The world is your oyster!: July 2010        

These are a few of my favorite things:

pina-colada flavored italian ice
dance parties
dressing up
love :)


My name is Heather.

I am 22 years old.

I am an East Coast girl
who also loves Utah.

I love my life. How could I not?

The world is my oyster :)
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Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Collection of Sample Spoons

Something happened tonight at Coldstone that I HAVE to talk about right now.

It was about an hour before close and we had just finished with a huge rush of people. Two couples came in for some ice-cream. Amanda, who I was working with, told me that it was her brother and his girlfriend and her brother's girlfriend's older brother and his girlfriend. Since I always help Kelly and Dahl when they come in, I hung back to let Amanda help her brother. While she got his ice cream, I watched as his girlfriend acquired sample spoon after sample spoon. She just kept trying more flavors! I wondered if she would ever make up her mind.

Then, Amanda's brother's girlfriend's brother stepped forward. (Wow, that was confusing. We'll just call him Gray, since he was wearing a gray shirt.) Gray stepped forward. He looked more decisive than his sister, so I told him I could help him.

Here is the conversation that followed:

me: Hi, what can I get for you tonight?
gray: Um, actually can I try the cake batter first?
me: Sure! *handing him a sample of cake batter*
gray: *eating his sample*
gray: Okay. Can I actually try all the flavors?
me: *certain I heard him wrong* What?
gray: Like, would that be possible, can I get a sample of all of the flavors?
me: *blinking*
gray: Do people usually do that?


Has anyone in the little audience of my blog ever ever ever gone into an ice cream place and sampled every single flavor? Have you ever seen someone else sampling every flavor? No. People don't do that.

Back to the conversation:

me: Oh, I've never had anyone ask me if they could try every flavor before....why don't you just pick like a few that you really want to try?
gray: Okay. All of them?

What? No! Were you not listening? I said to pick a few!

me: Um....I'll give you samples of all my favorites.

I gave him a sample of my three favorite kinds and crossed my fingers that he would decide. At some point while he was trying one of my suggestions, his sister came over, still holding her eight sample spoons. (If you think I am exaggerating when I say that she had eight sample spoons, let me assure you, I am not.)

sister: What are you doing? Don't make her job hard! Just pick one!
me: *torn between being grateful that she was trying to correct him and being annoyed at her blatant hypocrisy*
gray: Can I try blueberry? And cheesecake? And chocolate peanut butter?
me: *getting all three samples*
sister: Brother! Why do you have to get so many samples?
me: *trying not to gawk at her collection of sample spoons*
gray: I just have to try them before I can make a decision. Can I try your mint? And also the harvest peach.
sister: You are soooo indecisive! You're making her job really hard for her. Don't make her job harder than it is.
me: *walking off to wash my spades again because dealing with customers just got way too hard*

And then, do you think he got a Love it with six mix-ins and a waffle bowl? No. He did not. He got a Like it of two different flavors with one thing mixed in.

Then he walked off with his Like it Creation and his ten (again, not an exaggeration) sample spoons.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


BESTkiss.jpg image by FindStuff2

I love love. I mean, I really love it. I love how it feels, looks, and how it smells. What was once a marked appreciation for a nice feeling suddenly skyrocketed, transforming me into a sappy, quick-to-tears, walking blob of estrogen. Maybe it is because I just recently saw my mom, and she has a tendency to get teary-eyed, too. Maybe I have developed a hormonal imbalance. Whatever. I don't know how this happened, but it did.

A few days ago, I was visiting my grandparents at their new senior community. We had just finished helping them move some things, and we were taking the cart back down to the basement. An elderly man in a wheelchair asked if he could use it before we put it away, and we ended up helping him move a filing cabinet from his room to the storage space downstairs. On the way, he told us that he had been married for 68 years.

"How did you propose to your wife?" my mom asked.

"Oh," he said, smiling, "Now that's a story."

My attention was suddenly riveted on this man and his story.

He told about how his wife had grown up on a farm. Her family had quite a bit of land, and he would help her with her chores on the farm while they were courting. He said, "One day, she was gathering eggs, from the hen house. And I was with her. And I said....I asked her: 'How would you like to have a ring?'"

Wait. Had I missed something? Was this the proposal? Surely there was more coming - fireworks, or a white stallion, or a ring hidden in the hen house somewhere! I continued listening.

