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.


I'm in a Thoroughly Modern Mood

Oh, the places I'd like to show you.
Although I hardly know you,
I've a funny feeling
We'd make the perfect pair.
Famous sights I want to see you seeing,
The nights of you-and-me-ing,
You, me, we-ing...

Wait a minute!
Just a minute.
No, no, no, no!

I've had this song stuck in my head for a week.

That's a week of no sleep, no homework, and no sanity. See, at home, I could just turn on the song and belt out the lyrics at full volume. Somebody would surely sing along. But living with four girls who have never even heard of Millie Dilmount and Jimmy makes it hard for me to sing about them aloud. Millie and Jimmy should be appreciated! And my roommates are focused on homework, so I probably should respect the quiet they need.

So my headphones are my best friends. And the "repeat" button. Oh, yes. Repeat is my friend.

Jimmy. Oh, Jimmy. Don't you know what I can't get out of my head?

Mostly it's just the song What Do I Need With Love?. I apologize if you've gotten a million texts with the lyrics to this song. I'm really struggling.

I've tried all the tricks. Singing Jingle Bells can even get I Like to Move It out of your head. But less than seven minutes (my longest record) later, I'm humming about a green glass love.

Oh, well. Someday, I'll travel to New York and blow my life's savings on Wicked and Thoroughly Modern Millie tickets. But until then Manhattan, I'll prepare for you.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Lizzie, who stuck in her headphones and pressed play. And then repeat.


Cookie Dough or Cookie Don't

Trick question. The answer is always yes when it comes to cookie dough. 

What should I eat? Cookie dough. What should I eat more of? Cookie dough. What should I do today? Cookie dough. How should I get through the day? Cookie dough. What should I eat for breakfast? Cookie dough. What qualities do I want my future husband to have? Cookie dough.

Ask any question. It works.

Today has been one of those extremely productive days. 

One of those stay-in-bed, say-goodbye-to-makeup, rock-those-pajamas, catch-up-on-every-single-episode-of-Psych days. Get out of bed only to make myself a meal. 

Or get cookie dough. Scoop it into a bowl and eat it like ice cream.

Cookie dough. I'm pretty sure heaven is made of cookie dough. Just plain ol' chocolate chip cookie dough.

On bad days, good days, lazy days, crazy days, cookie dough will always be there. It is my friend.

That is all. Try some cookie dough.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Lizzie, who threw off the covers, ran to the fridge, scooped another bowl, and found herself in heaven.


The 152 Year Tantrum

Every now and then, you are reminded of how idiotic people can be. And you just have to smile and say to yourself, "That person is a child of God."

Like the kids I heard about while going through my high school's new weekly announcement videos (I do that sometimes to catch up on how everyone's doing; sometimes they show funny pictures and stuff. I'm cheesy and stalking everybody on Facebook just doesn't do it for me). I was disappointed to learn that, just like every other year, some loser has ruined it for everybody else by stealing out of a locker. 

Really? What did you take, somebody's physics homework? Good job, kid. What a future. 

And I guess I was kind of an idiot, too, for watching those at 2 in the morning. Waking up for a boring class five hours later was great.

Get my point? There are idiots in the world. 

Yesterday I sat by a particularly amusing idiot in Forum. 

Forum was great. We heard from former Utah state senator Robert Bennet, who spoke about the things he's learned in Washington. It was a really cool address. He talked about how Democrats and Republicans are both right and about not judging the other party without learning more about their viewpoints. 

One of the stories he used in his address was about the Civil War. His introductory sentence got as far as "While America was still being torn by the the Civil War-" when the guy next to me says, "which we lost!"

So meet my idiot. 

Did you know that we lost the Civil War? Wow, I must have been sick for that history lesson. I feel like I would have remembered that one.

Let's think of all the reasons that a person might be under the impression that we lost the Civil War. 

He could be a direct descendant of Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson.

Which is sad, because both were brilliant men who left behind a remarkable legacy and shouldn't be recognized as the men who brought idiots into the world.

He could be from the South. I've heard that the war really isn't over in the South. 

Which is really very unfortunate. Honestly, what's going to change at this point? We bring the slaves back? We give the South more votes? We take President Lincoln out of office?


Do we realize that this happened 152 years ago? Everybody that fought in the Civil War has been dead for a hundred years! What the heck do people think this temper tantrum accomplishing?

For one thing, it's causing entertainment for those of us wise enough to realize that America won the Civil War. Really, whether the Union had won or whether they had lost, America still would have won the Civil War.

