Saturday, October 31, 2009

Redirection Once Again

As you can see, what I thought would turn into more spare time after getting married instead turned into disappeared spare time. Blogging has been reserved to the back back back burner. No complaints though. I mean, would I rather babble and pontificate on an obscure blog, or take care of my marriage with the most beautiful woman in the world?

Among our many newlywed activities, Erin and I have started up a joint blog. It may be perplexing that I start up three blogs in one year, but that is indeed the case. Our new blog will the the principal source for all J.J. &a Erin Despain updates. I do intend to hang onto this blog, although I'm not quite sure what to do with it. Maybe this will be a place for the journalism articles, etc. that I feel like sharing. (By the way, I'm officially part of the BYU journalism program!) Or maybe this will be where I come when I get the urge to comment on something that doesn't fall under the category of "J.J. & Erin Despain updates" (which will consist of very little, since "J.J. & Erin" is everything). Anyway, this blog is now being relocated to the sidelines. Adjust your blog following accordingly.

Also, the blog's format is changed back to something that allows for comments to blog posts. So if any of you have just been dying to leave your mark on my blog, that access has returned.

See you over at The Despain Family! blog!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

On the eve of our one month anniversary

Now, for a post-wedding blog post:

We have been married for almost exactly one month. It feels like it's been forever though. I don't mean that negatively or cynically. You know how before you were 16, and you wanted your driver's license so badly, but then after a month of driving, it felt like you had been driving all along? Like you were already used to it? That's what I mean.

The wedding and reception in Texas was a fun and impressive event. I think it was the most fun reception I've ever been to, even if it weren't my own. All the credit goes to SueAnne, her family, and their army of absolutely loyal Tomball Ward friends. Some of those friends would do absolutely anything for SueAnne and Erin. Anything. Also worth commending is the fact that Erin had 20 grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins come from as far away as Utah and Arizona! (My two grandmothers and my uncle made the trip to Houston too.)

The day after the reception Erin and I went to Galveston to ship out with Carnival Cruise Lines to Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico. I am now an avid proponent of cruises. It's a hotel, restaurant, and airplane all rolled into one. Plus, it feels free (because everything was paid in advance)! The ship itself was a little retro-futuristic, like Epcot and a Las Vegas casino put together. Erin and I found out that a lot of the ship's entertainment is based on their notion that you like to smoke, drink, and gamble. But even though we don't do any of those things, we still found plenty to do. Like eat. (Plus, 24-hour room service!)

Our ports of call were Progreso and Cozumel. This was actually our first time in Mexico, and Erin's first time being really out of the United States. Driving through Progreso on the bus was just like all the bus riding I did in Argentina. Two hours from Progreso we got to the Chichen Itza pyramids and got a grand tour. We didn't get to climb the pyramids, but we did find some iguanas! The next day was our stop in Cozumel. We wandered around the island a little bit, buying souvenirs and dodging the taxi drivers who tried to coerce us into rides (and our American dollars).

The very day we landed back at Galveston, we kept going (via air) and landed again in Salt Lake. The next day we moved into our apartment and Erin got a job! Since then we've been chuggin' right along in school. Both Erin and I applied to our majors, and are waiting to hear back. We're pretty confident, but we still wouldn't mind if you wished us luck! (I applied for Communications and Erin is going for Elementary Education.)

I could bore you with more historical accounts, but I would rather talk about how great it is to be married to Erin.

Like I said earlier, it feels like I've been married to Erin all along. She and I are so perfect for each other. Not that I'm perfect, I still have a long ways to go. But we match up perfectly. She is my motivation to be less stubborn and selfish. And she gets a little confidence and assertiveness boost from me.

Erin is such a great wife. Our little home gets homier and homier every day. She makes shopping lists, cooks from scratch with our new quesadilla maker, decorates our walls, calls the bank and auto insurance companies, and armed with her charm gets our electricity hooked up early. Erin takes good care of me.

And that's just now. When I think of what the future holds for us, I just get excited. In the midst all that awaits us, Erin will continue to amaze me. She will be a great new mother, minivan driver, soccer mom, PTA president, visiting teacher, Girl Scout leader, high school booster club treasurer, team mom who brings oranges and Capri-Suns to the Little League games...and/or similar things. This family-centered life is about as cheesy as it can get. But that's what I've always wanted, and in Erin I have someone who will do it all with me.

I could go on and on and on, but I'll save the rest for future anniversaries.

I love you, Erin!

For all you blog fans out there...Erin and I will be running a blog for the two of us. We haven't posted anything yet, but here's the link: http://lafamiliadespain.blogspot.com. Keep it on your radar, we should have some things to see and read soon. And if we don't, complain to us.

P.S.: I shouldn't talk about our wedding without mentioning Beth and Jamie! (Since they are among the few who read my blog! :) ) Both came down to Texas for the wedding and reception, and Jamie was able to go to our reception in Oregon and open house in Utah. Both girls gave up so much and did so much work, just because they love Erin so much. Thanks for all your support and for being so much fun to have around!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Almost!

I remodeled my blog a few days ago, but with that change it seems that commenting on blog posts is no longer an option. :S Sorry, blogosphere. If anyone has any ideas or tips, pass them on. Other than that, I'll keep troubleshooting and experimenting...in between travel arrangements for my family, putting together music and a slideshow for a wedding reception, and other wedding preparations.

