Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Who does Number 2 Work For?

I find myself thinking a lot lately about a dear former friend. We used to spend gobs of time together. Gobs is actually an understatement. Our spirits had been surgically sewn together.

Sadness caused his face to crumble the day we parted ways. I was leaving for my mission. Yes, *sigh*, that was a long time ago... If I had known, as he most probably did then, that that moment would eventuate our slow divide, my face most likely would have joined The Puffy Pink Pancake Club too.

Those few years together were sheer panacea; The Wonder Years; some of the happiest times of my life. (Funny how our minds can polish memories into perfection-overlooking the rough and tumbly.)

I miss our connection. I hope to find someone like him again one day, God willing.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sweet Ginger

Ginger Cox married Sean Jones today. They are so happy together. *Yay* I happened to be volunteering at the L.A. temple and finagled my way into being assigned to Ginger's wedding party- Hah! Ha!

When I approached Ginger and Sean to unite them with their adoring, but reverent, fans, Ginger invited me to witness their sealing- that was sweet of her! During this same shift, I ran into a couple whom were married last November, whose family I had been assigned to help congregate, and now his brother was getting sealed- both cousins of Mark Wright... Small world!

Speaking of love at Christmas time... though ironic it is, did you know mistletoe is a parasitic plant that usurps nutrients and water from it's host plant? It's also poisonous... I wonder who decided to deem it the trigger to share a kiss.

"Look honey! A poisonous parasite is looming above us! Can't eat it, but why don't you come over here and gimme a kiss!"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Butterfly in the Sky

I can fly twice as high.

Yesterday I crashed an advanced writing class in order to be a part of a magical experience. Levar Burton, a familiar name to anyone with children or a childhood over the past 25 years, is the proud co-creator and former host of the pivotal children's show Reading Rainbow. But you don't have to take my word for it.

The series aired by PBS from June 6, 1983 until November 10, 2006, encouraged reading among children. Each episode centered on a theme from a children's book and was explored through a number of segments or stories. In later years the series tackled issues that other children's programs have historically avoided, such as poverty in U.S. inner cities, the September 11 attacks, childbirth and its impact on the family, and prison, all from a child's point of view.

Levar has an electrifying presence. It was such a pleasure to be in the same room with him. He spoke for practically 2 hours. He asked which of us were born to be filmmakers. Which of us MUST make films? If we don't wake up every morning living, breathing, and dreaming the film making process, then it is time to get out now.
Find your passion.

He told us of his journey from USC grad to stardom. His first film role was Kunta Kinte in Roots. I remember watching that 8 hr miniseries in 10th grade history with Mr. White. In the period of a week, when Roots aired, Levar's life changed forever.

He talked about the importance of balance. If there was one thing he would have done differently in early life, it would be to just relax. Relax. Everything will work for your good.

The life he dreamed of as a youth was never as good as his life has turned out to be. He gives all the credit to God. It was awesome to hear him praise and offer thanks to God in front of the class.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stepping Into Liquid

I attended a baptism tonight. I'd originally planned on going straight home after Linger Longer clean up (Linger Longer = snacks after church). Instead, I drove myself straight to the baptism and thoroughly enjoyed it.

A young man baptized his girlfriend of two years. I watched as they entered the water together, both dressed in white. I thought about the commandments they were living in order to be worthy of participating in that ordinance.

While millions of teenagers in the world are caught up in themselves, partying, drugs, sex...the list goes on- here are two young people who care deeply for the Lord. They are committed to Him and to living His teachings.

I am so grateful I ignored what I wanted to do and chose instead to be a part of an uplifting evening. The Lord's way is always the better way.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What Choo Talkin Bout?!

As I reviewed Our Hearts Knit As One by Elder Eyring yesterday, the immortal words of the "Different Strokes" theme song came into my mind-

Everybody finds a way to shine,
It don't matter if you haven't got a lot
They'll have theirs, You'll have yours, and I'll have mine.
And together we'll be fine....
Because it takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.
Yes it does.

What this song says to me is, there is abundance in the world and I have a little piece of it. Each of us carries a person-sized portion. This is why we must work together to combine our parts to make a whole. Each of us has a unique gift to contribute. Knitting our hearts together as One.

Two of the stand-out thoughts from Elder Eyring's talk were:

1. The Great Truths of the Gospel are more important than our differences.

2. Differences can help bring you what you lack and help you serve God better.

I sometimes feel intimidated by qualities in others that make them different from me. Fear exists because the Unknown exists. We fear things only because we feel there's a possibility they can hurt us...

I now know that differences in others are encouragements for us to become better and stretch a little further.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Prevent the Madness

Just when you thought there was nothing left to burn...California is on fire... again. This time it started in Santa Barbara County Thursday night.

Since Thursday evening, the wildfires in Southern California have destroyed an estimated 800 mobile homes, houses, apartments and other buildings and blackened an estimated 67 square kilometers of land. Street signs are melting like milkshakes.
Add to this, the infamous Santa Ana winds, scorching temperatures (which were predicted earlier in the week), low humidity levels, and you've got a recipe for disaster.

Fire erupted in both Orange and Riverside counties last night.

Capt. Leonard Grill, a 20-year veteran of the Riverside County Fire Department,has been quoted as saying, "It's gotten worse and worse every year. I can't keep track of them anymore. These used to be the out-of-the-ordinary fires, once-in-a-career kind of fires. Now they're every year."

On a local level, a blanket of smoke that came from the North stretching towards the sea, choked all the blue from the sky. Buckets of ash were falling in flurries to the ground- California's version of a "winter" storm?

