by George Saunders
In my Intro to Sociology class, we do one-page critiques of assigned books and articles. The first one for the semester was a Hugh Nibley article about the importance of having both zeal and knowledge. My critique earned me only 6 out of 10 points, and I was devastated by one of the comments made by a TA: “Please go to the writing lab for help with your writing,” it said. Quite honestly I feel like I have more-than-decent writing, especially when I see the work of some of my peers. But I tried extremely hard and managed to get a 9 on the critique for Gappers!
Gappers are strange orange-ish prickly sponge-ish shaped creatures that live in the sea next to the small town of Frip, where there are 3 houses. The owners of each house also own goats. Gappers love goats. Every day they climb up from the sea, over the cliff, into the yards, and onto the goats, where they latch themselves and emit a continual high-pitch shriek of pleasure. One day the gappers decide that instead of spreading out and traveling to all 3 yards, they will just latch onto the goats in the yard nearest the sea. (The owners of the houses make their children remove the gappers from the goats twice every day and toss them back into the sea.) The problem is that the neighbors refuse to help the girl who now has three times as many gappers on her goats. And the book is about what happens in their little town as a result.
Very amusing story, lots of messages to pick up, and fun pictures. Definitely recommended.
does anyone still read this? I don’t really…but regardless, I am engaged!! for whoever stumbles upon this post let me tell you how it happened:
jarom and I were at his brother’s place friday evening. his brother and sister-in-law went to the store to pick up some things for dinner. while they were gone jarom started secretly training me to choose his right hand if he held them both out, the pick-a-hand game, where something is hidden in one hand and you have to guess which one. the left hand was a peck and the right hand was a really nice smooch. anyway, we left his brother’s house around 9:20p to go meet some friends to see a movie.
as I went to unlock the car door I turned and jarom was standing there, he held his hands out again, I picked the right one…it was a ring inside this time, and he got down on one knee and said, “mika, will you marry me?” I was so stunned that I literally stood with my mouth gaping open. I was almost to the point of asking him to repeat the question when I decided maybe this was really happening, and I managed to say something eloquent like “oh…my gosh…YES…” apparently I took so long to answer that jarom was afraid I would say no.
the ring is perfect; he searched far and wide for many weeks to find it. we think may 5th in the sacramento temple is when we’ll get married. and no, we didn’t realize at first that it’s cinco de mayo, but maybe we’ll wear sombreros at the reception…
so I am delightedly, ecstatically, euphorically happy. I’m glad that he kept all discussions about us getting married very vague, and gave me no good hints, because the suprise was incredible. absolutely incredible. I’m still having trouble believing that this has really happened, but there’s a ring on my finger and a smile I can’t wipe off my face. HUZZAH! I’m getting married!!
On (Not) Getting By in America
by Barbara Ehrenreich
While I have some contentions with this book, as a whole I think it’s a good look into both the numbers and the realities of the working class in America. Ehrenreich is a journalist who went “undercover” as a woman trying to make ends meet by working minimum-wage jobs in three different cities. She wonders, at the beginning, what “tricks” the working class has learned to make the numbers add up, and admits at the end that there are no tricks. The numbers don’t add up without working two full-time jobs and living in squalor.
I think Ehrenreich gives excellent descriptions of what daily life might be like for the working poor, but she intentionally keeps herself floating safely above any actual experiences of poverty. For instance, she is very firm about the fact that networks are a key to surviving as a low-wage earner; extended families and groups of friends help each other out. However, in the name of journalism, Ehrenreich rushes home from work every day to compile notes about her impressions, and never attempts to rely on others for support.
But aside from that, it is worth reading, and I recommend that anyone interested in understanding and eradicating poverty read it.
…but maybe I will welcome myself back into the blogging world. perhaps it will help me maintain some semblance of sanity this semester.
several good books on the list for my classes: most notably, no contest by alfie kohn and nickeled and dimed by barbara ehrenreich. I’m looking forward to broadening my knowledge base about sociological issues so I can be the (well-informed) opinionated person I’ve always wanted to be.
JANUARY. The year started off nicely with New Year’s celebrations at the Hillerys’. krista and I had fun buying useless things at the dollar store, and making a nice bridesmaid dress for me. Kimberlee and Quentin’s wedding was quite lovely. it was chilly and windy, but the sun was shining beautifully at the Oakland temple. I started working a lot harder on my independent study classes, trying to finish 8 classes in time for the March 15 deadline to apply for fall semester. Jarom’s dad got a new car, gave the Saturn to Ben and Krista, and had Ben and Krista give Jarom the Tracer.
