Monday, June 29, 2009

Europe: People I Love

I am a different person for meeting these people. I wish there was a way I could paint a true representation of them, but I know that even at the end of a novel written about each one all I would want to say is, “Oh, you would have to meet them.”


" was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials."
- John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath)
  • I knew we would be friends when, during a meeting before leaving for Europe, she leaned over to me, introduced herself and said, “I have kind of a personal question…are you going to shower every day in Europe?” Together we embraced the filth of both Europe and ourselves.
  • One of those people that funny things just happen to.
  • Gave money to every homeless person she saw. Once, when she didn’t have any money she gave the man a gummy candy shark. She was giving it to him because she thought he would genuinely enjoy it.
  • Knows everything there was to know about furniture and architecture. When we would walk into a room full of paintings she would often comment on the seating in the room and its designer.
  • LOVES street performers and took pictures with all of the slightly creepy, but somehow charming street performers.
  • Gracefully honest.
  • Said things like, “freaky-tiki-tavi” instead of just saying scary.
  • Made funny observations about things that most others wouldn’t find humor in. We had the same goofy sense of humor and laughed when things really weren’t funny.

The Girls.

Tori, Brittany, Rachel, Melissa, Megan, Me

"I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives."
- Jane Austen


  • Bought a shirt that says “Make Art, Not War” and wore peace sign earrings.
  • Loves Nutella and constantly asked if I would go get some more gelato with her.
  • Always happy.
  • Has a lot of expression.


  • Has a raspy voice. That is always saying kind things. I love it.
  • Was always cheerful. Not just happy, cheerful.
  • Wore pink almost daily.


  • Answered to “Marmy.”
  • Believed in “hand hugs”.
  • Taught Steven to braid hair.


  • Doesn’t really like museums.
  • Snored.
  • Out-bought us all when it came to chocolate.
  • Couldn’t walk a straight line to save her life.


"Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence."
- Robert Frost

  • Asked me to teach him to waltz on a rooftop in Bergamo, Italy at sunset.
  • Let all 44 of us girls tease him mercilessly about his man purse, among other things.
  • Has a great sense of direction and never got us lost.
  • The only person on our trip who had the foresight to bring a Book of Mormon in a language besides English with him. It was honestly one of the most humbling experiences, and one of the highlights of the trip, to watch him teach a man about the Gospel for over a half an hour in a cafĂ© in Vienna. He pulled out a Book of Mormon in German that had been waiting for an opportunity to emerge the entire trip. Steven just got an e-mail from the man.
  • Only lost a game of Egyptian Rat Screw once.
  • Never won a game of Speed.
  • Gave me bites of all of his food if I promised to do the same.
  • Let me talk, and talk, and talk to him about art and the things it made me think and feel. When we would be by a piece of artwork I knew something about he could always tell and would ask me to tell him about it, knowing it was about to burst out of me anyway. He always had great questions and comments and I learned a lot by talking and discussing things with him.

Brother Geddes. Brother G.

“It's hard not to like a man who not only notices colors, but speaks them." - Markus Zusak (The Book Thief)

  • Wore brown Crocks with brown socks.
  • Told me I laugh like an old French man.
  • Teased us all.
  • Speaks French and Italian.
  • Followed his wife to Hawaii, even though she was engaged to someone else at the time.
  • Moseyed in the back of the group with Tori and me and pointed out interesting details.
  • His face was a mass of wrinkles, until he smiled. Then it was a mass of creases around his mouth and eyes.

Brother Stephenson. Brother S.

"Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness."
- Victor Hugo (Les Miserables)

  • Knows something about everything. Art. Music. Architecture. Literature. Theatre. Ducks. Everything. He literally has some sort of knowledge on anything you ask him.
  • Does great voice impressions. My favorites were Jimmy Stuart (both young and old), Darth Vader, Sister Wendy from the art videos, and the Italian guards at the Vatican.
  • Speaks French and Italian.
  • Wore socks with Teva sandals.
  • Encouraged us to learn and experience.

Brother Anderson. Brother A.

"Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one"
- Stella Adler

  • So, so, so very awkward. In a very endearing sort of way.
  • Hunches his shoulders and sways from side to side when he laughs.
  • Extremely knowledgeable about art. I became his shadow in museums, not only because of his extensive knowledge, but because he is honestly one of the kindest people I know.
  • Speaks German.
  • Put his arm around me in Paris when I was cold. Couldn’t figure out how to take it off without being awkward. I just let him struggle and giggled inside.

