a collection of certainly special, uniquely unusual, and equally momentous thoughts: memoirs of me

Sunday, July 24, 2011

4th of July in the Nation's Capitol

Is there any better place to celebrate the 4th of July than Washington DC? I submit that there is not.

Although hot and muggy I went along with a big group of friends to the Capitol in order to experience the Independence Day concert on the West Lawn. Being in a huge crowd with everyone dressed in red, white, and blue, and gathering on the grass at the foot of the Capitol building was a spectacular experience. I loved the concert and the patriotism of the event as we listened to numerous famous singers and performers use their talents to the fullest. Josh Groban was the highlight of the night with a voice so soothing and so perfect that it gave me chills. How grateful I am for my country!

Within seconds of Josh finishing his performance we headed away from the West Lawn and toward the Washington Monument for the fireworks. The crowds, security, and quick porta-potty trip (for me of course) prevented us from getting too close by the time the fireworks started but it didn’t matter.

Oh how I wish I could adequately describe the feeling of standing on the National Mall, surrounded by thousands of my fellow citizens, watching the fireworks erupt just behind the Washington Monument. It was a special ten minutes to be sure.

My chest filled with gratitude for my citizenship in this country, for the rights, freedoms, privileges, and comforts I enjoy. There is no pen that could write nor word that could be spoken that could capture how I felt that night.

Magical might be the closest word for how it all turned out. Exquisite and magical.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Concert to Never Forget

There are those certain things that cannot be described in words. There are experiences that others can only truly understand if they were there with you in the moment, standing next to you, experiencing it with you, making the memory together.

A little more than I year ago I lived in the grand country of Ecuador. Every day I would hop onto Pablo’s red truck and we’d drive through the rolling hills of the Andes to get to the orphanage where we worked. In those long moments, as I took in the deep green hills, vibrant colored houses, and serenity that that county afforded me, I would remember the hand of my Maker.

It was during those special drives to and from our babies that we would listen to Maná. I fell in love with their songs, the sound of their voices, the strumming of their guitars, and their lyrics. I knew I was hooked.

Attending a Maná concert was put on my life’s bucket list soon thereafter. The problem was that I’d never heard of Maná performing anywhere close to where I’d lived and so I figured that someday I’d have to travel to a faraway country (such as Spain) to be able to attend one of their concerts.

I never dreamed that the day I would attend one of their concerts would be today.

When Corinne heard that Maná had just started their Drama Y Luz International tour and that they were coming to DC those of us who are diehard fans bought tickets together and awaited the day.

It was everything I dreamed of.

To be completely honest, it was ironic and fulfilling for me in some ways as well. The irony is that a year ago tomorrow Chris sat me down on some nice grass, pulled out his guitar, and played me my favorite song called Bendita Tu Luz. It was amazing. He had learned it for me while I was in Ecuador and was finally able to show me all the hard word he’d put into learning the song. He did an incredible job. Little did I know that only three days later we’d brake up and I’d begin the hardest year of my life. Since that very day I have not listened to Bendita Tu Luz. It was just too hard. The tug on my heart strings was too strong.

So I went a year without listening to it.

Then tonight I got over that.


The Patriot Stadium was filled to capacity. Me and my five friends were the only gringos in the house. There was a buzz and an excitement in the air that was palpable.

When Maná finally arrived on stage everyone went wild including us. It was deafeningly loud to the point that my ears were ringing. I’ve never been to a concert that loud.

Their songs sounded exactly like the recordings only better because they were right in front of us. There they were on stage and I couldn’t believe it.

Some songs I could sing along to because I knew the lyrics and others I would just listen to because they were from their new album.

And I waited, I waited for Bendita Tu Luz.

More than halfway through I heard the familiar guitar cords at the beginning and I scrambled to my phone’s camera to take a picture. Then I just listened and thought about what that song has meant in my life. I loved it. I hated it. Now I love it again.

Three minutes went by too fast and they moved on to different songs. But now I’m here writing this blog post and I’m still remembering. I’m remembering how I listened to it riding through the Andes, I’m remembering how I felt and the smile on my face when Chris played and sang it to me on that grassy knoll, I’m remembering the pit in my stomach that plagued me for so long and not bearing listening to it anymore, and finally I’m remembering tonight and the grin on my lips being surrounded by friends and listening to my favorite Maná song once more.