FEBRUARY. Jarom got me hooked on Winter Sonata, a 20-episode Korean soap opera. I think I qualify as a fanatic now. For Valentine’s Day he made me a delicious korean dish, which has become one of my favorites. School was going fairly well until I took the second midterm for my Hist 400 class…I got a 19! Out of 100! Luckily I think my test scores can only go up from there. For a different independent study class I interviewed Grandma Hillery and used it as the basis for a personal history, in which I highlighted general historical trends in family life since the 1920s. I did get an A on that paper. I found out that Aubrey and Jardan, who got married the same day as Kimberlee and Quentin, were expecting a baby! Around the end of february I made the decision to apply for spring term, since my chances of being accepted would be greater than for fall semester. This meant I planned to stay in Utah all year, and not move back to California at all.
MARCH. The deadline! everything was set to be completed, but of course, there was a problem. I had retaken the midterm I failed, and the teacher was extremely slow in grading it despite my numerous reminders and pleas to process it quickly. I was unable to finish in time to apply for spring, summer, or fall. However, I did get a better grade when I retook the midterm! For Jarom’s birthday I made him a big breakfast of buttermilk pancakes, orange-cranberry bread, eggs and sausages, and blueberry muffins. Unfortunately I didn’t read the recipes very carefully beforehand, and the batch of pancakes made enough to feed about 20 people. Oops. Julia, Jaime and I mailed off a birthday package to our friend Elder Gustafson.
APRIL. The weekend of General Conference, Julia and I planted flowers in the window boxes outside the Provo house. I got my grades for my independent study classes, and hurrah! I did really well. My roommates made a scrumptious Easter dinner. Mmm, ham. We found out that the Hillerys were looking at moving out to Utah. Ben, Kimberlee, and Julia all graduated from BYU, something I have dreams of someday doing. At the Congratulations Ben dinner, he and Krista finally announced they were expecting a baby (in a few months!). Ryan and Amy got married; the last I saw of him was to give him a wedding present. For the drive back to California, Jarom and I borrowed walkie-talkies from Ben and Krista. We were so excited to be going home again, but…it turned out to be less spectacular than we had anticipated.
MAY. I started working at MHA associates again, this time as a peon making manager’s pay. It really seemed to be the best of both worlds. For most of May we were doing a job in Pleasanton, which meant commuting every day. The nice thing was that I got to ride in the van instead of driving myself. Jarom, Elizabeth and I took a trip to Monterey one weekend, and it was fabulous! We all had a great time, even though our waiter forgot about us at lunchtime. At the end of the month…something great happened…Jarom and I started dating again!
JUNE. Where to start? Kendy graduated from Armijo, Jena had baby Evelyn, Jarom and I went up to see Elizabeth, I started doing a special job in Pleasanton twice a week, and we got a pet! I came home from work one day to find that Kendy had gotten a pet bird; in the name of fairness I demanded permission to get my own pet. Jarom and I spent a few hours at Petco trying to decide what to get. In the end we bought a Chinese water dragon, who we named Li Mu Bai (Mu for short). Sadly, it turned out that mu was very sick. We didn’t find that out until we took him to the vet a week after buying him. I decided to return him to Petco so they could nurse him back to health. Originally I was going to wait for him to get better and then take him back, but due to some poorly communicated information, I changed my mind and got a new lizard: Shu Lien. She was adorable…and died four days after I got her. Jarom marched us back to Petco where we got Mu back, since we saw that he was healthier and could be taken care of easily. During all this lizardness we took a trip to Columbia, the heart of gold country. We panned for gold, took old-fashioned pictures, bought souvenirs and candy, and tried to survive the 107 F weather. The next day, Jarom told me he loves me!