Semi-Group Picture.

…“Oh, you would have to meet them.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

To Ty


To me you are otter pops. You are the little plastic tops of the wrappers littering the house.

You are paper airplanes.

You are laughing. You and you alone, can make me snort.

You are listening to your absence of a laugh. The one where all you do is breath out of your nose and smile really big.

You are rope tricks at Lybbert’s Pond.

You are cups of dry cereal and popping ankles.

You are a monotone voice that is always raised. We have to remind you, “We are right here Ty. Talk quieter.”

You are a compliment in the morning while I am doing my hair.

You are obnoxious. Delightfully so.

You are physical contact. Personal space means nothing to you.

You are squirmy. You can’t sit still. And you have a lot of sharp edges on your body. Not a great mixture when we are crowded in the backseat together for any extended period of time.

You are a phone call where I can’t hang up because you make me feel guilty. Secretly I like it when you wouldn’t let me hang up.

You are being included with your friends in high school. You would let me play cards with you, and because I was good, you even wanted me on your team.

You are the brown truck and learning how to drive stick shift. I recall yelling.

You are the 6 a.m. alarm clock saying, “Come play!” (When you are 18).

You are bitten nails and crusty cuticles.

You are running around the house five times, at Mom’s command, to settle you down to our energy level.

You are the brother who didn’t know his own strength until you would give us bruises. Sometimes, when I was little, I would use Mom’s MaryKay samples to make fake bruises…just to get you into trouble.

You are, “Pressure point, pressure point!”

You are Ty the Tiger.

You are uncontrollably crying when we said goodbye the day you left for your mission. I was still crying at work.

You are e-mails that scream your personality and make me say, “What a punk” out loud when I am done reading them.

You are my best friend (tied with the rest of the family of course). I’m excited to see you today.

I love you. Happy Birthday.

Love, Ande

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Welcome Back

It seems I have a fickle fan.

Monday I had X amount of subscribers to my blog.

Tuesday I had X minus 1.

Today I am back to X.

I am glad to have you back.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dear Europe: Places I Love

Dear London,

It’s not you…it’s me.

Brigham Young said, "If I were placed on a cannibal island and given the task of civilizing its people, I should straightway build a theatre for the purpose."

London, the theatre made you.

At the Globe Theatre waiting to see Romeo and Juliet .
London, I never really liked Romeo and Juliet, even my romantic mind thought it was ridiculous and a bit irresponsible. But London, you made me love it. We chose to get standing “seats” right by the stage. I could smell the actors. I’ve always thought Romeo was kind of an idiot but I was half in love with him by the end of the night. London, that was all you.

Really excited about Les Miserables

Nothing can beat “One Day More,” Enjolras waving the red flag, Gavroche’s sacrifice, or Valjean’s prayer.

London if you were once a cannibalistic island, it was your theatre that brought you to civilization.

Dear Paris,

Although you were dirty and I went through an entire bottle of hand sanitizer in your city alone, I really like you.

I love your food. Crepes, baguettes, cheese, pastries, what’s not to like?

One of many.

I also enjoyed discovering you while walking along the Seine River …

And watching the street painters…

And climbing the spiral steps to the Arc d’Triumphe... watch the crazy 12 lane round-about traffic below...absolutely no rhyme or reason.

Our legs were shaking from the 14 miles we walked that day and the 800 stairs we climbed in your city.

You offered me the Orsay Museum.

Sacre Cour through the giant clock at the Orsay

You fulfilled one of my life-long dreams when you opened the doors of the Louvre.

Through the glass pyramid

After being in the Louvre a bit too long...large museums can have this affect you.

The top of the Eiffel tower at Sunset probably helped you win me over, too.

Sometimes graffiti is O.K. When on the Eiffel Tower is one such occasion.

Dear Rome , Sienna, San Giminiano, Bergamo, and Florence,

I loved you because of the art:

Looking at the Sistine Chapel with binoculars

And the architecture:


Look at all of that Tuscan stone...On top of the Duomo in Florence

And the food:

1st course: bread, oil, and vinegar

2nd and 3rd courses: pasta and pizza

Dessert: gelato...times this by about 30 and you have my entire gelato intake

And the beauty of Rome:

Borghese Museum

And Tuscany :



And your fountains:

Throwing my three coins into the Trevi Fountain, ensuring I will come back.

I discovered I have a small obsession with fountains.

Be it drinking from...

Jumping in...
Discovering my inner Water Muse...

