a reference to the bar exam--as in, "Please help Sarah to feel at peace during this exam that they engineer to be so discombobulating"), ate cereal with skim milk that may or may not have been sour
  • Caught the 6:32 am train to Penn Station
  • Reviewed Evan's five-years-old condensed outline on the train
  • Was asked by a woman sitting behind me, "Last-minute studying?" I smiled. She said, "I figured if it isn't in me by now, it isn't in me." I smiled again, maybe sheepishly. I went back to studying.
  • Joined a posse of laptop-carrying recent law grads, marching the four blocks from Penn Station to the Javits Center
  • Considered that if this posse was crossed, there's a high probability that we'd either snap, cry, or file timely actions pled with particularity
  • Saw a man in a Columbia Law shirt that (a) I didn't know but (b) I thought looked Mormon
  • Unceremoniously chucked Evan's outline in a garbage can outside the Javits Center
  • Waited in an virtually unmoving herd, like glass-eyed cattle, for over an hour, while Javits Center staff tried to put 3000 neon green wristbands on 3000 people and put them in 3000 individually assigned tables/chairs
  • Wondered if NY really needs a yearly crop of so many new lawyers
  • Overheard Columbia Law shirt man talking to a woman about Deseret News, KSL, and his time working for "the church" (I turned and said, "Are you Mormon?" "Yes," he said, unexcitedly. "I thought you were Mormon from the first time I saw you," I said. He said nothing. "I'm Mormon, too," I added. Turns out he knows Amanda and Dan.)
  • Met my tablemate, Rosaria, a beautiful, dark-haired, smiley-faced woman, who speaks Italian (Italian?) to the people she knows around us. (They also speak Italian. (Italian?))
  • Took part 1 of the NY bar exam
  • Waited in line for the bathroom
  • Paid a ridiculous sum for lunch, which I, of course, spilled on myself
  • Chatted with the lovely Marin T.-B., one of my favorites from some of my favorite BYU days
  • Waited in line for the bathroom
  • Began part 2 of the NY bar exam
  • Wish I knew when an easement by necessity is extinguished and how exactly it does (or does not) run with the land
  • Finished part 2 of the NY bar exam, with less than a minute to spare
  • Did not, as Rosaria pointed out, finish early enough to fall asleep before time was called (as I did, apparently, during the first session; it's my testing treat to myself--if I finish early, I get to fall asleep)
  • Went to, but didn't wait in line for, the bathroom (!)
  • Joined the throng of law students returning half-excitedly, half-dejectedly to Penn Station
  • Took the 5:48 to Rosedale
  • Was whisked away by Anika and Joseph to pick up Peter, newly arriving at JFK from his glamorous summer internting at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Our Nation's Capital
  • Joined the 4,000 people who seem to have congregated at our home (Mom, Dad, Anika, Joseph, Jacob, Peter, Rachel, Rebekah, Elin, Isaac, Andrew, Mr. Lipsky, and a host of Jacob/Rebekah's Dungeons & Dragons friends)
  • Happily received Joseph and Anika's gifts of various kinds of "bars"--snack bars, a Cliff bar, a bar of soap, and two beautiful but unfortunately soap-tasting chocolate-covered pretzel bars
  • Packed for Utah, which was daunting because I hate the possibility of leaving behind important stuff
  • Watched some Colbert
  • Laughed at some Colbert
  • Packed for Utah, which turned out to go quickly because I was particularly good at adhering to my at-home-with-the-family rule of personal property (i.e. keep everything in one pile, in one corner, out of everyone's way; do not, under any circumstances, mix goods or leave them unattended or in plain view)
  • Answered a knock on our front door at 10:30 pm, welcoming in a local boy scout and his father, come to certify a genealogy merit badge with my father at the only time their various schedules aligned
  • Updated my blog
  • Checked others' blogs
  • Read el scriptures
  • 11:30 (I'm hoping): Went to sleep in the bed I renegotiated from Ellie. She and Snika took my bed, and I took theirs. Across the room. Near the AC.
And that--that is what I did today.

Tomorrow? Bar exam, parts 3 & 4 (the multi-state) and then, whisk zip, the family picks me up at the Javits, hands me my cellphone (which I can't bring with me to the testing center, which makes me feel free and sad), and zip whisk, we're off to Utah. Among other places.

This life?

You said it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Social Lockdown

I'm still on social lockdown so as to finish off my studying for the bar (T-3 days), but being on social lockdown at home is a lot like being at a family reunion.

(There were seven of us asleep in one room last night--the room with the AC--and twelve in the house total, even with my dad out of town. Par-ty.)

Note: These pictures were taken while we were updating my mom's new profile on facebook.

