Hot Chocolate in LA

I wish I were more acquainted with the floor. It seems to be everybody's best friend. Stare at the floor. Count the tiles. Avoid the cracks. But whatever you do, don't make eye contact with the person walking towards you. The person with a personality. The person with a religion. The person with a history. But the ground those people walk on is always more interesting. 

I've been in the LAX airport for 48 minutes now. I walked around for a bit and tried to find a coffee shop that sold hot chocolate.

Okay. First off. Rant. Tangent. Social kenundrum. Nobody sells good old-fashioned hot chocolate anymore! It took me 17 minutes to locate a hot beverage that wasn't coffee!

Then I sat on a ledge that overlooks an escalator, munched on a warm chocolate muffin, and sipped away at my hot chocolate. Yum. Who wouldn't be smiling? 

So I'm smiling. Honestly, I haven't been able to stop smiling all morning. I'm in Los Angeles, which is gorgeous. Overcast, warm, and calm. I'm going to see my best friend for the weekend and I kind of can't hold my pants on because I'm so excited. I'm in a smiley mood. 

So far, two stewardesses and three pilots have returned my smiles. Everyone else is fascinated with this carpet! It really is nice carpet, but it's a shame that living, breathing people don't render the kind of response that the floor receives. 

My brown paper bag with gooey chocolate muffin lining the sides will smile back at me. 


A Fresh Batch of Fun Underwear

I'm standing in line for my last final of freshman year right now. 

Yes, in line. Yes, I've been in line for a while. No, I won't be getting in anytime soon. So I'll blog. 

About underwear. 

You know how you have your favorite pairs of underwear? The most comfortable ones. The ones that make you feel fancy. The ones that you wear with a smile because even though nobody else will see, you know that you secretly look really hot right now. Wear it with pride. 

Ooh! The line just moved. 

It just makes you feel cool to feel hot underneath. 

Yesterday, Leanna turns to me and says, "I need to do a batch of fun underwear. Do you have anything I should throw in?" And that's when it hit me - exactly how much I'm going to miss my roommate and best friend. Because she knows that fun underwear makes a difference in your day. 

And because without her, I wouldn't have my favorite underwear on right now.

But I do. 

Which means I'll get at least ten points higher on this final. Proven fact. 

That is, if I ever actually make it to the front of the line...


The Best Day Ever

A friend asked me the other day how I can be so happy when I spend my free time studying something so dark. After all, I am in school to study suicide. It's not always an easy subject.

Without hesitation, I explained that every morning, I get out of bed and say to myself that today is going to be the best day ever. It then becomes a game to convince myself that today truly was the best day ever. Unbeknownst to them, even my friends and family play along, just by simply asking me "why?" when I explain to them that I'm having the best day ever.

Some days it's an easy response: "I just aced a test, a friend surprised me with my favorite Jones soda this morning, and I have a hot date tonight. Today is the best day ever."

Most days I focus more on the little things: "I didn't have any nightmares last night, my hair is brushed, and I have ingredients for cookie dough in my fridge. Today is the best day ever."

Once in a blue moon though, the best day ever may only be categorized as "I got out of bed this morning. It's the best day ever."

The best day ever is redefining happiness, potential, and success to tailor your experiences.

A little while back, I asked family and friends to define happiness, potential, and success. Here were some of the responses.

Happiness is knowing your goals, what you want in life. Potential is having the means of achieving those goals. Success is reaching those goals, no matter what obstacles you may have to face.

Happiness is love. Potential is our ability to purely love. Success is loving as best you can now. 

Happiness is family. Potential is the ability to be the best. Success is finding joy in every thing, good or bad.

Success is exerting your potential. Potential is something you can only use if you're happy. Happiness is being successful, in even the tiny things.

Happiness is a choice. Potential is exponential but limited. Success is loving completely without expectation of it being returned.

Happiness is great. Potential is in everyone. Success is based on perspective.

Happiness is attainable. Potential is often unrecognized. Success is worthwhile.

