Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Opportunities like this make life amazing.

I love it when I get the chance to do something amazing. Saturday was one of those chances. Thanks to Trina and Jenifer, I got a ticket to see Markus Zusak speak at the Provo Library. In case you don't know who Markus Zusak is, he wrote this little book:

And if you still don't know who Markus Zusak is, read this book ASAP and find out.

Listening to Markus speak was amazing. I absolutely loved it. He was funny and personable and a great speaker, and his fabulous Australian accent only made it better. I didn't realize just how attractive he is. I mean, I thought he was pretty cute in his author photo, but it doesn't do the man justice. Real life is just so much better. Though I am sad I forgot my camera, so I couldn't take any of my own pictures. This one will have to do:

That face + Aussie accent = swooning Lindy.

When I went to the reading/signing, I didn't have a copy of The Book Thief. It is one of my favorite books of all time, so naturally I own a copy, but I lent it to Faith so she could enjoy the greatness of it. I had a copy of I Am the Messenger (also a fantastic book), and I figured that would be good enough. But then Markus started talking about The Book Thief  and how much writing it meant to him. He read a few pages from it and teared up. That was when I knew I had to get it signed—I just had to. So I bought another copy. And let me tell you, it was completely worth that $20.

Markus spoke for about an hour, and then they called us by groups to go into another room and get our books signed. Jenifer and I were in signing group I. It took four and a half hours for signing group I to make it into the same room with Markus Zusak. Yes, you read that right. Four and a half hours. Markus spent time with everyone. By the time we made it to his table, he was massaging his hand between each book. I can't imagine how much his hand must have hurt after four straight hours of signing books, but he never complained. There was an untouched piece of pizza next to him that he wouldn't eat because he didn't want to get people's books greasy.

Markus was incredibly nice, personable, and humble, and he spoke to everyone who came through. I might have sounded a bit like a goobery fan, but I had the chance, so I had to tell him just how much I loved The Book Thief. And I don't care if I gushed too much. He lives in Sydney, for Pete's sake. I'm never going to see him again, so I had to take the chance when I had it.

A four-and-a-half-hour wait was more than worth it for what I got:

To sum up, Saturday night was fabulous. I almost couldn't make it for wholly unimportant reasons, but I am so incredibly grateful that everything worked out and that I was able to go. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I can't get over how lucky I was that I could be there. Markus Zusak came all the way from Sydney, Australia, to Provo, Utah, and I got to experience it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My life is officially mine again.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have a tendency to get really into things (hence the section in the sidebar for my current obsession). These things generally take over my brain and occupy 80 percent of my thoughts. Sometimes I honestly wonder if I have a little OCD, which is what causes me to think about things so much.

In addition to my five month long BYU basketball obsession, the past few weeks I got seriously addicted to "Veronica Mars." It's a stupid (yet ridiculously awesome) TV show from a few years ago, featuring Kristen Bell as a teenage, amateur private eye. It's awesome, and I loved every second of it. I spent three weeks straight watching as many episodes as my free time would allow. I finished the third and final season in three days. (In my defense, there were only 20 episodes. But that's not really much of a defense.)

Well, on Tuesday night, I stayed up way too late and finished the incredibly unsatisfying third season. The series was canceled for who knows why, so it ends on a cliffhanger and Logan and Veronica don't get back together. Lame. And yesterday, the Cougars ended this insanely awesome season with a disappointing loss to Florida in the Sweet Sixteen.

And now my life is mine again. I currently have no obsessions, and it feels a little strange, I must admit. We'll see how long it lasts.

Monday, March 21, 2011

March Madness Is FUN!

This would definitely not be my blog if I didn't post something about March Madness. I mean, it's sports, right? And BYU is playing, right? Perfect combination for the subject of a blog post.

This is the first year that I have paid close attention to college hoops, and boy did I pick the right season. I knew before the season that BYU was poised to be really good, and I had just gotten more into Jazz basketball than I had ever been, so basketball was already on the brain. Plus, I was coming off a not-so-stellar football season, and I needed some awesome to come from BYU athletics. So I watched every BYU game I could find in the early season and watched as the Cougars won game after game and Jimmer grew more and more famous with each ridiculous shot he made.

As the regular season closed with amazing highs and devastating lows, I couldn't be prouder of being a BYU alum and hoops fan. BYU came under major scrutiny, and no one thought they would go far in the NCAA tournament without Brandon Davies, especially after being blown out by SDSU in the MWC tourney.

But one thing I have learned this season is not to count those Cougars out. They are tough, and I don't remember ever seeing a team react to being the underdogs like they do.

On Saturday, BYU played Gonzaga as the underdog, despite BYU's 3 seed and Gonzaga's 11 seed. No one thought BYU could handle the size of the Zags. Every national analyst said BYU was toast. And you better believe Coach Rose let the team know that.

I watched the game at my parents' house, and as soon as the game started, my dad and I determined that Jimmer had his Jimmer-face on. You know, that look he has when he is completely determined not to lose a game. He had it at New Mexico, then dropped 52. Well, he didn't need 52 against Gonzaga; his teammates stepped up and shot lights out alongside him. And now BYU is headed to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in 30 years. I am ecstatic. After the game, I would randomly turn to my dad and say, "Sweet Sixteen, Dad! Sweet Sixteen!" and he would just grin like an idiot with me. Cougar Nation has been waiting for this for a long, long time.