I guess you could call tonight EPIC in every way. I crossed something off my bucket list. I overcame a hurdle. I got through this extremely tough year.

I never dreamed I would get this lucky.

Thank you Maná for putting on a fabulous show. I will love you forever. Here’s to the next time I see you in concert. Let’s hope that next time I will be in España!!!

(the crowds were crazy but somehow I felt right at home with 15,000 imbibed Latinos)

(I bought a t-shirt. I never buy concert t-shirts. That's how epic this concert was)
(Thank you gentleman for the fabulous show)

(If you'd like to experience the magic that is Bendita Tu Luz you can go here and watch the music video. It's great.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years."

I traveled to New York City when I was 11 years old to compete in the New York City Dance Alliance National Competition. It was a dream.

I remember from that trip:

- The Trump Tower apartment we stayed in which was on the 32nd floor. It had really modern architecture and styling complete with a black and white kitchen and really boxy furniture. It was then that I determined I don’t like modern. My house will not be modern like that.

- Competing at the Waldorf-Astoria and dancing on the carpeted floors.

- Riding on the subway in the front car and trying to go a whole ride without holding on to any bars.

- Visiting the tall buildings and riding the elevators.

- Taking the ferry to Liberty Island and taking a picture with New York City in the background. Coincidently, that picture has both of the Twin Towers right behind me.

- Wishing I had enough money to buy a pair of white platform flip flops and a portable dvd player (both brand new items on the market).

- Getting my caricature done by some random man on the street and struggling not to bend the paper for the rest of the trip.

- Going to all sorts of high end restaurants with the family I stayed with and eating escargot for the first time.

- Performing on the large stage our Grease dance routine we had practiced for months. We lost first place by less than a point. I was sorely disappointed.

I was only 11 years old at the time I made my first voyage to the great city of New York. I wish I remembered more. I wish I could remember more of the smells or thoughts I had along the way. But alas, I can’t seem to make my memory any clearer.

I guess that means I had to go back, right?

$21 and a duffle bag later and Marissa and I were off to the great city once more. The amazingly attractive single young man sitting on the bus seat right in front of us made the 5 hour trip a lot more enjoyable and in no time we arrived. It started coming back to me. The look and feel of the subway, the dirty tiles and grey steel subway trains. The signs, the lights, the buildings. I could feel it again.

A short walk and we arrived at her aunt and uncle’s apartment, conveniently attached to the back of the Manhattan Temple.

Day 1:

Friday encompassed a run in Central Park which was so completely entertaining to me I could have sat on that bench afterward and watched people for the entire trip. I met up with my dear friend Britton and we headed to the Met for a couple hours of glass case watching and label reading. You know you have a great guy friend when you can go to a museum together and entertain each other delightfully for several hours. We saw some Picasso’s, laughed at the modern art pieces, tried to understand the modern art pieces, got in trouble for standing next to a painting too closely, were amazed at the age of the Greek sculptures, marveled at the Oceania costumes, and took some crazy cool pictures. After more than two hours we’d only gone through three sections of the entire building!

A stop at Carnegie Deli was next on the list and the rumor came true that horrible service is the norm. I was dead thirsty and had to ask the server four different times for a water refill. Good ole New Yorkers. Sure do love them. The hot pastrami sandwich was giant and a good taste of what Carnegie is all about and the dearly intelligent Canadian man who chatted with us about world politics made our day after telling us that we were the hope for the future. God bless him.

Highline Park was a definitely a highlight (haha get it? Highline was a highlight) but even better was chatting with Britton for a couple hours about life and its delights and difficulties. Here’s to you Britton for a fantastic day and for being such a great friend.

To top off our first day of vaca Marissa and I had a picnic on the top of our apartment building in celebration of Marissa’s birthday and well, because why not have a picnic on the 38th floor of a building in Manhattan, stuff yourself full of New York pizza and Crumbs cupcakes, lay on a blanket and enjoy the sunset and a light breeze, and dream about the day when we can do the same with our lovers? Can I just say it was a grand night? Surely it can’t get a lot better.

Day 2:

Out of all the places I would love to go in NYC I’m glad we found ourselves in the temple on Saturday morning. What an incredible experience. It was even more special to us when both Marissa and I got to listen to the session in our mission languages. Oh what a glorious learning experience. My heart was simply filled to the brim with gratitude for my ability to speak Spanish and the talent I have in doing so. It is a gift I will never be able to repay the Lord for.

