Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's a helluva town!

Know what hasn't quite sunk in yet? The fact that Jacob and I are going to New York City with the theatre department. In, like, TEN DAYS. Wanna know what we're doing?

Sunday, April 10th
- Red-eye flight from Salt Lake, arriving at JFK at some ridiculous hour like 5 am

Monday, April 11th
- Take a nap (Which Roger says is against the rules, but if I don't, I'll regret it for the rest of the week. Besides, I can take a 4-hour nap when we get there, and STILL be up at 11 am, and have the rest of the day to play.)
- See Mary Poppins

Tuesday, April 12th
- Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
- See Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark as a group. (Hopefully. If it's open. If not, we're going to see Arcadia as a group.)

Wednesday, April 13th
- Visit the Museum of Natural History
- See the matinee of War Horse as a group. (EDIT: If you haven't yet watched that video up there of the puppetry used, watch it. Right now.)
- EDIT: Attend a talk-back session with the creators of War Horse!
- See Anything Goes (with Sutton Foster and Joel Grey!)

Thursday, April 14th
- Visit the MOMA
- See Billy Elliott

Friday, April 15th
- Visit Central Park (the Imagine Circle) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Do readings/"singings" of a professor's original work at the Dramatist's Guild (where I will be reprising my role as Faith Martin from Pioneer Song)
- Listen to this guy play at Birdland

Saturday, April 16th
- EDIT: Go out to breakfast with my sister Isha
- Liz sees a matinee of The Importance of Being Earnest while Jacob goes on a man-date with our friend Jerry to see The Phantom of the Opera
- See How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (with Daniel Radcliffe!)
- Go to the top of the Empire State Building and look over everywhere we've been

Sunday, April 17th
- Visit Ground Zero
- Fly home, happily exhausted

Also, somewhere in there is shopping at awesome places, eating at wonderful restaurants, and seeing friends like Jeff and Val and James and maybe even my sister. =)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wait for it...

The Cast List for
Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot,
to be performed at BYU-Idaho
May 31 - June 11

Vladimir: Jordan Tait
Estragon: Jacob Chapman
Pozzo: Katie Ludlow
Lucky: Liz Chapman
Messenger: Emily Bowers

(Wooo hoooo!!! I get to be in a cast with a bunch of my favorite people! Also, I don't think I've ever been more intimidated by a role in my life, but if the director believes in me, I'll believe in me...)

(Oh, and the only lame thing is that it means we won't be going to Sasquatch Festival. As lame as that is, I'm kind of okay with it. This here's the opportunity of a LIFETIME!)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hey you!

(A reminder to self:)

If you're at school at BYU-Idaho right now, I am issuing a solemn imperative to keep cool and carry on. You'll be working against yourself if you stress. There's plenty of time to get everything done.

AND you don't have to worry about clean-checks. Ha!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hipster Philanthropy

“I always wanted to be a hippie, but I could never get myself to…buy the shoes.” –Jacob Chapman, 2010

Jacob and I each got our first pair of TOMS shoes this week. I’m in love with mine already. Not only are my feet ridiculously comfortable, but I also get to be a smug hipster who carries a fulfilling sense of self-righteousness, because when I buy one pair of shoes, TOMS donates a pair to a child in need.

Maybe I'm feeling preemptively defensive because of a gnawing realization that I just spent a LOT of money on shoes. And because the whole "smug hipster" thing is really just high school cliques in different costumes, and I don't want to be aligned with that. But if I truly don't want to get into social cliques, then I will wear the shoes I want to regardless of their connotations. So I'm wearing the shoes.

Are you judging me, Anti-Hipster Philanthropy Individual? Let's discuss the issue.

ANTI-HIPSTER PHILANTHROPY INDIVIDUAL: TOMS is exploiting poverty to make money for their own business.

