Sunday, June 28, 2009

This weekend = better than feeding the squirrels

Whew! It's been a long week! A long, tech-filled, sleepless week! But this weekend was rejuvenating and awesome. Here's why.

Jazz Combos concert. It was fantastic. A second video of my other tune to be posted shortly.

The dunes/bonfire with the jazz combo kids afterwards.
- Shaun's epic failing at attempting to throw paper into the fire
- Eric's dancing in general
- Reese and his sense of humor in general
- Alternate lyrics to "Better Than Anything"
Exhibit A:
Better than peeing at midnight
Better than eating a hairball
Better than awesome
Better than stuffing your pants
Better than tofu and sausages and weed
Better than leeks
Better than being the Dark Lord

Sunday evening =

- Liz says to roommates: "I'm so hungry right now! But I don't want to make anything. I just want food to appear before me. And I want it to be good. Know what I'm in the mood for? A big, juicy, fatty hamburger. Not like your fast food crap a REAL one that someone grilled. With fresh lettuce and tomatoes and ketchup. Man, that sounds good..."

- Liz plans to call Shaun to break the Sabbath with her and go out for real burgers somewhere.

- Liz sees that Shaun called her and calls him back.

- Shaun to Liz: "Hey. So I have all this hamburger meat from last week's party that we never used and I was gonna grill up some hamburgers and was wondering if you wanted one."

- Liz goes to Shaun's house and her craving for a big, juicy, fatty hamburger with fresh lettuce and tomatoes and ketchup is gloriously satiated.

- Liz and Shaun go on an adventure walk, which includes:
* Marmotland (which was mostly marmot-less at the time; they were all still at work at the food processing the oompa loompas. We tried chirping, singing, whistling, and calling. None of it worked.)
* Birdlandia (which was filled with birds and awesomeness)
* Unexpected super-slippery mud at Birdlandia
* Warm root beer
* A couple that would walk about 10 feet, stop to make out, walk another 10 feet, stop to make out, walk another 10 feet...
* A little blonde-haired toddler running across a bridge, whose parents we couldn't find for a minute. "Uhm....where's your mommy, little girl?"
* Being eaten alive by mosquitos
* Impromptu, sandy, melted s'mores. That Shaun carried around and that we never actually ate.

- Liz and her family Skype, which includes this memorable quote from Mom: "Not all dancers have great butts...sometimes they're really weird and freaky. Like...two...inverted cereal bowls."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Amen, Sister Anderson!

Laurie Halse Anderson, author of the young adult novel "Speak"

These are scary days in which to raise teenagers. I know. I have four of them. Part of the problem is that we have a generation that has been exposed to unprecedented amounts of sexual behavior in the media and on the Internet. They see it, they talk about it, their hormones react, and a lot of kids wind up in painful situations.

Literature is a safe and traditional vehicle through which we learn about the world and pass on values from one generation to the next. Books save lives.

Contemporary young adult literature surprises some people, because it is an accurate reflection of the way today's teenagers talk, think, and behave. But these books must be honest in order to connect to the teen reader. America's teens are desperate for responsible, trustworthy adults to create situations in which they can discuss the issues that are of the highest concern for them. Reading and discussing books is one of the most effective ways to get teens to think through and learn about the challenges of adolescents.

Most of the censorship I see is fear-driven. I respect that. The world is a very scary place. It is a terrifying place in which to raise children, and in particular, teenagers. It is human nature to nurture and protect children as they grow into adulthood. But censoring books that deal with difficult, adolescent issues does not protect anybody. Quite the opposite. It leaves kids in darkness and makes them vulnerable.

Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance. Our children cannot afford to have the truth of the world withheld from them. They need us to be brave enough to give them great books so they can learn how to grow up into the men and women we want them to be.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day. x's 2.

Most people--or a lot of them at least--are celebrating one special man in their life today. I'm lucky. I get to celebrate two. =)

Dad #1: Curt Whittaker
"A father is a man who has snapshots in his wallet where his money used to be." --Anonymous

This is my Dad. He's the guy who gave me half of his chromosomes. He's made a lot of changes in life, and has finally landed in a place he's yearned to be for years...a third world country. He works for the State Department, at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. And he's awesome.

