Thursday, July 30, 2009


It's the morning after my 27th birthday. My day has begun as I often like to begin the day of my birthday--I woke up before dawn and am taking my time to think about the trajectory of my life.

It is a little crazy that I have now had enough birthdays that I have developed my own personal preference for birthday ritual. I generally have an intimate dinner with friends, I afford myself a bit of personal indulgence (take a "me" day. This year it will be on Saturday. I have already planned a yoga class, some art time, and maybe a little hike.), and call my parents.

I am now 27. It doesn't really feel any different. In fact, I often barely feel much older than 18 (and yet am perpetually 40). Now I have the benefit of hindsight. 10 years ago today, I had just graduated from high school and was on BYU campus starting as a freshman summer term. I was eager to get on with life and didn't want to spend an entire summer at home. I couldn't wait to get college over with and really "start" my life.

In the eyes of 17 year old John, this would be the year I hopefully finished my Ph.D. in Clinical Child Psychology. I was nervous about being able to provide for a family while in grad school. Like any good Mormon, I expected to be married by now, with perhaps one or two children. I was nervous and excited about serving a mission. I thought of myself as a great counselor to those around me. I was thrilled by my new-found freedom of being away from home. That summer was actually probably the most fun summer I have ever had. My friends and I stayed out until all hours--having impromptu concerts in front of the dorms, driving out to Bridal Veil Falls in the middle of the night, going to the 24-hour grocery store for early-morning ice cream runs.

In some ways I wonder how much I have really changed. I feel like much the same person.

My life, however, is definitely nothing like what I imagined. The only thing that has turned out as I expected, was that I hoped at this point I would have made it back to southern California. Here I am. Living with my boyfriend and about to finish my third (fourth?) year of my master's degree . . . in advertising (?!). The ways that I choose to define myself are less concrete than at 17. I understand things about myself that I never could have anticipated. Nonetheless, in this relationship with Shane, I am pushing myself even more, confronting even more about myself and being forced to grow. Like anyone else who gets older, I can look back and say I thought I knew so much back then and realize now how little I took the time to really listen and try to understand.

Perhaps the greatest achievement I can lay claim to right now is that I am happy. I was taught as a child that true, life-giving, love-filled happiness is sign of a life lived rightly and goodly (proper use of adverbs, I swear). I hope and believe that is true. I know that I need to challenge myself more, to be more spiritually aware and live more mindfully, but I also have faith God will be patient with me and help me as I try to figure out the next steps of my life.

I am grateful for the friends I have made on this path of my life who have helped me become the person I am today and who have sustained me in difficult times. I wish they were all a constant part of my life, but life keeps us marching forward. I think we will be reunited.

When I woke up yesterday with an ache in my heart for my parents. Mom, if you read this, I love you and Dad both so much. I am the person I am today because of your influence and love. My birthday wish would have been to see you both and hug you. I hope I can do so soon.

. . . and now, it's time to get my butt in gear. I have been having the most amazing time writing this on the terrace with our flowers and the morning getting brighter (another grey day! My favorite! (I am serious)), but I have to commute to Venice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

Did I get that 80's song stuck in your head? Great because that was the first thing that came to mind when I saw this:

It's part of an inventive new campaign from Tappening, an organization aimed at reducing bottled water consumption. It's a popular trend that has inspired the proliferation of the annoyingly over-priced Sigg water bottles and banning of bottled water use by some government offices.

In a very aggressive move, Tappening is launching a campaign of self-admitted "lies" about bottled water. Their rationale being that the bottled water industry touts many lies about the health and purity of its products, and so it is only fair to fight fire with fire.

They are even encouraging people to start their own lies about bottled water across various social media channels on their site,

I do have to give them props for this inventive strategy. It shows a keen understanding of human nature. This hearkens back to what I kept saying about the whole Prop 8 strategy: it is easier to push human behavior with the very base human emotion of fear rather than convincing and compelling with love. Pro-Prop 8: fear mongering of societal demise. Anti-Prop 8: love is for everyone. Any time you can inspire fear in groups of people you can get them to go along with what you say. Witness American military engagement in Iraq, post-911 which enjoyed wide public support because of fear.

Tappening has "tapped" into this by recognizing that you are going to receive limited support by getting all squishy and emotional about reducing plastic waste and saving the environment, but if you can get people to see the bottled water industry as nefarious, deceitful, and harmful . . . well, then now you are going to get people moving.

While I support the cause, I am still morally unsettled on the tactic.

Interestingly, this issue has recently come to the fore in my personal life. As a new denizen of Los Angeles, I am the beneficiary of the City of Los Angeles' wonderful water treatment facilities! . . . which makes water taste like swill. This was particularly noted when we were out at dinner with our good friend Adam who described the water here as "slimy". I just think it tastes like pool water (read: HEAVY chlorine). Shane also does not like the water in LA and suggested we get water delivered to our home. Our PUR water filter only reduces the funky taste, but does not eliminate it. I was immediately concerned about the carbon footprint of water delivery, but Tappening's own link to an LA water analysis did nothing to make me feel better about drinking local tap, highlighting 46 pollutants in my tap water!

Tappening has even taken aim at my beloved San Pellegrino! I enjoy Pellegrino as an alternative to soft drinks and beer, not as a regular form of hydration. You can take my Evian, but you can never take . . . my Pellegrino!

Seriously, though, I support carrying your own reusable water bottle (I carry one myself) and getting people to think more about where the waste from their casual consumption goes, so I wish Tappening luck in their campaign to slash bottled water at the knees and if you want to help--start getting creative with your fibbing:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

You've Got To Breathe a Little

Shane and I have a quandary of etiquette, a perplexing pickle on the path of politesse, if you will.

We are settling nicely into our new place (video tour to come), but our apartment is regularly invaded by the awful stench of cigarette smoke. We have narrowed it down to our next-door neighbors. They are nice people who kindly opened their backgate when we moved in so we could get our stuff into our place. We live in an apt complex and their balcony adjoins ours.

Now, I believe in a person's right to smoke in the privacy of their own home, but I also believe in my right to breathe clean air (please hold all wisecracks about living in L.A.). So the question is--how do we resolve this?

Shane thinks we should make some of my famous banana nut bread as a peace offering and go over there and discuss it with them. The coward in me prefers the anonymity of going to our landlady. Can we really even expect any change? I mean, what are they going to do? Stop smoking?

We realized we don't really have any friends who smoke, but do you have any input on what we should do?