ME: I think I’d agree with you more if the company started selling shoes and then one day up and decided to do this “one for one” deal. But the company was founded after Blake Mycoskie was on a trip to Argentina and discovered that many of the children there had no shoes. Wanting to do something, he founded TOMS. I really don’t feel like poverty is being exploited for marketing…I feel like the people at TOMS really do care, and really do want to make a difference. And when it comes right down to it, they ARE making a difference! I’d rather a company give charitably for the wrong reason than not give at all. I’m pretty sure that those kids who benefit from this program are just grateful to have shoes. And if TOMS’ first priority was making money, they probably wouldn’t donate over half of it. (A percentage of sales is donated to charity, in addition to each pair of shoes in the “one for one” program.)

ANTI-HIPSTER PHILANTHROPY INDIVIDUAL: TOMS ships in goods for free that outcompete local goods, threatening local economies/businesses; a “short-term solution that could create long-term problems.” It’s the “Whites in Shining Armor” thing.

ME: TOMS works with NGO partners at all of their donating locations, and stay out of the way if cheap shoes are available to those who need them. TOMS also has factories in Ethiopia, China, and Argentina to help create local jobs and stimulate local economy. AND they don’t employ children and they pay fair wages.

ANTI-HIPSTER PHILANTHROPY INDIVIDUAL: People need medicine and food…why are we sending them freaking SHOES?!

ME: Okay okay. You have a point. People DO need those things. But there are a lot of organizations that are addressing those needs, and people need shoes too. That’s just where TOMS has chosen to focus. Why? Shoes protect children from disease and infection contracted through soil or broken glass/garbage. Many HIV positive children in other countries are at huge risk of infection from walking around barefoot. Another issue is education. Many schools require shoes as part of their school uniforms…no shoes, no education. Once children have shoes, they are able to create incredible opportunities for themselves, starting with just an elementary education. And if a kid has to walk five miles barefoot to GET medicine, wouldn’t it be nice if he or she could avoid contracting disease on the way?

ANTI-HIPSTER PHILANTHROPY INDIVIDUAL: It makes way more sense to just buy a cheap pair of used shoes and donate them. Or to just send the money to some global relief organization.

ME: But the thing is, are you going to? Are you REALLY going to put your old shoes in a box and mail them to Ethiopia? I don’t mean to sound judgmental, and I’ll admit my argument on this issue is pandering to humanity’s sense of laziness. But TOMS has a working framework already in place for the most efficient giving. They make shoes to order…addressing the specific needs of specific children (black shoes for school uniforms, size 4, thicker soles to protect from broken glass in the city, etc.). You COULD reinvent the wheel and come up with a program that is completely non-profit and just as efficient. But TOMS is doing a lot of good, and it’s easy to participate. If you wanted to do the same thing that TOMS is doing on an individual basis, you could go to Payless, find a comfy $20 pair of shoes for yourself, contact someone in Ethiopia, ask the shoe size and specific need of one child there, buy them a $20 pair of shoes that meets their needs, then send it to Ethiopia and hope it gets there. Or you could just buy some TOMS and all that is done. Painless charity! (Catering to human selfishness may be hypocritical here, but I’m just trying to address the issue.)

ANTI-HIPSTER PHILANTHROPY INDIVIDUAL: Toms may seem like a “charitable organization,” but it’s still just a business. People think they’re part of something big and benevolent, but it’s just corporate America.

ME: I came across this comment on an online discussion about TOMS, which I thought addressed the issue rather articulately: “If TOMS is able to become a successful, profit making firm, than that could send a message to other corporations that charitable giving is more than just a way to increase good public relations. Currently, the predominating belief is that profit is the ultimate end of a corporation, and that a business manager's ultimate responsibility is to their shareholders. However, as we have seen, this can create an atmosphere that encourages greed and a lack of integrity with business practices. If TOMS is able to successfully generate profit using a business model that uses profit as a means to serve the community, than I believe that will create a greater change for good than the extra $20 you could be giving.” TOMS describes themselves as a profit-organization, with giving at its core. If that’s part of corporate America, I’m okay with that. I’d much prefer successful businesses that change the world for the better, and supporting TOMS is part of calling for that change. And I like to think that “big and benevolent” and “corporate America” don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive.