Employees at Costco were wearing masks to prevent extreme exposure to the carcinogenic dust. The afternoon took on a bit of an Apocalyptic feel... This mornings air quality is incredibly poor. It's really difficult the breathe right now. *cough* *cough*

Interesting that these fires are raging on the weekend of the planned nation wide protest against Prop 8. Could this be God's way of saying, "Protesters stay home."
It's very possible.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Garden

Today I attended a pot luck lunch at the Wild Oats Organic Garden in Long Beach upon invitation from my co-worker Charlene. If I could give Charlene a nickname, it would be Mother Earth...She is One with the soil, rooted deep in concern for the environment. I like her. She's always smiling and her pockets are filled with inner peace.

The idea of a Community Garden fascinates and intrigues me. It appeals to me in every way! People come together, practicing principles of self-sufficiency, organic sustainable living, hard work, and getting back to the basics. It's a remarkable way to connect with your neighbors and the serenity of creation!

A note about the pot luck lunch- (they have work days from 9-12 every 1st and 3rd Saturday which ends with lunch at 12ish- let me just say, the chicken dogs, homemade lemon hummus, fresh salads, and the thick sweetness of the raw smoothies were divine!) Come give service and then enjoy the food!

What I learned:

Spinach doesn't like to grow in heat.

There is a variation of mint that tastes like lime called, of all things, lime mint.

Cauliflower comes in purple.

The director of the garden, Heidi, is brilliant and she says non-profit work is SO much harder than being an Executive Program Developer...she wants to create a quilt of gardens throughout the city.

If you eat a pot belly pig, it will trigger a virus in your body that goes straight to your brain and makes you wacko.

I ate with a potato fork. (Forks can be made out of potato!!!) AND I've drank from a biodegradable cup made from corn!

Sorrel is a baby green that tastes like lemon!

LBCC has a spring sale with all sorts of seeds and starters for sale!

Quote for the day: A poochie poochie girl in a gucci gucci world.

West Coast Rendering Company off of 4105 Bandini Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90058 has a subdivision, which I believe is called Baking Commodities, who are part of the animal food production process. They add all sorts of evils to pet food, such as cancerous cow tumors, and euthanized animals from the pound... dogs weren't meant to eat other dogs were they? Combine this with the soy and wheat that go into most major brands of pet food and wuh-la! You've got pets with cancer, allergies, asthma...

I met Johnny the urban missionary, who was tending his plot. He plans to embark on a missionary trip around the world in 2010 through a program called

I took a hulking amount of photos- maybe I'll post some on Facebook...

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Wild Oats Garden.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Just the Beginning

The elections were three days ago, and proved historic is so many ways. On a personal note, it was my first time getting involved in a campaign, one which was not just political, but moral too. I am so thankful I was able to participate in the overwhelming task of fighting for freedom of religion and the sanctity of marriage within one of the most liberal states of the Union. Sweat, disappointment, and blessings flowed, as the LDS community, in a small way, helped Proposition 8 to pass. We were a small cog in a BIG wheel.

I spoke with a gay father several weeks ago, and his words now return to my mind. "No matter which side "wins", you think that will be the end? This is just the beginning!" Is it really the beginning though? It seems to me, an extension of the war that has been waging since the beginning of the earth.

I watched the 11 o'clock news last night. They had air-cam shots of the L.A. temple. No on 8 protesters swarmed the grounds, flooding the streets. The boiling point was reached when some of our Pacific Islander brothers and sisters began tearing down hateful signs that had been posted on the temple gates, and telling protesters to take their anger and energy somewhere else. They were among the few brave enough to face the rioting masses.

Threats were made regarding the temple, fire and destruction were promised- Thankfully the temple was reopened today and serenity has maintained. The Lord is protecting us.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Yes Means No

I've had a wonderful afternoon doing something I LOVE; Interviewing a bunch of people while holding a video camera. The first was my potential documentary subject, (a.k.a. homework.) Afterward, I met up with David Land-o-Lakes to distribute yard signs for Proper 8. 1st street, one bumper sticker, 2nd street, one sign and 2 bumper stickers, and as we were shrouding the metal post with it's plastic sign cover, 2 neighbors began their ascent upon us. Here it comes Dave-o. They want to scrap. The first guy says,"I want one of your signs. How can I get one?" "Uh, I've got a trunk full. I'll give you one." The guy next to him says, "Give me one too. In fact give me three." Then his neighbor comes driving down the street. He stops him in the center of the road. "Hey! Yes means No! You voting Yes on 8?! Give him a sign too." Then this same guy calls to this lady whose just emerged from a 3rd house. "You want a Prop 8 sign for your yard?" he calls to her. She says yes! Are you keeping count with me, cause I'm not. :) The man who instigates this all, disappears into his garage, brings back a 20 ft. ladder and leans it against a towering tree in his front yard, shimmies up, and lassos two sign around the highest point of the trunk! Talk about the right place at the right time! And I caught a bunch of it on video!

The night closed with FHE dinner and Luau and an interview with Wayne, a guy I'd met with Johnathan last Saturday when we walked for Prop 8. Lets just say Wayne is absolutely hilarious! I hope to have his video posted on You Tube by Thursday.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Four Agreements

I have a screen writing class on Wednesday nights. My prof is a former lawyer turned Hollywood writer. He possesses the vernacular of a genius yet, thanks to 20 years in all boys schools and years in a profession where swearing is almost prerequisite, managed to pick up a sailor's tongue. The man wreaks of brilliance and I knew he could do so much better than the protruding prolificness of his four-letter-word vocabulary!

So it happened one night- towards the end of September. Class ended and I was gathering my belongings, seriously considering dropping the class. The thought came to my mind, if not now, when? If not you, who? (a reiteration from Sunday's meeting regarding Prop 8). How awkward to approach the professor about his word choices.

