31 December 2010

Happy New Year

So in true Thomas fashion we celebrated the coming of the new year by playing games. I got crushed playing Five Crowns. And my parents pretended we were on east coast time and went to bed at 11:00 p.m., naturally.

Every new year I wax quite sentimental. I am filled with all the hope in the world that the coming year will be magical and that I will experience so many new things. This past year has been one of quiet growth for me. I don't feel that a lot changed for me externally, but I am now a different person than I was last year, and a better one I believe. In our culture we get so caught up in the overt manifestations of progress: new car, new house, new whatever. These aren't bad things necessarily, but they can mask the beautiful subtlety that life can bring through the visually silent progress a person makes.

So for this coming year, I am filled with the hope that I can, like the Army always tells me, be all I can be. And I suppose, do all I can do. So here's to changing the world a little and to changing myself as well. Happy New Year everyone. May it be a year of growth and joy for all of you.

22 December 2010

Easy Wonderful

So for years I have loved the band Guster. It's good music that makes you happy: my favorite kind. Recently these fine gentlemen to the right came out with a new album. It's called Easy Wonderful. And it's just that. It's easy to listen to and wonderful. The best part is that it grows on you.

I'll admit, the first time I listened to it, I wasn't sold on it being as great as their previous works, but after listening to it a few weeks ago, I was converted. It's fantastic. Check it out. I think you'll like it. And be jealous of me (or come with me) on January 15th when I see them in Salt Lake.

If you want to check out there music, go here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/recsradio/radio/B0041ON37S/ref=pd_krex_listen_dp_img?ie=UTF8&refTagSuffix=dp_img

If you want to check out this gem of a website to see short film interpretations of the songs, go here: http://www.easywonderful.com/. You will be delighted. Bad, Bad World was particularly good.

Merry Christmas.

20 December 2010

More on Texas

70 degree weather. In December. That's all I've got to say.

19 December 2010

Head Out on the Highway, Looking for Adventure . . .

There are many things that I love about being home: seeing my family, hearing people talk Texan, my bed, the pantry at my house, seeing all of my friends, watching endless movies. But there's one thing that I can't replicate outside of Texas: driving on the highway.

Whenever I come home I look forward to driving on US 75, or really any of the other highways in Dallas (there are several, Dallas is huge). The lanes are wide, the lanes have lines, there are lights, people actually drive at least the speed limit (gasp!). But what is the best is that I am reminded that the way people drive here is the reason I drive the way I do. I expect the fast lane to actually be a passing lane. Here it is. I am not shocked for frustrated when people change lanes frequently. That's just the way it is here. I feel free as a bird when I begin to merge. (Yes, people don't hang out in the far right lane either, and if they do, they let you in. Amazing, right?)

You just can't beat driving in Texas. I'm ready for whatever might come my way.

10 December 2010


Be advised: I'm flustered.

So I love living in Utah. The weather's nice. There's no humidity. BYU is a great school. I love my professors. I love what I study. I live with the nicest (and cleanest) girls I've ever lived with. I have great friends. Life is good. But there is still one thing that I can't stand about living in Utah: the prevalence of flakeyness as a socially acceptable behavior.

Now I realize that it's not only in Utah (I'm sorry, I should specify), Provo, that people are flakey. I've lived around the country and outside of it. I know that people have their fair share of flakeyness. But it is rampant here. How is it acceptable to make plans with someone and then never follow through with them?

I'll give you an example from my day today:

So I went up to Salt Lake to hang out with some friends from my mission. So three of us were talking and I thought, hey I should call my friend, we'll call him Dane. So I pick up the phone to call my friend Dane to see if he wanted to hang out with us. He lives in Salt Lake and he complained to me at our mission reunion that we never talk anymore. I mentioned that it was because I was always the one to call him. He apologized and said that at least he always called me back. So since then, I've made more of an effort to hang out with Dane. Two times since then, I've called him to make plans. Two times we've made plans. Two times he hasn't called me like he said he would. But tonight I thought I might have more luck. After all, I was in Salt Lake. All he had to do was take a hop, skip, and a jump and he would be there. So I call him. He's at the Jazz game and picks up the phone. I tell him who I'm hanging out with and invite him to come. He says that he'd love to but he's at the Jazz game. I understand this and so I tell him to just give us a call when the game gets out and he can catch up with us. (After all, it wouldn't take any time to get over to us.) So I continue with my perfectly pleasant evening. I keep expecting him to call to at least say that he can't make it. But no. No call, no text, nothing. Three strikes. He's out. At the very least, he could have made some recognition that he couldn't go.