I get married in two days! After waiting six months, eleven months, or almost 23 years (however you want to look at it), the biggest day of my life is finally almost here. Erin's house is full of people, food, and flowers. More family is on the way (pray that they all get here!). Tonight Erin will be going through the temple and receiving her endowment, which is a major life event in and of itself. I am so excited to be a part of that, and to continue going to the temple together often for the rest of our lives. There we can be closer to God and serve others. And we will be blessed for staying worthy to enter the temple. We're lucky to be living in Provo for the next couple of years, where there is a temple close. After Provo, I don't know where we will be, but I am sure that we will make whatever effort necessary to be a "temple loving"* couple.

I can't believe that I'm really getting married!

* "...I...invite the members of the Church to establish the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of their membership and the supernal setting for their most sacred covenants. It would be the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church be temple worthy...
"Let us be a temple-attending and a temple-loving people...The temple is a place of beauty, it is a place of revelation, it is a place of peace. It is the house of the Lord. It is holy unto the Lord. It should be holy unto us” (Jay M. Todd, “President Howard W. Hunter: Fourteenth President of the Church,” Ensign, Jul 1994, 2).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

J.J. & Erin vs. the Rest of the World


(For some brief follow-up to
my last post: I didn't get a job as an MTC teacher. A repeat bummer. But, I did get hired for one of the "easy, mundane and mindless" options. I'm on the custodial staff at the Stephen L. Richards Building on the BYU campus. I'm really looking forward to something free of stress and drama. And something I don't have to wear a tie for! I'll be there every weekday morning starting August 31. Maybe I'll see you there!)

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I am on the verge of the single most important day of my life.*

In approximately 5 1/2 days, I will be married to Erin. She is what I've always dreamed of and so much more. She is perfect for me. I am in awe and disbelief that I could be with someone who is so exactly who I imagine as ideal. She is beautiful, hilarious, intelligent, thoughtful, romantic, sweet, cute, faithful, loving, positive, fun, selfless, motivated and true (among other favorable attributes). I have no doubt that I will be happy every day of my life because of her. I really am incredibly lucky and blessed that someone like her feels and thinks these same things about me. Our future together will be joyful and successful, especially when it comes to the things that really matter.**

As our wedding day approaches, Erin and I grow more and more excited. We are so confident in this decision to be together forever. A lot of spouses-to-be are filled with anxiety, but I am filled with simply elation. I am about to marry the most amazing girl in the world, and I definitely do not deserve her. I will be working to earn this miracle for the rest of my life.

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We will be married on August 21 in the Houston Texas Temple. Here is one of only a few locations in the entire world where Erin and I can truly be married forever. The temple is the most sacred place on earth. Temples and what happens inside them is the closest to heaven that most people are likely to reach in this life. Going to temples is part of utilizing restored priesthood power that connects us to God and heaven. A wedding in the temple will seal Erin and me together for eternity - this life and the next life - and prepare us for all the blessings God has in store for us and our life together.

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This week I left home in Oregon for the last time before the wedding. I stayed in Utah for a few days to attend the weddings of a couple friends, and also to prepare for my new life in Provo with Erin. I spent a long day at BYU doing job interviews, looking for a job for Erin and buying textbooks.

As I crisscrossed my way around campus for the first time since April, I couldn't help but smile from place to place as I imagined what it would be like to be there with Erin in a couple of weeks. Life at BYU and in Provo already looks different, seen from the eyes of a soon-to-be married man. Before now, I was one of about 30,000 students, with a lot of friends, experiences and memories. After Erin and I move back to Provo, however, it will be just me and her. Everything else will be supplemental, a fuzzy background in the world that revolves around Erin and me. It is her who will be by my side, for me to share every mundane and extraordinary experience. She will be number one for everything, the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think of when I go to sleep, every day from here on out. There won't be a me without her. It is with her that I will do the rest of my growing up and growing old. I won't be just one person anymore. Erin and I will be a single entity. One unit, spiritually and socially, surrounded by everything else.

Me and Erin vs. the rest of the world.

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I just wanted to take this moment to somehow express my feelings as I prepare and anticipate marrying Erin. Words aren't really enough, but I do not hesitate to broadcast to the world that I love Erin and that she is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

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* "This choice [of marriage] will be the most important of all the choices you make in your life" (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Living Worthy of the Girl You Will Someday Marry,” Ensign, May 1998, 49).

** “The most important part of the Lord’s work that you will do, is the work that you do within the walls of your own home” (Harold B. Lee, Doing the Right Things for the Right Reasons, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [19 Apr. 1961], 5).
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Thursday, July 9, 2009

MTC Tryouts

I'm going to take a little break from talking about this summer, and talk about the future. My future employment, that is.

I'm loving my job at OCDC, but I can't take it with me when I go back to BYU with Erin in a couple months. (A couple months!) I'll have to find something new (because I am most certainly not going back to my old BYU job). After last year's experience, I could really go for something easy, mundane, and mindless. (Like vacuum the Harold B. Lee Library for a couple of hours a day, and that's it!) Or...

...go again for my dream BYU job: MTC teacher.

For those of you who don't know, the Missionary Training Center is where all church missionaries go before heading out to their assigned missions. The biggest one is in Provo, Utah, right next to BYU (and that's the one where I stayed for two months before I went to Cordoba). At these MTCs, missionaries learn what it is they are actually supposed to teach, teaching skills, spiritual preparation for two years of missionary service, plus lessons in the language they are supposed to speak in their missions.