It was the first class meeting I had made a vocal presence, overcoming my shut-down defense mode. I had made an impression on the professor- he'd even asked my name. This helped me in initiating the conversation. He started with, "So how are you liking the course?" "Well, I like parts of it..." "Oh no just parts?" "Yah I can explain it to you once everyone has left." It's just the two of us now:

"This is really hard for me to say..." I trailed off.

"Did I do something wrong?" his voice was worried, sincerely. "Not intentionally or maliciously," I replied, trying to ease his mind. "It's just that it's hard for me to listen to swearing." He took a step back and raised his hand to his mouth.
"I am so sorry. I had no idea..." He continued, "I needed to hear this. I need to push the envelope of literacy. Do me a favor. If I slip, will you raise your hand? You don't have to say anything, just raise your hand and I'll know what you mean. We can even keep a tally going on the board. Should we involve the class?"
"If you want to..." "Let's see how we feel come next week."

His reaction was above and beyond anything I could have hoped for. I choked back tears of joy as I walked to my car that night.

The next Wednesday not only marked the start of October, but a renewal of all that is beautiful regarding this class. Not a single swear word left his lips! NOT ONE! It was wonderful. I was able to let down my guard and soak in the class content unconstrained. My trust, respect, and appreciation blossomed for this man.

Where's the Candy?

Breakfasting with pops:

I stayed home from work today, a climactic finish to the build-up of Monday's attack of evil-throat. Presently, to formulate any kind of audible speech is pure exasperation!

We laughed over runny eggs and and homemade wheat toast, Pops doing most of the talking and joking, as my voice is on hiatus. It went a little bit like this: "You know, McCain has seen the face of evil! I didn't know Cheney was at the Convention." (A Jay Leno joke.) My dad joked about Maureen (my Australian Mom) coming for a visit next year, accompanied for the first time by her husband Zeller. They were married in 2005. :) They'll pull up in the army jeep. Mo will emerge wearing camouflage, and call out, "Zeller! Front and center!" His scenario was too silly, considering Maureen is relatively soft spoken. Then he included me in his fun.

A bit of background:

My dad was born and raised in Washington Heights NYC. I've visited twice. The first time I went with my Aunt Wendy. We found and met Aunt Lucy, my father's mother's sister. She was living out the end of her days in a Bronx nursing home. She knew exactly who I was when I started talking about my father Richard. "You're the preemie!" she exclaimed.

My second trip to NYC was with Maureen (Mo). The two of us have done quite a bit of traveling together. During this trip, Mo supported me in a second endeavor to connect with Lucy. Just as we exited the subway in the Bronx it starting to rain. We jogged parallel to Van Cortlandt Park and sought respite under a drug store's awning. This is when my pops corrected me. "They're called candy stores in New York...We don't have drug stores. Although, most candy stores were simply fronts for drug dealers."

As Mo and I are standing under this awning, we're wondering why we're still getting wet. A man to our right, who is managing to stay dry, gives us the answer. "Hey lady. You're standing under a hole." We look up. So we are. Daddy loves to recall this, and other personal past chagrins.

He recalled a favorite childhood purchase, an emerald colored fountain drink, the Green Rickey. A sweet lime-ish concoction.

I love my green Rickey.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Give Me Back My Phone!

Part II of previous entry:

While in the shuttle, walking to our seats at the Bowl, and thereafter, I would periodically fish around my handbag, then the shoulder bag it was sitting in, grasping for any object that remotely felt like my cell phone. I was sure I had brought my phone with me.

Upon returning home, I poured all contents of both bags onto my bedroom floor... No Phone! How could this be??? Wait a minute. Retrieving seating arrangements from mental compartment: Johnathan, me, my bags, strange man stuffing face with greasy popcorn and guzzling beer. Hmmm. He left his seat mid performance and NEVER CAME BACK! Dun Dun Dun! Could it be that I was robbed?! My heart began to pound as I thought of all the potential lost phone numbers and the inconvenience of procuring a new phone!

I'm just sure I had it in my purse! (You know how the mind begins to fog in moments of anxiety?) Maybe I was completely off. Maybe my phone was somewhere in the house. I ran to the kitchen phone, dialed my number, and then proceeded to listen VERY carefully for the whispered buzz it would emit upon connection. Nothing! But the phone was ringing. My voice mail clicked on, but where was my pre-recorded message?? Simultaneously, the caller ID flashed my phone number. How strange! *BEEP* I began leaving a message for the perpetrator holding my phone captive! (My voice was a raspy desperate whisper):

"Hello. You have my phone. Give me back my phone. I need my phone. Give it back! Good Byyyyyyyyyyyyyye...."

I hung up. The number was still flashing on the caller ID. I read it one last time...562...805...wait a minute! That's not my number! I'd switched two of the numbers around!

Some poor unsuspecting person woke up that morning, saw they missed a call at 1:50 a.m., then listened as some creepy whispering weirdo was going on about their phone; a non-stolen stolen phone!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Chair of Bowlies

It was a Saturday August 30th, 2008. I had walked for Prop 8 in the morning with Miss Cassidy. We had a few truly unexpected encounters. The first two doors we knocked on were answered by felons...why were they on our list of registered voters? Then there was the ribbiting motion detector frog. Cat asked the couple, "If the frog were to vote today..." Cat came with me to Costco- we had lunch, bought and loaded 7 watermelons into my car, then I drove to church where I met Johnathan.

I mentioned to him a group was going to the Hollywood Bowl that night. John Williams was to conduct the L.A. Phil while they played various film scores he has composed spanning half a century. J said lets go!