"And she said, 'I would like that very much.' And I said, 'Now I want you to think about this, because's going to be forever. So why don't you talk to your mother about it, and then let me know what your answer is.'"

This must be it, I thought. Now she's going to passionately declare that she doesn't need to talk to her mother about it, that she's already made up her mind. She's going to say yes and they're going to kiss and then she's going to crack an egg on his head and it'll start a good-natured chicken egg fight shared by the newly engaged couple. Something like that. I was certain that the story was just around the corner.

"And that was it?" my mom asked. "Just like that?"

"Yep!" said the man, beaming. "She talked to her mother and then we got married three months later. And now, it's been 68 years."

"What a great story!" my mom exclaimed. We talked for a little bit longer and then met up with our own grandparents. I continued to think about that story for the rest of the day.

Sometimes, when I think of love, I immediately think of big extravagant demonstrations. A man getting down on one knee under the New Years Eve fireworks in Times Square in front of news cameras, finally popping the question. Johnny Lingo offering eight cows for the privilege of marrying Mahana, the sad and undervalued island girl. Scavenger hunts leading back to where a couple first met, where they are serenaded by Michael Buble just before the man slips a ring on the girl's finger. I think of Westley overcoming every possible obstacle for Princess Buttercup, of rose petals trailing back to my room on Valentine's Day.

But there's another part of love that I forget about sometimes. And I don't think I'm alone in this oversight.

It's easy to forget about the hours Belle spent in the library, reading with the Beast. More often, we just remember that he gave her a huge, beautiful library. We don't see, on TV, the months or years that the couple in Times Square spent together, going out to lunch, talking, meeting each other's families. When we tell our own stories, we focus on monumental events that obviously move the story forward, and sometimes, the real story gets lost in the cracks.

Falling in love is such a slippery thing to talk about. Holding hands in the dollar theater; suddenly remembering in the middle of class that there is a boy that you like who likes you; watching a movie and listening to his heartbeat and wanting to stay and listen to it forever....these are all things that don't fit well in the story we tell to other people, but they are the things that mean the most to us.

I don't think love was meant to be loud and cacophonous, hitting us over the head or blaring through the hallways of our minds. I think it's best when it comes slowly and naturally. After all, we're just people, and all we have to express ourselves with is our words. And love is just fragile, and often misunderstood. We clumsily struggle to put whatever we are feeling into whatever words we have. We usually fail, and that's when we resort back to good old-fashioned "I love you," only this time, we throw in all the bells and whistles.

I didn't expect to hear such a simple story, about a tentative marriage proposal in a chicken coop, but that was the story I heard. And the man who told it thought that it was the best story in the world, because it was his love story with his wife. His eyes twinkled when he talked about her. He was enamored with her. I felt strangely emotional when I realized this.

That, in turn, made me feel ridiculous.

I hope my hormones balance themselves out quickly, because it's becoming debilitating. I go on facebook and am almost brought to tears as I browse through wedding pictures of people I hardly know. I see a couple holding hands and I get a catch in my throat. I think my condition is only exacerbated by my location; Provo is swarming with couples and would-be couples. I don't really know what I should, or can do about it.

While we were at the nursing home, my grandma showed us one of her old notebooks. She had written all kinds of things in it, from grocery lists, to poems, to journal entries. At one point, she had written a poem for each member of the family for FHE. I copied down the poem she had written for my grandpa. It says:

"Oh Darling, precious husband mine

How good thou art, how sweet and kind

What pleasure, joy, and comfort, too

Daily you bring to me from you.

Our life together has been so gay

You're in my prayers both night and day

That together we may ever be

Throughout all eternity!"

I love my grandparents :) And I love the love they have for each other.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Here's What I Like:

Food, and boys. They are two of my favorite things in the whole world. They just make everything better. When I see them combined, I can hardly contain my excitement. Boys should know, just right now, that girls like food. If she pretends she doesn't like eating, she either has an eating disorder or else she has never tasted good food. In either case, you can pretend that it is your personal obligation to cure her. She will appreciate you forever, and probably marry you and cook for you. And you two will live happily ever after. You're welcome.

Sometimes, couples come into Coldstone, on a date. I like to figure out which date it is, how it's going, etc., just by watching how they interact with each other. If it is the first date, or maybe the second or third, the boy will either order first so the girl can follow his example. If he lets the girl order first, there is usually some variation of the phrase, "Ladies first!" "No, youu go ahead." "Get whatevvver you want."