I don't expect people to drop everything and come running to me with daisies and lollipops and teddy bears. No, we all have lives and schedules. I get that. I really do. But still. Is it that hard to just call and say you can't do it? Really.

I realize that my ranting is not going to change anything. I get that. I really do. And I'm not saying that I haven't been the culprit. But it just drives me crazy. I know rejection is face-threatening. I study linguistics; I've studied this. But just saying you can't is so much better than just letting the other person wonder. So please guys, if you make plans with me, just communicate. That's all I ask.

05 December 2010

Happy Hanukkah

Okay, so if there's one thing that I'm crazy about, it's Jewish culture. Growing up in Kansas City, there was a large Jewish population and I looked forward to Jewish holidays and celebrating all things Jewish. I even attended the seder dinner during Passover one year and my friends always gave me their matza and Hanukkah presents. It was great. So in honor of my dear Jewish friends, I am sharing this lovely video that my roommates just showed me. It's delightful.


P.S. Hanukkah is celebrated this year from Dec. 1 to Dec. 9. Happy Hanukkah!!

Coping Mechanism

So for those of you who don't know, this has been the semester to end all semesters. Really. I had to withdraw from a class for the first time just so I could keep my head above water. (This is coming from the girl who, in times past, has taken 17.5 credits and worked 20 hours a week. Insane. I know. But I managed none the less and actually got remarkably good grades. Hmmm.) So this semester I'm only taking 12.5 credits and working oh probably 15 hours a week if I'm lucky. It's been ridiculous. I've spent HOURS on designing a magazine as a collaborative senior capstone project for the editing minor. It's taken over my life. (It'll be posted soon. I promise. And I'll share it with all of you.)

With all of the stress of this project I also have a Brazilian literature class that has been super consuming. We've read (or been expected to read and tested over) I would estimate 900-1000 pages. That's a lot for a class in your native language, but absolutely insane for a second language course. Not that it's been horrible. It hasn't. I've loved this class and working on designing a magazine. They've both been good experiences, I've learned a lot, and I've made good friends in the process.

But this all leads me to one thing: how have I coped with all of this. Let me tell you. One little word has changed the last part of my semester, when I could have been overwhelmed with craziness. But no, one little word has changed everything for me. What is that one word, you may ask? Psych. That's right, you read right. The one word is Psych. With a capital P.

This show is quite possibly the most delightful thing that has happened to television since I Love Lucy. Yes, that is how much I love it. So thank you Psych for helping me survive this crazy semester and bringing laughter to my life every time I watch you.

25 November 2010


My dear friend Charlotte posted a list of what she was grateful for and I think I will do the same. Here are some things that I am grateful for (in no particular order or level of seriousness):

-my fantastic family and all the support they give me
-watching a man sing the theme song from Gummi Bears
-hanging out with my sister and brother-in-law
-sleeping in
-a free country
-pie (lots and lots of pie)
-a non-blizzard (although I wish there were snow on the ground)
-the possibility of snow
-my sweatpants
-a steady and decent job
-professors who care about my future
-a college education
-my friends in Portugal

-cooperative hair
-a rock to wind a piece of string around
-the possibility of snowboarding soon
-NPR: Wait, Wait; This American Life; Radiolab; and the occasional the Morning Edition
-the funny things people say

And most importantly:
-the gospel and all that I believe
-my Savior, Jesus Christ
-being part of an eternal family

I hope that all of you have a very happy Thanksgiving and the time to reflect on the tip of the iceberg of the things we have been given.

P to the Neumonia

So the past few weeks I've been sick. I don't often get sick so it's pretty annoying when I do because I often just play it off as not a big deal and continue in my living. However, with this "cold" that I got, it would take me over an hour to get to sleep every night because I was coughing so much. That was fun. Fortunately my roommate sleeps like a rock and I didn't keep her up too much. During this whole time I just thought that I had a cold that included a bad cough. I continued living my life. Then the coughing got worse. It got to the point that I was coughing so hard that my back started hurting SUPER bad. (It still does.)

At this point I started talking with my friends about how bad my back was hurting. Then they told me all of their pneumonia horror stories. That was fun as well. But it got me thinking, maybe this isn't just a cold. Huh. The thought had never entered my mind that I could possibly have anything worse. Well, as it turns out, I had bronchitis and then I got walking pneumonia. But I'm through the antibiotics and I'm feeling WAY better than I was before. I am grateful for that.

So just know that if you have a really bad cough that persists for a while, it could possibly be more severe than a cold. Just maybe.