Happiness is chocolate. And Harry Potter. Potential is life. Success is career.

Happiness is a choice. Potential is tantamount to growth. Success is what happens when you allow yourself to grow.

Happiness is a choice. Potential is endless and within us. Success is living true to what lies within us.

Every single one of these responses could make me sit and think for hours. Even the one about chocolate.

To me, happiness is recognizing not only that you have the potential to be successful, but that you have already been successful.

I believe that rising above anything is success. And some days, rising above the urge to stay under the soft, warm covers may be the hardest thing we've ever done. It's a cold world out there. You will inevitably make mistakes out there. Success is getting out of bed and saying "I'm ready to start the day."

And today is going to be the best day ever.


I Play the Wallflower Instrument

My hands have recently said goodbye to my viola. My calluses are gone. My fingers are nice and smooth. I haven't had to super-glue my bleeding fingertips in months. I have hit the hardest phase of withdrawal yet: the sickening realization that you can't live without the thing you just gave up. My baby is 236 miles away, in a cold, dark case.

The last time I saw her, I was leaving her along the back of my wall. Only now do I realize how poetic the placement was; the viola, wallflower instrument.

A pretty typical response that I get when I first make mention of my viola might follow the lines of, "what's a viola?"

Allow me to enlighten you.

The viola.

Basically, a violin on steroids. I like this video because it shows off a bit of the range. We can go lower than a violin. And we're way bigger so we can smash your violin into the ground.

But most people have never heard of us. No, it's fine. We're just the ones that make the rest of the orchestra sound good. Whatever.

Can't wait to see my baby next week. Forgive me, Viola?


I Left My Popcorn Bowl At Taylor's

Okay. I take it back.

Leanna and I had four goals.

4. Eat healthier. Eat more vegetables, more ingredients, more flavors, more proteins. Less cookie dough.

Have we kept this goal either? Of course not! Cookie dough will never stop being an essential. And we college kids like to stick to our four main food groups: junk, junk food, less junky food, and junk our parents wouldn't approve of. Sorry, Mom.

Yesterday I was better! I ate half a pineapple. My tongue still hasn't forgiven me.

Then I realized I was in the mood for something salty. Pasta and sauce takes too much effort. Toast involves more than one ingredient and therefore wasn't worth it either. Popcorn was the obvious choice.

I sat there, watching a show, absentmindedly texting and blogging, and eating my popcorn. Then Taylor called me and invited me to lunch.

Not quite finished with my popcorn, my first instinct was to finish it along the way. I grabbed the bowl and walked to Taylor's. We talked to some friends for awhile and when it was time to leave, I figured I'd be back, so I left the bowl on the counter.

I didn't realize until last night at 11:47 while Taylor was indisposed that I hadn't retrieved her. At 11:46 I attempted to make a bowl of popcorn for Savanna, J-Lo, and I and realized that my perfect popcorn bowl, the one that fits the entire bag so perfectly, was not here.

I haven't seen my bowl since. Poor girl. Just sitting there, all alone. Unappreciated. Laying in her own buttery filth. Nobody to wash her, clean her, lick the salt off her. I'll come for you, Genene! If it's the last thing I do!

If anything good has come out of this, I suppose it would be my realization that I need to rely a little less on popcorn. And eat healthier. And make a goal that I can actually reach.

Maybe tomorrow. For now, I just want Genene back.


Leanna and I set three goals this semester. 

1. Be more social. We decided we would go out at least once a week and invite one new friend over for Sunday game night or something. 

2. Go to bed at a more reasonable hour. After last semester, going to bed at midnight because of our Lost marathons was no longer an option. Bedtime for this semester, we decided, will be 11:15. 

3. Wash the dishes right away. Okay. I'll admit, this was my personal goal. Leanna's always been good about dishes. I've never been very good about washing plates until it is absolutely necessary. 

How are we doing?

Well, the one or two weekly outings quickly became at least fourteen outings per week, except for the one day this entire semester that we went to bed before 1:00. Literally. And only because I was so sick. I was out cold before the clock even hit nine. 