Typically, the girl is trying to impress the boy, so she doesn't want to get a piggish amount of ice cream. So she orders a Like it size. This is where I come in! I say my line, about how the Love it is only 30 cents more than a Like it, and are you sure you don't want that? Then I watch the boy.

If he jumps in and says, "Do it! Get the Love it! She wants the Love it" (biggg smile at me), then I approve, and I root for him all the way from the stone to the register. Because I like food. And this boy understands that girls like food, and they like being fed!

A few days ago, I was walking towards the Wilk, very purposefully. I don't remember what I was doing, but it was very important. Actually, I was probably on my way to get food. I didn't want to be interrupted. Then, the only thing that could interrupt me without arousing my irritation did just that.

"Excuse me! Hi! Can I talk to you for just a second?" I looked around. A cute boy was looking directly at me. Oh, hiiii. Food forgotten, I stopped walking and he started talking. He had pretty eyes. He was saying something about a giant water balloon fight that is coming up. He wanted as many people as possible to be there. I was concentrating more on how pretty his eyes were than on anything that he was saying until I heard this word: "lunch."

I suddenly snapped to attention. "Lunch?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said, "And it'll be the world's biggest water balloon fight, so we need your help! Bring all your friends, invite everyone you know...."

"What kind of lunch?" I asked.

" lunch, I don't know?" he said.

Free food! I was thrilled. A cute boy was talking to me about free food! I tried to listen. I really did. But then....oh. Now he wasn't talking about food anymore. He was back to talking about how to invite friends.

"Do you know what the free lunch is?" I tried to clarify. He gave me kind of strange look. I'm not sure why, because I think that is the question that was on everyone's mind when he talked to them about this event. "I'm not sure. It will be good though! So be there!" I nodded agreeably.

Dear Boy with the Pretty Eyes, I will be at your water balloon fight if (a) you are there too, and (b) you are feeding me free food.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Heather ≠ Canada.

I recently began working at the Writing Center on campus. I'm an intern right now, and I'll start actually tutoring people in the fall. So far, my time at the Writing Center has been interesting.

I found out about working at the Writing Center from Jordan Lee. She was one of Kelly's roommates when they were freshmen, and she's been a good friend since then. In fact, she's been a really great friend! We stayed at her house for a few days when I was about to start my freshman year, and she actually introduced me to Jake, who I dated for about six months before his mission. She worked in the Writing Center and inspired me to apply to work there, too.

Jordan is just about the nicest person you will ever meet. She is so sweet and thoughtful, and also hilarious. I laugh so hard whenever we hang out, even though it isn't as often as I would like! When I applied for the Writing Center, I imagined myself working with a room full of Jordans. They would all welcome me lovingly, and under their care and tutelage, I would become a very successful tutor. We would laugh and bond.

From what I've seen so far, Jordan was just Jordan, and her behavior and personality cannot be used to predict the behavior or personalities of the other tutors. They are all very unique.

Brandon is the first tutor I met. He and Emily interviewed me before I was offered a job there. I was nervous and it seemed like Emily didn't like smiling very much, so I kind of looked at Brandon the whole time. He is married and here is how he described his relationship with his wife: "I can't really remember what I did this weekend. You know why? I just, I was with my wife. We just have so much fun together all the time, we just have fun. So it all kinda blurs together. I can't remember what I did this weekend.....I was hanging out with her. We....I don't know. It was fun." He is very nice and always asks me how my weekend was.

My first day as an intern, I sat at a table separate from the real tutors, mainly because they were involved in a heated argument about determinism, liberal ideals, and therapists. I was both intimidated and uninterested, so I just stayed at the table where Brandon had just finished a tutorial that I observed.

On my second day, I came in, put my bags in the closet in the back room, and then sat down at the table I had been sitting in on my first day. Kylie, one of the newer tutors, turned to me and said, "Hi Heather. How was your weekend?" I replied, "Hi Kylie. It was good! How was yours?" "Lovely," she said.

What a pleasant place this is! I thought to myself. How lucky I am to work with such friendly people. You can imagine my surprise when, immediately after this exchange, I heard an angry voice addressing me from across the table: "Why are you sitting there? It makes me feel awkward."

I looked across the table where a girl with orange hair was glaring indignantly at me, as if I had personally affronted her by my seat of choice. I was confused and alarmed and didn't really know what to do.