And studying.

Of course.

ADDENDUM (added ten minutes after this post's first posting)

My nephew Andrew just walked into the common bedroom to deliver some flowers that my nephew Isaac chose for me while he and his mom were at Trader Joe's today buying us all some good snacks.

He told me he chose this particular bouquet because the little pink flowers looked like the earrings I'm wearing today. Who knew he even noticed them?

I love this family so much.

Also: I just heard the front door open. Dad's home from Scotland. Plus one for the party. Studying my foot.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tonight, I came home to this:

Soon I will leave California and fly home, to study, see family, and face my destiny with the New York bar exam. I will travel around the country a bit (to Utah with the family for one day, then to NY with Reija for two days, then to Atlanta for a wedding and Nate & co. for two and a half days) and then I will come back again. For one week.

But tonight, one of my last nights in anything resembling the sort of regular life I know, I came home to the love of my friends: handwritten notes of test-taking encouragement, taped around my bed, written on little flyers I designed for a recruiting event I held at BYU last year (two years ago?) that someone must have drudged up or kept and recopied, pulling them out to show me love in a moment like this.

Tonight, I came home to this. And soon, this is what I will leave.

But I'm taking this with me:

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What people do

when they're not studying for the bar:


and this


Or maybe, it's exactly what people do when they should be studying for the bar.

This all leads me to ask a serious and recurring question: Who ARE people? I wonder if God sometimes looks down at us and laughs to see what we've made of ourselves. Let people do their thing on earth for millennia, and what do they come up with? Football games, cheerleaders, and urban pranks. Among other ridiculous things.

Like the bar?

Note: Full points go to Christina and Ryan S. for linking to improveverywhere.com on their blog. Within one minute of hitting that website, I knew I was going to have to blog about it. One hour later, I finally left the website and did. Thanks, Team Skousen.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"But thou, when thou prayest"

3 Nephi 13 notwithstanding, I want to write a post about my prayers.

I am overwhelmed by my praying. With the onset of the bar and the recent realities/tragedies/good things that have arisen, I want so many things, I do not know where to start. I cannot spend as many minutes on my knees everyday as I would need to be able to individually pray for all of the things I want deeply to pray for. And when I try to list them off--zip through them, even just to say the names of the people involved--two things happen: (1) I've torn the bag open, and it all comes whooshing out. My mind's eye (a General Conference phrase that always makes me laugh, though I know exactly what it means and how aptly it says the thing)--my mind's eye races around the country/world, praying for the people I love. New York, DC, Utah, Texas, California, Utah, Georgia, Texas, Texas, New York, New York, New York, upstate New York, Utah, Arizona, Utah, Utah, California, Melville, Melville, Melville, Melville, Melville again, Georgia, New York, Liberia, California, California, Iraq--and I am suddenly and again caught up in the torrent of desires for people I love.

Dear heaven, please bless the whole world. Amen.

But the second thing that happens, (2), is that the prayer begins to feel rote. Not rote, exactly. Boring. Boring, I guess is what I'm saying. (And maybe here's the answer: Maybe I shouldn't be worried about having boring prayers?) They're boring because I want the same things. I still want the same things. I still want Nate & Brittyn & Soren & Cokie to keep finding happiness in life and meaning at work/school and love for each other. I still want Dan to find a job he enjoys and Amanda to have chances to bless the world with her greatness. I still want Anika & Evan to be buoyed up in their ministries to their children and their community. Still want Joseph to be guided and sustained. Still want Jacob to be able to use his genius for good and to know that he is loved. Still want Peter to be close to his family in the ways he wants and has always wanted to be. Still want Rachel to know that I want to be like her. Still want Rebekah to feel confidence in defending love and truth and righteousness and Christ's gospel, even as a seventh grader when, let's be honest, there's so much defending that needs to happen. Want Joe F. to be preserved and protected, in body and especially in spirit. I want my parents' work at home, at church, at school, around, to be blessed and guided and effective. I want to have a heart that is soft and strong and others-oriented, to be ready to marry the good man when he comes along, and to do well at the many ridiculously cool opportunities that I have placed before me. And I want to be forgiven.

And these are only my immediate-family desires. I haven't even begun to pray for my visiting teachees/visiting teaching companion, or the many, many good roommates I've had, the friends I've loved, and the people I've served with or brushed past or take on faith exist--the military, the youth of the church, church leaders, missionaries, the nation's political leaders and presidential candidates. You. Etc.