ANTI-HIPSTER PHILANTHROPY INDIVIDUAL: Yeah, that whole “awareness activity”? That “One Day Without Shoes” thing? 100% marketing, you capitalist tool.

ME: Hey. I just want an excuse to walk around barefoot. Although, to be honest, I was a little uncomfortable with the premise. But I’ve decided that when people ask me about why I’m not wearing shoes, I’ll tell them about TOMS, but mention that there are a lot of other programs that help. I’ll also explain that I’m protesting against the greed-based corporate machine that forces toddlers to manufacture shoes in factories overseas for 12 hours a day with no food at $1 per week. Or something.

Really, I just want to be barefoot.

ANTI-HIPSTER PHILANTHROPY INDIVIDUAL: Okay, okay, you have a lot of valid points. It’s just that my own personal sense of integrity would feel injured if I bought and wore your stupid hipster charity shoes.

ME: That’s one argument I can totally respect. Live and let live, I say. I won’t judge you for NOT wearing TOMS, if you won’t judge me for wearing them.

Because they are damn comfortable.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On gunfire

My dad works for the State Department. Which is pretty cool. He's good at his job, and life never gets monotonous.

Which can occasionally be a bad thing.

Like when there are shoot-outs at their house.

The State Department tries to put their employees in decent houses. But, like my dad says, the problem is that drug lords like nice houses too. The hill behind my parents' house is referred to by consulate workers as "the killing field." Just one of the hazards of the job, I guess.

Anyway, one drug cartel made a hit on another this past Friday. Thank the Lord (literally, really) that both Dad and Mary were in North Dakota at the time.

Most of the time, I'm not scared about my family's safety. The State Department knows how to take care of their own, and my parents are smart people, and extremely dangerous situations really aren't super common. They have a safe room. And an alarm system. And walkie-talkies. But I do always have my cell phone with me. And after seeing these pictures, I'll be mentioning Dad and Mary's safety a little more often in my prayers.

Dad's Report: "When we got home Sunday night, we saw the damage from the shooting. These are photos of the house directly across the street from us, as well as some of the damage to our house. We were blessed - really - to be out of town at a funeral when it happened early Friday morning. There is not much damage to our house because it was pretty one-sided, more of an assassination than a shootout. The hit men stood on the hill alongside our house and fired more than a thousand large calibre rounds into the house across the street, then went in and finished them off. As they sprayed bullets at the neighbor, they also ended up hitting our house, an old satellite dish on our roof, and tore through the fence, fence posts, power, cable, and phone lines. The consulate staff picked up more than 100 spent cartridges in our patio."

 The house across the street (picture taken from my parents' house).

The Whittaker home doesn't look nearly as bad, but still...
This is on their roof.

Bullets embedded in the walls of my parent's house, and holes in their chain link fence.

At first I wasn't sure why I was posting this. (Maybe to brag about what a dangerous and exciting career my dad has...) But as I was looking at these pictures and preparing to post them, I realized what it was I wanted to say. The thing that this experience, indirect though it was, has done for me is that it has made violence real.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm not a complete STRANGER to violence. But this is something different. Often in film and television, we see these glorious shoot-outs, these twenty car pile-ups, these bombs and fist fights. And I'm not against those things in film and television ALL THE TIME. But I am against them being treated casually. Because shoot outs HAPPEN. And there is nothing casual about it. There is an inherent disregard for humanity in treating violence casually. And if you ask me, disregarding humanity isn't usually a good thing for civilization, the earth, families, etc. I think that violence can be used effectively in film, even if its extreme. (The Godfather, Bonnie and Clyde, and The Dark Knight come to mind.) Because in those films, the violence is used as part of the warning in the establish the "bad guy," to make you cringe and think "There is no need for this!" (I think it's also possible in dark parodies/satires for violence to be used effectively, although deciding about that exception is a lot more subjective.) But when the "good guys" are the ones with the guns, I think we've got a problem. Guns shouldn't be entertaining. We should think more about the violence that we allow into our hearts, whether through film or television or theatre or music or our own thoughts.

