Friday, December 28, 2012

Do You Hear the People Sing?

My first brush with Les Miserables was the summer of '04, when my then-stepmom, Jana, got tickets to the Capitol Theater production. To say that Jana loves Les Miserables is an understatement; she was so excited to share it with me and my sister--the story of Jean Valjean and his redemption. I saw it on stage again when I first moved to New York, getting cheap student tickets with my roommate Rosemary and her sister Martha. There truly is something lovely about changing one's life, caring for others, paying it forward, loving and living.

 My New York Les Miserables experience, September 2007

However, I was not overly excited to see the newest theatrical version, even though I would see Hugh Jackman in almost anything (and I have). But everyone who had seen it proclaimed profusely how much they loved it, Anne Hathaway was getting rave reviews, and suddenly I had to see it.

My mind is still percolating on what my overall feeling of the movie is. No doubt, the story and music are amazing, that's not a question. But how did this specific movie do? At first I thought it was long (am I becoming old and out of touch??!!). In the moment I thought it wasn't anything special, but as I left the theater and walked downtown I couldn't stop whistling "Do You Hear the People Sing?", or thinking about Valjean and how he raised Cosette as his own and loved her, how Eponine was selfless and caring, how Javert spent his life looking for one man who he considered a con but was actually so much more. My lasting impression of it is that it is a very nice production and does the history of Les Miserables proud.

On a technical note, I thought it was very cool how the director was able to give nearly every actor a one-shot song solo, from Valjean to Fantine to Eponine to Marius. As most everyone knows by now, the actors sang live on set, and it shows. It's very cool. The director perhaps used the close-up too much, but that's just a little quibble. The story is moving, and I found myself getting teary-eyed more times than I'd like to admit, but I was in good company with the rest of the theater, who I could hear sniffling. When the rebels stand at the barricade and finish singing "Do You Hear the People Sing" a girl in the audience actually whooped. And at the end we all clapped.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012 was white and merry, just the way I like it. Although, it can stop snowing now that the holiday is over (it's been snowing since early this morning).

I got a sewing machine! Now I'm gonna get my craft on with all those things I've seen on Pinterest. I really want to make a quilt of all my old t-shirts from races and travels and random events. We'll see how that goes.....

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Perfect Weekend

This weekend was the absolute best way to get ready for Christmas. There was a Peter Breinholt Christmas Concert downtown, which is always beautiful and perfect. Afterwards, mom and Em and myself had a delicious dinner at the Olive Garden, followed by a stroll around Temple Square taking in all the lights and wonder. We capped off the night with a drive around the Avenues and Federal Heights neighborhoods to see the houses decorated with Christmas and Hanukkah lights.

Sunday we celebrated my niece's first birthday with family and friends. It was perfect.

After a few hours at work, I am now home finishing up the last of my Christmas goodies before heading out to Jared and Jojo's for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. And with the newly fallen snow, it really is quite perfect.

Merry Christmas and I hope your Holidays have been joyous.

Friday, December 21, 2012

An Afternoon With George Bailey

My local independent theater is showing It's A Wonderful Life now thru December 27th. I of course could not pass this up, as it has been three years since I last watched it on the big screen. I absolutely love this move. So much. Everything about it is perfect.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Christmas Spirit

This week has been spent Christmas shopping for loved ones and baking goodies. I love having the free time to do these things. It culminated today with my work Christmas party at City Hall. We had the best chicken cordon bleu I've ever had, followed by white elephant gift-giving. I love laughing with my co-workers and getting to know them better.

I left work and headed to the Gateway, where I bought my almost-last present and was helped by a very nice (and cute) dude at the Fanzz Store. Everyone, from shoppers to employees, were smiling and in a good mood. I love that the holiday season does that.

A last stop at Harmon's to get the last of my needs for goodie-baking brought it all home. I've always loved the Salvation Army Bell Ringers that pop up this time of year, and I made it a goal to always put at least a dollar in each one I passed this year. This particular bell-ringer had a boombox blasting Christmas music, and as I put my dollar bill in the bin and he said a very genuine thanks I was overcome with the Christmas spirit. I had to fight back tears as I entered the store.