"You can sit by me," Kylie offered. I smiled nervously, picked up my things, and sat at the table with the tutors. The girl with orange hair continued scowling at me. A little flustered, I dropped my eyes and tried to concentrate on the Sudoku puzzles in the newspaper.

The other tutors introduced themselves, or were introduced by their nicer colleagues. Chloe was the name of the girl who I somehow had seemingly offended beyond repair.

This is the conversation that followed:

me: *sitting quietly reading my assignment for the next class*

Chloe: Canada.

*no one responds because she is crazy. I continue reading.*

Chloe: intern.

me: *looking up*

Chloe : I'm going to call you Canada from now on.

me: *confused* I'm from Maryland.....?

Chloe: I know you're from Maryland.

me: ummm....

Chloe: your name is Canada, deal with it.

me: *alarmed and questioning my new career*

Just to clarify, I am going to list some reasons

Why "Canada" is not a good nickname for me:

1. I am American. I like America. In fact, I love it! I wrote two blog posts about it earlier this month, in case you feel the need to look for verification of this.

2. I am from Maryland. I'm not from Canada. I don't have like, any Canadian in me. If we want to give out nicknames based on ethnicity or heritage, then Europe would probably be more appropriate for me, even though I don't really want to be called that either.

3. You can only really give nicknames to your friends. There has to be some sort of inside joke that the two of you share, or something that prompts the nickname. In this case, there was no foundation of a friendship or inside jokes.

Despite all this, every time I work at the Writing Center, I feel more comfortable there. I am getting to know more of the tutors and most of them are very nice.

One thing I don't like about the Writing Center is that the conversation is largely cynical and sometimes, downright hateful. This happens because the people who work there like to be philosophical, and they also like to be right. They like talking about politics, why they are not married, and "stupid people." I don't think that being a tutor is the best choice for everyone, because apparently it makes some people believe that they are better than most people everyone.

All in all, I'm glad to be at the Writing Center. I already feel like I've learned a lot, and once I get started tutoring, I think I will get better at it, and it will be very enjoyable.

Everyone in Utah should come in and visit me :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Do's and Don'ts of Coming into Coldstone

As I think all of you know, I am working right now at Coldstone. Most of the time, I love my job! But sometimes, I don't like it quite as much as others. So I am going to make a list of

The Do's and Don'ts of Coldstone Customership


1. Upgrade from a Like it! size to a Love it! size. Every time someone asks for a Like it!, we have to say "Are you sure you don't want the Love it, it's only 30 cents more and almost twice as much ice cream!" or some variation of that. It only makes logical sense to upgrade. And we Coldstone employees have goals to meet. I would rather just send you home empty-handed than serve you a Like it.

Besides which, I am personally offended when you don't upgrade. People use the same excuses over and over again, but none of them really make sense. If you're not hungry enough for a Love it!, you can put a lid on your ice cream and take it home. If you are watching your figure, you should just go for a sinless shake instead. Ice cream is probably not the right choice for you. If you hate ice cream, you are in the wrong place.

So, if you don't upgrade, it has to be because of me. I can and do take it personally when you reject my attempts to upsell to you.

2. Tip, please! When people tip, I am immediately endeared to them. I feel that they understand my plight as a poor college student and want to help me. Sometimes, people will be really annoying and do any number of the things on the Don't list, and then they won't tip. This makes me mad if I complied with all their requests with a pleasant smile. Plus we sing when you tip!

3. Get a cone when you get a kid's size. They are free! I don't even care if you throw it in the trash can right after you (don't) pay for it. It helps us make our waffle goal and it's freeee! Everyone wins.

4. Be a famous person. :)

5. Switch out ice for one of the sorbets if you are getting a smoothie. When we run out of ice, we have to use sorbet to make the smoothie instead. I think this makes the smoothie even more delicious and it makes it have a more even consistency. You should just ask for this whether there is ice or not.

6. Go for a medium-ly darker-looking waffle bowl. A lot of people ask for the lighter waffle bowls, but they don't realize that the darker ones are better. This does not mean, the darker the better! Because sometimes they are just burned. But don't think that just because a waffle bowl is super light, that means it is going to be super delicious. Instead, it will probably just be super chewy.


1. Try to sample all the flavors when there is a line out the door. If there is no one else in the store, I really don't care if you want to get lots of samples. By all means, be educated in your decision, but please. Let's not go crazy now.

