Saturday, January 6, 2018

2017 Year In Review

A year ago, I was unsteady and uncertain about embarking into 2017. You can read all about it here. But this year has been more than I ever expected.

I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to travel to India for my friend's wedding. It feels like a strange dream now, but it happened and I wrote about some of it here. My favorite experience was celebrating with Aarti and Deepak and discovering Hindu wedding rituals. The amount of love and generosity we received from Aarti's family was remarkable. It was also a great adventure to be back together with my 7 roommates from college. 24 hour plane rides can't stop us! 

New York / Connecticut / DC 
After the most stressful semester of my existence so far, Andrea and I decided to take a break on the East Coast. We walked and ate our way through two of the best cities stopping at every art museum along the way. 

Moab / Mesa Verde 
Tammy, Grace, Mom, and I ventured down south for some hiking. Some of my favorite moments were back bending with Grace in front of an arch and cheering my mom on as she maneuvered her way through tunnels and up ladders at Mesa Verde.

Chicago/ Michigan 
2017 marks my first time to the Windy City, and you know what? I really liked it. Chicago has a feel all its own. I especially loved the Art Institute. However, I also loved being in Michigan to celebrate my cousin's wedding.

St. George 
Thanks to the Hales for buying a beautiful property in St. George, we had the chance to spend some time in St. George this year. I've discovered a new appreciation for that city of red plateaus. I especially enjoy swimming with the kids and hiking around Snow Canyon. 

San Diego
2017 also marked the first year for our Thorup family reunion. We settled on San Diego because we love the beach and because my dad loved San Diego. Between Sea World, Lego Land, and the San Diego Zoo, we were constantly on the go. However, we made sure to have a few beach days for building sand castles and boogie boarding. We began the first Thorup family Boogie boarding school for all the little ones. They did great! 

Shakespeare Festival 
I discovered the Student Pass at the Utah Shakespeare Festival this year--it is a total steal. It also just so happened to be the year As You Like It was being performed, which is the play featured most prominently in my Thesis.  

Defending my Thesis 
I successfully defended my Thesis this year! According to my committee, it was one of the most enjoyable thesis defenses they've ever attended at BYU. I feel like I've actually accomplished something i'm proud of, that I could claim as a contribution to society, even though I know that likely no one will read it. 

Applying to PhD programs
The end of this year has been filled and flustered by PhD applications. I never intended to go to a PhD program. I'm surprised by the possibility. However, there is something inside of me pushing me to do it. It just feels like I'm supposed to try. So...I'm going to try. I've applied to 8 schools. Cross your fingers for good news in 2018! 

New Babies 
We welcomed two new little ones into our family this year: James Wise Thorup on Oct 31st and Harrison Robert Thorup on December 21st!

I tried some new things this year: I took a contemporary dance class, I started Bikrum Yoga (more affectionately known as Hot Yoga), and I attempted to be more brave with my heart. Even though that hurt more often than not, it somehow healed a lot of the ache. Explain that one to me! 

But amidst all of these adventures there are always the simple pleasures of the every day: teaching, writing, reading, laughing with friends, spending time with family, etc. It's a good life.

So here's to 2018. I'm feeling pretty good about you, so please don't disappoint ;-) 

Eating My Way Through The Big Apple: A Food Diary

After many requests following my Instagram post in NYC, I've decided to give you my Manhattan Menu. Enjoy!
Chelsea Market
Tacos No. 1: 
Carne Asada & Pollo

L'Arte Gelato:
(not pictured) Pistachio + Vanilla

Flavors + Hot Dog Stand 
(not pictured) Fruit Cup, Rosemary and Olive Oil Potato Chips, Black and White Cookie, and Hot Dog with Ketchup

Little Italy 
Ferrara's Bakery 
Canoli (eaten too fast to be pictured) and Lobster Tail

Small Pizza + Italian Sausage

Buttermilk Pancakes, Basket of Muffins, Farmer's Omelette

Levain Bakery 
(not pictured) Chocolate Chip Walnut, Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Thomas St. Barista 
Poached Egg over Avocado Toast, Fresh Squeeze OJ, and Oatmeal