He gave me the theatre bug. He's the one towards the front, with the crown and the goofy unibrow. =) Both of my parents gave me that bug, I guess, but I'm so grateful for Dad's experience, knowledge, and support of the arts. He's an excellent director and teacher. I remember in high school, always going to him for acting coaching, or help with a monologue, or in understanding how to read a line. He's got this uncanny understanding of human nature that makes him brilliant when it comes to acting. Although I think he's always worried about me letting things like grades and work fall by the wayside in favor of the theatre, he's always been supportive, or at least understanding of my love for the theatre.

He's never grown out of being goofy. And I don't think he ever will. This is us last August, during a family weekend trip to El Salvador. He manages to balance being responsible and being purposely ridiculous fairly well.

He's caring. He's so caring that sometimes it paralyzes him. That's how caring he is. He's got this depth of love for humanity and the world that I've yet to see equaled by anyone I've met, except for maybe my sister Beckah. This is him in Honduras, on an outing to a pottery demonstration. He just wanted to hold the baby, and she contentedly and trustingly fell asleep in his arms. He's going to make a wonderful grandpa someday.


There are a lot, but this is one that sticks out to me. I remember being really young, before my parents divorced, living in the Parkside Place apartment. We had that bulletin board for a while on the wall next to the front door, in that little space between the front door and the closet door (where, on birthdays, we would pin the nose on the clown or the fork in Ariel's hand, etc.). I don't remember if it was for any particular occasion, but Dad read me and Beckah a poem and then posted it on that board. It was something to the effect of "girls can do anything" and listed all these careers and sports and things that girls could do. I remember thinking two things: A) that I was lucky to be a girl and have all the options of both boys AND girls, which was double the options that boys had. Faulty logic, but hey I was like 6. B) That I didn't really have any need to hear that, because I knew that I could anything...Mom and Dad and Sesame Street had taught me that already. But apparently Dad reading us that poem had a profound effect on me because it's one of my most vivid memories of childhood. I'm so grateful that not only do I live in an age when the expectations of women are more open to interpretation, but that my parents, and particularly my father, raised me to know from a very young age that I really could be and do anything I wanted to.

Dad #2: Ray Christensen
"Fathers, like mothers, are not born. Men grow into fathers." -- David M. Gottesman

This is my step-dad. He became my official step-dad a few years ago, but was already filling those shoes for several years before that. He's (quite clearly) a theatre junkie too, which is only one of the reasons I love him.

Because, I mean, come on. Just LOOK at this picture. This is him as a rock star sometime in the 80's. Can you get much cooler? But seriously, one of the reasons he's awesome is because of his straight-up level of awesome. He's not the "Scarsdale Galahad, breakfast-eating, Brooks-brothers type." He's got a slightly rebellious side, an intellectual questioning of the system side. I love that about him. It's something we have in common.

He's an insanely talented musician/composer/arranger. "Death of the Hired Man"? INCREDIBLE. When it comes to music, he's equal portions brain and heart...he's got the knowledge to make music good and the heart to make it wonderful. I'm in awe of him sometimes. And brag about him all the time.

He dreams big. This is his musical that he's currently working on. Yeah, his musical. That's right. My stepdad wrote a musical. Book, music and lyrics by Ray Christensen. I'm learning that it's a long, difficult process to write and produce a musical. And he's giving it his all. That takes a kind of courage that I have yet to develop, and have yet to see in many. His musical's fantastic, by the way. But what I'm even more impressed with is his dedication and hard work and courage. From him, I'm learning that making a dream come true is 10% the dream, and 90% work and guts.


I've tried to think of just one I wanted to share, but I simply can't. There are too many. So I'll have to narrow it down to "memories of laughter." Most of my fondest memories with Ray are times of silliness. He has got a great sense of humor. Seeing/hearing him laugh is so fulfilling and contagious. I remember Saturday mornings when Beckah and I would be visiting, when he and Mom and Beckah and I would watch some cheesy old horror film and laugh about how wonderfully ridiculous it was. Or we'd laugh about something the cat did. Or about some absurd hallmark card that Mom found somewhere. His laughter is always something that I carry with me.