Which covers the second goal. Even with a 7:00 class three times a week, my head will not hit the pillow until well after midnight. 

And as far as my goal on washing dishes goes, it's no longer super applicable because my roommates this semester like to use the dishwasher. So just twice a week or so, we wash all the dishes and throw them in.

That's how we're doing. And I am exhausted. 

Yes, I am perfectly aware that there are ways to fix this exhaustion. Ways to cure the social bug I've caught. Ways to fix my relationship with my mattress. But I choose not to.

It's just too difficult to part with routine! For instance, the typical evening goes something like this:

4:00   Finish up homework on your own.
5:00   Make/eat dinner with roommates. Complain about your day.
5:30   Meet up with everyone. Run off to volleyball practice, spinning class, and/or the pool.
8:00   Come home and shower.
9:00   Meet up with guys for a movie/bid adieu to the girls with dates.
11:55 Say goodbye to the guys. Make plans for tomorrow.
11:56 Squeal with delight as you get the glorious 30 second run-down of each girl's date.
11:58 Go into detail about each date, beginning with the one that sounded the most exciting. Stay up until 1:00 discussing how tonight went, complaining about guys' inability to just make the move already, and ferociously plotting how tomorrow's dates should go.

For instance, now. It is 12:48 on a Thursday night. Savanna and I finished our movie at roughly 11:56, just in time to see two dates come through the door. Savanna and I at this point were able to determine how each date went by looking at the faces of each girl and guy that came in. Roommate Number One was kissed by her friendboy for the first time tonight (totally called it!) and Roommate Number Two held hands with her friendboy all night (nailed it!). Naturally, it has taken the full 48 (now 51) minutes to hear each rommate's analysis of the date, the guy, and the relationship. Only 19 of those minutes were deticated to freaking out that Number One's date made the first move.

Maybe it's just boys that are our problem. Nothing to do with classes or busy schedules. Just boys.

And now it's 12:54. Sounds about right. Mattress, here I come. Maybe next semester we can make one or two new goals and actually stick to them.

Once upon a time there was a girl named Lizzie, who may be exhausted, but it's totally worth it. She's living the dream. Roommates, galfriends, guyfriends, food, dating, college. What more could a person want?


Even Strangers Change

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. 

As I'm sure most people do, I have a love-hate relationship with change. Change is great when it comes to weather, school classes, friendships, and grades.

And change is awful when it comes to weather, school classes, friendships, and grades. Hm. 

But as far as New Year's resolutions go, change needs to be implemented regularly for maximum improvement. Why wait until the first of the year to make the big change? Bring in the new year a new person!

Right now I'm between semesters and absolutely reveling in that earnest anticipation for the changes that will come with the new year. Mostly that public speaking class I've been so excited about. And getting to know new roommates.

The best kind of changes, though, can also be the unnoticeable kind of changes. At least, the ones we don't recognize until the worst is over. The ones you have to be paying attention to be able to see. 

A few weeks ago, I got my hair cut. And the most bizarre thing happened - everybody noticed. You expect your family to notice and your roommates to notice, but it really makes your day when you meet new people because they compliment your cut. People I had never spoken to were telling me how much they loved my hair short. 

Holy cow! I want to be one of those people! I want to walk up to a random girl that sits in a different section in the orchestra and tell her I love her haircut. Just because I noticed and just because I think it looks cute. What is it about talking to people that I see all the time that freaks me out so much? What's the worst that could happen - they thank me? There are two ways people can react: say something or say nothing. What's the big fuss?

So my resolution for December 27, 2013: Notice changes and comment on them right away. Even changes in complete strangers. Especially changes in complete strangers. Even strangers change and they deserve my attention. 

Second resolution for December 27, 2013: Blog more. I love blogging. Why do I waste my time doing everything else?


Men Will Be Men

Every year I participate in a local pageant. Yes, I have a lot of respect for pageants and the women that are a part of the program. Don't mess with me on pageants.