So that's it. I am overwhelmed by the task of praying, by my sheer desires to see things effected. By my almost superstitious concern that if I'm not praying for it--verbally, vocally, regularly--then heaven won't know I want it. Then I won't remember/know I want it. And then all will be lost. (I'm being a little overdramatic now, but the bar is in T-two weeks exactly. That seems to be carte blanche for all sorts of emerging idiosyncracies.) But can prayer really be like that? I know we're commanded to ask ("Ask, and it shall be given you")--and for good reason--but can it really be if we don't say it every time we want it, heaven won't know to or won't give it to us?

How do we do it? Both practically and spiritually--how do we functionally and heartfully approach the charge to pray with specificity and with "all the energy of heart," and not end up saying every day the same long and true and real list of things that we continue to want, every day, morning and night, and, when we're good, all day long in our hearts as well?

Tell me, I pray you.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I'm heading into it. Today is the first day of my last two weeks of bar study, and I've started praying for tunnel vision.

But you have to know, I will be heading off to library-holedom with at least one-non-bar thought on my mind:

I guess I should have expected Anika & Evan to have cute children--as Grandpa Hoggard says, it's in the genes--but really, they've outdone themselves.

May I approach the bar with the martial determination of Andrew and Isaac and the regal equanimity of Elin. Amen.

Note: As per the bar, I would appreciate your prayers. I've not practiced memorizing since high school French (except that one semester of college French, where my TA told me, "You're just not an A student," when I remarked on the absurdity of having 1000 words to memorize for a weekly 25-question test), so the law--the bar--this thing--it's a challenge for me. A high bar, if you will.

I hope you will.

Friday, July 11, 2008

"Have a faithful, happy day, or fill up your gas tanks and gather your armies and know that you are loved."

I'm in the midst of studying for the bar (I'm trying, I really am trying), but there have been births and deaths and the long-awaited delivery of twins, with one live and one stillborn. A birth and a death, I guess. There are weddings to attend to (invitations, RSVPs, gifts, and receptions), still-pending births and past and coming birthdays to celebrate, visiting teaching to do, home teaching to be done to, and Relief Society lessons to plan, prepare for, and pray over.

There are cars that overheat, friends who are sick, molasses cookies that are too cakey (too cakey, even on a second try--what would do that?), and fruits/veggies that need to be bought so I will eat them and not the too-cakey molasses cookies. (Or any of the other sweet treats that fill our kitchen. At this exact moment in time, our kitchen holds chocolate chip cookie bites, freshly homemade chocolate chip cookies, Milano cookies, some strawberry-plum pie, and a secret stash of Skittles that MH is ready to break out when we need them. I am studying in the library today.) And Palo Alto is beautiful, and I'm leaving here soon, and there are only so many more hours I can spend on my favorite blanket in my favorite spot in my favorite park.

I'm trying to pray earnestly and make good decisions well and be close to the Spirit and to the people around me. I'm having even more trouble with those who are far away. But my prayers are harried, restless, list-y, and heartfelt. And I was called to action, to arms, by reading again or for the first time Elder Maxwell's 1995 talk, "Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father" and Elder Holland's "The Grandeur of God," except really I should stop reading their articles, stop blogging about them, and shut my computer down and study like a mad woman.

All of this is to say that this is actually being a tender time and a holy time, when, of course, it's not being a straight-up stressful and there-is-work-needing-to-get-done time.

I'd tell a joke here to show that I'm not feeling dour and to lighten the mood, but for the life of me, I can't think of anything funny.

(Juice? I've always thought juice was funny. It's like fruit blood. And we drink it. Imagine: a pen filled with juice. Oh man. Still, after all these years, I think it's funny.)

My mom's family letter of yesterday, which usually would end with a rallying "do good, be good" admonition, ended with this: "Have a faithful, happy day, or fill up your gas tanks and gather your armies and know that you are loved."

Let's review the options.
1. Have a happy, faithful day, OR
2. Fill up your gas tanks, gather your armies, and know that you are loved.
I think I can handle that. At least one of the two. (Ha. It just struck me. Multiple choice is right up my alley these days.)

My heart is with all of you who are also feeling like choosing the second.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

"Every Baby is the Sweetest and the Best"

That's what Marilla says to Anne (in the movie, not the book), and that's what I say here. And so, I'd like to introduce the sweetest and best baby, my best friend Laura's new son--

Samuel Asher T.
7 lbs 12 oz
20 in
Born July 7, 2008

If we were Catholic, he'd be my godson. (Laura? Nick? Can I get a quorum?)

Welcome, Samuel Asher. The world could use more people like your parents. We are glad glad to have you around.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

For the Living and the Dead

My mother said this to me today during our Sunday afternoon/evening phone call: "I am glad that in the scriptures what the Lord offers to us, what He invites us to enter, is His rest. The scriptures do not say, 'enter into my fire.' The scriptures say, 'enter into my rest.'"

