Sunday, May 29, 2011


I'm turning into a shell of my former self and morphing into a French feminist. A Mormon one. Oui, sérieux. Yesterday I made bookmarks for all my friends that read "I heart french feminism" in the classic "I heart NY" style! I'm thinking of starting a club.

See, its final project time, and my dear, dear professor made the mistake of allowing us to do WHATEVER WE WANT with WHOEVER WE WANT (get your mind out of the gutter).

There are only six humanities majors that attend this university. I am proudly one of them. Three more of the six are in my class. I guess two missed the memo.

Naturally, then, we have united against the rest of the class, who all happen to be English majors, and for our final project have settled on a study of a bunch of French feminist ideas compared against points of LDS doctrine. Fascinante!

What I'm learning is that, with the exception of the sex-related stuff (abortion, modesty, etc.) the ideas are the same: Women rock. They have value greater than we've historically given them credit for, and they can contribute great things to society. And any man who says differently is an imbécile (That's French).

I'm taking orders for "I heart french feminism" bookmarks. If anyone's interested.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lessons from hikes

Life is a hike.

A miserable, grueling, pain-inflicting hike.

This is the conclusion I drew yesterday after embarking on one of Hawaii’s most difficult hikes: the Crouching Lion.

Actually, come to find out, we went above and beyond the Crouching Lion hike. We missed a turn that would bring us back the happy safe way, and found ourselves wandering for six hours in a dark and dreary wilderness.

At least that’s what I thought for most of the second half. My legs were shaking. I was out of water. My skin was lobster-red. We had to balance narrow ridges, climb rock walls, and grab onto trees to stop gravity from pulling us straight down the mountain all at once. Sounds fun, yes? Only when one is in shape. And folks, this hike confirmed that I do not at present fit in this category.

It was during the most difficult parts of this journey that I had to remind myself now and then to look up from my muddy, cut-up, quivering feet. Doing so rewarded me every time with the most breathtaking views on Oahu’s North Shore: views that many who live here their whole lives will never witness. A lush, green, uninhabited valley stretched out below us, comfortably sheltered from the rest of the world by the watch of the towering tree-filled mountains around it. At other points I could see where the blue of the ocean turned dark before kissing a bright, cloud-free sky. I saw a mountain goat grazing on an opposite cliff. I saw moss-covered paths and stairways so perfect they looked like they’d been constructed by fairy-tale creatures. I discovered plant life that seemed to know it was too wonderful and strange to allow its seeds to spread past these mountainous ridges. These elements combined in my most grueling moments to assure me that there was still much to be appreciated; that beauty still existed; that God still loved me.

And so it is with life. When we least expect it, we are certain to be met with rocky ridges and wrong turns and, at times, unimaginable pain. Our weaknesses will slap us in the face. And it is in these moments that we need only look up. When we look beyond the pain, we find beauty. We find it in the people who love us, in the experiences we’re gaining, and in the promise of increased strength when it’s all over. We find beauty, most of all, in the constancy of a loving God.

I thought of all this on that punishing, merciless trail. And when Kendon and I emerged and slowly limped, hand in hand, back to the car, I had a flash-forward to the future of us doing this very thing together, on some distant day, when the long hike of our life begins to come to a close.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Enemies of date night

Friday night is date night.

At least that's what we say. Usually it goes like this: Me: "YAY! DATE NIIIIIIIIGHT!" Kendon: "Oh.... yeah. What do you want to do?" Me: "Uhhhhhh.... Dang it. I hadn't thought about PLANNING anything. You?" Kendon: "I'm tired. Let's read Harry Potter and snuggle."

So then date night turns into the-same-thing-we-do-every-night night, and I wake up way too early Saturday morning grumpily thinking that's it's another weekday.

But I decided tonight would be different.

So I went to the Polynesian Cultural Center after classes to buy student-rate tickets for the one and only annual WORLD FIREKNIFE COMPETITION! Shirtless greasy Polynesians spinning around giant sticks that are totally ON FIRE! It was going to be the best date night surprise.

Except for this.

I marched up to the ticket booth, debit card in hand, feeling further confident at seeing my good ol' buddy Ben at the ticket window. "Hi Ben!" said I exuberantly. Said Ben: "Hey Val. You pregnant?"

I was slightly less exuberant at this question. But in seconds I regained my composure, answered in the NOT affirmative, and said I was there to buy 2 student-rate tickets to the large greasy fire-twirling men (who perform, mind you, for a mere 10 minutes at the intermission of the regular night show).

"You have to come back tonight," said buddy Ben, looking annoyingly important with his shiny name badge and aloha shirt. "You can't buy a ticket until five o'clock."

"Oh." I was getting less excited about my surprise. I had been fantasizing about hiding the tickets somewhere romantic for Kendon to find when he came home... like in a grilled cheese sandwich. I turned to leave, then remembered one last question:

"Ben, how much are student-rate tickets?"

Ben did some important calculations in his shiny ticket-booth computer, then looked back up at me and said, "$43.16."

"No, no," said I, thinking he may be calculating my fictional unborn twins AND my husband into the pricing. "I mean for one person. A student person. It can't be more than $10 for a student person.... Right?"

"$43.16," repeated my only sort-of buddy Ben, then, "Unless you have a friend who works here. Employees get discounts."