But that's just me.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Counting Down

There are only three weeks left of the semester. And I'm trying to live in the moment, but I've got big plans for when it's done.

For the first week after school is done, I'm going to New York City. More on that later.

For the second week after school is done, I'm going to sleep.

For the third week after school is done, I'm going to clean my house from top to bottom.

Then I'm going to spend the rest of the spring/summer reading whatever I want, writing a lot, possibly doing some copy-editing, possibly running a henna body art business, and helping to plan and run a theatre camp for high school students.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Call to Blogging Women

The blog world is a strange place. At least it can be. I've noticed lately a phenomenon in the "Mormon Housewife Blog World," and I care enough about it to make my voice heard on the matter.

Have you ever seen the movie "Mean Girls"? With Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams and Tina Fey? It's not normally the kind of movie I go for, but there's so much truth in the satire that I can't help but adore it. "Girl World" is depicted in all of it's terrifying, back-biting, disrespectful potential. And here's the problem I'm seeing.

The Mormon Housewife Blogosphere shouldn't ever resemble "Girl World." There are too many people being hurt by misinterpreted comments, snide entries, and rude opinions. This is not becoming of Christian women.

So I issue a call. It's a call to myself, as well, since I am far from being the righteous, caring, upstanding Christian woman I'd like to be. My own blogging history is proof that I haven't always been trying. And I understand the occasional need to vent. But if you must vent publicly, remember that doing so should never come at the cost of others. No one should be made to feel hurt by the things you say. You can't try to keep everyone happy; it's true that some may just be offended. But speak with compassion. Write with kindness.

I call upon the Mormon Housewife Blogosphere to cast off girlhood, to stand and be women.
I call upon women to think before they type, and to speak words that uplift and inspire.
I call upon each of us to allow human feeling to guide our blogging, not how many followers we get, or how funny something may be, or how irritated we are at something. If it comes at the feelings of others, it is better left un-blogged/un-commented.
I call upon the women of this Church to write the things of our truest hearts and souls and minds. To be the strong, intelligent, compassionate women we have the potential to be.
I call upon every blogging Mormon woman to write things that the late Sis. Hinckley would not be ashamed or saddened to read. 
I call upon each of us to stand taller, to rise above the things that hold us down. Let us make a world where we may lift one another up, mourn with those that mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice.

"Awake, my [daughters]; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust." -- 2 Ne 1:23

Friday, March 11, 2011


This is me officially checking out early for the semester. This usually happens every winter...a few weeks before the end of the semester, I surrender to the spring fever that's been dancing in my bones, and I just sort of coast through the remaining weeks. I won't outright GIVE UP...I'll follow through with my commitments. But my heart and at least half of my mind will be in the sunny hills somewhere.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Words to make you smile to bursting

“Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but...she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”

-- Rosemary Urquico

via A New Beginning

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My body is begging for nutrients

I drove to Broulims and bought 5 donuts* for breakfast this morning.

In my defense, they were going to be shared with two other people. But as I was walking out of the store, there was a troupe of Girl Scouts, with those lovely boxes set out on their table.

And those scouts just looked so little, and so cold, and those cookies looked so delightful...

So I bought a box of Lemon Chalet Cremes and a box of Samoas.

Today has not been a healthy day, food-wise. Sorry, body.

*Donuts will be my weakness for as long as I live. They have been since before grade school.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Say cheese.

Tax return = NEW CAMERA!

Prepare to be astounded by the awesome documentation of our awesome lives.

(But you can't be astounded until sometime between March 9th and 14th, because that's when UPS is bringing it.)

Also, isn't this little photographer guy darling? I want to hug him.