We Mormons get excited about the promised productivity of the Spirit World. Revelations to the prophets and to individuals glimpsing through the veil indicate that the next life is much like this one in its bustle and energy and in its citizens' desires and efforts to get stuff done. It is a heaven that attracts me. A promise that the sociality we experience here, we will experience there. A knowledge that our godly propensities and desires to create, progress, and grow will be in effect there, especially if we live up here to the full measure of our covenants.

But I have spent today considering some of the vicissitudes of this, our living, and the pangs and reality of death, including the sudden deaths of those close to those I love.

And though I am only 27 and young, I have already lived long enough (on this earth, it doesn't take long) to be grateful for a God who promises that life with Him will bring us creativity and progression and growth yes, but it will also bring us rest. I am grateful for a God who understands that after this living, after (and while) here living, we might be ready to feel some measure of rest from whatever it is that makes us so often feel weary. Loneliness, uncertainty, goofiness, accidents, pride, ineptitude, malaria, hunger, unfulfilled desire. Even the listing makes me tired.

And so God extends His promises to us, for comfort and for hope, for growth and for rest, for the living and for the dead.

Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.
Alma 13:29


My phone has died. It died a few weeks ago but was resurrected when I went to the T-Mobile store to buy another and the salesgirl pressed down on the power button and it came on again. Magic.

But tonight it slipped out when I was running and landed hard on the pavement and has not yet turned on again, though I've been trying the salesgirl trick and pressing down on the power button. In any case, in the mean time, at least until Monday, probably, I'm without phone. Which means I love you, happy Sunday, don't call. :)

Saturday, July 05, 2008


Okay, a LOT has happened. I must catch you up.

1. Some of my roommates and I just watched North & South, a BBC mini-series (four hours, four episodes) based upon a Victorian-era novel of the same name. It's like Pride and Prejudice without the wit and with labor unions. Pretty darn satisfying all the same (despite its serious cinematic unevenness and obvious editing-for-time). Mr. Thornton. He worked for us. (And I'm reading it online, thanks to Google books. Mr. Thornton. He works for me.)

2. I am trying to live by a new rule: I don't listen to what I call "popular music" (non-religious, non-classical music, the kind I don't listen to on Sunday) until I've read my scriptures for the day. This is to encourage me prioritizing things that are important (studying the word of God and His prophets) over things that, though delightful, can distract me from better things (Feist, Joni Mitchell, Canoe, the soundtrack to Dan in Real Life, etc., etc., etc.). It's going pretty well. I'm just putting it out there.

3. Reija made a pie. Another pie. And it was the most beautiful pie I've ever, ever seen in real life. MH took a picture of it, thank goodness, and maybe I can get it on here one of these days. Apple pie, in honor of her father's birthday (it's his favorite pie and a yearly classic) and in honor of America (as American as...). She made it on the Fourth of July, you see. The birthday of her father and the U.S., as it turns out.

And that's my story. Other than that and a Fourth of July post that deserves to be written and commemorated, I'm doing well. I'm on social lockdown so I can study for the bar ("hearsay evidence is an out-of-court statement introduced to prove the substance of the matter asserted; as a general rule, it is impermissible" and the like), which means both that I don't get to do things that I want to (e.g. laze about all day and watch every good movie under the sun) and that I don't have to do things that I don't want to (e.g. go to the singles wards' Fourth of July barbecue). The single-mindedness of it is kind of lovely. And I get to study on a blanket in the prettyish sort of wilderness that is our yard. Or in my bed. Not too shabby, this learning stuff. Though I am hoping that heaven answers my persistent prayers for a "sticky brain." Memorizing. Trick-y.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Palo Alto Weather

On Sunday, I googled the weather for this week in Palo Alto. This is what I got:

I figure this can be explained by the following: Palo Alto weather is so paradisiacally consistent that either (1) this is the away message the weatherpeople picked while they were on vacation for a week or two, figuring no one would really notice, or (2) they, the weatherpeople, just aren't trying anymore. Palo Alto wasn't using their meteorological skills anyway. They didn't go to weatherperson school all those years to throw their gifts away on a measly temperate climate like that of the mid-to-lower Bay Area peninsula. Heck. Mama always told them not to cast their pearls before swine.

Their meteorological capabilities: pearls.
Palo Alto's consistently beautiful climate: swine.

I'm mocking, but I hadn't considered. Meteorology. Not a booming industry in paradise.

Note: Despite the vaguely smoky haze, it has been lovely for at least the last two days. High 74, low 54. No doubt.