The biggest part of the pageant is, of course, the interview.

This summer, in preparation for my annual pageant, I found a list of commonly asked interview questions, complete with up-to-date current events and hard questions that can distinguish the airheads from the ones who know what they're talking about. I went through each subject and prepared a brief but direct answer. I was feeling pretty confident about the interview until I stumbled upon one question in particular.

At what point in a girl's life does she become a woman?

Ask me a question about Egypt or gun control or gay Boy Scouts and I could pull the perfect answer right out of my pocket. Zimmerman trial? Nailed it. Obama care? In the bag. I could hit any question on any controversial topic right out of the park with tact and elegance. But girls becoming women was by far the hardest question to answer.

There's the obvious answer. Boys and girls clearly become legally responsible for themselves when they turn 18 and they become adults when they turn 21. But we all know 17-year-old women and we all know 40-year-old boys. So when do they grow up? What makes them men and women?

I considered when a woman moves out for the first time. But no, I know several girls who moved out just days after graduation simply because they wanted to get away from the "restrictions" of living with their parents.

I considered when a woman gets her first credit card, but quickly realized my mistake. Giving a girl that little piece of plastic can often take a few years off the maturity process. 

I figured when a girl tries on her first pair of heels, or something. Just to be funny. But I realized with horror that, by that definition, I had not become a woman yet. No, I needed to fit into the category of being a woman for my answer to sound somewhat professional. 

I thought about it all summer long and never really formed a plausible answer. Thank heavens the judges didn't ask me any tough questions. Then again, imagine my frustration when, after all my hard work and preparation, the hardest question given to me was "if you could be any animal, what would you be?". Honestly? I had the best answer on the Boy Scouts.

But today, I found myself returning to this thought when I heard one of my least favorite phrases in the whole dang world, boys will be boys. 

Obviously, a boy came up with this saying. There's just no other explanation.

Boys will be boys... until they figure out that boys are stupid and men are great.

At what point in a boy's life does he become a man? Strangely enough, this only took seconds for me to answer. A boy becomes a man when he learns to respect women. When a boy realizes it's cool to talk respectfully to his mother. When a boy realizes that it's okay to help a girl without asking her for her number. When a boy learns that he's not the only one in the world.

College has certainly shed a great deal of light on the subject. All of a sudden, I'm surrounded by men. Men who have learned that it's okay to let somebody else do the talking. Men who don't have to bring a copy of their résumé on every date. Men who prepare for women to come to their house by preparing food instead of just throwing something together last minute. The only thing I'm really struggling to find here is a man who can properly ask a woman on a date. Just so we're all aware, texting is not an appropriate form of asking a woman on a date. Ever.

So, when does a girl become a woman? This has become a lot easier now: a boy becomes a man when he learns to respect women and a girl becomes a woman when she learns to respect herself. 

So often we see women who can't respect herself enough to walk with confidence. To love her body. To live without the security of a serious relationship. To walk tall without the crutch of popularity or perfection. To define beauty by what she sees in the mirror and not by what she sees on TV.

Come on, girls. Here I stand, begging the men of the world to step forward. But maybe they just need to see a few more beautiful women.

To the man that stopped me a few days ago, told me I was beautiful, and walked away without asking me for my number or anything, thank you. There's hope.

To the woman that stopped me on Tuesday and handed me a rose from a bouquet of roses she had just been given, I'm sure by some handsome bachelor, thank you. There's hope.

Boys can't "be boys" anymore. Girls can't "be girls" anymore. The excuses stop here. There's no more room in the world for 40-year-old boys and girls.



Despite my homesickness, my natural anti-social tendencies, and my obsession with cookie dough, at least one good thing has come from college.


Honestly, this was the scariest thing about coming to college. The fear that you won't get along with three other girls you will share your space with. What if they're partiers? What if they're scary? What if they always want boys over?