We found free parking by the Kodak Theater and proceeded to scout out a foodish venue. While in the midst of a crowd waiting to cross the street, my and Johnathan's gaze were pulled in opposite directions as we stepped off the curb. There to my left, was a greasy middle aged man, cradling a digital camera, which he was aiming straight at the women's butts in front of him! As he began snapping away, I uttered, "Sicko!" But he continued on. Johnathan on the other hand was busy being baffled by a second man clad in cowboy boots and black underwear. (I thought that was strictly a Times Square phenomenon...) When we hit the opposite curb we both turned to each other and exclaimed, "Did you see that?!"

This was Johnathan's first concert of any kind. What a beauty it was. Projected on gigantic flat screens were various film clips and medleys which coincided with the live music. My favorite part was the army of light sabers sprouting up as the opening strains of the Star Wars theme song began. Stems of red, green, and blue bounced to the beat of the symphonic swells. It put a HUGE smile on my face.

After the show we opted to walk back to the car, bypassing the hour long shuttle line and rows of cars piled bumper to bumper for miles.

This brings me to one of L.A.'s little treasures. The only street food L.A. can really claim it's own: the famed "heart-attack dogs". Passing by a string of carritos, the smell of bacon coiled hot dogs, onions, peppers, and poblano chilies crackling and spitting on an open grill captured our full attention. (Swirl a bit of mayonnaise on top and your mouth will be caught up in the rapture.)

We had parked behind Crossroads of the World, hailed as America's first modern shopping mall. Located on Sunset Boulevard and Las Palmas, the mall features a central building designed to resemble an ocean liner surrounded by a small village of cottage-style bungalows, complete with a working lighthouse! Once a busy outdoor shopping center, the Crossroads now hosts private offices. It has been used for location shooting in many films such as L.A. Confidential.

It was here that J and I tried to cut through the parking lot to Sunset. Bad move! Two monstrous thugs quickly came into view. They began yelling and ascending upon us as we drove past them. We didn't dare slow down for fear that they might thrash us with heavy chains. Our bypassing them only led us to a fenced off parking lot- Oh No! What now?! J said, "I'm gonna turn around and mow them over if I have to!" Thankfully we were able to maneuver past them. It felt like we tore out of that lot at 65 mph!

The last incident of the night had to do with my phone, but I'll save that for the next entry. :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

The State of Our Unions.

A button that will certainly sizzle when touched, is the controversially charged Proposition 8. It will be voted on by the people November 4th. If passed, it will amend to our State's Constitution to read, only marriage between a man and a woman is recognized or valid in the state of California.

There is a growing friction between "Tradition" and "Tolerance".
I wrestle with both words. I feel traditions are mainly people-perpetuated-practices.

Prop 8 reinforces something more powerful than a conventional or orthodox custom. Marriage is an eternal law and a commandment tailored by God. He created boundaries for this alliance. His direction for a man and woman to leave their families and partner in marriage remains unchanged.

The very fact that the perpetuation of our race depends on this type of union should be proof enough that God's instruction is inherent, real, and necessary. This speaks nothing to the ends of morality or the potential loss of civil rights associated with this Proposition.

We live in a confusing world. A cornucopia of lifestyles have come into practice, and subtly and slowly, have become permissible. If tolerance means turning a blind eye or numbing the heart in the name of Acceptance, then I can not accept.

I wonder how many of us truly understand the significance and ramifications of this legislation (Prop 8), or even care.

A "Yes" vote will preserve God's definition of marriage. A "No" vote will allowed the recent decision of the California Supreme Court's 4-3 vote to remain intact; legalization of same-sex marriage.

I will be voting Yes on 8.

For more info on Prop 8 visit:

Saturday, August 09, 2008

They Might Be Giants

I could say many wonderful things about Family Camp at Lake Sequoia- (I just returned.) My aunt Wendy started attending Central Valley YMCA Family Camp 4 years ago, fell in love with it the first year, and has extended an indefinite invitation to me for the years thereafter- I have since completed 3 successful stints, returning to the same wonderful place, the 2nd week in August, each year.

What I thoroughly enjoy about Family Camp:

Oscar a fellow camper turned friend, leading us through swathes of tall grass, wild rose, and Indian Paintbrush. Hovering close to the towering Redwood Sequoias, stooping down to scoop up one of it's pine cones, and marvel at how an entity so considerable in size, precipitated from beginnings so small. The constant smell of earth and pine. Recurring reminders of Creation. Lake hikes. Campfire in all it's silliness and glory. (Families take turns performing skits, songs, etc. each night at sundown-).

Above all, my favorite event is "family camp rules" volleyball! The camaraderie and sheer joy of it all! My love for the sport was born 5000 feet above Fresno, 3 years ago, and has since shown me likable aspects of my personality I wasn't aware existed before. An unexpected blessing.

You shall know a tree by it's fruits, and Sequoia Family Camp is irrefutably, terrific timber.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Dawntrix Rebuffed.

I am feeling utterly rebuffed. Three! Count them, three times I've been abruptly refused passage into my latest facebook obsession: Pieces of Flair. Mind you, I've only been a subscriber to this application for 5 days, but it's latched hold of my brain, and is threatening to take hostages!

The snubbery started this morning when I dragged myself to the computer at 5am because I couldn't sleep. Power on, Internet...not connecting- Weak signal. I tried engaging the signal at least 92 times- without success. Then, when at the computer lab this afternoon, I told myself I would only check my email to get a ph # I'd emailed to myself. My hand maneuvered the mouse in such a way, that I found myself trying to log onto Pieces of Flair! I swear officer- It wasn't me!!! And then, for a third time I was not allowed access! This time it was due to kinks in the app. Moral of this story: do not put your trust in the applications of man.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

This Sure is Quality Popcorn

On Wednesday night I tagged along with Autumn and Erin to see a movie at the beach- the cinematic classic Casablanca, with a surging soundtrack of the sea behind it. (One of the many reasons I love L.B.).