21 November 2010

Thanks Billy

So it's late Sunday night and I'm working on the endless homework that my professors decided to dump on us over the weekend. Nice, right? On top of that I've been quite under the weather (that's a post for another day, though)

But I remembered a wonderful CD that I listened to my first transfer in Portugal and it is making what could be a very unpleasant evening into a lovely one.

What am I listening to? you might ask. Here it is:

Yes the same man who brought you gems like "Uptown Girl" and "New York State of Mind" also composes and performs classical piano. It is fantastic. Check it out here. You'll thank me. I promise.

Feminism, objectification, and Billy Joel. Could anything make for a better Sunday night? I think not.

14 November 2010

Thanks James Brown

So this past week we've been studying feminism in my Brazilian lit class. I've actually really enjoyed the unit. In my past experiences, I have dreaded the theory portions of my lit classes, well they were usually all theory, so I just dreaded those classes. But this class has been different. I genuinely enjoy class. My professor is fantastic, I learn so much, and the class discussions are usually quite intellectually stimulating. However, Monday was different.

We were talking about Clarice Lispector and my teacher asked how the world would be different if we lived in a woman's world and not a man's. I won't get into specifics, but suffice it to say that there were a couple of boys in the class (it is a male-dominated field) made some really insensitive and really jerky comments demeaning toward women. I sat in shock as this was happening, not so much at the comments made, because, let's be honest, some people can be really stupid when they speak up about feminism, but more because of the comments that were not made. A handful of the men in class are married. I know they love their wives and respect women. There are a good number of sensible men in the class as well. I know they love and respect women. So why weren't they speaking up? In the end I was the one to make a comment in the defense of women, I'm glad I said what I did, but the whole class left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

This bad taste lasted the rest of the day and into the next. The song that instantly popped into my head as I was walking to my next class was James Brown's "It's a Man's, Man's World." It just kind of stuck with me the rest of the day. So because I'm not one to just sit around and get over something, I decided to write my next argument paper about the objectification of women in teen-oriented TV shows. 

However, after all of the frustration of this week, we had a lovely dinner last night. The elders in the ward put on a dinner for the women. It was wonderful. They had valet parking, they escorted us to our tables, they got our drinks, they got our food (three courses), they made the food in the first place, and they were so kind and so nice. Then the bishop gave some wonderful remarks about his appreciation for women. It was so healthy to hear, for all of us. It was the best possible timing to see the goodness of the men in my life and how well they treat the women around them.

Boy Scouts

Dear Boy Scouts,

I love you. I respect you. I think you're adorable in your little outfits. But please, please, please, tell your parents not to drive like crazies when I'm just trying to get off of campus.

Thank you,

03 November 2010

Sitting on the Floor

I just had a really sad realization.

Right now I'm sitting in the back of the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU and I saw a man, not a young man, but an older man, sitting on the floor in a shirt in a tie. It struck me as very odd that he would be sitting on the floor. It just seemed unprofessional.

Then it hit me. Soon that will be me. Soon I won't be able to relish in sitting on the floor in public. Soon I'll have to find a chair and look "put together." Sad day. I've already experienced this sad truth: in Brasil and on my mission. Don't even think about sitting on the floor in public in Brasil, or on the stairs, or anywhere that isn't a designated sitting object like a bench, stool, chair, couch, you get the idea. I one time tried to sit on the stairs at a museum. I was so tired, we had been walking all day, and all I wanted to do while my friends were taking FOREVER, was sit down and rest my little feet. But no, we were reprimanded. Then in the MTC I was reprimanded for sitting on the ground. It wasn't professional and so I couldn't do it. I could buy that. So in Brasil and on my mission I refrained from sitting on the floor.

Soon, that will be my reality. That makes me really sad. I love sitting on the floor.

01 November 2010

Brian Doyle

As far back as I can remember I wanted to be a writer. I would think about stories and even start a few of them, only to realize that I didn't know where I wanted them to go. I was an avid reader, finding the nooks and crannies of the houses I lived in so I could read in peace, presumably undetected by my family. (That theory was blown when I started finding books in my reading corners that my mom had put there. My bubble really was burst when I saw that. They had found me out.) During my childhood I had no idea that such a genre as non-fiction even existed, at least beyond biographies and history books. You see, I am not much of a fiction writer. I lack the creativity you need to be good at that. However, creative non-fiction is right up my alley.