2. Come in five minutes before we close. This is a time of the day when our stats are very sensitive. There are times when we've only just barely made our goals, and one kids scoop of plain ice cream can make all our hard work go crashing to the ground. If you must come in at this time, when we have already started closing, you'd better be ordering a Gotta Have it! signature with two extra mix-ins in a dipped waffle bowl.

3. Order Sinless Sans Fat or Berry Tart & Tangy Frozen Yogurt. These two flavors are Satan in dessert form. They are so hard to mix, and I promise you, if I am the one making your ice cream, you will be getting a teeny portion.

4. Ask for like sixteen water cups when it is really busy. Asking for sixteen water cups when there are no other customers for miles around is not a big deal. Asking for sixteen water cups when there are thousands of customers, all clamoring for my attention, is a big deal. Please do not do this.

5. Get Peanut Butter Cup Perfection if you are on a date. It is delicious, for sure! But it will also make you gassy and irritable. You will find yourself in an uncomfortable position. Don't say I didn't warn you.

6. Take the brownies sitting above the other mix-ins in the Provo store. They are not free samples. One time, a girl just reached in, took a brownie, and started eating it. Right in front of me. I stared at her, incredulous. "Are these free samples?" she asked through a mouthful of chocolate. I shook my head. She ended up paying for it, but I still confused about how she thought they would be free. The brownies are under a dome that opens only to the people behind the stone. She would have had to turn it all the way around so it was facing her before she could reach in and get one. Wasn't that a tip-off that they were not for her? Do not be this girl.

These lists are not all-inclusive by any means. I'm sure I will think of more things as soon as I hit "Publish Post," but for now, at least there's the same number of Do's as Don'ts. I hope everyone has been well-educated! And come visit me sometime :)

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Famous People Pants

I have a pair of shorts that, when I wear them, make me irresistibly attractive to famous people.

The first time I wore these shorts, I watched Taylor Swift in concert.

I was working at a concession stand, making lemonade, watching the concert through slats in the fence. Since Kelly and I were working together, we would take turns going into the pavilion to watch her, but we actually had a fantastic view from our lemonade stand. Taylor put on an amazing show, and she performed for about two and a half hours, after Kellie Pickler and Gloriana Road opened for her. I got paid $42.71 to watch her :)

The second time I wore the shorts, I was working at Coldstone. It was a normal kind of day. I was making ice cream on the stone for someone I didn't know. All of a sudden, Bryson came and stood next to me to mix some ice cream on the stone. He said quietly, "Is that Donny Osmond?"

I freaked. I almost dropped my spade, I was so excited. My head jerked up and I looked around before remembering that I don't know what Donny Osmond looks like. "Wait, where?" I said. Still looking down, Bryson said, "There. In the black shirt. Calm down, he's right there. He just ordered."

I casually glanced up, found the guy in the black shirt, and almost dropped my spade again. There, in all the glory of an amazing technicolor dream coat, stood Donny Osmond.

I looked down. The fact that I wouldn't have been able to identify him in a police lineup didn't even matter. He was in my store, and he was famous. I almost peed in my famous people pants.

Bryson rang up Donny and his wife, checked the name on the credit card, and handed it back. He then ambled over to where I was mixing some more ice cream on the stone. I was shivering a little because Donny Osmond was now standing in front of me, leaning on the counter, waiting for his shake.

"It was totally him," Bryson said, not bothering to keep his voice down.

I looked up, confused. Yep, that was Donny in front of me, in clear earshot of Bryson.

"Bryson," I said, trying to warn him.

He continued, "I checked the name on the card, and it was totally him."

"Bryson!" I said, quietly, "Look up."

Staring at the wall, Bryson grinned a little as he said, "Yeah, I just played it cool, handed him back his card, didn't say anything."

I coughed. "Bryson. Bryson, look up," I said again.

He looked up, right into Donny Osmond's unamused eyes. He looked down. "I'm gonna....go in the back now," he said, and headed into the back room to get over his embarrassment.

The third time I wore my famous people pants, I was again working at Coldstone. This time, I noticed a man who looked vaguely familiar ordering his ice cream. He was blonde, and after taking about four looks, I was certain I had seen him before. His wife (or the woman who was presumably his wife) asked me what my favorite kind of shake was. I was so flustered that I forgot that my favorite kind is obviously strawberry mango and said berry lemony. She said, "Okay, I'll get a love it of that kind then!" I smiled and said "Okay."