Whole Foods 
A smattering of hot and cold foods eaten as a picnic in Bryant Park (not pictured) 

Spaghetti and Arugula Salad

Sunday, July 9, 2017

20 Reasons I'm Still Single...according to everyone else

Page from my 2016-2017 planner 
1. I'm too tall
2. I'm too smart
3. I'm too intimidating
4. I'm too picky
5. I'm too liberal
6. I still want to get married in the Temple
7. I'm considering a PhD program
8. I'm not social enough
9. I spend too much time with my family and friends
10. I'm too independent
11. I act like I'm already married
12. I don't play hard to get
13. My type tends to land somewhere between 1 and 2 on the Kinsey Scale
14. I don't stay put long enough
15. I am too busy
16. I don't give guys a chance
17. I am afraid of getting hurt
18. I am afraid of having a relationship actually work
19. My body isn't symmetrical
20. Boys are stupid

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Everything I never Wanted to Be

I flew to India in late January to attend the wedding of one of my dearest friends. Before arriving, I had been told to prepare for an assault to the senses. I thought I was prepared for the smells, the colors, the sounds, the tastes, etc. However, what I wasn't prepared for was the way India would show me my own inhumanity.

The wedding was spectacular! Truly, it was a once in a lifetime experience being part of an Indian wedding. I will likely never again attend a wedding ceremony in the middle of the night, nor feel as glamorous as I did wearing my Sarees. During this time, we were showed endless hospitality and generosity by the bride's family. It is something I will never forget.

I will also never forget the people of India, especially the children. The first day we arrived in Hyderabad, we ventured out to one of the famous forts. While there, fifteen people asked to take my picture (and I'm certain many took a picture without asking). Even though I was wearing typical Indian clothing (lent to me by my friend), as a 5 foot 8 inch tall, blonde, curly haired, blue-eyed, extremely pale, american female, I was conspicuous--to say the least.

As someone who doesn't typically turn heads in a room, the attention was flattering. Women wanted their children to be in photos with me, calling me beautiful. I imagined what would happen to these photos--"here, look at this american I saw today!" I hoped none of them ended up in scrapbooks or framed on walls because I don't feel that I deserve that kind of attention as a complete stranger. Still, feeling like a movie star was flattering. Though, it also quickly became tiring. I couldn't go on tours without being stopped by someone. While I began the trip eagerly accepting to take photos with these strangers, I ended it coarsely and curtly answering, "No."

India's overstimulation wore me down and closed me up over the 10 days. On the streets, especially in the markets, I could not walk without being prodded. If it wasn't someone wanting a photo, it's someone begging me to look at their wares, step into their shop, take their tour, buy their trinkets, feed their child, etc. The thing is, I know it isn't with mal intent, it's just business. They need money, and I might have it. Even if I say, "No, I am not interested," maybe I could be persuaded, or worn down enough to give in. I understand. But, there was little let-up and it soon took a toll on me.

I was worn down, but not in the way they wanted. I wasn't warming up, I was just turning off. I soon mastered the art of putting my sunglasses on, looking straight ahead, and walking. (If I don't acknowledge them, maybe they'll go away?) I became coarse, hard, admonishing men for heckling me and hiding my face from children in need. I, literally, turned my back on humanity.

I wasn't ignorant of it. I noticed this creeping coarseness and attempted to combat it early on. Maybe if I never have cash on me, then I can tell these kids I don't have any money, and they will move on to someone better? (This sometimes worked....most of the time they didn't believe me. It was "No" = "try harder.")

OR if I can't offer them money, maybe I could at least offer them a smile, some human connection to remind them that they matter and are still a someone sharing this planet with me? I tried.

