Monday, January 30, 2006

A Jill of Many Trades

I have had a few jobs in my day. In fact, when I was filling out my application for security clearance a couple of years ago, I was amazed by how many crazy jobs I have taken. Here are a few greatest hits:

Grossest: Fish gutter at a cannery in Alaska. I was regularly covered, including all over my face, with fish guts, blood and viscera - yum!

First: Dr. Elridge's Plant Pathology lab at the University of Utah. I was 14 and they gave us a stipend to work in a science lab for the summer. That was my first experience working let alone working in a lab setting and it was a lot of fun. I got to grind samples with liquid nitrogen and prep them for the mass spectometer. I made test tubes out of tubes of glass, who knew glass was so easy to melt. I measured specimens in the green house and out in the field. It really was a fabulous job.

Fast Food: Hot Diggity Dog - no I am not making this up. My friend Emily knew the owner and so several of my friends and I worked there for a few months in high school. It didn't last long - the job nor the joint.

Most boring: There were several contestants for this one, but the winner was my second job. I worked at my dad's company doing assorted office tasks. Most of the time this amounted to shredding old tax documents - for days on end. They would literally send me into a room with a large shredder and an office or two filled with boxes of docs to be shredded. There was really no way to make this interesting. To add insult to injury, the shredder was so loud that I almost always walked away with a headache.

Janitorial: Unfortunately there are several contestants for this one too. But the winner is the bathroom crew at 5 AM in the law building at BYU. Because it was a team effort, it was actually a lot of fun, despite the fact that we were cleaning 7 floors of bathrooms at the crack of dawn. I got to meet and work with a fabulous lady named Ingrid. She was a hoot. She would do *anything* for candy.

Telecenter: Sadly, also several choices to pick from in this illustrious category - so I will pick two. The first is the Holiday Inn call center. It wasn't too bad, just a little crazy. The training was a full week to answer the phones and they were really intense about it. This was my summer job before I headed off to Alaska. The second was called Allied Marketing in Provo, UT. Now that was a funny place. It was almost all students, but the supervisors really took their power over us very seriously. I did the midnight shift and that was never easy. Plus it was the first time I learned what it was like to IM with a bunch of people you were sitting in the same room with. That took a little adjusting to - why not just turn around and talk? The gasoline drive-off calls were the most fun. I worked at an internet start-up company in Silicon Valley right as the boom started to go bust. Lucky for me it was a summer job, that company went under. But they had the best employee perks ever. We had a pool table, a couple of work out rooms with weight benches, etc., a video game room with huge comfy chairs, and the best part - a well stocked kitchen courtesy of the company, including catered lunch for everyone - everyday.

Sales: I tried to sell those Cutco knives. Unfortunately, I am a terrible sales person and I was my only customer.

Weapons: I worked as a contractor for the US Navy selling Undersea Weapons to foreign countries - my main focus was Japan. Honestly it sounds much more hardcore to say you are an "arms dealer" than it really was. It was actually very administrative in nature, there is a lot of paperwork and hoops to jump through for both countries.

Retail: This is a tough call, Eddie Bauer and Pier One Imports - I spent most of the money I made at both places, and I enjoyed them pretty much the same too.

Teaching: Anatomy 260. I got to teach the lab portion on the cadavers. That was a lot of fun. When I taught muscles, I came with some beef jerky and started chewing on it shortly before we started looking at the real thing. I probably got a bigger kick out of this than my students.

Most disturbing: Toxicology lab. My best friend Mary and I were working on a test of Vie Haka on lab mice. We had to cut open the euthenized pregnant mice. That job made me switch my major from zoo to botany. Botany labs were a lot more fun to work in. We also did fungal tests, counted box elder bugs, counted trees on a particular stretch of the canyon, etc. Science is just fun.

Favorite: DARPA. I got to read through all kinds of cutting-edge technology. And I am just nerdy enough and curious enough to love that sort of stuff.

Current: I am doing patent work on a very part-time basis. It too is very interesting and I think I will love it more as I keep going.

My own Word of Wisdom

As a Mormon, I felt that the Word of Wisdom was a good idea. I liked the idea that God had given a guide to healthy living. As an ex-Mormon, I still think it is important to live a healthy lifestyle, especially with food.

Some of the things I would like to incorporate into my own personal Healthy Life Guide from the original Word of Wisdom are:

1. Grains - "All grain is good for the food of man" DC 89:16. Whole grains especially just feel good when you eat them. I love a bowl of brown rice cereal in the morning or a sandwhich on a hearty bread.
2. Fresh fruits and vegetables and herbs, especially those in season - "Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these things to be used with prudence and thanksgiving." DC 89:11. I have wanted to have my own garden for a long time. I really love good fresh fruit and veggies. And having fresh herbs makes all the difference. Maybe I should start with an herb garden.
3. Moderation - I cannot find an exact scripture for this one, but I know from countless Sunday school lessons that this is one of the primary ideas behind the WoW. I actually think this one needs a more prominent role in my own life. I.e., it is all good and well to eat healthy delicious foods, but if you eat too much of them, it is still not healthy.