Roommates: you live with them, sleep with them, go to church with them, look at them, smell them, and, occasionally, talk to them. Let me just say, I'm very grateful for these girls. And that they don't party, they don't scare me, and they don't always have boys over.

Most of all, my room-roommate (there's got to be a better name for that). Meet Leanna.

The following 15 reasons are what make Leanna and I work.
  1. She likes to make cookie dough and we both like to eat it.
  2. We both like country music.
  3. We both revere Disney music as somewhat of a fourth meal. A daily necessity. Essential vitamins.
  4. We both love food.
  5. We like to watch movies together every night.
  6. We really kind of do everything together.
  7. We're both clean.
  8. We both fear boys a bit. Okay. A lot.
  9. We're each other's anti-wingwoman, meaning if a guy wants to go out with one of us, the other tags along so he can never get past the friend zone.
  10. Favorite words include sappy, cheesy, antisocial, and chocolate.
  11. We both consider Brad Pitt, Matthew Fox, Chris Evans, Channing Tatum, and Chris Hemsworth, to be the hottest men alive. With an honorary Liam Hemsworth.
  12. We both love the color yellow.
  13. We're both clean!
  14. We love all the same YouTube videos.
  15. Neither of us wears the pants. We both live in sweats and pajamas.
We're both clean. Yes, I know I put it twice. It's important.

Favorite Leanna moments: teasing her about a boy that won't leave her alone, staying up until two just laying in bed and quoting Disney movies, making our very first apple pie together, getting through the entire movie World War Z before realizing that Matthew Fox was in it, watching Studio C all night long, going all the way to the grocery store and loading up our food before I realized I had left my debit card at home, and getting her sick off of sushi.

We actually had a scary moment there where Leanna didn't get a housing contract, so I was alone and she was alone and it was a problem. But we've fixed it. It'll be okay. The nightmares are slowly fading away.

Love this girl. That's just all I have to say.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Lizzie, who couldn't wait to bring her roommate home to her family for Thanksgiving. Here we come, Utah!


Missing Home

I feel like a little kid the night before Christmas. Except my anticipation won't be relieved for another month and my roommates won't let me listen to Christmas music yet.

I'm so excited! Only twenty-seven days until the best day of my whole life: I get to go home! I get to see my family!

I'm so homesick. 

I kind of anticipated it; I brought along the family yearbooks so I can crack open a page whenever I need to see Esther sticking out her tongue or my mom petting a kangaroo. But Esther has braces now and I just want to hug my mom. A picture isn't enough. 

I miss the way you can hear my dad singing the tenor part from the other side of the chapel in church. I miss the way Matt laughs when you quote his favorite Studio C videos. I miss the way Esther rolls her big, beautiful eyes when you ask her if she has any cute boys in her math class. I miss the way my mom smiles when she's just snuck an M&M from the desk drawer. She thinks she's sneaky but she totally has an M&M smile. Unfortunately, I think she passed that gene on...

I probably miss dinner the most. In college you make your own food with two ingredients, eat by yourself, and wash your own dishes. Not only do I miss meals with three or more ingredients (I know why Spain needed a fast route to get their Indian spices now- I would sail the world for taco seasoning, too), but I miss talking to my mom while she makes it. I miss sitting down and eating with the family. Talking about our day. Quoting our favorite movies a hundred times. The way my dad has to be the one to pour the milk and my mom has to dish the vegetables. The way Matt needs to be the only one talking and Esther just stares at herself in the adjacent window the whole time. No answering the phone. No texting. No eating alone. Everybody laughs.

I miss our evening ritual. After the kids go to bed, Mom and I always curl up by the computer with a carton of Ben and Jerry's to watch our latest show on Netflix. Then Dad gets home and we talk to him. He sits in on the end of our movie. Then I'm supposed to go to bed, but we stay up for another hour discussing politics or something else we don't all agree on.

I'm so grateful for technology. For texting. For phone calls. For camera phones. For Skype. There is no way I'd be able to do this without technology.

Twenty-seven days. You can do this, Lizzie.