One little girl followed me for about 7 minutes asking me to buy an elephant keychain. I told her I wasn't going to buy anything. (didn't work). I told her I didn't have any money. (didn't work). So, I asked her what her name was. She answered while still pushing these keychains at me, telling me they were a good price. I agreed with her and told her my name. I said I was from America and that I was a teacher. I asked her if she went to school. She said she did--a bit defensively--and then lowered her price. But, as I tried to keep talking with her, it became apparent that she did not want to converse with me. She wanted me to buy these keychains, that is all.

You've maybe heard about the slumdogs in India, and you might know about how the money they earn rarely goes to helping the actual kids. I knew about this too, and while I wanted to help them, desperately wanted to save each one--I knew that nothing I did was going to be enough. Even my money wouldn't help these people.

When our car was parked--or stalled at an intersection--women and children would tap on the windows to get us to look at them. I will never forget the toddler's face covered in flies and the woman carrying her. They'd motion their hands toward their mouths, begging us for money, food...human kindness. Instead, I had to look away. Once, or twice, I even ducked in my seat, knowing that if they couldn't see me, they wouldn't tap on the window. I didn't know what else to do. I just couldn't keep looking at them and not helping them, so I ran away.

Humanity's ever present need just pulled at me. It made me tired. It made me numb. It made me realize that it would be easier and less emotionally taxing if I just didn't engage. And that realization, scared me to death. I was becoming everything I never wanted to be.

As I rested my head on the back seat of the car, wondering if the young boy would disappear, Ingrid Michaelson's lyrics popped into my head:

"People are dying, I close my blinds. All that I know is I'm breathing now. I want to change the world, instead I sleep. I want to believe in more than you and me. But, all that I know is I'm breathing. All I can do is keep breathing." 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Ring out Wild Bells

I’ve never been good with goodbyes. It seems to be something I resist, or at least something that is foreign to my essence. I think I said too many goodbyes in 2016.

Now, before I jump into yet another wail against 2016, I want to preface by admitting that a lot of beautiful and lovely experiences happened in 2016. It began pretty hopeful, as I recall. I have always liked the number 16 and I thought that maybe this year would be my lucky one. For a while, it really did feel lucky. I received the teaching internship I’d always wanted, I received good news after good news regarding funding for my upcoming trip to London, and everything seemed to be moving in my favor.

London was lovely as always. I found treasures in theatres, archives, and gardens. I went back to the Lake District where my soul expands and every doubt flies away on the wind. I hiked Arthur’s seat in full yellow bloom. I was in my absolute favorite place with one of my absolute favorite people. My thesis seemed to be taking shape, the prospectus would pass easily, and I felt confident in what I did and who I was becoming.

Like I said, there were many wonderful experiences in 2016. I went camping, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, running, dancing, and sledding. I wrote a lot and read a lot. But, the truth is, 2016 left me rubbed raw.

In July of 2016, I said goodbye to my Dad, or more accurately, I didn’t say goodbye. After my father was diagnosed with ALS, I always made an effort to tell him “goodbye” and “I love you” when I left the house. Though, on the 4th of July, I was so caught up in getting everyone out the door on time to see the fireworks, and my father was in such a state of sleepy unconsciousness, that I don’t think I even said goodbye. I don’t feel unsettled about that though. I know my Dad knew how much I loved him, and I’d made sure to tell him everything I wanted to long before that fateful night. I guess it’s ok because as I mentioned, I’m not very good with goodbyes anyhow.

A few months later, I said goodbye to the only guy I’ve ever truly loved. While I didn’t feel the absence of my father too often, I felt this absence unceasingly. I discovered that both of these men were anchors, pillars, and constants in my life. Having them there everyday and then suddenly gone the next was unsettling and unsteadying. Everything felt wrong and completely unexplainable. Finally, I watched the world turn upside down on November 8th  and the continuing slaughter in Syria, and realized I’d said goodbye to something / someone else, another anchor—my childlike self.

I used to radiate hopefulness, optimism, exuberance, wonder, trust, and a belief that everything was going to be ok. I lived by the mantra that humans were inherently good and that when you try your best to be your best, your efforts are met with abundant miracles and blessings. I laughed a lot. I was playful. I got excited about little things like chalk drawings and peaches on trees. 2016 forced me to grow up.

