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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Material possessions

10 material possessions I'm grateful for:

1. my sewing machine: I had it shipped cross country and I've never been happier to have it back in my possession.

2. a comfortable and cute and warm bed: I know there are millions of people out there who don't have one of their own and never will. I count myself lucky that I do and that it has the cutest eclectic quilt on it in the world.

3. my Banana Republic jeans that fit perfectly: every girl needs a pair. Nuff said.

4. my collection of scarves: always the perfect touch.

5. my Droid smart phone: what I would do without it? I don't even want to imagine. My favorite app you might ask? the Spanish Mormon Channel or the one that shows me the constellations in the night sky. Pretty. dang. cool.

6. my collection of perfumes: I can blame my mom for this fetish but I love smelling good all the time. Nanette Lepore, Juicy Couture Couture, Versace Crystal Noir, and hopefully soon Armani Code and Dior Miss Cherie. All divine.

7. the wall hangings that adorn my bedroom: my hand carved board of the Mt. Timpanogos temple from a member of the church in Ecuador, a large framed H, and a picture of Christ.

8. my scriptures: these babies have been worn and read and handled and written in a lot, and I love that about them. On the leather cover you'll find my name embossed in gold and my missionary tag that reads Hermana Redford - La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias.

9. my makeup: only a makeup girl would understand. The thought of losing that precious stuff is frightening. I love it because I love putting it on and I love how I feel with it on. That's that.

10. my special chapstick: I have to trust you to show this stuff. It's the best in the world and will cure any chapstick addiction there is. One application after teeth-brushing and that's it. It's gold. You know you're really my friend when I've confided to you what it's really supposed to be used for. 

I'm grateful I'm physical

Now people, I'm not usually the kind to jump on the bandwagon with trends. It takes me some good old time to figure out what I like and don't like and what's really my style. So when Thanksgiving came along and everyone was blogging it up about all that they're grateful for......well, I didn't post anything. I just didn't want to make a big list of all my Thanksgiving gratefuls. But then last night happened and I was browsing the latest Ensign when at the end of President Eyring's talk on gratitude I found some ideas on what to write, some maybe more unusual things that we don't give credit to.

So this is me finally jumping on the bandwagon and committing myself to blogging about gratitude for my next TEN blog posts. Ready?


10 physical abilities I'm grateful for: 

1. the ability to walk: have you ever thought about how hard not walking would be? Although I'm pretty sure I would love the awesome muscle-ness of arms I would get wheeling myself around in a wheelchair, I'm glad I have two working legs that can walk and dance and bowl and twirl and skip.

2. the ability to use my hands properly: sometimes when I'm bored in a meeting I try writing with my left hand. I doodle a lot with my left hand. It's supposed to make your brain smarter. I've actually gotten really good at it. I'm grateful for two working hands that can touch, write, cook, feel, and hold.

3. my fully functioning healthy active digestive system: if any of you know my past then you'll understand. Let's just leave it at that.

4. the ability to play dodgeball, volleyball and football: my three favorite sports. I'm grateful I can do all three and do them pretty well. I don't like sitting on the sidelines.

5. tasting delicious food: I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful to be able to savor.every.drop of something I love, something so delicious.

6. the ability to feel other touch: I love that spark that runs through my body when someone I like hugs me or touches my arm, or even better kisses me. I love the bond that touching brings.

7.  the ability to carry and give birth and feed children of my own: now this hasn't happened yet but I can't wait for it. It's a miracle that my body will be able to do all those things. Geesh, that's awesome.

8. the ability to see colors and use eyes to behold beautiful things: there was a time when my family and I hiked Calf Creek Falls in Utah and when it started to rain on the way back, there were new waterfalls coming off the cliffs. It was something to behold. I love that I get to look at pretty things like temples and newborn babies and stores like Anthropologie and scrumptious hair-dos and rainbows of course.

9. the talent I have for sleeping well: I've always been a good sleeper. When the lights go out and my head touches the pillow I never have a hard time sleeping. And I never wake up during the night. It is a gift I'm grateful for.

10. hearing music that seems to transcend this earth: a while back I wrote this post about a song that makes my heart sing. I'm not a hard core music listener (also a really important fact about me, I love my silence) but there are still a lot of songs that really speak to me and touch me in a way I can't express in words. I'm grateful for those moments of bliss. I'm grateful that when I go home I can sit on my couch and listen to my brothers play the violin and the piano together. I would call that perfect.