I searched his face for a "hint-hint" grin. None came. The badge of my acquaintance Ben was way too shiny. It hurt my eyes when he puffed out his chest like that.

"What if we just poke our head in at intermission?" I asked. "We just want to see the men twirl their fiery knives! We don't care about the show." I did some math of my own without even needing an important shiny computer and said, "Surely we don't need to pay $83 just for some head-poking at an intermission....?"

"Yep. You do," said my enemy Ben.

And that is how, on this Friday date-night afternoon, I left the Polynesian Cultural Center with no tickets and a fat complex. I wonder if a Harry Potter book can fit inside a grilled cheese sandwich.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


This story begins with me peacefully dreaming about a Quidditch match (Don't judge me -- Harry Potter readings before bed have become part of our religion) and snuggling up next to my oh-so-comfortable manny man.

Then it happened. The angriest, loudest BANG I have ever heard echoed across the ocean, bounced off the mountains, and hammered its way into my house and on through my horrified brain. I jumped nearly two feet from my [broomstick and] snuggle position and saw the wide-eyed face of my manny man doing the same. I remember being certain, for at least two seconds, that I was about to become a not-so-honored guest at the end of the world entrance party.

The lightning came simultaneously and threw haunting shadows across our small studio apartment, turning our frightened faces into scenes from a film noir. I clung to my Kendon with all of my strength, my body quivering as another BANG pierced the air. I was sure, in my panicked, just-awakened state, that if the lightning didn't penetrate the walls and kill us, that a flash flood from the deafening rainfall outside would drown us before anyone knew we were missing. The thunder shot out again. One cannot breathe when a sound is that loud. One cannot think.

Except for one thing, which pierced my brain even deeper than that first, startling blast: I'm so glad I have him.

By him, of course, I mean Kendon. I realized in those panicked moments that no disaster is too horrifying as long as I have him by my side, petting my tousled hair and assuring me that everything will be OK. I could handle a flash flood if he were there to cling to. I could witness the end of the world if he were holding my hand. I could die... if he just kissed me and assured me with his half-smile and big, brown eyes.
These are the things I realized in those terrifying moments last night. My whole life didn't flash before me like they say happens when you think the end is near. Instead, this recurring sense of what my Kendon means to me kept me awake long after the rain died down and the bursts and booms became less frequent.

Thank God for thunderstorms.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Chicken on the roof
Bullying pigeons up there
Laie don't change

Monday, May 2, 2011

Romance, in theory

Today's literary criticism and theory class (no class should contain this many syllables) was centered around the ideas of the French theorist Jacques Derrida, who also happens to be the handsomest of the theorists.
However, there are a few reasons he and I have never ended up together. A brief list:
1. Jacques is, regretfully, dead.

2. Husband absolutely HATES it when I run around with the French theorists.

3. 'sides, who needs French theorists when you have a husband whose name uses all its consonants?

4. Jacques believes that binary opposites are the arbitrary construct of the human mind and are therefore nonexistent. Today in class I began pondering this, and attempted to illustrate the binary opposite theory with the following (non)binary opposite samples:
And this is where I decided Jacques and I could never, ever work out. No, Jacques, you cannot tell me a cupcake is not the opposite of a broccoli. I'm just not that stupid.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Back, as if from the dead

There are some reasons I haven’t blogged in over a year.
The first is my memory.

No, I didn’t forget about you, or my blog, or how to type, I just forgot this little bitty detail called a password. And a username. And also maybe how to write blogs.

This has kept me out of blogly commission for some time now, but indeed, I HAVE SOLVED IT!
And indeed, my brilliant solution required merely four simple steps, which I shall here generously share with you all and which I give permission for other blogger comrades to use when technology and memory and Bloggerteam turn their cold uncaring backs on you.

Step 1: I found a husband. YES! A handsome one of my very own! It wasn’t even on purpose. Sometimes these things just happen while one is innocently blogging about sharks. I shall likely dote on him in future blogs, but at present let us move to

Step 2: I figured out how to make him want to do things for me. The secret is to use the magic word, which I shall capitalize for emphasis: IMPOSSIBLE. (Examples: “It is IMPOSSIBLE to kill a cockroach that big without him killing us first!” “It is IMPOSSIBLE to make spaghetti AND meatballs AND buttery garlic toast in just one night!” “It is IMPOSSIBLE for us to move to a treehouse in the Amazon Rainforest and swing around naked on vines all day!” (Note: I have not used this one as yet, but rest assured when I do it will work. This word is magic, I tell you! Exhibit A: a large dead cockroach on our floor. Exhibit B: my increasingly large Italian belly (How many parentheses is one allowed to put within other parentheses before being arrested by the parentheses police-eses?)))…

Step 3: I used the magic word in relation to my impossible-to-solve blognundrum. I said, and I quote, “Husband, it is IMPOSSIBLE to log in to that old blog! Alas, my blogging days have been put to an end by this IMPOSSIBILITY!”

Step 4: I watched lovingly as Husband Bagley solved my year-long blog famine in a record time of .75 second. That’s not even a full second! Doesn’t that sound IMPOSSIBLE??
So here I am again, folks. All thanks to this new adorable addition to my life and one magic word. Catch y’all next time from the Amazon Rainforest.