I wish I would have asked for that guy's name. I wish I would have asked him for a quote or something. A quote on anything. The Civil War. The United States government of today. How he's survived this long. How many friends he has. If he knows how to tie his own shoes and brush his own teeth.

So thank you, dear, sweet, child of God. You made me laugh today.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Lizzie, who lived in the real world, where the Civil War is over. And she boy, is she glad that it's over.


My Teacher Knows My Name

I just hit "send" on an email that most would say is an overreaction. But it's not.

An overreaction is the way my body is responding to this flu shot. Just so we're all aware, a flu shot isn't a flu prevention shot. It's a here-we'll-give-you-the-flu-now-so-it-doesn't-inconvenience-you-and-your-busy-schedule-later shot. My body didn't think it was either of the two. My body thought it was the plague or something. By the time you read this, it'll probably be too late; I'll be in a coma.

So, my email.


I only have one class with less than 50 people in it. The teacher of that class is actually a relative, so he gets to know my name. He has no choice.

My other six teachers have more than 50 people in their class and they do not know my name. I'm not offended that they don't know my name; it would almost be concerning if they could pick me out of that crowd. You'd have to get in trouble to receive that kind of recognition. In that Bobby, stop talking! or I didn't call on you, Miss Granger! kind of way.

But in one of my music classes today, as I was finding the relative minor of the some-or-other key that was on the board, the teacher turned to me and said, "Lizzie, will you come up and show us how you figured it out?"

I kind of had a heart attack. I sat there for a second, asked him to repeat the question, and fumbled out of my chair, sending my backpack and pens flying through the air. I scooped up my things and went to the board. I had to keep asking him what the question was because I was so distracted.

My teacher knows my name!

Okay. Before you jump to conclusions about my mental well-being, just remember that time when you were just in the ensemble in the school musical and somebody went out of their way to tell you how they loved your performance. Or the time you had on cute new shoes and the girl who sits behind you in math noticed. They noticed! You're not as invisible as you felt when you woke up this morning!

I'm just so impressed that my teacher, with so many other students to keep track of and having never spoken to me, knew my name.

So I sent him an email to thank him for going out of his way to not only make that class one of my favorite classes, but to help me feel important by learning my name.

That's it. That's my email. But I'm happy. Tomorrow, I think I'll skip to class singing Thoroughly Modern Millie, or something.

If my darn flu will calm down. Shots don't work. They're fake. I want to meet the psychotic human being that started this mess of sticking needles into children. I'll slap him. With my left arm, because my right one is paralyzed.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Lizzie (yes, her name is Lizzie and her teacher knows it), who slipped under her covers and fell asleep. Oh, that sounds so good. Goodnight.


The Warm Fuzzy Approach

I miss those days where Saturday was cleaning day and you had a list of five chores you got to do, and everybody else had a list of five chores they got to do, and you took your own sweet time doing them together and then you were done.

Welcome to college, baby.

Lately, our apartment manager has been having competitions for our weekly cleaning checks. Normally I wouldn't consider participating in a competition where college women are being bribed to clean up after themselves my favorite way to pass the time, but the first prize winner wins homemade lasagna.

And we're all poor.

So, last week we scrubbed down every stinkin' inch of the apartment for four hours. We scrubbed and mopped and wiped and scraped and vinegared and brushed and chiseled until the place shined like the top of the Chrysler building. And we didn't even get in the top five.

This week, we took a different approach: kissing up. We were the cheesiest, lousiest, most shamefully corny kiss-ups in the whole dang world. We put pictures of Jesus and the temple in every mirror. We put a sign that said "What would Jesus do?" on our chalk board. We put every little quote the housing manager has ever given us on the fridge. We dusted off the Student Living manual and put it on the table to make it look like we've touched it in the last month.

We even started a "Warm Fuzzies" wall, where we write adorable little sticky notes about how much we appreciate each other and stick it on the wall. We had the angelic Mormon Tabernacle choir (playing the only two songs we have) over and over until she came for our check. We all had our scriptures laying out.

Oh, and we picked a few things up off the floor. Dusted a few things off.

And we still didn't make it into the top five! The same five apartments that won last week got lasagnas this week, too. I mean, don't they get a little sick of homemade lasagna?

We're never cleaning again.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Lizzie, who took off her socks and threw them on the floor. Oopsie.



n. An abnormal fear of the night or darkness.

So often, potential is described using the metaphor of "a star burning brightly" or "a light for all to see." It's interesting how all our popular metaphors depict an illuminating light surrounded by darkness. If the light is our potential, what does the darkness represent?

