Tuesday, June 28, 2011

City Girl (well, for today)

Last Sunday I left my beloved home in Fayetteville, Ga and flew back to Utah. This is my 5th time (really?) doing this, but this time was almost as hard as the first time I left for college. This is probably due to the fact that I stayed home for 2 months. That, and I wasn't an obnoxious brat (see summer 2010). Anyways, I got to compare Atlanta (yeah baby), Phoenix (I'm sorry, but why would anyone want to live in a place that hot and dry. It's unnatural), and Salt Lake (more like a mini-city). And because my family just went to D.C. last week, I've been thinking about what it would be like to live in a big city (like really live IN it). So here is my top list of cities I would love to live in, American and not American.

American Cities (in no particular order):
1. Washington D.C.

This really is my number one right now. I am thinking about doing Washington Seminar through BYU. This city is huge! The architecture is incredible. And, well, there are a lot of important things going on here. I love all of the museums and monuments and the best part is that they are free! My ideal life setting for living here is single, still in college, working as an intern (yes, washington seminar); graduated (from grad school too) with an important job and lots of freedom (sneaking away at night to dance and write novels); or married with young kids. The last one may sound odd (raising a family where?), but it would be before school and before friends are important. I could walk my chillins to the museum of natural history where they can dream about becoming paleontologists. I could take them so fine art galleries and make up stories that go along with the paintings, although, if they are anything like my brother as a kid, this is way to dangerous.

2. Chicago, IL

I have never been here, but it has always been in my mind as the ultimate American city. I have this feeling that it has an extensive intellectual circle. My ideal life setting for living here would be grad school.

3. Seattle, Washington

Mostly I just want to find out what that big spacey tower thing is. I've also heard its a pretty artsy city and I've seen a lot of Seattle pride. Maybe I would live in a suburb just outside of here when I'm older and have kids.

Non-American Cities:
1. Oxford, England
Oh yes. Oxford of course, for grad school (or post-grad?). Yeah, not likely.

2. Geneva, Switzerland
Truly a global city. A lot of important things going on here. Beautiful weather. Museums and art galleries. Also the fourth most expensive city in the world... bleh.

3. San Jose, Costa Rica
I went to Costa Rica for four days and fell in love. Mountains, oceans, jungle, cool culture. Sign me up.

Bridging the Gap

I read the first book on my summer list! The Blue Sweater is inspiring. interesting. informative. If you are at all interested in helping the poor, not just giving handouts, but giving opportunities, you need to read this book.
Some highlights:

"You should focus on being more interested than interesting." -John Gardner
-I feel like a lot of people who travel the world, give money, and try to "help" the poor are doing so to be interesting. They probably are interested as well, but its more interesting to talk about your experiences living in Africa than your experience changing a community in Arkansas.

"There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting." -Buddha
-I really love this. I've been thinking about the mantra of "having an open mind." Some may say this is dangerous. I believe it is only dangerous if you go half-way in your search for truth. I believe that an open mind, partnered with humility with bring you ultimately to truth.

"There are none more dangerous to extremists than moderates." -Jacqueline Novogratz
Take that Glenn Beck!

"Monsters do exist, but not in the way I'd imagined them." -Jacqueline Novogratz
Jacqueline had many friends in Rwanda before the genocide. They all played completely different roles. One woman who she had worked with in giving opportunity to all Rwandan women became a major perpetrator in the bloody genocide, destroying safe havens and encouraging people to kill their neighbors. When Jacqueline visited the woman in prison, she looked so childlike. Years ago she had a vision to make the world a better place, but became a monster of evil because of power and politics. I like this example because we often think about "bad guys" as somewhere out there plotting the destruction of our country in caves. We imagine that they were nasty little kids too (like the one in Toy Story.) But evil could be in our neighbors, it could be in us. We all have potential for evil, just like we all have potential for good. Its not so black and white.

