Thursday, November 18, 2010

2010 Person of the Year

When I saw the list of finalists for Time Magazine's 2010 Person of the Year, I had many thoughts about many of the candidates and felt inspired to blog because this would be a very long Facebook status. So here's the list of people I had thoughts about. Mainly negative...

1. David Cameron - I immediately thought "James Cameron" and wondered what shallow moron would nominate him. Then I remembered that David Cameron is the Prime Minister of the UK and not the director of Avatar.

2. Lady Gaga - Again, I wondered what shallow moron would nominate her. There was no follow up to that.

3. Glenn Beck - Really?

4. Hu Jintao - Awesome. Let's give recognition to the leader of the country with one of the worst human rights records in the world. The man responsible for ethnic cleansing. The man responsible for exploitation. The man responsible for the steady disappearance of the many beautiful minority cultures, religions, and languages. But hey, China's economy is growing quickly so that must trump everything else.

5. LeBron James - He plays basketball and... what else?

6. Hamid Karzai - Cause we all know the good he's doing for Afghanistan...

7. Sarah Palin - I get that about 45 percent of Americans have a favorable view of her and she's an important political figure (as much as I hate to admit it), but what has she actually done besides endorsed a lot of candidates who probably promised to endorse her in 2012?

8. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf - Because he wants to build a community center? A controversial one that didn't become controversial until just before the elections when politicians decided it was going to be controversial?

9. Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert - A nomination I can get behind :)

Maybe my criteria for Person of the Year is different from Time's. For example, I would say they shouldn't be evil, polarizing, taking cash from our enemies when we're pouring money into their country, or willing to wear raw meat. Ideally, the Person of the Year should accomplish some pretty awesome stuff. But that's just me.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cancer Sucks and Other Updates

So it's been 6 months since I've posted anything. Mainly because I didn't care even though I had plenty of time. Now I have pretty much no time and I still don't really care but I find myself typing anyway.

Cancer Sucks and Other Updates. Let's start with the Other Updates first.

1. I did not go to the Daily Show. Bummer. Instead, I went to Rome. Not a bummer. My good friend Angela convinced me that we shouldn't go anywhere until we go out of the country. After a long debate on where to go (Spain, Amsterdam, Rome, and Ireland were in the running) we decided on Rome. And when I say we decided, I mean Angela talked me into Rome. I'm glad she did cause it was a perfect place for our first European experience. We found a really nice hotel a short bus ride from the metro and found the city extremely easy to navigate thanks to our superior Metro skills learned in DC. We were gone for a total of a week and it was AMAZING. One of the long term benefits from the trip was it converted me to dresses and skirts. We read that you shouldn't wear jeans in Rome (it's a lie by the way - plenty of natives were wearing jeans) so I packed dresses and skirts and I love them now. I'll wear them on a weekday. Freak out.
2. I quit my job and went back to school. I'm in the third week of my MSW program at the U and I'm liking it a lot. I've pretty much decided that I am definitely not going to be a clinician. I didn't know what I wanted to do with social work when I decided I was going to get an MSW and I'm a little closer to having that figured out. It sucks because 99% of my fellow students want to be therapists so the program is geared around that to a degree. Every semester I have to take a practice class so by the end of the 2 years I'll have the skills to be a therapist, but perhaps not the drive. I'm thinking more on the policy level which makes sense considering my background. There's always international development too. I'm planning on emphasizing in international social work which would help out and I'm also looking into getting a women's health certificate. That one is 15 credits so it would be more intense and I would probably have to take summer classes, but it still looks really cool. I'm talking to the professor in charge of both those programs tomorrow about the reality of doing both.

3. I'm an aunt again. My sister Cecily had her first daughter in April. She and Mike named her Isabel Danger Gillis. Her middle name isn't really Danger. I don't think she has one. She's just so stinking cute though! It's amazing - I don't like babies or kids at all really and yet my nieces and nephew are the coolest things EVER! It gives me hope that someday I'll be ready for kids myself and when I do, I'll like them. I'll be an aunt for the fourth time in I think April. Leith is pregnant with her and Mack's second. I feel bad for my kids. All their cousins will be so much older than them. If I'm lucky Cecily's youngest and my oldest will be about the same age.

That's pretty much it for Other Updates. Now for Cancer Sucks. My mom was diagnosed with Leiomyosarcoma this summer. It's a pretty nasty type and we were pretty much freaking out when we first found out, but they caught it fairly early so we have hope. She starts chemo at the Huntsman Center tomorrow. She'll be doing chemo for 3 months and if she stays cancer free for 18 months she's pretty much in the clear. There's about a 50% chance of that happening. Even when that happens though (not if, when) she'll have to go in for CT scans every couple months for the rest of her life to make sure no new tumors develop. It sucks, but I'll take CT scans and the worry that results might come back not great over the alternative.

