Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Day One

Alrighty! Here's my first day at BYU. Tomorrow I will be taking many pictures of New Student Orientation. For now: visualize!

I said goodbye to my dad at 10:00 AM in front of the dorms. Talk about heart-wrenching! I didn't really expect it to be that hard, but it was. I'm gonna miss that guy. My mom still hasn't gone home, so I can take it one step at a time.

After saying goodbye, I hung in my dorm for a while, then went to lunch. At lunch, in the spacious and luxurious food court called the Cougareat, I sat alone at a table. Then, I remembered: This isn't high school! I'm allowed to talk to anyone I want, now. So, I asked this Black man sitting at the table next to me if I could eat with him. It turns out, he's from Brazil, and is majoring in Public Health. He's married, and his wife is studying Psychology!

Talk about diversity. Don't believe that horse waste about BYU having no diversity. I've met, so far, British, Chinese, Brazilian, Middle-Eastern, and many other ethnicities. What's more, these people are usually from the country of their ethnicity's origin. Awesome!

After that, I showed a friend around campus, which was fun. We pretty much covered the whole thing in the afternoon. Then I dined with another friend at a Greek restaurant off-campus. Then I met my roommate and his friends: all awesome. Finally, a bunch of people met in the lobby for games. This semester's gonna rock!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Yet Another Post

Okay, the reason I'm posting again, is that my previous one was somewhat of a touching, personal one; one that had to be written in the spirit of the moment. You know?

No, you don't. Whatever. I probably didn't mean any of it, anyway.

Anyhoo, I Googled "advice for freshmen," and it came up with a message board chock-full of advice. I want to list the points of advice, with a bit of my own thoughts. Please pay attention if you're pre-college or even in your first few semesters. This is important to me, so you must pay attention.

(not in any particular order)
1. Take electives outside your major. I think this is important, because it will broaden you a bit. No matter how "open-minded" you think you are, actively looking at new interests will definitely challenge that.

2. Join clubs. I wish I did this at my junior college. I didn't really feel connected to my school, and maybe that's why my experience was a little sour.

3. DON'T BE A DRUNK!!! I don't drink. Period. I get along fine. There's a lot of people out there who don't drink or who drink in moderation. You don't have to get smashed every weekend to be popular. You shouldn't get smashed at all. It only takes that one time to absolutely destroy your life. Be responsible.

4. Study abroad. Practically everyone said this. Mormons have an opportunity to leave the country for a time on their missions. If they "go state-side" (serve in America), I think they should take a semester abroad. It's the cheapest opportunity you have to leave the country, see some (foreign) sights, get some perspective, and earn some college credits all at the same time. Live outside your silly box. Everyone who didn't go abroad seemed to regret it.

5. Take every class you want to. This is important, as well. Your major has very little, for the most part, to do with your career. Don't believe all that "career-oriented" learning stuff. My dad majored in Sociology, and is now a sales engineer for a company that builds water wells. Don't be afraid to take Physics if your major is Art History.

6. Find diversity. This is for the same reasons as studying abroad. I don't think people really understand what they think they hold dear until they've met someone with different experiences, culture, or beliefs who shares a common idea.

7. Be yourself. You probably weren't yourself in high school. I still know college students who simply want to conform, refuse to be different. You're liars. I'm sorry, but you're telling us you're something other than what you really are. You don't need to feel pressured into being someone besides yourself. If it means you'll have less friends, then good for you! A loner who's himself is better than a popular poser.

8. Network. Learn to make connections.

9. Declare a minor. I totally believe this. The more distant from your major, the better, especially if your preprofessional (med-school and the like). This will give you guidance for your electives and interests.

10. Don't be afraid of hard classes. Challenge yourself! Don't be a wuss! Don't be afraid to take "the hard professor." That's dumb. It'll give you a greater sense of accomplishment, trust me. I took some classes that were so easy I felt they were a waste of time even though they boosted my GPA. (No one looks all that much at GPA anyway.)

11. Know your professors! This, also, is important. Take advantage of office hours. You don't need to be the fan club. Come with questions regarding the material, your standing in the class, your career decisions, or just go to talk. Professors detest lecturing to a bunch of clearly-bored people; they'd much rather teach you one-on-one, or at least get some feedback. If you don't understand, tell them!

12. Know your professors some more! Professors have connections. They are excellent entries to any kind of network. They sign your letters of recommendation for post-graduate schools, they hire research assistants, they know internship opportunities, and, well, grades are veeerrrrrry flexible in college. If you meet with your professors, they attach a face to your name, and participation points can go a long way in the grading system.