And there you have it folks, my first blog on gratitude. Stay tuned.


sometimes I leave work, take the metro and then the temple shuttle all the way up to Maryland to attend a temple session

sometimes by the end of the session I'm really really tired, having worked an entire day and attending the temple right after

sometimes I get really nauseous riding on the metro especially when I'm hot

sometimes the metro breaks down or a door won't close and we have to sit on the tracks while I freak out knowing I'm going to miss my bus by seconds, the bus that only comes twice an hour this time of night

sometimes it's freezing outside and windy and the last thing I want to do is stand at my bus stop for 29 minutes and 30 seconds and wait for the next one, especially when I don't have a good book in my purse at the time

sometimes I get off one stop later at Pentagon City and splurge

yes sometimes I splurge and take a taxi about two miles to my apartment and pay $8 to do it

and sometimes that $8 is the best money I've ever spent

Friday, November 18, 2011

Coming full circle

(This post goes in conjunction with the one previous.)

So Mr. Miner and his group came on Wednesday. After months of waiting for this day it finally came and went and was something to be remembered.

We met up at the American History Museum. I heard him coming before I ever saw him. Mr. Miner's voice is distinctive and not something you argue against. He gave me a hug which made some of his students standing near us do a double-take. Then he introduced me as one of his former students. "Wait, you live here now?" was someone's reply. "Why yes, yes I actually do."

We walked around and I met some of his students. Nice kids. Good kids. Kids that didn't look all that younger than me. They would ask history questions and Mr. Miner would take a few minutes and answer all of them, he would continue to teach them, and they would listen. Just like it used to be with me.

He hasn't changed at all.

A student came up and asked if she could leave the building and walk to the Lincoln since she was leaving a day early and would miss seeing all the monuments. Mr. Miner and I decided to take a cab with her the short distance and show her the Lincoln, the Vietnam, and the Korean memorials. The day was overcast and misty. It was also a Wednesday and in the middle of the afternoon. I have never been to those memorials with so few people it was amazing. There were only a small handful walking around. They were almost empty.

We got to talk a little more, about my job and his, and our families. Even after all the hundreds of students he's had he remembered details about my life that I appreciated.

After re-joining the group we headed to the National Portrait Gallery. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I walked the long halls with Mr. Miner and we chatted some more. I told him what ultimately drove me to moving to DC, how I needed to get away from memories in Utah and Idaho and start a new life after a hard breakup, and how the thought I'd had six years previous had stuck with me, the thought that it'd be cool to move to DC one day. It was then that it hit me, I'd come full circle.

After an awesome Chinese dinner at Tony Cheng's in Chinatown I walked with the 40-student group back to their hotel in Rosslyn and got to talk to the students for a couple minutes. I told them my story, my ambitions, the reasons I'm here, how I got here, and how much I love it. I gave them pieces of advice that I wish I'd understood better at their age. I told them to work hard and be a leader. I told them to do everything in their power to live abroad and see different cultures and peoples. I don't them to set their sights high and never think they can't make it.

I hope I was a role model.

The night was over. I said goodbye to Mr. Miner again, shook his hand, told him that if I'm around next year I want to meet with his group again, told him I'd stay in touch, and then headed back to the metro and ultimately to my apartment. I'm grateful for days like this. Days when I can see my past and where I came from. Mr. Miner is someone that I will always respect and admire. I hope I can reach the potential he's always seen in me.

Why yes, yes I actually live here....and I love it.

Mr. Miner and I on the day of my high school graduation

Reunited after six years 

Just one of those teachers

There are some people in life that have influenced me more then they probably know or understand. These people are the ones I look up to, respect, admire, want to emulate, and want to make proud.

Friends, of course, fit in to this category. Certain people I met in my mission like Bro. Bassie or Alma Gamboa. There have been several teachers throughout the years that have had a lasting impact on my life and have shaped much of who I am today. 

Mr. Miner is one of those teachers. 

I walked in to his classroom my first day of high school. He didn't smile a whole ton but I didn't think he was mean. He had this sort of presence, the kind of presence that commands respect and doesn't take crap. 

I knew I was going to like him because those are the kind of teachers I've always responded to, the ones who have this air of obedience to them, the ones who expect a lot out of you but give you respect in return, the ones who make you work hard but let you see how working hard brings immense success and satisfaction, the ones who ultimately love you as a person and see your potential even before you do. 

Mr. Miner is one of those teachers. 

I took every one of the classes he offered during my three years in high school. I loved his AP US history class my junior year. I studied so hard for that AP exam and I was confident I was going to get a good grade. The week of the test I got really sick with Crohn's and was in the hospital the day of the exam. Mr. Miner personally called the hospital to reassure me it was all right. He arranged for me to take the make-up exam. I passed with flying colors thanks to him. 

My senior year he asked me to be his TA during his free period. When I was supposed to be grading papers, instead I would sit in a chair across from his desk and he's continue to teach me. We talked about wars and about government. He taught me things we didn't have time for in class. That's when my love for all things history and government started to bud.