The best part of the night was riding bikes to and from Autumn's place- like cowgirls tackling the West, we rode into the sunset. Literally. We were drenched in golden luster.

Before the film began, levity ensnared us-

It started over the quality of the free popcorn being handed out in WWII-style rationings. Erin was mortified that it was bagged rather than freshly popped. She reminisced about the days when she used to buy cheese flavored popcorn from an elementary school, far superior to the homogenized yellow puffs we were now munching on. Her solemnity and conviction spurred us on.

"This stuff isn't even popped in America!"

"Do you smell that? Smells like... lead!"

"How can you keep eating at a time like this!"

"These kernels probably date back to the 80's before they started turning corn into fuel- No wonder it's so crappy! It's vintage!"

There we were, three little burritos, wrapped snuggly in our blankets and hoodies, laughing hysterically into the night.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Silly Martian, Tricks are for Kids.

While studying for my summer class final,(Music for Early Childhood Ed.), I was allowed a single note card to miraculously cram 6 weeks worth of copious notes onto- a teacher-approved cheat sheet... Because it was early morning and only hours till the exam, words began spilling out my pen all rushed and googily... For example:

Instead of writing the song title, Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, I began with, "Heads...". This version of the song was arranged with Martian-children in mind. After all, the goal is all-inclusive classrooms, right?

Still on Tuesday of this week: To give you an idea of how little "the little things in (my) life..." can be, let's just say that 3 weeks ago I enthusiastically planned my schedule around donating blood on Wednesday in order to claim a coupon for a free Subway sandwich- (Food... a legitimate and persuasive bait!)

Anyway- to my surprise, I saw what looked like the Blood Donor Trailer, parked in it's usual spot, a day early! Beads of drool starting forming prematurely at the sides of my mouth...

I marched over to the trailer, cleared my throat and said, "Excuse me. I'd like to donate." The woman with her back to me, wearing scrubs and fishing for something inside a drawer, turned around and paused.

Then, with a mix of confusion and curiosity she asked, "Donate what?"

"Ummm, blood?"

"Honey, we're doing free Pap and STD testing."

OK Dawn, just like we practiced; Smile, nod your head, and slowly back away from the vehicle.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What Drink Are You?

Just one of the millions of applications (I'm sure), that you can add to your facebook page- I saw it on a friend's profile today. She's a Cosmopolitan: Girly, Stylish, Classy. I could chose to think nothing of this little app, but I often tend to careen about in an ocean of's what I came up with: External entities defining our very selves. Another cloud-like haze to cover our eyes while here on earth.

I spent many formative years concocting an outward image, how I wanted people to interpret me as an individual, based on style and personal interests. Sure, style and interests are great, I guess it's the motive that bothers me.

What measures do we use to define ourselves?

Advertisers want us to believe it's trendy brands, fast cars, what you've got on your ipod...that will morph us into chic, attractive, fashionable peeps. We will increase our surplus population of friends if we shop the isles of this world carefully.

It's not the ruby blush of a Cosmopolitan that defines us, but the inner fire of our souls, burning white with divinity. The spirit's inhabiting our bodily frames are what make us each unique, courageous, and lovable.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mind, Tummy, and Soul

I've just experienced one of the best evenings of my life! Driving home, I felt like I was wrapped in a soft fuzzy blanket, plucked straight from the dryer! We had Enrichment Night (dinner club) @ Jamie C's tonight. We laughed, lounged, and savored ethnic cuisine in her top floor apartment by the beach. Candle light danced in the cool salty breeze. Talk about a glorious comfort food concoction! The main course was a chicken potato rice dish that catapulted us all into Nirvana! Our Columbian dinner was complemented by the fried plantains and fresh frothy watermelon juice. YUM!

Meaningful faith-building conversation intertwined with random silliness; Jamie busted out an airbrush makeup kit, then proceeded to give impromptu makeovers- high tech glamor at it's finest...I left feeling (and looking) a million times better than when I arrived- what a gift! One last highlight: Tamara and I dished out some love to the burgeoning hydrangea plant at the bottom of the stairs. We laughed till we were red in the face. Happiness abounds.

It is true- life is SO much better when you have wonderful people to share it with.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

My family is...

The oxygen in my tank.

Today is my dad's birthday. He's pushing 60 and I'm in denial... how has life slipped by so quickly? Today was wonderful. It started with Stake Conference (a special quarterly church meeting where several congregations meet together.) The take home message (for me) was: look for the good in everyone and everything. I recommitted myself to this personal goal while in the conference session, then proceeded to break said commitment only half a day later while on an evening walk with pops- I took it upon myself to critique a newfangled landscaping fad that's sweeping my neighborhood. To go into details here would only further violate my new personal code- Take home point: What we look for becomes all we can see.

Justin and I drove out to Harbor 2nd Ward post conference. The ward building is nestled below the Palos Verde Hills with the Pacific just beyond the rolling green. I took a moment while walking across the courtyard, to stop and watch the clouds pour over the roof's edge- the misty clumps swirling and crashing into each other, then slowly pulling apart like feverish taffy fresh off the stove. I was filled with gratitude for the gospel and all the wonders that testify of God.