JULY. The weekend of the Fourth of July, lots of family came out for Evelyn’s baby blessing. It was quite interesting to go to the Berkeley ward. My contract with T-Mobile ended and I switched to Sprint. Somehow during the “let’s-clean-and-sell-the-house” frenzy, Jarom’s passport got…misplaced. Hours of searching had no result. We thought all was lost and he couldn’t go to Korea. When Jarom’s mom came back from house-hunting in Utah, she found it! We went to San Francisco the next day so he could get a visa, but as luck would have it, the embassy was closed for a Korean holiday. Instead we went to Chinatown and ate at a terrible Chinese restaurant. Yuck. I started learning a little bit of Korean. Elizabeth and her friend Sidney humored us by coming with us to the Sacramento Zoo, where we played a game of Exotic Bird Bingo. Fun-my-fun! For my birthday, Jarom got me a gorgeous amethyst and white gold bracelet, which I had sized to fit me perfectly. I love it. Towards the end of the month I took a short vacation in San Diego, where I hung out with Julia and Jaime. We got to see Nate come home from his mission. I had a great time at the beach and almost got a tan!n
AUGUST. One of the best days this summer was the day Jarom and I spent exploring the creek at Oakbrook. We caught minnows with our bare hands, picked wild blackberries, and climbed trees over the stream. I decided Sprint was not for me; Jarom and I switched to a family plan on Cingular. This meant I got a new phone–the Mika-sized Pantech C300. Cute! Jarom’s car sort of blew up while he was rescuing me in Pleasanton. It got donated to charity the next day. We finally tried the deliciousness that is Mel’s Diner. Mmm, turkey dip. One more trip to San Francisco got us Jarom’s visa, and afterwards visited the Legion of Honor museum. Kimberlee and Quentin surprised us by showing up in Fairfield one night! The four of us went down to the beach at Half Moon Bay. The whole Hillery family took another trip to Chinatown to eat at a dim sum place they loved. I wasn’t too wild about it and actually threw up later that night. The day before Jarom left for Korea was spent packing, packing, packing. And Krista had her baby! Welcome Brandon!
SEPTEMBER. Jarom went to Korea, and I was sad. I spent a weekend at Geoffrey’s in Monterey, and when I left everything felt so quiet and relaxed. Work was getting worse and worse…eventually I decided to turn in my two weeks’ notice, and that same day (without knowing I had resigned) Mick Sr tried to fire me! Hopefully that is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There had been a question of whether I would be part of the team that went to do a job in Utah, and the fact that it was such a question was a big reason for me leaving. I did end up going to Utah, though–on my own. I got to see Brandon, who is adorable. The Hillerys moved out to Bluffdale.
OCTOBER. I found a really good deal on an apartment in Provo, so I went back to Fairfield to pack stuff up before moving to Utah again. While I was on my short trip I left Mu with my parents, and unfortunately he got a bad eye infection. The apartment I found was called Northwoods, and my roommates were Jackie, Rachel, Cami, Lauren, and Janelle. It was a nice place. Very noisy, though. I got a job as a cashier at Roberts Arts & Crafts, and had Tuesdays off–in exchange for working Saturdays through Christmas. Bethany had a baby shower for Luke, who was expected in December. Jennifer got engaged! At Halloween I went up to spend the day with Krista, who let me eat pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I decided they are possibly the best cookie ever. I dressed up as Mikachu and went trick-or-treating with Besta & Co. Hooray for candy!
NOVEMBER. Aubrey had her baby, Eve. At Roberts we had an employee craft night, which was not as well-attended as the signup sheet had implied. Brandon’s baby blessing was a lot of fun. For whatever reason, Jarom’s dad decided he would pay for Jarom to live in Provo this coming semester, so I spent a day looking at apartments. I found a spot for him in the Walker house just south of campus. Poor Jennifer’s fiancé broke off the engagement. I was supposed to work the day before and after Thanksgiving at roberts, but I got restless. Instead of staying, I quit and went to Brian and Amy’s in Colorado for the holiday. I had a really good time. Jarom came back to America and spent Thanksgiving week in San Diego at the Harrington reunion. I went back to Provo, where Rachel and I had an adventure-filled mouse-hunting day. Jarom finally made it to Utah! seeing him again after almost three months was wonderful. we celebrated our six-month anniversary the next week, complete with gifts (a nice photo album and season one of ducktales) and a cake.
DECEMBER. Ben and Krista started getting ready to move down to Provo again. I found a new job with onegreatfamily.com as a customer service representative. It pays well and has flexible hours. A few days after I got hired, we had our company Christmas party; in the white elephant gift exchange, Jarom and I got a feather duster and an eye patch. The eye patch has been a favorite of ours since. We put together a super-ultra cool package for Elizabeth, who was having a hard week. Tori went into the MTC to head for the Pocatello Idaho mission. I tried to get ahold of Kathleen, the girl whose contract I was taking at the Provo house, but never heard back from her. There was a luminaria ceremony at the cemetery where Grandpa Hillery is buried, and afterwards we ate at Café Rio–my first time. Bryan and Jena came out from California with their kids for the holidays, and we all had a good time together. I stayed at the Hillerys for Christmas. On Christmas Eve we ate the best ham I’ve ever had in my life. Christmas morning we opened presents at 6am (for Hyrum’s sake)…we got a GameCube! And Twilight Princess to go with it. I made crescent rolls for breakfast. A few days later we had an extended Hillery family dinner. To close up 2006, Jarom and I experienced the saga of the burly men. Who knows what this New Years will bring?