I turned around like I was going to make a normal shake. Bryson was working on a shake on the backline. I slammed a blender on the counter and said, in my best inside voice, "BRYSON! Is that a famous person??" He looked a little alarmed and started to turn around. "Bryson GOSH why do you have to be so obvious?" I asked.

It was then that I realized I had forgotten what I was going to make and turned around to double-check. "Sorry, what size did you want again?" I asked. The lady smiled kindly and told me she wanted a love it. I got to work.

"This has to be the best shake ever," I said, feverishly throwing ingredients in the blender. "It's for famous people."

"Wait, how is he famous?" Bryson asked. I shook my head at his ignorance.

"He's the guy," I said, "the blonde guy in Singles Ward. Hiram. And he's in The Home Teachers, he's the main guy in it." I stuck my blender in the machine and pushed start. Suddenly I felt frantic. Was Berry Lemony even good? Why had I suggested such a thing to famous people?

I looked over at the cash register, where the famous people were paying. "What did you get?" Hiram was asking his wife. She answered him and gestured towards me, saying that I had said it was my favorite.

"OH, a personal recommendation?" Hiram said, enthusiastically. He nodded in my direction. I smiled what I'm sure was a very unnatural smile. My feelings of nervousness over the smoothie, plus a sort of crazed excitement to be in the presence of famous people just kind of came together on my face. Knowing that I must look insane, I turned back to the blender, yanked out the smoothie, and started pouring it into a Love It cup.

"Ohmygosh Bryson, they looked at me. This has to be the best smoothie ev....." I'm not quite sure how it happened, but at this moment, the smoothie just fell over on the counter. I was horrified. "BRYSON!" I whispered.

"Way to go," he said, laughing - laughing! "Spilling the famous people's smoothie."

"They'll never come back," I thought sadly, flinging some strawberries in the blender and covering them with sorbet mix. "This is awful! How could I spill their smoothie....I have never spilled a smoothie! This is the first smoothie I've ever spilled. They're going to go and tell all their famous friends about this terrible experience. No famous people will ever come here again! That's it! Game over!" I think I went cross-eyed with how upset I was that I had just ruined my whole entire life.

Finally their smoothie was ready, and I turned around to hand it to Hiram's wife over the ghea.

"Sorry that took so long, because I accidentally spilled it, because I got really excited, because aren't you in movies?!" I chattered at Hiram.

He smiled and said, "Yeah, I am, what's your name?"

My name! He was asking about my name! "I'm Heather!" I said, really excited.

He reached out his hand. I gasped and quickly wiped my hand on my apron. We shook hands and he said, "Mike Birkeland. Nice to meet you."

I almost fell on the floor. I think I said something dumb like, "Ohhh, nice to meet youu, come back soon!" but I really can't remember.

As you can see, I'm gradually getting more contact with the famous people. At Taylor Swift's concert, there was no personal interaction. When Donny Osmond came in, he was close, but I didn't speak to him at all. When Michael Birkeland came in, I introduced myself and shook his hand. The next time a famous person comes in, we will probably sit and talk for an hour or so. I'll let you know who it is!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Folded-up Flag

Last Sunday, I went to a fireside of sorts at the Marriott Center. It was apart of the Freedom Days celebration, and featured Steve Young, Alex Boyet, Jenny Oaks Baker, Jenny Frogley, and more. It was one of the best firesides I have ever been to.

One of the parts that was most touching was when they sang "America the Beautiful" and honored two soldier boys from Orem who were recently killed in Iraq. These boys grew up in Utah and both graduated from Timpanogos High School. They died within a few days of each other.

While Alex Boyet and Jenny Frogley sang, a slideshow of the boys played on the TV's hanging from the ceiling. The mothers of the boys stood with a spotlight on them. Members of the ROTC folded up two flags, carefully, methodically. Finally, at the end, the mothers were presented with the flags. The first mother took the flag almost immediately and held it. The second mother didn't take the flag right away. The officer stood, holding out the flag, and she just looked at it. It seemed like he was talking to her, telling her to take it, and at the end of the song, she reached out and took it.

I watched the slideshow and felt myself get a little teary. I thought about my own brothers. The slideshow showed pictures of the boys when they were babies, pictures of them on camping trips, hanging out with their families, and in uniform with the other troops. It showed them in Iraq and in America. It showed them as people, and not just as soldiers.