Epicurus said, "Of all the means which wisdom acquires to ensure happiness throughout the whole of life, by far the most important is friendship."

This year I will turn 30 - 30! I am still a little amazed by that myself.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Suddenly Strangers - book review

Suddenly Strangers, Brad and Chris Morin, 2004

I know you are traditionally supposed to wait until you finish a book to post a review, but I wanted to say how much I am enjoying this book right now.

Synopsis: This book is written by two brothers who were born and raised Mormon and left later in their adults lives. It is more or less (from what I have read so far) just their personal experiences in leaving. The brothers were very happy in their faith and in their families prior to leaving.

The good: I like this book because I can relate. I know everyone has their own personal religious experiences regardless of what religion you are, but in many ways, there are some common threads that happen to most people when they are making a transition. I also like the title, I think it is a great description of the way it feels to lose the religion you were born and raised in.

The bad: I think this is a niche market book. For people who know nothing about Mormons, they will probably be bored quite quickly. Also, so far, they are going to great lengths to tell just how great their family lives were - maybe a bit of overkill. The formatting is a little awkward - it is really 2 stories in one book.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A natural "foody"

I like to consider myself a "foody." I appreciate good food more than most and will go to great lengths to get it. After our Christmas trips to NYC, I can't stop talking about the great food, the restaurants, the desserts... you get the idea.

Today I fed little Audrey her first solid food. And she **loved** it. Before I even had the first spoonful to her mouth she was kicking her legs in excitement, eyes and mouth wide open in anticipation and arms out stretched to grab the spoon and the food herself. After her first taste of rice cereal, she paused for a moment gave me a look to let me know she was deciding how she felt about the whole experience and then looked up at me and gave me a huge smile and started licking her lips for more.

By the end, both of our hands were covered in cereal - as was her face, but she was thrilled. I thought about my own favorite meals, Del Frisco's in New York or my own ginger-soy sauce over wild Pacific salmon. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I guess good food can elicit that sort of response at any age.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Missing my mom

My parents divorced when I was six and when I was eight my dad and step-mom took full custody of us three kids. So I have not lived with my mom full-time since then. It used to be a big scene every time I left her, where I would cry as I boarded the plane, etc. When I was twelve, a not-so-sensitive stewardess asked me why I was crying and when I told her she asked, "aren't you a little bit old to be crying over missing your mom?"

I was always a very independent kid and I reckoned she was right. I decided to be "tough." From that point on I never missed my mom, or really anyone else for that matter (just as a matter of principle) - I was being a grown-up.

So imagine my surprise, when the moment my little girl was born, feeling this overwhelming sense of "I miss my mommy." I can't explain it, but there it is. I have never missed my mom so much as I have this past six months. It is completely disarming. I am 29 years old and a mom myself, but I often just feel like I want to run to my own mom and have her hold me and make me something warm and good to eat. I just want to follow her around the house while she does whatever she is doing and have her tell me stories and just chat.

I guess my twelve-year old assumption, that being grown up meant not missing your mom, was completely wrong. Perhaps being "grown-up" means you can acknowledge the loss you feel when the people you love the most are not part of your daily life.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"What I know for sure"

Oprah does a column in her magazine with the title, "What I know for sure". I recently came across a compilation of her best of. It was interesting to read and it got me thinking, what do I know for sure?

When I was a Mormon, the list of what i knew for sure was much longer, and it was for the most part the same things that all Mormons "know for sure" - and we called that a testimony. More on this topic later...

Now however, what I know for sure is much more - well, me and simple. (Incidentally, I think it is a healthy exercise for all people to really completely change their paradigms at some point in their lives.) Back to what I know, well, it isn't much. But I know that love exists and is eveywhere around us. I know that the people who truly do love you, will love you even if you no longer believe the same things that they do - so it is best to be true to yourself. I know that life is too short and the time we have with the various people we love is fleeting. People grow up, move, change, etc., so we must treasure the moments with the loved ones in our life while we have them. I know that loving and living life to its fullest is the surest way to show our gratitude for it.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Mi Casa es su casa

My "happy place" is in Mexico. I dream that I am able to afford one of the beautiful little casa's right on the beach at paradise of the sea, I have dreamed of buying a casa there for a while now. Ryan thinks I am a little crazy because I talk about it all the time, as if it is a foregone conclusion that we will inevitably own a casa there and soon. It may be a little crazy, but that is what dreams are for.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


A - my 5 1/2 month old little girl - just cut her first tooth! You still can't see the tooth, but you can feel it. I must say, I am going to miss her adorable gummy smile.


Hi, I'm Madame. My friend MB gave me that nickname back in college. It was the first nickname that ever really stuck, so I am sticking with it here.

In this blog I plan to share my thoughts, musings and adventures. I fancy myself to be a good deal more interesting than I probably am, but then, don't we all. Your comments are always welcome.