Monday, July 31, 2006

Deer Me!

"Good night, Julie", I heard my niece and nephew shout from the tent they shared with their parents.
"G'night", I shout back.
"When are you coming to bed?" my little sister asked from the tent she and I were sharing with our dad and her mom.
"I have no idea, I'm not tired at all", I answered. I rarely am at 10:00pm.

With that my family fell silent and asleep. This past weekend we were camping at Yankee Meadows for the second time this summer. The first time, which I had enjoyed thoroughly, I had gone to bed at the same time as everyone else and had spent a miserable few hours while my totally awake body tried to get comfortable on the hard ground. My body just doesn't sleep at that early, unless I'm sick or a missionary. Having learned my lesson, this time I opted to read by the fire pit, sans fire, alone. My dad loaned me a book (for the second time I had forgotten to bring one) and I read by flashlight. Clouds filled the sky, shielding the earth from any light from the stars or moon. Without the flashlight, everything was pitch black.

I hunkered down on a folding camp chair and read for a few minutes. I found that I couldn't concentrate on the book (though it promised to be very interesting) and finally turned off the flashlight. I sat in the dark, thinking, mostly about
my most recent decision. Gradually my eyes grew accustomed slightly to the blackness and I could make out the outlines of the trees and bushes. Being afraid of the dark and having an overactive imagination, my senses were alert to anything that seemed out-of-place. After just a few minutes my ears picked up faint sounds just behind me, not far off, that seemed like steps, by human or animal I couldn't tell; either scared me. Panicky, I quickly turned on my flashlight and aimed it in the direction of the sounds and directly at a now-frightened-to-almost-death doe. She stumbled over herself as she attempted to flee a.s.a.p. and darted off into the comforting darkness.

My heart gradually slowed down to a normal beat. I still couldn't read so I turned off my flashlight again, thinking that no way would the doe return after being scared off before. I was wrong! Within a few moments of turning off my light, she returned. I guess the grass she was munching on was extremely tasty. Maybe she found some of the food my niece had spilled. I turned my light on again, this time avoiding shining it directly at her. Instead I edged just the outer area of the light in her direction. She was a pretty big deer. Her ears stayed up and alert. My body froze and I barely dared to breath. My heartbeat raced. Slowly, she made her way further into camp and at one point she brazenly nibbled on grass just 4 feet away from where I sat. Frequently she would look at me, guaging whether or not I was a threat. I guess I wasn't because an eternity seemed to pass before she calmly walked out of camp, on to greener pastures I imagine.

I cursed my family for leaving me to experience such an awesome moment alone, again. The last time we had gone camping the same thing had happened. Everyone except me went fishing and while I read (a borrowed book) by the dying campfire, a doe wandered into camp - this time in front of me instead of behind. Both times I didn't even have access to a camera to record the moment! I told everyone that I wanted someone to stay (quietly) with me at all times, so I could share the experience with someone! Really, it was absolutely amazing to be so close to such a beautiful animal.

I've got news

Most of you know that I've been trying to figure out what I'm going to do with my life. A couple times I've actually made the decision to stay where I am. Afterall, I've got a good thing going for me right now. I live close to my family, my ward is excellent, I have good friends, and I love my job/boss/coworker. Every time I decide to stay, though, it doesn't seem like a permanant decision - more like "this is what I'll do for now". I applied at numerous jobs around the country hoping that I'd get some overwhelming confirmation that I was going in the right direction. Nada. One evening a couple weeks ago I told my friend N that I couldn't figure out what I want to do, career-wise. She was astonished that I wasn't staying at my current job (I hadn't seen her since graduation). Then she said something that impacted me. She commiserated with me then expressed her certainty that once I figured it out I wouldn't let anything get in my way and would do whatever I needed in order to do it. It staggered me because in that instant I realized that I didn't have that attitude. I had been searching for an easy path.

After we parted I thought for hours about what she had said, then figured something out. I still don't have an exact idea of what I want to do, but I know that I want to be involved in economics. Economics fascinates me and I want to be better versed and more knowledgeable in it. Teaching econ at the university level sounds fun but so does working for the government or a big corporation or a nonprofit organization. To that end, I've decided to go back to school and get a Master's of Economics.

Whew. It's a relief, really. Finally a decision that I feel really good about. Yes, it's not an "end" but at least I feel like I'm taking a step in the right direction. I looked online and only two schools in Utah have Master's of Econ programs, the University of Utah and Utah State University. Of the two I'm leaning towards the U, of course. I'd finally graduate from the school I started with! The program seems more challenging at the U, too. And, I would rather live in SLC than Logan; more jobs and closer to my cousins who live/will live in the area.

Now I'm gearing up to take the GRE, an entrance exam for many graduate programs, including mine. I'm planning on taking it in a few months (no later than November) then applying to the two schools at the beginning of the year. Next fall I'll hopefully be starting classes! In the meantime, I'm going to try to keep up with my econ and finance studies. I don't want to get there and not remember anything! One evening a week devoted to reviewing econ and finance should be plenty. I also want to keep in the habit of studying! I'll stay at my current job until I move. I dread telling my boss. I know I'll cry. I also know that he'll be disappointed but that he will be happy for me too.