I watched as the soldiers marched toward the mothers of these boys, folded the flag, handed it to the mothers. I was struck by the words that were left unsaid in these tragically sad moments. I think the soldiers bearing the flags knew what they were signing up for when they joined the Army. They knew that they might be asked to give their life for their country. They might have known the boys who died. It was by folding these flags so meticulously and standing rigidly straight that the soldiers showed respect for the late soldiers and sympathy for their families.

I considered what it would be like to be one of those mothers, what they were thinking. Their sons had only recently died. I'm sure that when you send a child off to war, you never think that they are going to be the one who dies in the defense of his country. You worry about it, but never actually believe that that will be your son. It was eye-opening and sad.

But another part of the fireside added more to my understanding. Michael Malarsie, a soldier who had been wounded and permanently blinded in Iraq, came forward during Steve Young's talk and answered a few questions. After he told us how he had been injured, Steve Young asked him if he had any regrets. The soldier considered his response carefully before saying,

"There have been so many blessings in my life since everything happened. It's been truly amazing." He mentioned how he would never have met his wife otherwise and said, "I would not change a single thing."

I had felt very sad when I thought about the young soldiers who had died, but this soldier was alive, and he had lost a great deal, as well. By firmly stating that he would not change a single thing about his time of service, he was expressing a view that American soldiers all seem to feel. They are passionate about their love for and dedication to America. They understand that they may be asked to sacrifice their eyesight, or their lives. They continue to serve because they believe in what they are doing.

I think the soldiers who died believed in America and were willing to die for it. And I think, that if they were able to speak to us like Michael Malarsie was, they would say the same thing, and they wouldn't change a single thing, either.

That attitude is really what I love about the soldiers, I think. It is an attitude that reminds me that patriotism = selflessness. I guess that is really what I love: selflessness. I am awed and inspired by it.

I'm so lucky to be an American :)


Today, I had what I believe was a pretty perfect day.

I went to bed just.....embarrassingly early last night. It was a Friday night and I was so exhausted that I was in bed by midnight. This morning, I went bridesmaid dress shopping with Kali, Kelly, and Larissa.

Once upon a time, I was an awkward high-schooler who struggled for months to find a prom dress that looked like it could possibly be cinched, pinned, paper-clipped, and otherwise adjusted in time for prom. Each year, I quickly lost my enthusiasm for dress shopping as I went from store to store, my carefully saved money becoming more and more crumpled as I changed out of my clothes for the 30th time in that day, only to be disappointed by yet another ill-fitting dress.

Not only did this put a damper on my prom experience, but it also left me with a gnawing fear that one day, a perfect man will propose to me and I will have to go looking for a wedding dress and none will fit me and I will end up spending a small fortune on a dress that doesn't even fit me, and all because I fell in love.

Today, my confidence was bolstered as I tried on the bridesmaid dresses with Kelly and Larissa. Although I'm not going to be a bridesmaid, it was fun to try on the dresses. Besides that, both of the dresses I tried on fit me amazingly well. I am now confident that one day, when I am engaged, I will be able to find a wedding dress that fits!

After this lovely window shopping excursion, I went to work. I was only there for about two hours, and although no famous people came in, it was still a nice day at work. I put a sign on the tip jar that said: "Tip if you love America!" And we actually did get quite a few tips, so I guess the people here do love America.

Lizzie drove me home from work and I quickly got ready for Stadium of Fire. It was my first time going, and I was beyond excited. I dressed up cowgirl, since Carrie Underwood was the main performer. Winnie kind of picked my outfit (aka, I sent her like 8 pictures and she told me what to wear :) Thank you!!) which ended up being my white skort, red shirt, cowgirl hat, and white boots. I also curled my hair.

Luckily I was able to avoid any and all issues with traffic, since I live at Raintree, so all I had to do was walk down to the stadium. Dahl's family was having a picnic outside of the stadium and gave me some food when I got there. It was delicious! I gave them some barely expired ice cream sandwiches I got from work. I love contributing.

Soon after I got there, it was time to go into the stadium and be seated. I got tickets for Kelly and me for her birthday so we were sitting together. I'm so happy we got to go! The opening acts were all pretty good, but my favorite was Jenny Oaks Baker. She plays the violin, and tonight she played Aaron Copeland's "Rodeo," or parts of it. This was awesome because I played that in orchestra a few years ago!