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa--they're all wonderful and worth celebrating. So Happy Holidays to everyone who reads this!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Hobbit

I wasn't planning on seeing The Hobbit. Maybe at the dollar theater months later, but certainly not on opening weekend (I love seeing movies on opening weekend). But when my awesome friend Pammy asked me if I wanted to see it with her and the equally awesome I said yes, mainly just to hang out with them.

Not quite sure why I wasn't excited to see it. Fellowship of the Ring was my favorite of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, with my liking of each successive film diminishing a bit (I haven't watched these movies in a long time, so maybe I need to rewatch them....). I think that's why I wasn't jazzed for The Hobbit. Also, I haven't the read (but I also didn't read Lord of the Rings).

So I went into the movie with pretty low expectations (which is good for me). And honestly, I didn't really like it. It was loooooong. I do not believe for one second that the exact same filmmaker who was able to make one excellent movie out of each book for The Lord of the Rings needed to make three  from one, much smaller book. The movie feels padded. Extremely. It takes a long time to get going, and then it doesn't even get interesting until Gollum appears. Which is near the end.

If you're a hardcore or even passing fan (basically if you read the book and liked it) then I think you'll probably like it. Although, when I told my brother, who is a pretty big fan (he went to a marathon viewing of of the trilogy last weekend) about the movie he was afraid that too many liberties would be taken and that it would feel stuffed. We'll see what he thinks once he sees it. 

And maybe I was just distracted from the horrible events that had happened earlier in Connecticut.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Old Foto Friday

My brother with his sisters, May 1999 at his wedding reception. We're all so young (and thin)! And a little washed out from the flash.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

And I'm Done

Today was it. It was the last day of a lot of work. It was the day I finished my school work for a masters degree in City and Metropolitan Planning. I had to present to faculty and students the work I did for my professional project, which was a Transportation Study for Morgan County. I really enjoyed my project and was pleased to share my work with others. It's always nice to hear complementary comments about something you put a lot of work into.

I then spent time in the library finishing up a chapter on Poisson and Negative Binomial Regression for my stats class. It was tough, as this was a doctoral level course with extremely smart students all writing dissertations and generally being heads and shoulders above me on understanding what was going on. But I powered through and wrote a semi-decent chapter. As I logged off the computer for the last time and made my way outside to the bus stop, I couldn't help but look around and savor the last moments on campus. I spent a lot of time in the library. It's a comforting place.

After a year and a half of waiting patiently, then two years of school work, it feels good to be done. It's nice to follow through and complete a plan that was set in motion a long time ago, before I made the move back to Salt Lake, way back when I was in New York and discovering an interest and passion for cities. There were setbacks, there were miracles, there were times it was a slog working full time and doing school full time. But to be done, I can say now that it was all worth it.

And now all that's left is to get a job. :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Old Foto Friday

This is my friend Natalie and I at my second Matchbox20 Concert (this was before they changed to "Twenty"). I was in my freshman year at Snow College, so this picture is Fall 2001. My sister and best friend, Emily and Lindsay, were also there but I can't find the picture of all four of us at the concert.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

From Here to Timbuktu

I'm finishing my Masters degree in a couple weeks. And as such I've been applying for jobs like crazy. I have a spreadsheet of all the jobs I've applied for, noting when I applied, when it closes, the pay, who I used for references. So far I've applied for 32 jobs all over the country, from North Dakota to Florida to Texas to California. Here's the map:

Sometimes I get excited when I think about moving somewhere new. I let my mind wander to the new path my life could go on. Other times I think that I love my home in the avenues so much and never want to leave it. I think that if I cant' find a boyfriend in heavily-LDS Utah, how would I ever find one in Minot, North Dakota? What would I do without my family? I remind myself that I've done it before when I moved to New York, and this time I would be moving with a job.

In the end, what happens will happen and I'll roll with it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gingerbread Houses

I think we started a new Christmas tradition: gingerbread houses. The kids had a lot of fun decorating their houses with all sorts of candy and chocolate and snow (cotton candy). I love seeing how creative they are and the concentration on their faces as they contemplate where to put that candy cane or rolo. They all turned great!

On top, from left to right: Ivy, Elliett, Moses. On bottom, left to right: Jorge's mansion, Josue's.

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