Before the evening walk, I studied my dad's face in the moonlight and flashed back to a time when I was 10. My dad used to take each Altier child on a "date night" once a month. My most vivid recollection of this practice is when he and I walked to the now non-existent drive-thru dairy a few blocks away from our home, where he let me choose any item I wished on his dime. We walked back home as I shoved mini powdered donuts into my mouth, one after another, developing a coating of sugary dust on my face and shirt- my childhood memories are sweet. Thank you parental units, and thanks be to God.
Happy birthday Daddy. xoxoxo

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Route 66

"I no can believe it!" But at the same time, I can!!! As of today it's official! I took my very last psychology final for my bachelors degree, fulfilling all requirements for graduation. Can I get an "Amen"?! I was sweating bullets as I walked the long, dark corridors of the Psych building post-test. I was trailing my professor to the Psych office, where "the machine" would gobble up our scantrons, spitting out our resultant fates. I needed a 65% or better on the test to pass the class. (aka to have at least a "C" average for all tests taken during the semester)... I sat pensively, at the edge of my chair- Dr. D walked through the doorway, stopped and smiled when she saw my troubled brow, then said that blessed number, "66". "You're serious?!" I was shrill with glee! I jumped up, threw my arms around her and shook her like a willow tree on a gusty summer's day. Of course, graduation will hit next May as I am doing a minor in Fall and Spring- but technically if I needed to, I could go (graduate) at any time now!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Reason to Smile.

I'm studying for my Physiology of Behavior final. I wanted to share the results of a study conducted by Zajonc, Murphy, & Inglehart (1989) who proposed that smiling precedes the experience of emotion. They found muscular contractions that produce smiling cause blood to drain from the face into the cavernous sinus, which lowers the temperature of the brain, producing positive emotion. On the flip side, frowning causes the blood supply to pool in the face, increasing the temperature of the brain, which produces negative emotion. All the more reason to turn our frowns upside down, and smile our cares away. :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I was listening to NPR on my morning drive to worky. They did this intriguing piece on sound waves/signals and the metamorphosis they've undergone thanks to advancements in technology. (The most interesting point made, in my opinion, was the attesting of a collegiate researcher to life on other planets- other planets analogous to our own!) Once again, secular findings fall into line with the gospel.

In the 50's, the golden era of television, Lucy's voice (electromagnetic waves) were poorly contained, bouncing off receivers and soaring past the stars of our solar system at light speed- taking approximately 5 hours to do so- From east coast to Chicago, micro-seconds…to the moon, 1.5 seconds, to Mars in minutes- You get the idea. Lucy's voice has traveled for 57 years and continues on into the hum of the universe. (57 light years is about 200 trillion miles.)

Today, thanks to sputnik and it's successors, electromagnetic wave are now compressed into fiber optic waves readied for point to point transmission via satellite, cutting our solar noise pollution down to a mere peep.

If a bit of silicon and wiry mesh can send a signal (sound wave) powerful enough to maneuver the far reaches of our universe, is there any wonder then, that our thoughts and heartfelt prayers can find their way to the ears of the One who created it all- Sound waves and the means of their conduction may change, but one thing (Being) stays the same. He understands physical and eternal laws far better than any Harvard or Nasa engineer could.

Regardless of our point and place in the universe, each of us are listened to and loved.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Babes in Yogurtland

There's no doubt yogurt is making a comeback in a BIG way! This "healthy indulgence" has become so popular that Pinkberry's and their nemeses are popping up everywhere! What an oxymoron: low-fat yogurt. (Only if it's sugary-free, but then you have all the added chemicals to contend with). Oh well. In Yogurtland's behalf, let me say it's darned yummaliscious!

Eric and I investigated the Long Beach location tonight. It's almost overwhelming when you first enter. It's set up like a buffet, offering trough size cups and even bigger trough sized cups- take your pick- and don't be fooled- Despite unavoidable air pockets between layers, 30 cents an ounce multiplies quickly once all the delectable flavor choices are starring you in the face! A little of this and a little of that...oh that looks good. YES, thank you! I can fit 12 flavors into my trough quite comfortably! The tart blueberry, and taro flavored yoges are my personal fave.

Toppings- say no more- syrupy strawberries, mini squares of creamy cheesecake, crumbles of Oreo cookie- Some of you in currently colder regions may shiver at the thought of frozen treats in the month of April, but for us Californians it was a steamy 83 degrees today! I will definitely be finding my way back here soonish.

You can check out Yogurtland for yourself @:

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Hasta Borrego, Baby!

Exercising gentle persuasion, a friend convinced me to accompany her on a camping- adventure-extravaganza to Anza-Borrego this past weekend. Being that she is an expert in AB terrain and the ways of camping, I figured the trip would prove to be smooth sailing- What actually played out was just short of comical-fiasco.

We left Friday morning at 6:30 and flew down the 405. First stop: Julian, a sleepy little historic town where over-priced antique and souvenir shops reign supreme. We sank into doughy red leather (*yellow leather*) booth seating at Buffalo Bills just in time to appease our gurgling tummy-protests. Let the sacrifice of french toast and scrambled eggs begin!

Warning: It's risky business filling up on greasy breakfast food just before hitting a crooked mountain highway!

P.S. AB is a monstrous stretch of arid wilderness! It would require several weeks to travel and absorb its numerous and diverse landscapes.

Arriving at our camp site, we set up our tent and inspected the vaulted toilet situation- surprisingly clean! I spied (*with my little eye*) a fascinating spider, feeling it's way around the cement foundation... yellow and silver- polka-dotted go-go gadget legs! We'll come back to this later.

It was onto the wind caves, which kick started a chain of unfortunate events.

Minutes after leaving the campgrounds, we managed to get our 4 wheel-drive pick-up stuck in a sandy portion of the road- Luckily, a family who'd stopped behind us several 100 feet back took pity on my futile efforts to dig out the back tire: let me skim the surface layer of sand- smoothing it out will cause some sort of improvement to our situation, just watch! With their help, our vehicle was pushed to safety. We would meet up with them again at the wind caves and return the favor by giving them a ride back to their vehicle.