I've been freaking out since we found out and even though it's been better since that first week, it hasn't been great. I've been in Salt Lake for about a month now and I still feel weird about moving out but my mom has said time and again that I shouldn't put my life on hold. I know that's true, but I still want to. My mom says she freaks out every now and then too but I haven't really seen it. She's always been the happiest and most optimistic person I know and even though she's the one with cancer, she's been my anchor through this. Her and my Heavenly Father.

I always wondered how I'd react as far as spirituality goes to news like this. The why her, why now, she's the last person that deserves this all continually pass through my head and end up in my prayers, but this has been the biggest faith promoting experience for me by far. There's not a doubt in my mind that she can be healed permanently. I try not to wonder if she will - I just focus on my faith that she can be.

Earlier this summer I went to Las Vegas with some friends. Angela likes to play question games when we're on road trips and one of the questions was something to the effect of, if you knew you were going to die early, would you still have kids? Ben and I both said, of course. Children are resilient and they'll get over it. Angela and Michon said no. If their mothers died now they'd be completely devastated and Angela went so far as to say she'd rather go with her mom. At the time I thought, man, I love my mom, we're really good friends, and I would be devastated if she did die, but life goes on. I'd get over it. Deep down I still know that's true, but faced with what we're faced with now, I have to search to find the "life goes on" mentality.

Ok, that's my bit of morbidity. I really do have a lot of hope. My mom had her one and only tumor removed, she's going to see an amazing oncology team at one of the 26 sarcoma centers in the United States, she's optimistic and full of life, and she has the love, support, and prayers of everyone around her. I love you, Mom!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oh the hilarity...

So every now and then MoveOn.Org will do a personalized video. And since I am a member of MoveOn.Org (sorry, Mack) I get them in my email. This one was particularly funny since I'm pretty sure Glenn Beck would very well say these things about me.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Spoke too Soon

"Dear Jenna: I am pleased to inform you that the MSW Admissions committee of the College of Social Work has recommended your application for admission for full time study in the 2-year MSW Program beginning Fall 2010."


Friday, February 26, 2010

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing (but not like Jack)

It's been about 3 months since I turned in my grad school application and still no word. Every day I do a good job of keeping my mind off if it but as soon as I walk in the door at the end of the day I think to myself, "I need to check the mail!" And even though I know the letter isn't going to show up for another two or three months, I'm always a little put out that it isn't waiting for me on the table. This is the worst part of it. At least when I applied for college I applied for three different places and knew I would get into all three. It was just a matter of who would give me a scholarship. But this time I foolishly only applied for one program even though I had my eyes on two others out of state. Plus there is zero guarantee I'll get in. The program I applied for only accepts about 50% of its applicants and I'm guessing that number is up last year and this because of many more applicants looking for something to do since they can't find a job. I convinced myself that applying to other schools was kind of a waste of time and money since they were so crazy expensive but I am definitely regretting that decision right now. Why didn't I finish that application to Tulane and U Conn? Why didn't I look at other programs I had been interested in before like an MBA in Corporate Social Responsibility at Nottingham University and that school in Geneva? Why not look again at International Development at basically all of the schools in DC since that's what I'm planning to do with International Social Work anyway? Boo. I guess if the U doesn't work out and I can't find a job in D.C. (which is looking like that very well may happen) I can always move to Salt Lake and either keep my current job for another year or find some other random job and try all those places next year. At least by then my student loans will be for sure paid off. But like all regrets and struggles this for sure has been a learning experience: when in doubt, go overboard.

At least I have something to look forward to in a couple of months. I booked tickets to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for May 13th. I keep an ongoing bucket list and that is very near the top. I got four tickets and I've been having trouble finding people to go with me but I've almost decided that I'm going whether or not I can find anyone else. If I do end up going on my own I'm thinking I'll just stay in a hostel for a couple of nights and make it a shorter trip. Plane tickets to Newark are only $300 and that's less than one week of work for me so I can totally swing that. Sure, spending 3 days in New York on my own might get a little boring at times, but I've wandered around the city on my own a lot and I've always really enjoyed it and I've never once felt unsafe there. Granted the shadiest places I've been in New York have been Brooklyn and the outskirts of Chinatown, but I'm not exactly planning on heading down to Jamaica Queens or Spanish Harlem or anything. But if I DO find people to go, I wouldn't mind making it a little longer trip and spending maybe two or three days in NYC and taking the Chinatown bus (or a slightly less liner) down to D.C. for a bit. Good grief I miss that place.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Friends, Disneyland, and Other Adventures

11:53 and even though I woke up this morning at 7:50 wishing I could sleep forever, I don't want to go to bed right now.