Or just looking at, I love your fountains.

And literally stumbling upon ruins:

Some homeless guy napping on ancient ruins.

Thank you for starting out my Chaco tan line.

Journal Entry for May 7, 2009: “No wonder Italy produced such great artists with this beautiful country to inspire them.”

Yup, I love Italy.

Dear Vienna and Salzburg,

Some parts of you were so picturesque. Drawing inspiration from The Sound of Music, as it took place in Salzburg, I will show you a few of my favorite things about you:

Bratwurst and spicy mustard:

Maribel Gardens :

The hostel we stayed at in Salzburg plays The Sound of Music every night. This is the garden where she sings “Do Rei Mi.” I am obviously Frauline Maria in the above picture.

Bike Rides:

The fortress that was always in the background:

Castles and gardens:
The Alps and surrounding hills:

And the rain. You brought relief to the heat with your rain and made me feel justified for buying an umbrella during that rain storm in Rome.

Other parts of you, however, were horrific.

Journal Entry for May 14, 2009: We just got done visiting Mauthausen Concentration Camp (the camp where Peter from The Diary of Anne Frank worked and died). It was so sobering. I don’t have a lot of thoughts or insights on it. I just feel sick. Physically sick. I honestly want to puke.
The small stones are a symbol of Jewish mourning.
We started at the bottom of the quarry where once-dignified men and boys would carry stones weighing 60-110 lbs stones. It’s funny, I just realized I have no idea what those stones were used for. Were they used to continue their torture? Were thy used to build up a fascist Germany? That would be torturous in and of itself, to know your suffering was being used to heighten others suffering.

From the quarry we climbed up the “stairs of death.” These were the stairs the prisoners would climb to relieve their load. I climb stairs to heighten my enjoyment and comfort. They climbed stairs to survive. At the top of the stairs I climb I find rewarding experiences and beautiful memories. They found vicious guards and cold, ugly surroundings.
At the top of the stairs is a view over beautiful Austrian hills and forests. It was such a stark juxtaposition to the grey cinder walls and barbed wire of the work camp.
It’s interesting to me that the place didn’t have an evil or bad feeling or spirit around it. It was calm, somber, and even though terrible things and awful sufferings were carried out there, there were some feelings of peace and rest. I felt sickened and saddened, yet somehow peaceful. Christ must impart his Spirit there as an act of mercy. I have a hard time believing that Christ has not opened his arms and salvation to those who suffered and died there. It’s also interesting to me that Christ covered not only the suffering that took place there, but also those who imparted their cruelty.

We toured through the barracks, the washroom and the bathrooms. We then walked through exhibits with pictures, facts, and artifacts. I paused at a homemade chess set, drawings and journals, made by prisoners to pass the time and drudgery. It’s so interesting that people have a will to survive and create no matter their circumstances. As we were walking up the path to the camp I wondered what kind of person I would have been: someone who jumped off the cliff, someone who just survived, or someone who inspired others to survive.
After the exhibits we walked downstairs where I was expecting more exhibits when I turned a corner to another room. Instead I found ovens. It literally hurt my heart. We then walked through rooms leading to the gas chambers. The rooms were so cold and scary. I was scared just walking through; I can’t imagine the fear that took over the prisoners when that became part of their life and part of their story. In the gas chamber there was a lone plaque with a picture of a handsome young man. His name was Stefan. That was when I lost it. It was already real to me, but it became personal then. I just stared at his young face and cried.
There were pictures of younger boys at another part in the museum. It was so sad to me that even if they lived, they would never fully recover.
There were some shoes in a case. One pair particularly caught my eye. It was a pair of women’s sandals. Those shoes had a life, had a story. When she was young her dreams and aspirations didn’t include living, suffering, and dying in a concentration camp.

I don’t have any sort of conclusion to my thoughts other than my life is so blessed and privileged. Seeing Mauthausen makes me want to increase the kindness, love and charity I show and give.

After this experience no one in our group said a word. For twenty minutes all I heard was the scratching of pens as we wrote in our journals.

Dear Munich,

My love for you can be summarized in three pictures:

1) Great art. My favorite was the Neue Pinakothek Museum (New Picture Gallery)

2) Talented street musicians. We walked your streets at night for this reason alone.

3) Is a caption necessary? (Please note those are two half-gallons of Nutella)

Dear U.S.A.,

I love you even though you took my Nutella at customs.

I enjoyed and appreciated every place in Europe, but I am glad you are my home.

Love, Ande