Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Retreat at the beach

Met up by Superior and Starbucks with a few other people from InterFaith Council to head off to our retreat at Manhattan Beach. Started out the event at a church near the beach with a game to get us out of our comfort zones and get to know one another. After more people showed up, we had a dialogue about what interfaith councils can do and discussed why we have religion (or if it was even needed. I, of course, fell on the "yes, of course religion is important" side of the debate).

We decorated a flag that will be displayed for IFC, which was pretty fun considering I'd had a great warm-up the night before at Spencer's. Then we took off for lunch and the beach.

The beach was really fun, and I met fun, new people. I don't often consider myself a beach person, but really loved hearing the waves crash on the shore and seeing the beautiful mountain background. Glen and I took a walk on the pier and talked about our vision for IFC. When we came back, the group started a game where one person would make a musical sound, and then each would have to add in some new aspect. We ended up recording ourselves and were pretty entertained with what we came up with. Steven and I had a hard time not busting up when it got to us. We were pretty sure it would have been more productive (but a lot less fun), if we were separated. Between him and Kudal, I spent a lot of time laughing.

I was sad to have to leave early, but Emmanuel was nice enough to give me a ride in his silver Mustang convertible. Really made me miss my old convertible (even if mine was not nearly an 1/8 as nice as his!! Gotta love the '92 Pontiac Sunbird convertible), though I definitely appreciate having my Saab!

Went to a great Italian place where the waiters come around and sing "That's Amore" and toast all the customers. Talked to someone who doesn't like Russia and tried to explain why I love and appreciate it so much. Don't think I made much progress, but hey, I'm still a fan. And if anything, it only deepened my love by having to defend her. And made me again recommit to studying the language more.

Revisiting downtown

I realized how much I miss downtown on Friday. Spencer and I went to a concert at the Colburn School of Music on Grand, located near the Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA. The kids were amazing!! Songs were either violin or piano solos, or violin/piano duets. I really enjoyed the more disonnant sounding songs.

After the concert, we decided to wander around the area. It really is so beautiful at night. Such a different feel than during the day. Kind of peaceful when everyone clears out. There is a little area that is always beautifully decorated nearby--there is a waterfall (sort of) that flows into a little pond next to a patio with tables. Some great views.

The ice cream place we wanted to drop by was closed, so we decided to head back to Spencer's apartment right across the street from the school. They are on the 7th floor and have an amazing view. Spencer has set up his drafting table near the large windows that overlook the street. After eating ice cream and talking about symbolism and some of the projects he has been working on, we spread a large piece of paper over the desk and painted a really random scene. Turned out much better than I thought it would. I am not the most artistic person...

Then we headed out to the deck and had a great talk about LA, figuring out life, and overcoming trials. We decided to head back in and have some bagels and creamcheese with honey. Delicious! I cameo-ed my one song that I can play--When You Say Nothing At All. Then we tried to pick out Free Falling. We decided we'd had enough of pretending we knew how to play the guitar and eventually settled for the original. This rolled into spending the rest of the night listening to Cold Play's new CD. Will and Jonathan came home from the various parties of the evening and gave us a rundown.

We ended up having pancakes with new and yummy jams (mango is my new favorite), and counseling Jonathan on which classes to take for his continuing education courses. I think we succesfully talked him out of taking a prenatal class.

It was a really fun night, full of a lot of relaxing, great things. Man, I miss downtown.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dr. Seuss--scripture?

I was talking to my mom on the phone, as I usually do when walking to and from campus, when she told me a story I just had to write down.  

Payton (Michelle's oldest) was saying the prayer and said, "We are thankful for the Bible, and for the Book of Mormon, and for the Doctor...Seuss."  Pretty sure he meant the Doctrine and Covenants, but then again, I have learned some really great things from Dr. Seuss books!  

Needless to say, I think my nephew is adorable!

Interfaith fun

Went to my first meeting with the interfaith council at USC.  It was...interesting.  I can't wait to see what we end up accomplishing this semester.  I think there is a lot of room to create and promote events that will have an impact in bringing together people of different faiths.  We have a retreat this Saturday that I am looking forward to.  

The best news came when I got home--the Los Angeles LDS Stake Public Affairs Representative invited me to an interfaith dinner that is being held tomorrow night.  All funds raised go to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.  I am really looking forward to becoming more involved in Church public affairs in this area.  

To round out all of the fun, I am going with Mark (who is involved quite a bit with interfaith efforts, has worked for the Israeli consulate, and been involved in Church public affairs) for Greek food and then to a Greek Orthodox Church tomorrow.  Kind of reminds me of some of my outings in Moscow!  I have my head scarf in my bag, and I've thought ahead enough to plan on wearing a skirt and long sleeves.  I never know how strict each church will be on dress code :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday Monday

Another great day at institute! I love Sister Frandsen's lessons and always feel like I learn so much from them! I think that the story about Abraham and Isaac is my favorite. We watched a short portrayal of it--I tear up every time. I am so amazed at the dedication and faith of Abraham. And also of Isaac--he could have struggled and fought against Abraham, but he was ready to make himself a willing sacrifice.