Up one steep hill to the caves. It was a hot afternoon. Resting in the shadows of the caves we decided to bust out our dehydrated Mexican Rice and Chicken- alas, our Jet Boil refused to ignite- thus leaving us lunchless. On the way back down, the rocks under-foot gave way and I brushed the side of a fully loaded bramble bush- Youch! Go on without me guys...I've gotta take care of something.

The Slot is an AB must see, this carefully carved canyon was next on our list- We hiked The Slot with our rescuers and had a great time discussing the oddities of Minnesota- where the son spent the first 4 years post graduation working. Have you heard of the biggest ball of twine? It's 4 meters (13 ft) in diameter and weighs 7,900 kg (17,400 lbs). Francis A. Johnson's obsession started in March, 1950 and stole four hours of every day for 23 weeks. It is currently housed in a specially made gazebo across from the town park on Main Street in Darwin, Minnesota, and the town celebrates "Twine Ball Day" the second Saturday in August every year.

When we emerged from the canyon, we'd unknowingly exited just past our parking spot and kept walking in the opposite direction. It took us a good 20 minutes to figure out what'd happened to our vehicles as herculean gust of wind endeavored to knock us to the canyon floor.

The horizon line blushed in the gleaming pink of sunset. Worn by the day's excursion, we felt ready for a quick dinner, campfire, then bed! My friend finally figured out the jet boil dilemma. She poured in the suggested 2 cups of water and then some (this time pad-thai), while I drank 2 quarts of water, perpetuating a trip to the loo.

They say the desert comes alive at night- apparently they're not joking.

While we'd been out and about, that lowly singular spider exploring the bathroom, decided to invite all his cousins to our campsite for a reunion-the ground was crawling! One had burgeoned into 100's- "Better to carry you off to our webby lair! (Insert diabolical laugh here).

My friend is deathly afraid of spiders- after karate kicking one off her shirt, stomping a dozen to their deaths, flicking one off our tent, it became clear, we weren't going to sleep here tonight! My friend started hopping up and down, in this sort of frantic rain dance fashion. She, bellowed, "Get the tent! Shake it off! Put it in the car!" But, the tent is fully assembled... "I don't care we'll make it fit!...we can have dinner in the car..." ps- our jet boil masqueraded as a miniature geyser, just before discovering the non-habitability of our location.

We picked up our fully made tent erratically shaking it off, then contorted and shoved it in the back of my friend's truck. Our firewood drenched in propane, still begging to be lit as we peeled out of the vicinity, snagging a pint-sized boulder along the way. The whole time fellow campers, evidently undisturbed by the eight-legged batallion, had been watching us with amusement...I'd wondered what they called out, when I'd hopped out of the car momentarily to re-shut my door... It must've been something to the effect of, "there's a big rock under your car!" It clicked in my head on the crash down.

Due to intense stuff-shuffling and crammed careless rearranging, our door ajar light had come on- this proved to be a problem after parking at a hotel to inquire about room availability- the 3 cabin lights were extremely bright and red hot. After shutting and re-shutting all the doors and rear hatch and jabbing and twisting every possible control switch, desperation took hold- What's causing the light's repudiation?! If we stay here and camp with this light on all night the truck's battery will surely drain by morning-

We concluded it would be best to leave the park and tackle the cabin light quandary once back to civilization again- we took a different highway out- by the light of the moon, over jackknifed uphill terrain, what could've taken an hour, took 3. We literally drove in a huge circle once back in Julian- the road seemed to stretch on FOREVER! I felt like crying the moment a certain green glowing abode came into view a second time- 25 minutes full circle-not cool!

A bakery employee who'd given us directions to B. Bills that morning, told us, while parked atop a barstool, the way to Oceanside at about 11:45 that night- Let's just say we pulled into the Ramada Limited at a quarter to 3- beat, cranky, confused. Turns out a pocket knife was jammed in the door-

Thank goodness my friend discovered it because we were having issues disconnecting the negative cable from the battery- Thank goodness for friends- Specifically Joe in this instance for booking us a room and then refusing our cashola when we met up with him for lunch 8 hours later in S.D. And most importantly, thank goodness for prayer; I think we set a record for ourselves yesterday.

What a trip- I can't say I'll never go camping again, but maybe the next time will occur in the distant future as opposed to near.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Happiness is...

Happiness is a bovine made of plastic parts, straddling the crown of your head with the help of a 5 year old who's consumed in blissful unbridled play; a friend gushing about her brave unexpected journey from One to Love; the forgotten CD in your car's player saying hello again, serenading you with one of your favorite songs; gentle pellets of rain dancing across your windshield on the drive home; chips and homemade guacamole for dinner when the avacados are a gift from a friend's neighboring tree.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Palm Readers of the World Unite!

Last night I'd planned to briefly stop by a friend's house party. I haven't seen Angela or Stacey in years! Angela was co-hosting a "Mardi Gras Mitzvah". As Justin and I rounded the Lemon St. walkway and onto the front porch, a guy climbing through the darkened front bedroom window, stopped midway, turned to us and with assurance called out, "Don't worry! I'm one of the guests. I'm not trying to break in!" Yah yah. That's what they always say. Next thing you know your mother's pearls are missing.

Juxtaposed the front door sat a table, cash box, and Stacey! She started to welcome us and when she realized it was me whispered, "Nooo way!" We threw our arms around each other and squealed like gradeschoolers. It was great seeing both of them again!