Most missionaries loathe the MTC. It's a small campus of close to 2,000 missionaries at any given moment. It's where the two-year separation from family and friends begins, and this is where it hits most missionaries that they will be very far away (geographically and in terms of communication) from their loved ones. A lot of missionaries (mind you, these are 19-year-old boys mostly) can't handle up to 12 or more hours of study a day in a tiny classroom. This is also where you start having a companion, and it might take some getting used to having the same person near you 24/7.

But, I loved it! I was lucky enough to have a great group: Savanah Fernandez (now Rodriguez), Lauren Reidhead, Spencer Salmon, Jaime Bowen and Bradee Hughes. We were each so different and had so much fun together, even though we were detained in a closet of a classroom for two months straight. We had two great teachers, Phillip Shorten and Tony Montague, who loved their time as missionaries and kept that missionary spirit alive for us. And I credit my tenure at the MTC as being a major part of the testimony of the gospel that I have today.

(from left to right: Elder Bowen, Elder me, Hermana Fernandez, Hermana Reidhead, Elder Salmon, and Elder Hughes)

I think even as early as when I was a missionary at the MTC, I thought working there when I returned to BYU would be a fulfilling and enjoyable job. Even when other Cordoba missionaries thought I was crazy for wanting to go back to the MTC, I still looked forward to the day when I would.

Well, here's hoping that this fall semester will be that day.

Instead of a job interview, what I do is a lesson out of Preach My Gospel (the missionary manual) in front of a panel of MTC evaluators. Recently they made available the option to teach a lesson on video and then email them the link. So, here are my two videos. The first one is the "teaching" and the next is a brief "self-evaluation." Enjoy!

MTC Video on Picasa

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Camera Loves Ya, Baby

¡Hola! ¿Cómo andás, che blog? Hace tanto tiempo. Demasiado tiempo. Hay varias noticias que compartir…ya te actualizo.

I've changed locations since my last post. I am now home sweet home for the summer. I wrapped up everything at work (and not a moment too soon), aced my finals, neatly packed everything into a corner of our house in Magna, UT, and returned to Mosier for a summer lacking in grocery bills and rent checks. It would be rather posh, except that in order to live this life of luxury it meant I had to be 2,299 miles (according to Google Maps) away from Erin. It's a lot harder than I thought it would be! Not to say that I was anticipating that this summer apart would be quick and easy. But, to go from living 33 feet apart (also according to Google Maps) to being separated by at least six states (and these are big Western states we're talking about) is not something I would recommend. All those crazy looks I got from people who found out we were getting married at the end of the summer? I think I understand them now.

One thing that makes me happy though is my sweet job. After a week of hiatus, I started work at the Oregon Child Development Coalition in The Dalles. The organization works with Head Start and Migrant Education to provide a preschool for children ages six weeks to five years. During the summer, these children are mostly from families who come up from Mexico to pick cherries. I was one of the first people hired specifically for this busy summer season at OCDC. Basically, my job is to hire everyone else. I am a human resources assistant, so I'm the one updating policy manuals and scheduling job interviews and calling references and putting together paperwork and training new employees on OCDC policy.

(Toby Flenderson, my Office human resources counterpart)

The best part is...I get to do a ton of it in Spanish! I always loved Spanish, but it grew to a full-fledged affair during my two years in Argentina. On the brink of returning home, I could never imagine that my Spanish abilities would ever wane. Alas, waning did occur. But thanks to this job I'm getting caught up and getting some good practice. A gringo who speaks Spanish is a highly valued commodity. It's fun to be appreciated at work.

Anyway, the matter at hand...

Order was restored to the universe when Erin and I finally took our engagement pictures last weekend. I took a day off to extend Memorial Day to a four-day weekend and spent virtually the entire time in Texas or in transit to Texas. It was oh so sweet to see Erin again. She waited for me on the baggage claim floor at IAH with a sign marked 'Despain,' just in case I forgot what she looked like. Of course, any fogginess in memory was instantly scorched away the moment I saw her amazing smile.

And now, all of you get to enjoy that smile (although under slightly different circumstances). I present to you...The Best of the Engagement Pictures.



A kissy one!


I like her feet.


She surprised me!
Looking into eternity.
Assisting the lady as she traverses the perilous waterfall.












Foot pop!

Erin says the timing is off on this one, that the picture was taken when I was already done kissing her. I still like it.


The cliché piggyback picture.


Here I am spinning Erin around, like I did with her cousins a couple of months ago. (I'm such a good cousin-in-law.)




I love when I say something funny and she scrunches her face up like that. I am crossing my fingers that all our kids will get her cuteness gene.

We think we're so cool in our sunglasses.

We're such dorks!
Our kids are doomed. The dorkiness genes will be coming at them from both sides.



Carl (Erin's dad) gave us instructions to high five each other. Maybe he had had enough of me kissing his daughter right in front of him.



Look at that rock!

Many thanks to Carl for his photography expertise.

The picture we will actually use for announcements, according to instructions from Erin, will be kept a secret. You'll just have to wait until yours comes in the mail!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Exclusive Footage

video

Here you have it folks: the actual footage from my proposal to Erin.

The fabulous Jamie Williams, in addition to arranging everything for my surprise proposal, also was our hidden camera operator.