I feel so blessed to have these two incredible role models and friends for fathers. Today, I celebrate them and their quirks and qualities, and want them to know that I am who I am today because of them. Ray and Dad, I love you both very much! Thank you for all you are and all you do!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wednesday, June 10th - Monday, June 15th: THE GREATEST MOMENTS

"The summer sweetness fills my heart with songs
I cannot sing, with loves I cannot speak."
-- From "A September Night" by George Marion McClellan

This is a long list. I'm grateful for a lot of things lately. You know how when you pay your tithing, the Lord promises to bless you so that "there will not be room enough to receive it"? (Malachi 3:10) I'm reminded/learning that the principle applies to all other aspects of your life as well. Except I don't remember what I gave up...I can't imagine that I've at some point sacrificed anything big enough to be so incredibly blessed. My heart doesn't have room enough to receive it.

Seeing Beckah standing in the rain, having just stepped off the shuttle. Even though this picture was taken in the rain at Nellie's house several days later.

Jordan in the Havana scene in "Guys and Dolls."

Trying to guess what food item Cameron would bring onstage next in "Guys and Dolls."

Reading "Travels With Charley."

Teaching Sarah, Cherie, Beckah, Scott, and Carrie how to play "Ninja Destruction."

The "Footloose" variety show.

Addison's most embarrassing moment story. One day I'll try to record it somehow, but I simply cannot do it justice on my own.

Finding lime green Ray Bans sunglasses at the University Bookstore for $10.

The amount of cuddling that took place.

Skipping out on homework to see "Up," and discovering the entire Playmill cast there celebrating Heidi's birthday.

How awesome "Up" was.

Danny's dancing. In general.

The fact that this sign is hanging in the Playmill Housing.

Jenny reaching between a woman's legs and under her chair for her pearls at the end of "Take Back Your Mink."

3/4 lbs. of candy.

And Gushers. Three boxes of them.

Time spent on love-sacks.
love sack cuddle

Rock-lobbing with Beckah around Hebgen Lake.

Nellie's testimony and example.

The strange and wonderful inhabitants of West Yellowstone, Montana.

Playing with David and William @ Brother Miller's house, and jamming with a group of talented musicians who love what they do.

"Apples to Apples" with the Chapmans on Sunday evening.

A nice long talk with Jordan while driving from West Yellowstone to Rigby. ("When I hate my hair, it is long. When I like my hair, it is short.")

Liz: "Ba-doo-ba-doo-ba-do-ba-day."
Beckah: "I love to sing all day."
Liz: "In the month of May."
Beckah: "Wearing...spandex."

Quoting "Rescuers Down Under," "Fern Gully," and "Fievel Goes West" with Beckah while driving around Yellowstone.

Seth and Mattie June, asleep on one of the lovesacks, all tangled together and cuddly.

This image (which she might kill me for posting). Yeah, that's her sports bra over her towel:


Wade Robson's "Crash Test Dummy" dance on So You Think You Can Dance.

Jordan and I dubbing Jenny and Chris' conversation from 30 feet away.

Addison grabbing my butt as a greeting in the lobby of the theatre.

The fact that with theatre people, butt-grabbing is a totally acceptable greeting after roughly 4 days.

Rehearsing "The Problem" with Nancy and Jacob. (And getting wonderful feedback from Beckah and Jack.)

Seeing the five-two's all together again.

Critter wearing his belt, boots, and cowboy hat with his PE outfit in "Footloose."

Liz: *gasp* "Scott, I just saw your wife's cleavage."
Scott: "I know, isn't it awesome?"

Being so tired that everyone acts slightly intoxicated. Still not quite recovering from lack of sleep created by continuing to have too much fun.

Spending an afternoon in the company of Sarah and Cherie.

Trying to figure out the cause of Beckah's one inexplicably, unwashably purple earlobe.

Learning Tahitian dancing in World Dance class.

Ridiculous dreams about technology and celestial shenanigans.