13. If you get a job, work on campus. These jobs can lead to internships. They also tend to give you lots of time to study on the job. What's better than getting paid to do homework?

14. Shun social cliques. Be a floater. You don't need to join a fraternity, or be part of the "cool" crowd. Generally, their influence crashes and burns in college anyway. Be diverse, and you'll get better friends. Just because you were "a stoner punk" in high school doesn't mean you have to be one in college. Loners of the world, that can end right after graduation! There is hope!

15. Don't waste time. I've made it clear how valuable time is. Don't waste time playing those addictive games like WoW! or being hung-over. Make the most of your short four years.

16. Study well. Do the work. GO TO CLASS! Don't ever miss class, unless you absolutely have to! Everything on tests tends to be covered in class. I've been to classes where the textbook was unneeded (but, I wish I had read it, because maybe then I'd have learned more). Also, it's generally accepted that the dorm room is like Dilbert's "anti-productivity pod." Nothing useful was ever accomplished in the dorm or apartment. If you want to study, find a secret place to do it and don't tell your friends where you're going.

17. Go to functions. Go to plays, movie-nights, sporting events, seminars, etc. Use them as dates. You've paid for a lot of them, and there might be free food. Besides, you'll be able to put that down as something you did, rather than as something you missed.

18. Take care of your body. Ever hear of the "Freshman 15?" It's true, and it could be a lot more than fifteen pounds. Exercise regularly, don't just eat the fatty food in the cafeteria, shower daily, get good sleep (try, at least), and watch the snacks. You'll study better. Along those lines, it's harder to retain information and take tests when you're on caffeine. Just saying. . .

19. Look for good teachers. Don't look for easy teachers, but good ones. Ask older students, or check a professor-rating site. I've had some really crappy professors, some who were pretty simple. I wish I had asked.

20. Finally, love school, but don't make it your life. DO VOLUNTEER WORK! That's a great way to unwind, find opportunities, and have fun. Not everything you do has to revolve around school.

That's the advice of many people. I think I've covered the best bits. The site is here, if you want to read the full, unmediated version. Thanks for reading!

So Long, And Thanks For All the Fish!

Yes, that time has come. Time for me to look behind me, and say goodbye. Leaving is hard, but I'm moving on.

My friends are great. I just threw myself a "going away" party. I think people had fun, and I'm surprised that so many people came! I'm pretty happy about it. If I didn't invite you, please don't feel bad. The list was written kind of hurried, and I think I may have forgotten to invite some really good friends. I'm dumb. . .

Anyhoo, my friends are great. They've all been great: putting up with my extremely hard-core strangeness all these years (upon years, upon years). Some people are taking my leaving pretty harshly. This kind of shocked me, but I felt all the more loved.

I just want to say, to everyone I've ever met, if I've offended you, or done anything for your damage in any way, "I'm an idiot." I've made dumb choices, but if you think it hurt you, I can guarantee that it hurt me all the worse. Please forgive me.

To all those who I considered friends: "I'm going to miss you all. Real bad. Right here [thumps chest]." No, don't cry. You'll get over me.

"Tell all my friends I'm dead.
I'm leaving you; this time, it's for good.
Tell all my friends that I'm dead.
It won't be long before you forget my name." (A New Found Glory, "Forget My Name")

I've got another post to write. One that's not as personal.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


OK, I'm trying to use this (theoretically) cool feature on Blogger called "Audioblogger." It will allegedly allow me to post an audio post by phone. But, I've recorded three posts this way, to see if it works, and they aren't there.

Monday, August 21, 2006

It's me!

All right! I just got a digital camera! Now my avid readers (all five) can find out what I look like! Now, for those of you with weak stomachs, I suggest you hit the "Back" button on your browser. Otherwise, feast your eyes on Me! In other news, I realize that one of my past entries was very morose. I'm sorry, but I was feeling really isolated that day. All better now! I'm totally jazzed about college, and I've already started packing. I leave Saturday!

Sunday, August 13, 2006


I get to give a talk in Sacrament meeting next Sunday, and I've had a bit of trouble deciding what to speak on. It's my last Sunday in this ward, so I thought that I'd give a bit of a farewell speech, which is a little commonplace in Sacrament meeting (a little too commonplace, I think).

Then, I started thinking. The entire meeting is called Sacrament meeting. Shouldn't it all be connected to the Sacrament? Now, to those not of my faith (and, probably, to many within the fold), the Sacrament is a many-faceted and complex topic itself, and is connected to almost every other part of our religion. It symbolizes our remembrance of Christ's sufferings, His body, His blood. It symbolizes the Atonement, grace, etc. It is enacted by the authority of the Priesthood. In fact, just being connected to Christ connects it to all aspects of our religion, as our religion is centered entirely on Christ.