I don’t mean to sound so dramatic. Frankly, dramatic requires far more energy and vigor than I feel capable of right now. It’s just that I’ve never felt so rocked by a year before, and I’m trying to figure that out. So, here I am, saying goodbye to 2016 and a hesitant hello to 2017.

2017, I’m coming to you unsteady and unraveled. I’d like to say I’m coming with an open heart, but last time I went to chat with my heart, I discovered that she’s retreated, leaving a “closed for repairs” sign up on the door. (I don’t blame her for resenting me. I coaxed her to risk sticking her neck out so far and so vulnerably. So, if she just wants to lay on the floor and trace her fingers through the carpet for a while, I don’t blame her). I’ll just wait and plow forward into this year of unknown and uncertainty with or without her. Still, here’s hoping for a new year of lovely, beautiful experiences and growing up. 2017, be good to us please.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Happy Birthday Dad

Dear Daddy,

Happy Birthday! I’m wondering if birthdays become insignificant once you’ve died, or if your death day becomes a new type of birthday? It still surprises me that you’re not here anymore. Lately, people have been checking up on me, asking me how I’m doing and if this holiday season has been especially difficult. Ashamedly, I often don’t realize that they’re referring to the absence of you. Truth be told, though I often feel your physical absence, I rarely feel you gone. Remarkably, I see you still taking care of me and our family. You planned so well, and you take care of us so well.

Dad, I’m having a hard time filling your shoes. I tried to rake the leaves in the yard, but I couldn’t get all of it done before the snow came. The side yard is still covered in leaves; I’m sorry. How did you get all of the leaves out of the flower beds? I’m struggling on that one. Do the leaves just decompose and feed the soil? I sure hope so. Michelle and I cleaned out the rain gutters. You’ll never believe what we found! The gutters were clogged with all sorts of debris from when we got the new roof—tiles, nails, etc. Those workers sure left a mess. After we cleared it out, the gutters poured forth water like a fountain into the yard. You would have been happy.

We thought we weren’t going to do a big Thanksgiving dinner this year, but you know Mom, she has a hard time not hosting. I think she really misses you. I think she needed to host a Post-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving because she misses you. I tried to clean the table up just the way you taught me, making sure the nice silverware doesn’t go in the dishwasher, and washing each goblet by hand. It’s a lot of work. You did a lot of work.

We put up both Christmas trees successfully, and managed to force that giant bough over the door. I’m so glad you told Michelle about how the lanterns have electrical plugs inside them! I had no idea. We have yet to tackle putting lights up on the house. I don’t know if we’ll ever get to it. It kind of makes me sad because you always did such a nice job.

When I say that I rarely feel you gone, I don’t mean to say I don’t miss you. I miss you a lot. I miss your steadiness and stability. I haven’t been feeling so steady or stable recently. I really miss hearing you sing in the choir. I started crying in the car the other day because the station was playing Rutter’s “Candlelight Carol” and it made me think of you. I miss you whenever I eat mashed potatoes. I miss the way you used to grumble every time I put up that loud Santa Claus that greets people at the door. I think Michelle keeps turning it off though, so the battle continues. I miss the way you’d set up a little wrapping station in your bedroom and watch old Christmas specials while we assigned you which gifts go to which person and under which tree. You were always so helpful.

I don’t expect we’ll be getting a big basket of goodies this year from that one organization that always sent you a big basket. Those baskets were extravagant, to say the least. I loved unpacking them with you and awing over the expensive cheeses and random baubles. People sure loved and appreciated what you did for them. I know I did.
Well, I am realizing that I have a lot I want to talk to you about, so maybe I’ll try to write more often. I think I’d like that. Anyway, I just wanted to remind you how much I love you on your birthday. I wanted to tell you that I miss you, but that I know you’re not too far away. I wanted to thank you for taking care of me and supporting me, even now. You taught me how to be a real Lady, and a resourceful one at that. I love you Daddy