"Today's world needs more than humanitarians. We need individuals who know how to listen and who have real and tangible skills to share." -Jacqueline Novogratz

"There is reason to believe that people everywhere can lift themselves up, but they have to be given the tools to do so. We can only open doors so that they can walk through them." -Jacqueline Novogratz

"Dignity is more important than wealth." -Jacqueline Novogratz

See www.acumenfund.org

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Reading List

Summer Reading is definitely in the top three things I love about summer (don't ask me what the other two are). I'm not in school right now, just working and so I have plenty of time to do what I do best! These are the books that are on my list (on on my shelf) this summer.

I actually have an unusual amount of these. They just keep stacking up.

1. The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz (founder of Acumen Fund)

2. 30-Second Philosophies: The 50 Most Thought-Provoking Philosophies, Each Explained in Half a Minute

 Who knew when I bought it on sale three years ago and B&N that I might actually need it for my major? Anyways, I'm pretty excited about this one.

3. The Audactiy of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama

Love the title. Want to see my presidents thoughts.

4. The Art of Fiction by David Lodge
I read this one in high school, something on another summer reading list for English. I remember liking it, but I might actually find it useful now.

5.  How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein
This was one of my required texts for my Social Entrepreneurship class, but I didn't read the whole thing. Plus it tells a lot about Bill Drayton and Ashoka, which is good because I am going to be an campus intern with them in the fall.


1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
I have been wanting to read this one for a long time. I love love loved the movie. I have pretty high expectations. I haven't decided whether to read the abridged or unabridged version yet. I guess we'll see how much time I have.

2. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
 This is one of the beat up books I took from the English supply room in high school (don't worry, I had permission). Its a play so its pretty short and I've never really read anything like it.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I have heard enough people say, "Oh em gee, The Book Thief is my favorite book of all time!" to warrant a read. This one better live up to my expectations.

4. The Complete Short Stories of Flannery O'Conner
I am a huge fan of hers. Also, have a peacock fetish. Plus she is from Savannah, Georgia and writes in the Southern Gothic genre along with William Faulkner.

5. Harry Potter, the entire series, by J.K. Rowling
I'm not actually sure about this one, since I've already read them all so many times. But my guess is that I will go on a huge Potter kick about two weeks before the movie comes out. I will probably read them in my closet, which also happens to be a cupboard under the stairs.

Its going to be a good summer.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The New Yorker

I still don't know what this picture means, but I do know that it represents my current favorite magazine. Fortunately the I do understand the cartoon on the front of the issue sitting on my bed, but unfortunately, the cover price on the top does not say 15 cents but $5.99. But (wait for it...) fortunately, I get an issue every week for a year for 30 bucks.

There have been several instances when I go to the mailbox looking for a letter that is probably not coming, and instead find one of these babies. It lets me down much easier. Wikipedia says the New Yorker "is well known for its illustrated and often topical covers, its commentaries on popular culture and eccentric Americana; its attention to modern fiction by the inclusion of short stories and literary reviews; its rigorous fact checking and copyediting; its journalism on world politics and social issues; and its single-panel cartoons sprinkled throughout each issue." I like the part about eccentric Americana, ha ha. Yesterday I read an article about the issue of rights of the mentally ill. Should the mentally ill who reject their diagnosis be allowed to wander around the cities, perhaps hurting others and more likely themselves? (the article followed the life of a woman who ended up living in an abandoned farmhouse, eating apples and waiting for her "husband" to come save her. She died of starvation.) But then, do we have the right to tell people that they are insane, force medicine into them, and keep them in an asylum their whole lives? Its a difficult situation. But it also lead me on a dizzying mind trail, wondering about the line between mind and spirit.

Today I'm reading about the purpose of higher education. And Iran and the bomb. Oh and also cartoons, short stories, and poetry. What can I say, I'm hooked. And someday I'm going to live in a big city and do eccentric American activities (clean eccentric American activities).