Mr. Miner is one of those teachers. 

That year is when I came to DC for the first time with a group of students and Mr. Miner as our guide. In five days we jam packed everything we could possible do and see in DC. I was enchanted by the city and everything it had to offer. During that trip we met up with one of his former students, a cute girl then studying at George Washington. I thought it was so cool talking to her and hearing her road from Utah Valley to DC. It was then that the idea that I wanted to do the same got into my head and never really left. 

See me with the white hat on?

Purple coat right in the middle and my dad just behind me in the green

There I am with the purple coat on again and the nice shades. 

When I made the decision to go to BYU-I, I got the class catalog in the mail and as I was browsing through it I found the Political Science courses. They sounded really similar to what Mr. Miner had been teaching me for three years. These courses caught my interest when nothing else in the entire catalog did. I made the decision to study Political Science that very day, before I had ever stepped on the university's campus. I never looked back. Never once did I question if I should study something else. There was nothing else that even held a flame to what I loved learning in my PoliSci classes. 

Two years after high school I was preparing to go on my mission. I hadn't talked to Mr. Miner since then. One day I was in the Provo temple waiting for the session to begin when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked back to see Mr. Miner, dressed in white like me. We exchanged a quiet hello and he asked me where I was going and offered a congratulations and good luck. He still didn't know the impact he was still having on my life. 

Then last April, as I sat in the library one day thinking of all that I'd been through and what I'd accomplished in college, I thought about Mr. Miner once again. I knew I needed to tell him how much I appreciated what he'd done for me in high school. I knew I needed to tell him how his teaching had put me on the course I'm on today. So my mom found his number in the phonebook and I called him up. My heart was racing a little bit. "What am I doing? I haven't talked to this man in six years."

He sounded the same and we chatted for a few minutes. I explained how grateful I was for his early direction and for the person he's made me to be. I explained that I was moving to DC in a few weeks. I was surprised to hear that he was still making his trips to DC with students every year. Then he said, "You know, Hannah, now you can be the person we meet up with when we're there. You can be the role model for the students who don't think it's possible to ever move to a place like DC." 

Shivers went through my body. I thought of the girl I'd met on my inaugural trip to DC six years previous. Now I was going to be that girl. 

Mr. Miner is just one of those teachers. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Metal mouth and platform flip-flops

I was fortunate to never really experience bullying when I was in middle school. Yes there was immense pressure to be “popular” and have new clothes and wear make-up and platform flip-flops but I don’t remember ever really caring about that kind of stuff too early. I guess I was a late bloomer in some senses and I’m really grateful for that. However, that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it when Bradley Greenwell called me four-eyes one day when I wore my glasses or that I didn’t feel self-conscious when my mom wouldn’t let me wear eye shadow or much mascara.

Overall though I had a pretty normal middle school experience. I experienced it, got through it, and moved on. I remember vaguely starting to have serious crushes on boys, of starting to round brush my hair more often, and being more aware of people’s feelings and circumstances.

Of course there was a lot of awkwardness that accompanied my three years at Lakeridge Junior High. I was slightly embarrassed that I had to get special permission from my geometry teacher to use the hall pass every day to go to the bathroom since my problems with Crohn’s were still being worked out. I remember arguing with my mom over the length of my shorts and the sleeves on my shirts. I also clearly remember all the school dances with the slightly dark gym floor, the 7th graders playing tag, and the 9th graders pretending to be cool and dance in the middle.

School dances in middle school and the word anxiety are synonymous.

I would get ready for every dance in the hope that sometime before nine when the dance ended I would hear the music of Enrique Iglesias’s “Hero” and Josh Bishop would stroll over to me, tap me on the shoulder, and ask me to slow dance with him.

(BTW, he always did and I thought I was on cloud 9)

But now those three years are very much a blur. It’s been almost ten years since I conquered junior high and boy, I’m glad to be done with those years. They were years of inner turmoil, years of figuring out the beginnings of adulthood, years of realizing who I was becoming and who I wanted to become, years of stylish ignorance and exploration, and years of come-and-go crushes and heartbreaks.

But I wouldn’t take back those years for anything. They were priceless years of learning and growth and although they were hard and difficult, they were character building.

So listen to this podcast from the NPR program This American Life. Listen and reminisce about your years in middle school and the awkwardness that it was. I couldn’t stop laughing as I listened to the stories of current middle-schoolers and their woes and travails. I promise that the hour you listen will not disappoint. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

A little Adele

Katie Younger and I share a passion for Adele.

We can't get enough of this song lately.

So here's to any of you who have loved...

...and then had to let go.