Jessica and I chatted after class about journal keeping--especially of spiritual things. I really admire her a lot. She is so talented at the piano and always so kind to every one. She rode home with us last Thanksgiving, and I was able to meet her dad. They are such kind people. I want to say their family is from Sweden, but I'm not completely sure.

After catching up with my mom and dad on the phone, I went to finish paperwork for my research position. Then it was off to print out articles on the use of new media in the Orange Revolution in Ukraine.

I was able to attend Teresa's class on public diplomacy in the European Union and loved it! We had a great discussion about Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Russia, and the Israel-Palestinian conflict in relation to the EU. Really interesting. Teresa is a visiting professor from Spain, and I appreciate the perspective that she brings.

Rob taught the lesson on having the Spirit in our lives at family home evening. Really great lesson. Found a friend to go to a mosque with this Sunday for open mosque day. Pretty excited!

Talked to Glen today, who is our representative with the Interfaith Council at USC, and he invited me to be a part of it. So I am going to my first meeting tomorrow and have a retreat on Saturday in Malibu with them. Can't wait to get involved!

70s, papoosas, and a Canadian Thanksgiving

Had such a great Sunday! Great stake conference where Elder Sitati (a visiting member of the Seventy) spoke. Then it was off to a movie screening for my friend Wen Chai. They did an excellent job with the film--it was about a family from India, family relationships, and coming together in tradition.

Then it was off to dinner with Rob in downtown. We went over to his mission trainer's house with about 6 other couples. Pretty sure we were the only single ones! Met so many fun, new people--Jessica and Jeff hosted, and their friends were so great! I met a girl from Park City named Christina. We have decided we need to get all the girls together again for a girls' night soon. Had papoosas for the first time. Delicious! And the best cookies I have ever had. Jessica was nice enough to send the recipe, so I'll be baking those when I'm back in Utah next week.

After dinner, I went to Will's Canadian Thanksgiving party downtown. I loved it! Great conversation, fun new friends, and scones with syrup. What a night! I met a guy named Blake who served his mission in Moscow and was actually there this May at the same time I was! We talked for a long time in Russian--so fun to have someone to speak with! We have decided we need to keep up our Russian, so we're going to do verbs of the week.

Also talked with Spencer for a while about politics, the EU, and relationships. He is always really fun to talk to. He and I had a great conversation about science and religion not too long ago. Still need to finish that one up. It's always great to find someone who enjoys talking about similar topics.

Got a ride back home after the party--really nice that some of my friends only live a block away. I am trying to talk more people into keeping blogs because I am sure I would be completely entertained and probably learn a lot at the same time from so many of my friends. I ended up talking for a long time after FHE tonight about what some of us want to do with schooling, careers, life, all that good stuff. One of them lost me there for a minute explaining how transistors work, but it was all pretty interesting. I can honestly say I learned something new today.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Shopping Diplomacy

...because you can put anything in front of diplomacy. And because Naomi and I are quite diplomatic shoppers. We went to find professional clothes--I to find a suit for my interview in Salt Lake, and she to find clothes for her trip to Mexico meeting with government officials. We found some amazing skirt suits in Macy's, but there was a line forming to try things on. So we started trying things on right outside of the dressing rooms. Tricky manuevering, but it worked out! By the time a room came open for us, we were finished and let the next two girls go in.

The guy working there was very amused as we changed in and out of our clothes. Just as we were leaving, two girls came up to him to ask about the dressing room, and he laughed and said they could just change right here if they wanted. Or wait in line. They looked a little sceptical, so Naomi and I backed him up by saying that's what we'd done. They opted for a dressing room.

We came away with some incredible finds at a great price! I got a ton of compliments on my cream and black pleated suit at stake conference today--all thanks to Naomi's good eye. I definitely have a new preferred shopping companion.

Friday, October 9, 2009

20 years fall of the Berlin Wall

Today marks the 20 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.

I cooked!

Or maybe just warmed up some canned chicken noodle soup. Either way, the roommates were impressed/shocked. I walked into the kitchen with my can o' soup and started pulling open drawers to find a saucepan. After opening and closing the third drawer, Chester asked me what I was looking for. I turned around and pulled out a pan from under the stove. "Just a pot to put my soup in."

"You're cooking?!" he asked me. I had to laugh at this, and then laugh even more when Copper said, "You're not eating frozen strawberries?" I usually have a protien shake with strawberries.

So I put the soup on the stove to warm up and turned to throw away the can. Molly asked me something at that exact moment, so being a little distracted, I opened the cupboard underneath the sink instead of the one next to it. I looked inside, a little confused, then opened the one next to it and threw away the can. Yuan started laughing pretty hard at that, as I looked up sheepishly and tried to explain myself.

"I didn't realize where I was standing. I've been away a lot. That's where it is in my kitchen in Utah..." The roommates were pretty sure that was the first time I had ever cooked here, but I reminded them that I have made scrambled eggs at least twice.

Just another really great day with my incredible roommates!