Some explanations:

1) At the beginning of the video, before Erin and I show up, Ilarene Olausson and Aimee Woodward are talking about their mock proposal between the two of them. You can check out the picture on Erin's Facebook album, which you can get to through this blog post.

2) Jamie is hiding in the woods when Erin and I show up. She's too far away for the camera microphone to pick up our dialogue, but I'll write it out for you:

J.J.: You're perfect for me, and I want to try and be perfect for you. Will you marry me?
Erin (immediately): Yes!

3) When Erin is on the phone with her dad and then her brother Braden. Braden let Erin know that if she doesn't text her mom a picture of the engagement ring, her mom would disown her.

4) Near the end, Erin realizes that Jamie's advice earlier in the day was to prepare her for the proposal. "Is this why you told me to put on more makeup?" Erin asks Jamie. "'Cause I didn't."

5) The last second is a sneak peek of Jamie's sister's birthday party, the next event on Jamie's camera. It hooked on to the end of our video.

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's Better Just To Hold You, And Keep You Pacified

Erin is next to me soundly asleep. Snoring, in fact. Quite loudly. This is a very good sign.

It seems as though Erin has been struck with strep throat. I've never seen anyone so miserable. She hasn't had much sleep in the past couple of days, so the rumbling next to me signals progress. Despite my wide breadth of medical knowledge, I have been unable to cure her and send her on her merry way to take her final exams. Nope, we're just going to have to wait this one out. In the meantime, bring on the Jane Austen movies and the orange juice.

I guess this is what marriage will be like. Putting someone else before me. Doing whatever it takes to take care of someone else. I have to admit, it's harder than I thought! I wonder if I'm even doing a good job. But, to borrow from Nephi, "I know that [I] loveth [Erin]; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things" (1 Nephi 11:17).

As for me, I've only got one final left. I've worried all semester, but finals have been probably the easiest I've had so far. Two of them I even got done before finals week officially started, and two out of five are open-book, online tests. Lucky me. Maybe balancing a stressful job and 14 credits won't hurt my GPA as badly as I thought.

I'll be leaving for Oregon this Friday. This will be my first time really living there since January 2006, when I left for Argentina. Less than a week after returning to the United States, I left for school and have pretty much been here at BYU ever since. Every once in a while I get a weekend in Oregon. But now I get to stay for about four months. The goal is to make as much money as I can before it's me and Erin vs. the world.

I think we'll make it all right. Be it academic disappointment, demanding jobs, budgeting every last penny or strep throat, we'll make it through. I mean, this is us we're talking about. With Erin by my side, there's nothing I can't handle.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

This is my final news article that I turned in for my Communications 211 class. It's just homework, but maybe it will be published in The Daily Universe, who knows.