Here I am, a first-semester freshman in college, surrounded by all of this light. My life is full of good things! I'm a Student Ambassador, I'm working on a CEO consulting research team, I'm getting good grades, I'm getting involved in things like ushering devotionals, and I'm in the Relief Society Presidency. I get along with my roommates and I'm making new friends. It's light outside and I like it that way.

But a star can't shine as brightly during the day. Night falls. Here comes the darkness.

All my life, I've been the girl with the plan. In elementary school, I was the author. I was going to be the youngest woman in history with a Newbery Award-winning book. During recess, I was the kid in the corner scribbling frantically in the completely abused composition book and paying the recess lady to read the most recent chapter.

A few years later, I was going to be the youngest spy in the world. I delved myself so far into my fantasy of saving the world that I convinced myself I had already saved the world, at the expense of my memories. I had saved the world once before, sacrificed all my training and previous knowledge, and had been placed in a home with normal parents who knew nothing about my past. Someday, secret agents would show up at my doorstep and ask me for help - and I would be back in the game.

In high school, I was the composer. All I wanted was to be the youngest movie score composed in Hollywood. I was going to win awards like crazy. Hans Zimmer would be begging to work with me.

Maybe I'm just a little over-obsessive over being the first and having important people need my help.

I had a plan. I had mapped out the plan so well, you could ask me where I would be in seven years exactly and I would know that day's breakfast menu. Pancakes.

I've only changed my mind maybe five times. But changing your mind gets harder and harder as time goes by. A few weeks after I graduated from high school, I switched one more time. Psychology.

I love it! I love my classes and I love the way this subject makes me feel. The only problem is that I'm flying blind here. I know what I want to do, but for the first time in my life, I don't know how to get there.

The future is terrifying. For the first time since Kindergarten, I don't know where I want to get my doctorate. I don't even know what I want to be the first at or who I want to beg for my assistance.

And it's scary because I still love music. How can a person feel such a pull in one direction when the other direction feels so good? What if I was only holding on to this ridiculous dream in the first place because it was the only thing I was good at?

I'm that first star I see at night, the one that comes out when it's still light outside, and it slowly gets dark all around it. In just the blink of an eye, here I am, realizing that it's dark outside, I'm lost in a sea of other perfectly round stars, and I'm scared of the dark.

Then again, the star is supposed to represent potential, right? So it'll just shine brighter in the darkness?

Deep breaths, Lizzie...

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Lizzie, who stepped back, took a running start, and leaped out into the darkness.

Here I go.



Productivity can be so bipolar sometimes.

There are days when productivity means getting a lot of homework done. You do your projects that are due for the next month. You study for every test you'll have for the rest of your life. You memorize the physiology of the brain until you can feel your dendrites and synapses and frontal lobes collapsing. Your grades shine like the top of the Chrysler building.

There are days when productivity means getting your visiting teaching done for this month. You make two batches of cookies, you prepare a great spiritual thought, you grab your roommate and walk across campus to get to the apartment of your visiting teaching sister, and you spend a half hour of quality time with her.

There are days when productivity means practicing the viola for six hours. Two hours of individual practice, orchestra here, stand partner practice there, and some more individual practice. You crawl into bed at the end of the day and you can't sleep because your fingers are bleeding and as a college kid, you didn't think ahead to bring the super glue from home that you so desperately need right now. Idiot. Every musician needs super glue.

And then there are days where productivity is getting out of bed in the morning, regretting it, grabbing a glass of water, and then crawling back into bed to watch Psych reruns for a couple of hours. Good thing I don't have any homework due on these days. Ever.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Lizzie, who rolled out of bed, scooped herself a new bowl of cookie dough, slipped back under the sheets, and pressed play.

Bring it on.


Once Upon a Time

The beginning to any story comes with two implied circumstances: this is not the real beginning, nor is it the real end.

Any fairy tale comes with a back story that unfolds as the account progresses. Every character has already begun to walk the path that leads them to their conflict. They've already been through experiences that have shaped them into the protagonist.

Once upon a time is just that: the story happened once, a long time ago. The repercussions of its events have already begun to take effect. Happily ever after isn't the real ending; the bigger picture just hasn't been unveiled yet.

Now let's suppose I'm a character in a fairy tale. Like any other fairy tale, you don't know my back story. You haven't yet been told my name, my character, my mysteries, my life. You have only been given the circumstances that come with any other story: this is neither the beginning, nor is it truly "over."

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Lizzie.