So, why do I hear so many Sacrament talks that are essentially: "Well, I met my husband on such-and-such a date at such-and-such a place, and we were married in such-and-such a temple for time and all eternity." I'm not saying it's a bad thing to introduce yourselves when speaking, but I hear many talks that have little to do with the Sacrament. Sometimes, also, people give long winding talks about fantastic miracles they may have witnessed, and all I have to say after that is "Wow! God must like you a lot! What's wrong with me? Is there anything I should be doing differently?" Personally, I think miracles are very personal experiences that are usually meant only for the witnesses. I don't think we should be flaunting our spiritual experiences all over the place. It is sufficient, I believe, to simply say "I believe." It's a statement that shouldn't require too much explanation. Think of how many people could speak in testimony meetings if people simply got up, confessed their belief, and sat down? That's how it's done at EFY!

Then, there's my personal blind spot: The Tirade of Thought. These people (I'm one of them) get up and spew forth very complex perspectives on doctrines such as: The Godhead. Now, I admit that understanding The Godhead is important to our religion, but it's in the missionary discussions! We know it! And my long-winded explanation of it probably won't change your perspective much, because it's something that, in day-to-day living, is often inconsequential.

Now, how persuasive would I be if I didn't offer a solution?

I think that our Sacrament talks should follow after the styles of persons such as Joseph Smith and C. S. Lewis, two great teachers from very different backgrounds. According to Daniel C. Peterson of Meridian Magazine, "he wrote about everyday realities of human behavior, of prayer and moral struggle, rather than about bloodless abstractions." Joseph Smith was the same way, when he wasn't proselytizing. Our Sacrament talks should offer a bolstering-up: perhaps advice on living righteous lives, new perspectives that helped us do so, or maybe a rehashing of the very basics of the doctrine, such as faith.

So, to that end, I want to make my Sacrament talk centered around a goal. That goal should always be something along the lines of "Impress upon the members a new desire to endure to the end." Because that's what the Sacrament is all about, isn't it? Endure to the end. For non-members, enduring to the end occurs after a person has been given faith, has repented, and has received the baptisms of water and Spirit. At that point, we're "saved," but only to the point that we remain true to the faith, and that is enduring to the end. We try to obtain Christ-like attributes, keep the commandments, and stand as witnesses for Christ.

I want my talk to be practical, not theoretical. I want to talk about those things that are so essential to endurance: prayer, fasting, study, things that we do to make it easier to keep strong against the adversary.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Time Flies By

In two weeks, I'll be at the dormitory at BYU, unpacking what few belongings I will be taking. Everything else I will leave behind, useless. It's humbling, Time. Time has ultimate control; it is the one thing we cannot fight.

Looking back on my short eighteen years of mortal existence, I wonder, "What could be different?" If I could go back and do it all over again, what would I change? Because I'm leaving, and there's no going back. There never was. But, now, that's all made painfully clear to me: that the past is written in stone, unchangeable, and forever gone. I see all my mistakes, my missed opportunities. Why was I so afraid? Why didn't I think? Fool!

I'm sorry if I seem morose, but it's how I feel right now. My family, my friends, and my youth are being left behind, for the most part. I can't go back; I can't fix the damage I've caused. Yes, I've done good. I've accomplished a lot. But, I know I could have accomplished a lot more.

Now, all I can do is look at this as a new beginning. I have so much potential, so much to live for! I can change my world, or I can break it. I've learned some very hard lessons in my childhood, lessons that I plan to protect my children from (or, perhaps, find some medium besides suffering with which to teach them). I've had experiences and trials that most people never will, and never would have suspected of me. But, I've had them, and I plan to leave them all behind.

This is the way baptism should be. We should leave it all behind: offer up the animal within us as sacrifice and burn it whole. We should be able to enter the fold of Christ completely, giving Him our burden, unconditionally. I've seen it done, but I didn't do it. I didn't understand, and I caused myself a lot of pain.

To the rising youth: Your generation will see more pain and suffering than any other. You, yourselves, will live amongst some of the most depraved this world has ever seen. Don't run away from it, don't hate it, and whatever you do, don't become a part of it! Decide in your youth to keep the commandments of God, to serve Him alone, and, I swear, you will have peace all the days of your life.

Take advantage of every passing moment, because once it passes, you will never see it again. Time is our most precious commodity, and there is no way to buy more. The clock is ticking. . .