So keep rooting against the Cougs, nation. The more you place them as the underdogs, the more likely I think this team is to win. Those Florida Gators better watch their backs—they get Jimmer far away from home, in a foreign environment, wearing his road blues, in the biggest spotlight of the season. Just add a contingent of obnoxious Gator fans and you have the perfect storm to drive Jimmer to play at his ridonculous best.

Whatever happens on Thursday, this has been the best season ever. It has been unbelievable, and here's hoping the amazing keeps happening.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cool Envy

I am the worst at looking at other people and being super jealous of how cool I think they are. I look at people's blogs and think, "Ah, man, why didn't I think about doing something like that?! I'm so LAME!"

I look at other girls in their super cute clothes and their awesome style and think, "I wish I could look like that. I wish I had a style that's all my own and that other people would look at with envy."

I listen to people talk about the bands they listen to and think, "I wish I listened to cooler music like that." Actually . . . nevermind. That's not true. I listen to freaking awesome music, so you can scratch this one off the list.

I talk to other people and hear how funny they are and I think, "I am so dull-witted. Why can't I ever think of something clever to say?"

I watch other people being social and think, "Why am I so awkward around people? Why can't I just say 'hi' and make some new friends?"

I wish I were cooler. I wish I were more stylish. I wish I were wittier.

But then I wonder if people look at me and wish that they did something that I do. I allow myself to realize that everyone looks at other people and wishes they were more like them. Nobody is completely happy with everything about themselves, so we all look at other people to prove to ourselves that we aren't as cool as we think we should be.

There are people out there who think I'm cool. There are people who are jealous of the way I do certain things. There must be. Because nobody else is nearly as hard on me as I am.

Basically, I'm awesome. Not perfect, no. But I don't have to be perfect to be awesome, and neither do you.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Upholding Honor

We all know that I am a ginormous BYU basketball fan, so when I heard the news that Brandon Davies had been suspended for violating the honor code, it felt like someone had punched me in the gut. I think the wind may have escaped my lungs. It sucks big time, and the Cougs are definitely going to miss that big man in the middle. It could have serious repercussions for their post-season play.

I've heard a few people wishing BYU had swept the issue under the rug for a few weeks, until after the NCAA Tournament. This is arguably the best basketball team in school history—why would the school throw away such a big opportunity to go deeper than ever in the Big Dance? Why would they risk losing that much money and exposure?

There is one simple explanation: BYU doesn't bend because the Church doesn't bend. There are no exceptions to the honor code, regardless of how well a team is doing. If Jimmer had been in this situation, the same thing would have happened. He would have been suspended. (And as sad as I am for Davies, when I thought about what my reaction would have been had that headline read a different name, it made me feel slightly better.)

BYU is a school that upholds honor. It is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which means that it must adhere to all the standards the Church requires its members to live. The result is stricter consequences to certain actions when attending BYU. Every student who enters knows what is expected. Every student knows what the honor code is. Every student knows what is in the honor code. And every student signs his or her name at the bottom of that piece of paper willingly, knowing full well what consequences come from not living accordingly.

This is what happened with Davies. From everything I've read, it seems as though he realized he had made a mistake and came forward with it, knowing full well the ramifications of that action. (Granted, I'm not positive on that, but it seems to fit. Don't quote me on it.) Davies could have hid what he did until later, but he didn't, and that gives me great respect for him. Integrity like that is hard to come by, especially in the sports world.

The fact that this upsetting news comes on the heels of some major NCAA investigations of other schools' basketball programs makes BYU's actions even more commendable. It seems that more often than not, coaches and athletic programs bend rules and cut corners in order to land that promising recruit. In the end, it leaves players feeling like they deserve undue benefits and organizations being weakened and often punished. What BYU decided to do was rough, but it was honest, and it showed that the organization knows that there are more important things than sports. Being good, upstanding people is more important. Living high standards is more important. Having faith in something greater than yourself is more important.

I know my lowly opinion on this blog doesn't count for much, but I say kudos to BYU. I love my alma mater, and I love the honor code that I lived to go there (and still live in order to live in their housing). I love that athletes are not exceptions to the rule at BYU and that everyone knows full well what is expected of them. Those that complain about the honor code can go to schools where students don't have to live such apparently unrealistic expectations (though a good chunk of the 34,000 students at BYU would argue the "unrealistic" part).

While this strict observance of the honor code could seriously injure BYU basketball this season, I'm taking the optimistic route. Davies was consistently in foul trouble, and plenty of other players stepped up to fill his void when he was sitting on the bench. Noah Hartsock leads the team in blocks, so he plays decent defense. Charles Abouo has been a beast on the boards of late. James Anderson has stepped in big when needed. Logan Magnusson can add a bigger body under the basket. Jackson Emery is a freak on the defensive end anywhere he is needed. BYU can go small and run with any team in the country. And let's not forget one little fact—we still have the best player in college hoops in Jimmer Fredette. If any team has the ability and toughness to rise above adversity, it's this one. Dave Rose is no dummy—he'll have a plan for this. And I'll be cheering loud and proud tonight at the Marriott Center as I watch my Cougars take on the Lobos.

My heart goes out to Davies, and I sincerely hope he figures things out and rejoins the team next season. We Cougar fans will welcome him back with open arms.

Go Cougs!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Uh oh . . .

This is a supremely bad combination: lying on my bed, mindlessly surfing the interwebs with a bag of Red Vines sitting within arm's reach. Unfortunately, this paradoxically also sounds like a fantastic idea, which is how I came to be in this situation in the first place.