So let me first of all tell you about some new friends. My good friend Angela introduced me to a group of friends she had through college one night when she, Ben, and I were hanging out. The night was fun and I fully expected to never really see them again. Shortly thereafter was Halloween and I went up to Logan. I dressed up as a Republican (NRA hat and a shirt that said "I Hate Minorities") and Angela dressed up as a Democrat (rainbow wristband and a shirt that said, "Kill Babies Not Terrorists"). No one really got it since no one we hung out with knew me. But that night a couple of the people I had met came and we had some more laughs. They talked about their upcoming Disneyland trip and I thought, "Disneyland! What fun!" and I resolved to use the free ticket I've had for 6 1/2 years now in the next little while with maybe a couple friends. A short while after that Angela sent me a text saying that her friends wanted to know if I wanted to go to Disneyland with them. I'll tell you what. It was a bit of a shocker. I had hung out with them a few times then all of a sudden I'm going on a 5 day journey with 6 people I don't really know and one person I know very well. It was fantastic for two reasons. 1) I went to freaking Disneyland right before Christmas and 2) I have a small resemblance of a social life now.

Disneyland was amazing. The ride down was interesting to me for the first little while simply because I didn't really know anyone. Also because we stopped in St. George to get tires and lunch and I realized that my wallet was on the floor of my bedroom. That was upsetting. But I had 3 offers for lunch money and Angela was kind enough to pay the rest of my food until my mom could overnight my debit card to me. Anyway, the longer we spent in that car, the more I got to know everyone, and the more I liked everyone too :)

We went to the park 2 1/2 days. Disneyland all day the first day, California Adventure most of the second day, and switching between the two the third day. Wednesday (day two) was especially fantastic because we ate at the Blue Bayou. You know that restaurant that you see as you enter Pirates of the Caribbean? The one where you get jealous of all the people eating there? Yeah, that's where we ate. We had a table on the waterfront and it was SO awesome. The ambiance was perfect - fake fireflies, frogs in the background, an awesome view of a fake bayou, and the air even had quite a bit of humidity. The food was delicious. To begin you could either get a bowl of gumbo or a salad with a special cajun dressing. I got the salad and the dressing was quite possibly the best I've ever had. I also tried the gumbo and holy crap was it divine. For the main course I got the filet minon. It came with asparagus that was so drenched in butter that I even enjoyed it. The filet minon itself was to die for. So tender you almost didn't even need a knife. A couple people got the salmon and I tried that as well. Hands down the best salmon I've ever had. Blackened to perfection.

Another highlight were the fireworks. We watched them Wednesday and Thursday nights. On Wednesday as we were walking around trying to find a spot to watch them I kept thinking, "I've seen fireworks before. Let's skip this part and go on some more rides." Boy was I wrong. I've never been in complete awe from a fireworks display before. Whenever we'd go to Disneyland and/or World as kids my parents would either be shuffling us out of the park to beat the crowds or we'd all be rushing to get in a few more rides while the fireworks were going on. These were totally worth not going on more rides. I really can't even go into detail on how awesome they were because I still can't believe that I would love fireworks that much. We watched them again Thursday night and got a spot right in front of the castle a couple hours before. A few people went shopping while we waited and some of us stayed and just hung out waiting for it to start. Totally worth waiting there forever on the cement to get a front row seat. It just made me smile. How often do fireworks just make you happy like that?

We also watched Fantasmic Thursday night. Another highlight that my parents never took us to because it was overrated to them. That was also awesome.

The half day we didn't spend in the parks was spent at the beach. I decided not to bring my swimsuit because the water would be crazy cold. I regretted that decision later. I did however stand on the beach long enough for me to sink into the sand. The beach was about half way up my calves when I finally got too uncomfortable to stand in one position. It was a struggle getting out.

But yes, the trip to Disneyland offered me more of a social life. Granted the people I went with live anywhere from Sandy to Logan, but I've been able to hang out with most of them in the North Salt Lake area and driving one hour is oh so much better than driving two. It may not seem like that much of a difference, but it really is. I still go up to Logan, but it's nice having friends a little closer to home.

On a more random note, I'm still waiting to hear back from grad school. I still haven't applied to Tulane and even thought the deadline isn't till March 31st, it's a bit late to get a scholarship which I'll need if I go there. I really feel like the U is the place to go if I'm going to go at all this year. If I don't get in somewhere right now the plan is to do one of two things. Either get a real job (DC, NYC, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and San Diego are among my top choices of places to go) or get a work visa and go somewhere like the UK where I speak the language and just work there for a while. My sister-in-law put the idea into my head and I keep thinking, why not? If there's nothing keeping me in Utah, why should there be anything keeping me in the U.S.? Granted, my family is here, but I wouldn't be out of the country forever. I'm only 22 - why do I need to be tied to one place at all? Why not go and experience a completely different life for a while? The idea is super appealing to me right now but as of now I'm not brave enough to do it on my own. I have a friend who seems open to the idea, but we'll see. I really just wish I'd hear back from grad school so I can know what's in store for me and move on. I'm in limbo right now - working a whatever job (which is getting better by the way. I was customer service rep of the year!), living at home in Utah Valley, and not really doing anything I haven't done before. Mostly I'm excited to move both to a different city and on with my life.