J.J. Despain
April 16, 2009
Section 7, Comms 211
Final Story
Students at Brigham Young University have nothing to fear when it comes to their parents joining Facebook.
While many Facebook users are afraid of their behavior away from home being discovered by their parents, BYU students are resting easy.
Facebook, the online social networking site, opened to the general public in September 2007. Since then, many Facebook users have reacted with fear and anger to older generations joining Facebook.
“This is an outrage!” said Mike Yeamans, a student at James Madison University, in a Washington Post article last year.
Facebook is seeing its greatest growth with users between the ages of 35 and 54. According to a January 2009 survey by iStrategyLabs, the number of Facebook users who fall into this age bracket has grown 276.4 percent since just six months before.
Many of Facebook’s early users who joined before Facebook expanded to off-campus users feel Facebook rightfully belongs to them and their peers. They feel allowing their parents and other older users to be on Facebook is a violation of their privacy.
Sarah Harvey, a student at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., was shocked to learn her mother was now on Facebook.
“Facebook is for my generation!” Harvey said in a feature story dated March 31 in The Trinity Tripod.
However, at BYU, many students find such restrictions unnecessary. Many are not even aware there is a problem.
Morgan Ahrens, an international relations major from Tucson, Ariz., barely notices parents are joining Facebook.
“I’ve seen it a little bit,” Ahrens said. “I guess parents can get a better idea of what their kids are up to. But I think the main reason is to stay in contact with their friends.”
Julie Wiscombe, a BYU public relations major from Austin, Texas, was a little surprised to find uncles and aunts on Facebook. Now she is grateful for another way to communicate and connect with them.
“It freaked me out at first, but it’s cool now,” Wiscombe said.
Wiscombe said parents now have another way to interact with their children, and does not see many parents using Facebook to supervise or monitor them.
“I imagine some might do that, but I don’t think it’s the real reason,” Wiscombe said. “I think it’s just because it’s there. Social media is just everywhere.”
Parents are also dismissing the notion that Facebook lets parents get too close.
Janey Berg, a mother and grandmother from Hood River, Ore., said she has never considered using Facebook to spy on her children.
“It’s never entered my mind,” Berg said.
Berg loves to keep in touch with children and friends with Facebook. Through Facebook, she even found a long-lost nephew whom she had not seen for years.
The confidence to use Facebook without fear of what parents might find is not limited to BYU.
Cara Jones, a former student at Arizona State University, is a longtime Facebook user. She joined before Facebook opened up to the general public.
Jones originally felt Facebook was meant for single college students. She was married when she joined, but because she was the same age as many college students she decided to join anyway.
“I was married, but only 19,” Jones said. “So I still considered myself ‘Facebookable.’”
Years later when Jones first noticed her mother and other older users had joined the Facebook network it was something she had to get used to.
“At first it made me not want to be on Facebook,” Jones said.
Later, Jones saw the benefit of staying connected to the adults she admired when she was younger. Now, at age 22, Jones has become one of those adults for those younger than her.
“One of my old Beehives asked me to be her friend,” Jones said, referring to a girl she taught in the young women program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jones admits Facebook can be used by parents to see what their children are up to. But to Jones, that may not be such a bad thing.
“I actually think it is important to know what your kids are doing and what they are involved in,” Jones said. “Since they let younger kids join Facebook that naturally opened the door for parents to join.”
Jones’ mother, Saundra Gall from Lehi, Utah, is more worried about protecting her children from those who threaten their online privacy than she is about spying on her children.
In comparison to other networking sites, such as MySpace, Gall is much more welcoming of Facebook.
“I have been on those sites and so many of them are horrible,” Gall said. “Pictures that are inappropriate, language and all sorts of things. I feel it is a much safer environment than I ever felt with MySpace,” Gall said.
Gall can understand how some college students might feel their privacy is lost when their parents join Facebook. But to Gall, safety comes first.
“As a parent I like being able to know my kids are safe,” Gall said.
Debbie McCarthy, from Odell, Ore., has children who are still younger than Facebook's target audience. But McCarthy is cautious about sharing her children's information with others online.
She has only recently posted pictures online of her children, and has many Facebook parent friends who still have not.
McCarthy is hesitant in allowing her children to join Facebook when they are older.
“I think I would let a kid on it,” McCarthy said. But, “I’m not totally open to it,” she said.
Ruth Marcus, an op-ed columnist for The Washington Post, argues children should let their parents on Facebook for their own protection.
“As I learned when I tried to friend the children of some close friends, this is considered a terrible faux pas, somewhere between intrusive and creepy,” Marcus said in a column on April 9. “But if the notion of a lurking parent makes [my daughter] or her friends think twice before posting something, well, that's all to the good.”
Experts on the family are promoting Facebook as a valuable tool for parents.
A Stanford University professor is even offering courses to educate parents about Facebook and how joining can help them protect their children. Dr. B.J. Fogg, director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford, says Facebook is crucial for parents these days.
Fogg assures parents who are worried about irritating their children that joining Facebook is different from snooping through their children’s bedrooms.
“In a bedroom, acts are not observable by hundreds of people. In contrast, what your child does on Facebook is widely observable,” Fogg said on his website, www.facebookforparents.org.
Besides joining Facebook to guard their children from Facebook users who might be dangerous, parents should take advantage of Facebook in helping children grow and learn about the world around them. He praises Facebook for teaching leadership, identity and relationship skills to children.
“To help kids reach their full potential, parents must know about Facebook,” Fogg said.
The Auburn Plainsman, the campus newspaper of Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., reported Auburn students have mixed reactions and emotions over their parents joining Facebook. Whether they welcome or oppose parents being on Facebook, they agree that finding parents on Facebook is “weird.”
Kyle Nixon, a political science major at Auburn, told the Plainsman he resisted becoming Facebook friends with his mother.
They ‘friended’ me a bunch of times and I said no a bunch of times and then they asked me about it,” Nixon said.
Kate Blackstone, a social work major at Auburn, is a little more open to the idea.
“I think it’s fair to be open to everybody, but it’s still kind of weird,” Blackstone said.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Day in the Life

While mindlessly waiting for video files to compress, and given no compatible headphone jack for catching up on episodes of Arrested Development, I am left to entertain myself with blogging in the heavy and sagging air of the Harold B. Lee Library Multimedia Lab.

I'm putting together a DVD of this year's BYU Lu'au, hosted by the Multicultural Student Services. It was a lot like Fiesta, only the Polynesian version. Little did I know that it would take hours upon hours to upload, import, convert, re-convert, and re-import files. And all this on a campus computer, meaning no guarantee that my files and I will ever reunite. If only I were techno-savvy enough to own my own Mac...

So, this might be a good chance for some real, mundane, stream-of-consciousness blogging.

I'm almost done with this job. It's easy to complain about it, but I don't want to do that here. Suffice it to say that I am looking forward to moving on.

I am also looking forward to what awaits me job-wise this summer. Thanks to my heroic mother, I've got a number of options lined up back in The Dalles.

1) Work at the movie theater with my sister Kandis. We'll be running the place by mid-May.
2) Parks & Rec, where I can relive my high school  glory days.
3) OCDC (my favorite so far), where I can babysit in Spanish.

I think whatever options present themselves will allow me to actually practice Spanish. I've had Spanish classes at BYU since I've been back from Argentina, but they don't really give opportunities for me to speak it. I feel like I'm slipping more and more into a gringo oblivion with Spanish speaking. I hope this summer saves me.

I registered for fall semester last night. It's more like my immediate-post-mission semester schedule, which I'm realizing now I really miss. All my classes will be in the afternoon or evening. And, unlike that semester right after my mission, I'll fill up my mornings with an enjoyable job.

Next semester is the semester I wait to find out if I get admitted to the communications program. So I'm focusing on my two minors, Spanish and political science. I'm taking

1) Survey of Hispanic American Literature
2) Ibero-American Civilization
3) Introduction to International Politics
4) New Testament Part Deux
5) ...and, Marriage Enhancement

That's right, ladies and gentlemen. By next semester I will have a marriage to enhance.