Thinking/praying at least a hundred times that I am so grateful to be where I am, doing what I'm doing, surrounded by wonderful people who amaze me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"Ever feel like your life is in front of a computer screen?" --Bro. Bennion, as he walked by my desk in the English Dept. Office today

Yes, Bro. Bennion. Do I ever.

Especially since it ain't raining today. And I've got a motorbike that's simply screaming to be taken on a joy ride. And there are smoothies to be eaten (drunk?), and poetry to read, and sisters to see (tomorrow!), lines to memorize and songs to practice, and laundry to be done.

And MesoAmerica Tour surveys to type up. One day this stack of typing projects will actually be diminished by the hours I spend typing. This item on the to-do list is one I don't care for.

I've been missing Oregon a lot lately. Especially the Oregon coast. Maybe just the Pacific Ocean. Or...well, I guess just the ocean in general. Be it the San Francisco Bay, the Oregon Coast, or the Atlantic off the coast of El Salvador...I've got that sea-faring yearning that calls to young sailors and makes us all do desperate things. 2 more months of life inland and then maybe for a week or two this longing can be satisfied.

I've past the point of spring fever, I think, and have settled into that balmy, steady longing of "summer fever." Not quite as antsy and desperate as spring fever, but filled with restlessness just the same. All I can think about is public parks and music.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Dear flatmates,
I love you, but please remember that there are 5 of us who need to shower on Sunday mornings, and not enough hot water for everyone to take 20 minute showers. Also please know that I love you, but I hate cold showers more than just about anything. And that sounds like hyperbole, but really. I mean it. I hate them.

Dear Rexburg weather,
Being from the Pacific Northwest, I don't mind a steady rainfall now and again. But when I've been hungering for summer for months and when my only form of transportation is a motorcycle, I grow impatient for sunshine. Could you please send some as soon as possible? Thanks.

Dear that boy,
I'm stressing out over you more than I should, I think. But I'm not sure how I feel about you, or really who you are even, or what the best course of action is.

Dear Jacob and Nancy,
I'm so excited to do a scene with you! I haven't the faintest idea what I'm getting into, but I don't particularly care. My acting muscle desperately needs flexing, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to do so with such ridiculously wonderful talent! I hope our script is good. But even if it's not, I'm doing it anyway.

Dear Tech Theatre class,
I've enjoyed you, and I'm grateful for the friends I've made because of you. But it will be a relief to get you over with and not have to worry about you anymore.

Dear Jessica,
Someday I'll explain to you just how much your compliment means to me. While I'm learning to "come what may, and love it," there are still times that it hurts so much to not be where you are right now. Just knowing that I've made some sort of lasting impression...knowing that it's different because I was there...that's all I needed. That's all I've longed for since 2005. If I can't be there, all I ever wanted was to have made a difference that people know about and appreciate. That sounds so...self-centered, but that place has been so much a part of shaping my identity that it means to world to me to know that I've had some small part in shaping it's identity too, no matter how tiny.

Dear Spring Semester 2009,
Where the heck have you gone?

Dear that girl,
I had the recent startling experience of realizing that it could work between you two. But if you are not serious...if your romantic irresponsibility allows him to bust his heart up again, I don't think I'll be able to stop myself from saying something accusatory and mean to you this time. Don't you dare continue to allow yourself to be an instrument in his emotional torture.

Dear Jacob,
Just wanted to let you know're so talented, it's alarming.

Dear BYU-Idaho,
I grumble sometimes, but I really am so grateful for and madly in love with you. I can't even begin to number the blessings I daily receive by being here. I mean, an apostle of God is speaking directly to us for our weekly devotional this week! We are so blessed and privileged, it's ridiculous. I sometimes can't believe that I'm a part of it.

Dear Beckah,
3 DAYS, 7 HOURS, AND 52 MINUTES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dear The Powers That Be,
Thank you for blessing me beyond my capacity to receive. Thank you for what I know, where I am, what I'm doing, and who I am with. My life is at times beyond any beauty I could have imagined for it.

And lastly,
Dear Jenny Mae, Jillian, and Addison,
It was good to see you today, if only for a few minutes. I'm excited to get to know you all and see you perform for the rest of the summer! See you this weekend! I'm grateful for things like this.

Love, Liz