Every week at BYU they have the "English Reading Series" where a guest author will come do a reading. I had watched a couple online for a class last year, but I'd never been to one. Well I went last week. It was fantastic. Brian Doyle came to town and read some of his pieces. He is an essayist and writes about things he's heard or experienced. His writing really affected me. I cried twice during the reading (and I am NOT a public crier) and I laughed even more than that. The way he captured emotion and made it real for me was so impactful. I want to be able to write like that some day. Thanks Brian Doyle.

It isn't often that you can say that your childhood dream is still alive and well, but I can. I never wanted to be a ballerina, or a firefighter, or a superhero. I always wanted to be a writer. And I always will.

19 October 2010

The Plight of the Renter

So, I am obsessed with MLB baseball. I blame my parents. Every single time there was a game on we were either watching it or listening to it on the radio when we were driving home so that we could watch the game. Baseball has always been a big part of my life. I played softball every year until I got to high school.

Well, my team, the Texas Rangers, are FINALLY in the playoffs and I've been glued to the TV as much as I can to watch the game. So tonight I left work with just enough time to get home for the game. So I get home and get all settled and ready to watch my Rangers play. I turn on the TV and I see this: "We've detected an interruption in your service. Please contact Comcast at 1-888-634-4434 to restore service. We're sorry for the inconvenience." Really? Really? Right when I want to watch the game???

Being the proactive person that I am, I decided to call the above number. But, being a renter, I don't have any of the pertinent information that I need in order to get any help. So basically, I'm powerless and I can't watch the game.

Sometimes life is rough. Especially when the Yankees just scored and you didn't get to cry out at the TV because of it. Blah.

17 October 2010

Physics--It Will Never Leave Me

Yesterday I learned an important physics lesson. I never liked physics and most of the time I was lost in the class, but some things have stuck with me. And they will not leave me alone. Here's what I learned for myself yesterday:

increased surface area = increased friction
increased friction = decreased velocity
decreased velocity = increased force necessary to maintain normal velocity
increased force = increased exhaustion
increased exhaustion = a tired Laura

Moral of the story: bikes with wide tires have an increased surface area. You do the math.

However, although I was huffing and puffing, while my friends were strolling along in their road bikes, the leaves and the canyon was absolutely beautiful. I was surrounded by views like this:

I do love Utah in the fall.

13 October 2010


Today I watched a Chilean see the light of day again. After three months of living in the shaft of a mine, holding on to the hope of possible freedom, he made it out. He got to hug his brother again. He got to breathe clean air and see the sun shine overhead. I almost started crying just watching for a few seconds. I can't even imagine how those miners must feel to be freed from what must have been the most harrowing experience of their lives--at least I hope it was the worst thing that they have had to go through. So here's to the miners and for the strength they had to hold on, and to the Chilean people for not giving up on them and giving them their lives back.

20 March 2010


Today I learned what it means to fall. I also learned what it means to get back on your feet. I went snowboarding for the first time. I love trying new things and feeling how just plain bad I can be at things. It’s refreshing. I had heard that the first time snowboarding is rough and you spend most of your time on either your knees or your butt. I had no idea before what that actually meant. Today, I get it--and it hurts. Bad. I can't find a comfortable spot to sit in, and I'm on my fluffy, comfy couch.

However, when I was on the mountain I felt alive. It was exhilarating to be terrified of going to fast or falling too hard. I felt inexplicable pride when I would actually get what my friend was trying to explain to me. I learned how to cut my edges and I was feeling so good about everything. I was getting better at slowing down before I fell so it didn't hurt so horribly. Then something happened, I think I cut my back edge, my board flying up in the air, and I came down hard. I couldn't keep out a yell of pain as I made contact with the ground. I sat there for at least a few minutes, trying to keep my butt elevated, but it was too painful, so I had to roll over and lay there for a few minutes.

Then my determination kicked in and I got back on my feet. Then I fell again. And again. And again. And then I even got stuck in two big divots. I had to crawl out of them. That hurt. However I made it down the mountain, with minimal damage (other than a bit of my pride).

Thinking about this experience has made me think of what it really means to fall. How often is snowboarding a metaphor for life. We start out, we go to fast, we freak out, and then we fall. At first it's brutal, but we get better and the falling isn't quite as rough and we stay on our feet for longer periods of time. We get down the mountain. Then we go back up and do it all over again. But this time we have experience on our side.

I wonder how often we take the advice of the best Teacher. God is always right beside us, telling us how to improve. When we don't listen. We fall. And we fall. And we fall. When we do listen, we learn how to slow down, keep our balance, and stay in control. We learn from our mistakes, improving every time we get back on our feet, rather than becoming frustrated and exasperated.

Life is all about falling and getting back up on your feet. And learning all the way how to be better.