In other news, and I hope she doesn't mind me sharing, my roommate is moving out in the next few weeks! (I won't say why, in case she hasn't told someone who may be reading this and she wants to be the one to tell her news, understandably. If she hasn't told you yet, call her. If you don't know her and want to know why she's moving, email me.) Anyway, she told me this morning that she's thinking she'll move out the end of August at the earliest and mid-Sept at the latest. I'll miss her but I'm excited for her! She, too, has been contemplating what to do with her life and I'm thrilled with what she's decided to do for the next year or so. I've decided not to get another roommate; I've had two really good roommates in this apartment and I don't dare try my luck again. Plus, it may be kind of nice living alone. Maybe I'll turn her room into a sitting room/study. The money situation kind of worries me, but I may be getting a raise soon (cross your fingers) so that will help. Really, I'll be okay finacially until I start having to repay my student loan in November or December. At that time, if I need to, I can get another job to help out. We'll see. I'd rather get a 2nd job than a new roommate.

So, there's my news. I'll keep you updated on the process of taking the GRE, applying for a program, etc. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 17, 2006


For a little 'light' reading, I'm currently enjoying "The Armchair Economist" by Steven Landsburg. I read it for a managerial economics course a couple years ago and was fascinated by Mr. Landsburg's ideas. Really, if anyone is even remotely interested in economics, you have to check out this book!!

Anyhoo, he devotes the first chapter to one of the eternal laws of economics; people respond to incentives. My favorite bit was when he pointed out that seat belt laws resulted in an increased number of accidents. His argument is that when people think they are safer in their cars they drive more recklessly. Before, when their cars were less safe, people had an incentive to drive safely. Of course, safer cars meant fewer deaths per accident, but the number of accidents increased to the point that there are as many deaths now, after the seat belt laws, as there were before the laws were enacted. Please don't misinterpret, this man is not against seat belts. He just tries to find reasons for seemingly odd occurrences. Afterall, another law of economics says that all human behavior is rational. There's no accounting for taste, but people tend to act rationally. So, economists like to find the rational reasons behind seemingly irrational behaviors; like why products see an increase in sales when a celebrity, even one without a particular expertise, endorses the product. Why buy Pepsi just because some famous actor/actress is being paid to say they like it? Actually, he comes up with a pretty good answer, but you'll have to read the book to find out.

The point is, after reading this chapter I've started thinking about what some of my incentives are. Here are some I came up with:

1. I shower so I don't feel grimy. I love when I get out of the shower feeling all clean and fresh, but I hate the thought of showering. I'm not sure why.

2. I read the Old Testament so I don't look and feel foolish when standing in front of my class every other Sunday. A wonderful side effect of this is what I actually learn from studying the Old Testament.

3. This week I'm going to work at 8am instead of 9am in order to marginally make up for the many hours I lost because I took three days off last week for the Shakespear Festival.

4. I write in my journal 1) to have someone to tell all my secrets to, 2) therapy, 3) to pass on what I've learned and who I am to my descendants.

5. I call people to organize getting together with them, NOT to chat forever. Unfortunately, I don't get to see all my loved ones all the time, so speaking with them on the phone is the next best alternative.

6. I wear shoes I think are ugly because they are comfortable and airy.

7. I read to learn and to escape.

8. I'm staying in Cedar (at least for the time being) so I can be close to my family, to play with my friends, and because the thought of quitting my job makes me sad.

9. I like cooking because I enjoy mixing things together to make something wonderful, the smells, and because I like to eat.

10. I'm not married because I don't date. I won't list the reasons I don't date; they're too numerous and personal (sorry).

11. I stay up late at night to finish a good book, to play Monopoly on my cell phone, to talk to friends, to think about work, to daydream (I know, it's silly to daydream at night but I can't seem to help it), to watch a movie or "As Time Goes By", or to clean/organize my room.

12. I pay tithing because it's a commandment and because I've been blessed too many times to ignore.

13. I sing to entertain myself and my nephews and niece. To everyone else, I'm sorry.

14. I dream because there are so many places to go, people to meet, and things to do and I want to experience them ALL!

15. I pray to thank God, seek inspiration and guidance, and just to talk to my Father.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Cream of Spinach Soup, Anyone?

I didn't eat meat the entire month of June.

Don't ask why I decided to forgo meat for one whole month because there isn't a reason. I just decided to see if I could do it.

The answer: yes, I can do it, easily. I still ate dairy products and eggs, just no beef, chicken, pork, fish, shellfish, etc. I'm not sure I could ever give up cheese, but giving up meat wasn't too hard. There were some tough moments, naturally, but I found that generally I did not miss meat in my diet.

Why I liked going meatless
1. I ate more vegetables. There was one time at my mom's where the only non-meat foods were potato salad and carrots. There wasn't a lot of potato salad but the carrots were endless. I ate a lot of carrots.
2. I didn't overeat. Several times (three times eating out and a BBQ at my dad's) I could have ended up eating too much but didn't because I had opted for just the nonmeat sides. I finished the meals feeling satisfied but not stuffed.
3. Variety and creativity. I had to find new things to make and order new meals at restaurants in order to keep to my goal. I found many new foods to enjoy. My favorite new recipe: Mix one smashed avocado with a can of black beans (rinsed), lime juice, and a little fresh cilantro. Spread hummus on a flat pita (not the kind with the pocket - flour/wheat tortillas can be substituted, too), then spread with some of the avocado mixture. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds. I folded it like a burrito and enjoy!
4. Accomplishment. I like achieving goals, even if they are just for the heck of it.

Why I'm glad to eat meat again
1. Tuna fish sandwiches. I had one for lunch today and had forgotten just how yummy they are!
2. Chicken. I thought I would have missed chicken more than I did. Anyway, I have several chicken breasts in my freezer that need to be used and now I can.
3. Hmm. I can't think of a third. I guess there are only two reasons.

Overally, it was a good experience. MUCH easier than last year's fruit juice fast!