Vacations mean eating a lot of great food. Let me repeat, a LOT of great food. Saturday meant eating at the famous Shake Shack and then proceeding directly to La Vian bakery for grotesquely good cookies. You all know that my favorite dessert is the cookie. I’m sure they will be my downfall.

Times Square was just brimming with people as usual, and even more, most likely, because of the holiday weekend. The lights, billboards, signs, excitement, thrill, busyness, and commotion just excite my soul and make me hyper for more. We made our way to Canal Street in honor of my mom where the black men whisper in your ear bating you to buy Coach, Gucci, or Kate Spade purses. Tempting as it was we stayed on the crowded streets and baked in the afternoon sun but I came away with a very stylish white purse that I’m sure will be fantastic for the summer.

A trip to H&M naturally came next but with the crowds and the rush I found shopping more of an inconvenience than a pleasure. A wrap-around belt and light airy shirt was all that was found in my shopping back upon leaving.

Tickets to a show were next on the list and a return to Times Square was in order. Then came the best conversation of the trip:

us (to a random guy in Times Square): On a scale from 1 to 10, for really naïve girls, how bad is Mama Mia?

random guy: serious?

us: um, yeah. Like, how much profanity does it have?

random guy: um, are you guys Mormon?

us: um, yes!

random guy: Oh I love the Mormons! I grew up in DC and we always drove by your temple and when I was little I thought Superman lived there.

us (in our heads): (Well Superman, THE Superman does kinda live there)

random guy: well then I wouldn’t see Mama Mia. It’s a bad show. What other options do you have?

us: we were thinking about Catch Me If You Can.

random guy: Oh totally see that. It’s really good, great cast, great production.

us: um, thanks so much!!!

Best two minutes of my life ever. We laughed about that one for a good long time. (oh and btw, there are TWO, count them, two billboards in Times Square from our church, more specifically Mormon.org. Can I just ask what other church is cool enough to have two billboards in Times Square?)

Well Catch Me If You Can was absolutely brilliant. I loved every second of it and the best part was rushing home to look up the super attractive male lead and finding out he’s straight. Thank you heaven. He’s available. I’m available. Let’s make this work!

Day 3:

I sat in Sacrament meeting on Sunday morning and it completely dawned on me that exactly 13 years ago THAT day I had been sitting in the same chapel. Remember how I talked about my first trip to New York? It was 4th of July weekend. This past weekend was 4th of July weekend. How crazy is that? I loved going to a slightly smaller singles ward for a change and actually felt more comfortable there than I do sometimes in my own ward here in DC.

I took a blessed nap afterwards and was only awakened by the aromas of Marissa’s masterful dinner. Let me just say, this girl can COOK! She is a natural born chef. We had salmon with crème fresche, rice with craisins and almonds, roasted asparagus, and a green salad with homemade dressing. Did I mention that she did all that in ONE hour? This girl is nutsy good at cooking. Heaven bless her soul it was so delicious.

Well one stroll around Central Park later where we got to listen to the wise words of Marissa’s aunt and uncle on how to have faith as a young single adult, we packed up our bags and headed to the bus station. Unfortunately there was no handsome bus mate to look at this time but our bus driver did book it on the road and we made it back to DC in four hours arriving at the tender time of 12:20 am.

Whoa what a trip! What a blong (that was me being confused in my head and typing blog and long together) post this has been. You want to know the best part of all? I live here in DC. Marissa’s aunt and uncle will have their Manhattan apartment for two and half more years. Bus tickets are $20 a piece. I don’t work Fridays.

I can guarantee there will be a bazillion more New York trips to come.

Um, life is so good.

Blessed Marissa

I prayed really hard before moving here (and continued once I got here) that I would find some friends that I could connect with. You know, a couple of girlfriends that seemed to “get” me. My roommates were an answer to prayer and are still till this day but I still wanted to find someone to really talk to, someone who just seemed to know what I meant, who understood my heart. There are only a couple people who’ve I’ve been able to connect with like this. Amanda, Monica, Kiersten, Natalie, Courtney…….and now Marissa. Thank you Mars for “getting” me when it feels like no one else does. You are grand in every way.

Sexy Supermodel (yes she's single my friends, have at her!)

(she will hate me for putting this on here. I couldn't resist. I love it. I love her)