Out back was a huge stage, tikki bar, and converted garage/dance floor. The band was setting up and profanity was flying.

I believe Angela was one of the soul decorators: the place looked hot. Tucked away in a dark corner of the side yard was an old rusted van alive with glowing red lights and all the psychic trimmings- a gypsy's dream. Pillows of every shape and color, swathes of material draped over the front and back seats, strands of silkiness dripping from the windows laced with rows and rows of plastic beads and coins... a table sat centerfold, a candle flickering on top... Madame Vultervonius? (a.k.a. Melody) was ready to serve: a Zen card master. Justin, then I, stepped inside and 10 minutes turned into an hour.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Long Way Gone

Forum on International Human Rights, CSULB. February 11-13.

Amid a churning sea of faces, I was but one in a frothy thousand to pass Ishmael Beah's table as he sat poised in his author's chair, glowing smile, looking all official. He was signing copies of his memoir, A Long Way Gone. I was to conduct a quick and informal interview with this former child soldier for Cb TV. His message cliche, although coming from him, honorable: The power to heal and be healed is within us all.

The day closed with the screening of a documentary, I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life & Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal (2007). He lived the atrocities of the Holucaust. He was a Jew. Despite all he'd seen and been subjected to, he chose to carry the pain of 6 million people and consequently, heal equivocal anguished hearts. He demanded justice for the victims and survivors of Hitler's genocide. His exuded passion, a love for his family and people, and maintained a miraculous sense of humor.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Was Holding the Stone.

A conversation ensued today, the eye opening, lump in your throat kind- I was steered towards a wonderful and wise woman, Patty, who shared an amazing story related to the Atonement. It pierced my heart. I cried. It was such a cleansing experience, as I have recently experienced one of the toughest emotional moments of my life.

This is the story she shared:

She used to work for a big company in CA, (that manufactures airplanes), cough, cough. They got into some kind of trouble, thus initiating a 4 year review from the government. During this time she was assigned to a special committee along with a woman she couldn't stand. This woman had a gorgeous body which she exploited. The guys on Patty's team stared out the window every time she'd walk past- she slept around with a lot of the guys including one of the directors of their committee.

This woman, we'll call Leila, constantly sought Patty out to complain, complain, complain. She wasn't a happy chappy. Leila was a divorced mother of 2 and would gripe about not wanting to pick her kids up, waiting till the last minute possible Sunday night-till she HAD to get them...Patty, copacetic ("so she thought"), would begrudgingly ignore the constant bellyaching, rather than tell Leila to just, "shut up!"

Upon returning from a business trip to Georgia, Leila sat down at Patty's desk as usual, but this time she looked nervous. She confided in Patty; her leg had swollen up while she'd been away on business and it concerned her big time. Patty said matter of factly, "It's hot as sin in the South right now. It was probably just the heat." "No", Leila replied. "This isn't normal. I've had cancer in this leg before and I'm worried it's come back." She revealed a portion of her swollen leg where Patty could see a major section of flesh had been removed and skin grafts had been performed." (Everybody has their hidden flaws).

She went to the doctors and found out the cancer was back in full swing. It had spread throughout her body. She started chemo. The regiment wasted her. Her once exquisite strawberry blond curls were replaced by ornate scarves...her director boyfriend turned cold, which meant her bills weren't getting paid. A former boyfriend, lower on the company totem pole, stepped up to help her through this dark time. He said he'd always loved her and her kids...

Eventually Leila's health did not allow her to work. She was admitted to a hospital and wouldn't live much longer. A message came to Patty saying, "Leila wants to see you. Can you come today?" Patty declined due to a small cold she was nursing- not wanting to pass that on to Leila and have it knock her out. The next day a second message came, "At this point, what difference does it make if I catch a cold?! Please come." Patty conceded. The floor where Leila 's room was located was silent and bleak, the kind of place people go to die. When Patty entered Leila's room she stopped. Hundreds of white specks were fluttering about. Leila's family had hung tiny white angels and pictures of her kids from every surface imaginable.

Patty still wasn't feeling charitable towards this woman! Even as she looked at her ravaged reduced state. Her hair was nothing more than an oily clump of string sitting atop her head. (From all the lotion the nurses had applied attempting to make her scalp as comfortable as possible).

Leila was sleeping. Patty felt relieved. She thought, "I'll just quickly leave a note to let her know I stopped by." But before she could slip out, Leila opened her eyes. "I know someone's here, I just can't see who it is. Please, come closer." Patty walked to the bedside and upon identifying herself Leila burst into tears.

She begged Patty to crawl into the bed with her and hold her. Patty complied. This woman then told Patty how her father had passed away when Leila was 9 and her mother committed suicide when she was 15. Patty was the "mother" Leila had since longed for. Leila said she would stare at the family photos that lined Patty's office walls and ask herself, "why can't my family be like this?" It was at this moment that Patty realized she was the one holding the stone. All this time she'd thought she was being so cordial, so good, so polite...she too was a sinner. The Atonement was just as much for her as it was for Leila.

We cannot judge others. We have no idea what consumes their time, occupies their thoughts, or dictates their actions.

We don't know the hearts of anyone else but our own. Leaving the telepathy of the heart to The Master is a continual lesson I am learning.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I Choose Life! Juno?

I just returned from seeing
the highly acclaimed, academy
nomiated film Juno. I can
say it was refreshing to see
pro-life advocacy and Diablo's
biting wit on the silver screen.

(Painting by Francisco Núñez.)

It never ceases to amaze me; Regardless of
our circumstances and place in life, we work
with indistinguishable emotional palettes.
Most of us, if not all, have felt alone in a crowd.
Whether we choose to admit it or not, we need
each other. I need to allow myself to be more