It's a class that fulfills a requirement for Erin's minor. Plus, talking about marriage and relationships is interesting to me anyway. Why not get college credit for talking about it?

My life is divided into three parts, and "job" and "school" are far surpassed by "Erin." She never ceases to amaze me. She makes dreams come true that I didn't even know I had. I never expected to be with someone as perfect for me as Erin is.

This past weekend she had her first bridal shower. Even though I wasn't there, it was one more step toward us being married. August 21 feels a little closer now. (As Erin would say, "Hallelujah.")

Well, files are far from reconversion, but it's quittin' time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

¡Fiesta!


Now it's time to tell all of you what consumed my life for the past few weeks.

Since June 2008 I have been working as a student assistant in the BYU Multicultural Student Services office. The office does scholarships and guidance counseling for minority students. My job is basically to be an assistant to Lucky Fonoimoana, one of the counselors.

The major responsibility that this job entails is to put together the BYU Fiesta, an annual event that celebrates Latin American culture through dance. I was interested in the job because of my own love for Argentina and Latin American culture. (I was also interested in having a job.)

It was more work than I ever imagined. For every one thing that I did, there were ten that I either was forgetting to do, didn't know how to do, or was never aware that I was even supposed to do it. Not to mention the fact that the office's organization for its Celebration of Culture programs changed this year. I was not only over the Fiesta, but over advertising & DVD production for all of the office's events (Black History Month, Fiesta, Lu'au, and Pow Wow). Along with this new system came extra help. Now someone else was in charge of food for all the events, someone else in charge of decorations for all of the events, etc.

Anyway, when it came down to the night of Fiesta, it went off smoothly and without a hitch and was a success, I think. We had fifteen countries represented, all by dance instructors and dancers who had been working on their acts all semester. Don't forget, these instructors and dancers are all volunteers, and many of the dancers don't have any dance experience. They just want to show off their heritage and have fun.

The costumes were amazing. I think the dancers could have just stood on stage and the night would have been worth the ticket prices.

The crazy part is...after months and months of planning, in a couple of hours it's all over.

Now is the part where I put together the Fiesta DVD. (If you want one, by the way, call (801) 422 3065 and get your name on the list. They are $5 each.)

I'll put more Fiesta pictures up later. In the meantime, here are the posters that I designed for Lu'au and Pow Wow (I got a lot of good Photoshop experience out of these):

BYU Lu'au


Pow Wow

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Special Preview from collegecritics.7h.com

Formulaic but Fun: 27 Dresses

Think of your favorite movie villain. Darth Vader. The Wicked Witch of the West. Matthew McConaughey. The greatest villains are the ones you absolutely love to hate.
This is just one of a few delightful emotions that you’ll experience when you watch 27 Dresses. The story follows a fairly formulaic and predictable plotline, but at the end of the movie you’ll want to cheer anyway. The very fitting cast embellishes and personalizes your romantic comedy paradigm. From the trailers and TV commercials, you know that this is the movie version of “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” But Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Malin Akerman and Judy Greer (among others) take an otherwise generic script and make it their own. You can get this story with any number of actors, but you can’t get 27 Dresses without Heigl, Marsden and the gang.
It’s been a few days since I’ve seen 27 Dresses, and the character I remember the most is Tess (played by Akerman), the oblivious and selfish kid sister of Heigl’s character, Jane. Tess is the girl all the guys want (at least what the one-dimensional guys from romantic comedies want), including Jane’s object of affection, George (played to the utmost cuteness and dimwittedness by Edward Burns). Tess overworks her charming yet empty appeal to hoodwink George all the way to engagement. Jane has to swerve in and out of Tess’ lies to George as she maneuvers her way to bridesmaid dress #28. “When will Jane go berserk?” you ask yourself. You already went berserk a long time ago, but waiting for Jane to react is what makes the movie fun.
(Question for the class: Is the Edward Burns character supposed to typify real life? Are guys in real life actually supposed to like the ditzy platinum blondes with the raccoon eye shadow? Or do these naïve guys keep showing up in chick flicks because girls are just afraid that guys like the Vogue magazine type? Talk amongst yourselves.)
The concern with reveling in such an evil and conniving character is that a deserving comeuppance will never come. (One example: Professor Dolores Umbridge in the book version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.) Lucky for us, Tess is cathartically cut down to size. But, interesting for us, there’s a moment where the audience almost sympathizes with Tess. It’s a lot like that scene in The Devil Wears Prada when Andie finds out that Miranda is on the verge of another divorce. You almost feel for her…until her next backstab. Tess, unlike Miranda, does undergo a bit of pacification. But, thankfully, she is never fully redeemed before the fade to black.
Tess isn’t the only reason to watch 27 Dresses. Marsden plays Kevin, the token dreamboat who stands heads and shoulders above the one-dimensional guys like George. Kevin is a New York Post reporter on the marriage beat, who writes such sweet and romantic descriptions of the extravaganzas he attends but exudes a cynical, faithless shell. Is he just bluffing? Which is the real Kevin? The romantic or the cynic? Whatever he’s doing, it aggravates Jane. This, of course, means she will confess her undying love for him one minute before the final credits roll. It’s a standard annoyed-at-first-sight story. But Marsden is still entertaining enough. (Be sure to enjoy his rendition of “Bennie and the Jets.”)
Without ever seeing 27 Dresses, you could probably fill in most of the blanks for yourself. But not as hilariously or amusingly as this cast does. Akerman, Marsden and all the rest make this movie well worth your time and a treat for both you and your date.
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Academia

I'm going to sidetrack a bit and give an update on a non-Erin aspect of my life.