Jenny Oaks Baker was a beautiful performer. She looked so happy while she played and it was just fun to watch her. She was so comfortable on stage, so pleased to be playing the violin, and of course, so good at it.

The Five Browns also performed. They are a group of five brothers and sisters who all play the piano at the same time. I got one of their CD's a few years ago for Christmas, when I really played the piano more, and I liked it a lot. Watching them live was not something I liked a lot. They played an arrangement that included the theme from Star Wars and, I think, MarioKart. They all played on baby grands arranged in a circle so they were facing one another. But they didn't look at each other, or at the keys. It seemed to me like their eyes were just rolling in all directions. Their heads twitched, their bodies hunched down at times, and then straightened, as they felt the music. I felt uncomfortable and got the impression that they are snobby and wouldn't like the music I listen to.

Besides which, I think they were the most un-American part of the evening. I don't think that Star Wars really defines America. Aaron Copeland is an all-American composer. Carrie Underwood sang her most America-centered songs. The Osmonds sang some of America's favorite songs. We saluted the troops and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. I didn't feel any sense of patriotism when the Browns were playing, even though they were good at the piano. I mean, obviously.

One of my favorite things about the night was when we said the Pledge of Allegiance. Growing up, we would say the Pledge every single day in school, and I would stand to say it, no matter what else I was doing. I have always loved the Pledge, but for some reason, it has recently started to make me reallll emotional. The last two times I've said it, I've gotten teary, just thinking about how much I love America. I think I loved America before I was even born. In fact, I think that is part of why I was born in America, because I loved it so much.

Carrie Underwood sang the National Anthem. Has anyone ever heard a more beautiful song than our nation's anthem? No, you have not. If you think you have, you are wrong.

I was so excited when Carried Underwood came out. Kelly and I were the funnest people in our section. I'm not saying this to brag or because I want more boys to want to take me to concerts because I love them so much and if they take me they will undoubtedly have a fun time, simply by being in my presence. I'm saying this because everyone else in our section was apparently in a competition where the person who looked the most bored was the winner. I'm no expert, but I think the man right next to me was a pretty tough competitor. The entire time that Carrie was on stage, being awesome, he sat with his arms folded across his chest, staring stonily ahead.

But I couldn't be bothered by his behavior, or by anyone else around me. Kelly and I sang along with Carrie the entire time. We were almost recruited to be her backup singers, because we were so good at it. We clapped at all the appropriate times. We were pleased as punch to be there. We were model audience members.

The only thing I would do differently, if I were Carrie, is I would have stayed on-stage for about two hours longer, until I had sung every song I had ever written. I would have had costume changes, too.

I think Carrie Underwood is positively adorable. She invited us to sing along before almost every song. She mentioned God and said that she had been "blessed" and was just "so lucky." She was grateful to the audience. She sang songs about America and about God. I think my favorite was when she sang "Jesus, Take the Wheel," and at the end, sang "How Great Thou Art." It was beautiful! I was thrilled! Yay Carrie!

It's too bad that my invitation to her wedding is still lost in the mail.

After Carrie was done, the fireworks began! It was probably the best fireworks show I have ever seen, in my whole life. They shot off some on the field and some in the sky. They had patriotic music playing. (Kelly and I sang along to 76 Trombones, as well.) It was all very beautiful. The dancers danced again, with some twinkly lights that created a magical effect.

In an effort to alleviate traffic, there was a dance party right outside of the stadium immediately following the fireworks. It was really family-friendly, so there were younger kids, college students, and women with fanny packs all in the crowd. Next year, I plan to go to the dance party whether or not I got to the actual Stadium of Fire. Kelly, Dahl and I danced for a little while before walking back to Raintree.

Do you think we went to bed after that? Oh, nooo, we did not! We went to set off some more fireworks! This was never legal in Maryland, so it was my first time, and it was really fun. Some cops came by to politely request that we not vandalize the model home in front of which we were shooting off the fireworks, joke with us, and then leave. There were three of them. I think they were the Three Nephites because they came out of nowhere, just suddenly walked up to us, and they joked about how we were in trouble for eating skittles when "the fact is, this is actually Fast Sunday, so...."

So I guess, although no famous people came into Coldstone, some famous people diddd approach me on a deserted road at one in the morning. I will consider this night a success.