Right now I'm at Brigham Young University. I tried animation most of last year, but after being denied twice I decided to put animation on the back burner. In coming up with a plan B, I thought of a lot of things that I enjoy doing other than drawing cartoons, and one of them is writing.

This semester, I'm taking all of the prerequisites for the communications program, journalism track. I'm thoroughly enjoying it. It's a lot of work, but I'm eager to do it. I'm realizing that I'm not as great at writing as I thought...but I'm learning fast. And it's been fun to come up to people I don't know and interview them for a story. It reminds me of being a missionary...one of my favorite parts of being a missionary was just stopping people on the street and getting to know them.

My favorite class this semester is Communications 239, Principles of Journalism. We discuss journalism ethics, objectivity, freedom of speech theories, etc. It's a lot like my political science classes. So, here's a shocker: because I enjoy those kind of classes so much...I wonder if I should get into law. (!)

For another one of my classes, me and a group started an "e-magazine." It's like a blog, only you subscribe to it and the blog posts are emailed to you. So, if you want to support a good cause (my grade in the class!), go to http://collegecritics.7h.com and subscribe. It's totally free. And I'll give you an example of what we do at this blog post here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Anxiously Engaged

Happiness is folding up the armrest of your airplane seat and letting Erin sleep with her head on your chest as you fly over the Snake River Basin.

Erin and I flew home to Oregon last weekend. I was Erin's personal tour guide through Mosier, Hood River and The Dalles. Even though there was some nasty snow, and we never could see the beautiful view of Mt. Hood from my house, Erin said where I live is the kind of place you go see because it's pretty, but no one actually lives there. Yes, the Gorge was gorgeous last weekend, and I'm sure Erin will have pictures up on Facebook in the near future.

More exciting though would have to be what happened right before flying to Oregon. I proposed to Erin! We had been talking and making plans for a while now, and it's finally official. My plan was highly elaborate, romantic and top-secret, which I will describe in the blog post immediately after this one. The plan's execution was virtually perfect (thanks to Erin's friends' contributions). (Erin's version of the story can be found here.)

Erin's ring is perfect. This is the ring I would get her even if I weren't a poor college student and had a million dollars. She loves it.

I called the Houston LDS Temple today and made a reservation for 12:00 noon on August 21, 2009.

I couldn't be happier. Not only am I engaged, but I'm engaged to Erin. She really is the perfect girl for me, of that I have no doubt. If there is a minimum amount of love and happiness that is required before you can expect a guaranteed successful marriage, it was surpassed by Erin and me a long time ago. I have no doubt that we will be happy and successful, forever.

I feel like what Billy Crystal said in When Harry Met Sally:

"When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How to Propose to Erin

1) Pray and fast. (January 4)

2) Receive undeniable spiritual revelation. (January 7)

3) Learn about Erin's own undeniable spiritual revelation whilst strolling the Provo Temple grounds. (January 7)

4) Enlist the help of Erin's best friend, Jamie Williams, through top secret emails. Reveal your ideas for a proposal plan that you have had since at least November. Tell Erin nothing. (Continue communicating via top secret emails until the big day.) (January 9)
(Original proposal plan: Along the route of return after a President's Day Weekend trip to Oregon, take the long way from the Salt Lake City airport to Provo via U.S. Highway 189. Arrive at a location where a romantic setting is already in place, thanks to Jamie and other friends. Propose.)

(Deer Creek Reservoir. Stock photo.)


(Romantic setting.)

5) While Erin visits the Banta Family in Layton, go with Jamie to University Mall and visit the jewelry stores. Do some basic research. Tell Erin nothing. (January 9)

6) Go to Sierra West (following advice from Gordon Brennan, among others) with Erin. Coax her into stepping out of the car, assure her that, yes, we really are ring shopping. Attend diamond-buying seminar provided by Bart Wilde. Also, stop by Wilson Diamonds. (January 13)

7) Sometime during January, obtain vital cell phone numbers from Erin's records: her dad's cell phone number, work phone number, and house phone number. (Also, later in January and February, obtain Grandma Ayers' and Brandon Ayers' phone numbers.) Get Erin's dad's information directly from Erin, but obtain Grandma's and Brandon's numbers secretly and tell Erin nothing. (January - February)

8) Over the following three weeks, discuss financial matters pertaining to buying a diamond ring with your financial advisor, Mom. Negotiate business matters with Bart at Sierra West during the next two weeks by telephone. Tell Erin nothing. (January 13 - February 6)

9) On the way to meet with family to ice skate in Kearns, take the scenic route through U.S. Highway 189 and silently seek out possible proposal locations. Tell Erin nothing. (January 17)

10) Visit Erin's grandparents and family for the Monthy Ayers Family Dinner. Learn that the next Monthly Dinner will take place the very night that you are planning to propose. Reconsider plans. Alert Jamie while hiding in Grandma Ayers' laundry room. Tell Erin nothing. (January 19)

(Continue to collaborate with Jamie for the next three weeks on possible alternatives to the original plan. Possible alternatives include changes in location to Ensign Peak or Thanksgiving Point.)
(Thanksgiving Point. Stock photo.)

11) Make two important phone calls: first, to Dad to prepare and pep up for the next phone call; second, call Erin's dad's cell phone. If unavailable, try Erin's dad's home phone. If that is also unavailable, leave a message on his cell phone. Later that night, receive incoming call from the Wake Family telephone. Express appreciation for and describe your relationship with Erin, and ask her dad for permission to marry her. Thank him for his granting permission and take his advice. Tell Erin nothing...until after ordering ice cream at the BYU Creamery on Ninth. Hold her hand as she jumps up and down all the way home. (January 29)

12) Tell Erin that you are at work. Leave with Jamie to Sierra West, armed with notes from your previous meeting with Bart and a checkbook. With Jamie's feminine expertise, choose the perfect ring and perfect diamond. Order the diamond ring and band. Ship the ring to Oregon, therefore avoiding sales tax. Tell Erin nothing. (January 30)

13) While Erin is at work, leave on a long-distance trip to Thanksgiving Point with Jamie, in Erin's car. (Along the way, recruit Jamie to masquerade as yourself in responding to text messages from Erin.) Explore and find a proposal location. Discover the perfect, most beautiful gazebo behind the Thanksgiving Point shopping center. Decide that the proposal will happen at Thanksgiving Point after the February Ayers Family Dinner on February 16. Upon returning to Provo, fill up Erin's gas tank. Tell Erin nothing (other than that you filled the gas tank in her absence). (January 31)

14) Receive a report from Mom that the ring has arrived safe and sound in your Mosier, OR P.O. box. Breathe a sigh of relief. Tell Erin nothing. (February 6)

15) Endure a number of strenuous days wherein you and Erin are, in fact, not engaged, and therefore suffer the consequences. (February 1 - 8)

16) Discuss this endurance with Mom. Take advantage of her brilliance, and alter plans to propose on the way to the airport (February 13) instead of on the way from the airport three days later. Devise a plan to transport the ring from Oregon to Utah. Alert Jamie to the plan. Tell Erin nothing. (February 8)

17) Hold top-secret meeting with Jamie, Ilarene Olaussen, and Aimee Woodward with the latest details of proposal plan. (Have Beth Mathews distract Erin while holding said meeting.) Discuss Ilarene's electronic music resources and capabilities. Become nervous as Aimee asks you what you are actually going to say in your proposal, and realize that you don't know yet. Tell Erin nothing. (February 10)

18) When Erin thinks you are at the temple, drive Erin's car to the rendezvous point at the Wal-Mart parking lot in Orem. (The temple was the original rendezvous point, until an unplanned but very valuable visit to King Henry apartments in search of married housing delayed separation from Erin.) Wait one hour. Receive top-secret suitcase from Dad, containing essential items for a romantic setting at Thanksgiving Point (tablecloth, candles, sparkling cider, etc.), as well as the ring. Admire the ring. Be impressed and amazed. Remain at the rendezvous point until time spent travelling and waiting equals that of an average session at the temple. Return to Erin. Tell Erin nothing. (Feburary 11)

19) Jamie gives you a perfect alibi for stopping at Thanksgiving Point on the way to the airport. (February 12)

20) The big day.

Leave work early. Go to Campus Craft and Floral and buy beautiful bouquet of gerbera daisies. Trek to Smith's to buy a vase, plastic champagne glasses, and a candle (replacing what broke in the top-secret suitcase mid-flight). Pack everything in the top-secret suitcase. Wait until Erin has left the premises and deliver suitcase (including the ring) to Jamie.

Leave class and meet Erin who is awaiting you in her car. Go back to The Colony apartments to pack what you "forgot" (in order to buy more time for Jamie, Ilarene, Aimee and Beth). Receive phone call from Jamie, who left for home in Eagle Mountain, UT and "forgot" her weekend reading homework and would like you and Erin to meet up with her at Thanksgiving Point on your way to the airport. Buy a Diet Coke for Erin at the local Chevron station (in order to buy more time for Jamie, Ilarene, Aimee and Beth). Stay quiet while Erin vents frustration at arriving late to Brandon Ayers' house, who Erin has been led to believe is letting her park her car at his house over the weekend and is then driving us to the airport (even though you secretly called Brandon that morning and told him the real itinerary for the day, and he is no longer expecting you to come at 5:30 pm).

Follow Erin's directions that she receives from Jamie to Thanksgiving Point, acting as though you have never been there before. Pull into the incorrect parking lot. Hike with Erin through the gardens behind the shopping center. Walk to the large gazebo where Jamie and her crew have the romantic setting prepared.

(The gazebo, with Jamie, Ilarene, and Aimee preparing romantic setting.)

Guide Erin in the direction of the gazebo, even though she initially figures that the setting is intended for something else and somebody else. Walk to the table. Take the ring box. Situate Erin so that Jamie can easily videotape the moment.

Say these words:

"You're perfect for me. And I want to try and be perfect for you."

(Kneel.)

"Erin Leila Wake, will you marry me?"

After she says yes, put the ring on her finger. It fits perfectly.

Invite Jamie, Ilarene, Aimee and Beth to come out from hiding.

Tell Erin everything.

(Beth, Aimee, Erin, Ilarene and Jamie.)

(The ring, right where it belongs.)

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